Over the years my 147academy has coached players and teams all around the world and I had the honour of working with so many great players. The big lesson I learnt was the smart players are usually the players who develop into the champions. I have written ‘The Academy Player Pathway‘ to give advice on how they became champions.
Being smart means you do the right things on and off the table. At times you might lose or win events but it is crucial to analyse what you are doing before, during and after the tournaments.
I see so many players practice very hard but are mentally weak in the 48hrs hours before the tournament starts. Being smart does not mean you have to practice 8hrs a day or enter every snooker tournament. Being smart means you plan out your training by breaking down your overall game to focus on your weak areas.
Many young players are great potters but they only work on their break building as many have a poor safety game. What they should be also doing is improving their match-play by learning how to play the correct safety shots.
On the World Snooker Professional Tour there are many great players but Mark Selby, John Higgins, Mark Williams and Ronnie O Sullivan are still regarded as some of the best players ever to play this game. We all know they can pot and score like the rest but ask yourself why people say they are also the best on the tactical side of the game. I believe when they were young, they worked harder and smarter on this side of the game which makes them special match players.
How many times have you seen players practice this in a club:
- Place the cue ball tight on the baulk cushion and play a shot to strike a pack of reds to send the cue ball back into the baulk area?
- Players practice getting snookers on the last red to steal and win frames?
- Players practice getting out of snookers?
- Players clearing up 1 / 2 reds and colours to win frames?
All these areas need also to be mastered if you want to win at the highest level but I am astonished how little players do this. I can let you in on a little secret, the smart players do practice them. Of course successful players also need to be good long potters and able to score. Players who are good break builders frighten opponents. This is why my players focus so much on their scoring as their opponents feel one bad shot can cost them frames.
Peaking for Success
Having a good mental approach when you are training and competing is one of the major strengths of top players. Knowing when to push and when to relax during your preparation is vitally important. Peaking for the tournaments is something many players forget or do not understand. It is much better to be fresh and confident, than being tired, from overdoing the practice, so next time be smart in how you prepare because as long as you have worked properly on your weak areas then you are ready to compete for any title.
Remember how important your mind fitness will be when things are not going your way, as over the years I have learned that it is all about the mental side of the game if you want to play to your best so relax and remember to work on your mind fitness as much as you practice your potting skills. Over the years I have trained players who had an unbelievable talent but they lacked the mind set of wanting to learn what was needed to reach the next level. The smart players peak for the major championships to play their best and achieve their goals.
I have seen many players who were unsuccessful as juniors, who go on to develop into great senior players and then on the other hand I have seen great juniors winning all around who never develop into top players. In part they lacked something and usually it is the unwillingness to train or allowed distractions in to stop them improving. At times its boy meets girl or girl meet boy. Some let their social life gets in the way and others have too much work, school, college or family commitments which stops them improving.
One area I feel very strong about is that all players regardless of how good or talented they are should finish out school. Even if everyone is saying they are a future world champion, education will be crucial, if or when they turn professional. Players need to be able to go on a computer to enter events, they need to be able check emails, schedules and match times, they need to be able to go online and book flights and hotels and arrange visas.
This education is done best in school as you learn these skills and you get used to developing a schedule like having a start time and finish time. You will need to do the same when you become a full time player as the successful players I know treat it the same and this approach has made them very successful in the game.
Remember successful snooker is like a business nowadays and the better you prepare yourself the more successful a career you will have as I am afraid the days of a misspent youth are long gone. There are now Professional academies all around the world with full time coaches like myself using the most hi-tech equipment on the market to help develop players, plus many have sports psychologist is the background along with nutritionists and sports gyms to keep the players fit. Photo above is a coaching clinic for the Chinese Coaches in the WPBSA China Academy in Beijing China.
Everyone’s attitude is good when they are playing good but what happens if your making no breaks or playing bad safety shots. This is where you need guidance from a qualified coach and have a system in place to get you back into the zone. Every player has had hard times even when they did everything correctly but still lost.
The smart players regained this winning attitude by analysing why they were losing as this self believe is crucial if you want to win. This is the engine that powers you during each practice session and during competitions you should not focus on the cue action or any technical issue as you need to concentrate on your main objective of staying relaxed, focused, giving it everything on each shot and enjoying the experience.
I know tournaments are not won or lost on the practice table but in my experience this is where over 50% of winning it is, because the better you prepare the more success you will achieve so when your match begins be SMART
Remember ‘’ prepare your best, if you want to play your best “