Sunday 28th February at Q SPorts, belle vue , Manchester saw 15 over 40-s doing battle all day in event 5 of the E.A.S.B Masters series. I was lucky enough to make it through to the final only to lose to former england international Kevin Firth, top player and a top fella too. I made it past some good players on the day and also managed to beat the event favourite (probably) Shaun Wilkes who has been in most finals of the series so a great scalp for me. I use this event as quality practice seeing as the rest of the time I manage an hour a week, so for me to get this far is awesome. I think this moves me up to 5th in the rankings??....but for me its about playing these quality guys and seeing how I compete, looking forward to event 6 in Leeds in a few weeks. Below are some kind tweets from Kev
I get asked frequently 'how long before I can make a 50 break' or 'I play off 25 and just need to work on my break building, sounds pretty sensible to me BUT when it comes down to it if you are not already at this stage then there will probably be something fundamentally going wrong. This is where these '4 ways to be a better player' come in and are really simple. Essentially you need to assess how you play and start by being honest with yourself when looking at where you think you are in connection with the 4 steps. OK so you are wondering what the 4 steps are, here goes:
Basic Technique - Have a look at your stance, bridge, grip, pre-shot routine and basic address position.
See the Line - Being able to identify the Line of Aim is of paramount importance, you cannot pot balls if you can't identify this crucial element of the game.
Cue Action - concentrate on perfecting a natural rhythm and a smoothness, particularly on the backswing to increase timing, incorporate with some simple thought processes and you're nearly there.
Play / Learn / Practice - Get yourself signed up to a team as soon as you can as there is nothing better than learning on the job, practice with better players, watch and learn from them and also try to add some solo practice into your routine, working on shot making.
At the recent Bolton District Snooker Presentation night, where me and my teammates were picking up the Champions trophy for winning the 'A' section in our first year I was lucky enough on the final award of the evening to be voted 'Player of the Year'. A tremendous honour after a good season by me personally and worth the hard work that often goes unnoticed. Lets see if I can repeat the feat next season??
I wanted to share with you the lessons i am learning through some self taught sports psychology about focus and its relationship with success in snooker (and everything else)....focus is the ability to devote your full attention to the task at hand, blocking out all distractions. Distractions can be internal ( negative self talk or off task thoughts) or external such as all the goings on in and around the snooker venue, or thinking about other things other than the task at hand.
In a snooker context if you are focused on the task at hand (watching the object ball and your cue action) then your chances of success are increased, if however you are focused on other things such as the outcome/result of the shot or match or what you did last time in this position your chances of success are decreased.
How much focus is another cause for development, if you think about focus at snooker as in 3 zones, focus 3 would be when waiting for your turn at the table, this is the broadest focus, not too intense. Focus 2 would be when assessing the table at your visit, working out your shot/position etc, this focus requires slightly more intensity and focus 1 would be the most intense focus, when you are down on the shot, think of these zones like a dartboard, the whole board is zone 3, the inner 25 is zone 2 and the bullseye is zone 1. Nobody can be in zone 1 all the time and indeed you would be exhausted mentally if you tried, the key is to be able to switch between the focus zones when you need to, relax when in zone 3, FOCUS when in zone 1.
Finally I want to mention a little about focusing on what matters, this can be divided into 2, relevant focus and irrelevant focus. Relevant focus in a snooker environment would be what you have control over, so your cue action, your table planning, your shot selection, focusing on these directly impacts on your performance, irrelevant points of focus are ones on which you have no control and that do not directly have any impact on your performance, for example your opponents actions, the venue, the table, the people in the room, the opinions of others, the run of the balls. If you don't have control over a factor then it is irrelevant and you don't need to waste energy on it. You dont have any control over whether you win but you do have control over how you perform and this is directly driven by your focus. I will expand on focus next time....
If there are any youngsters looking to start playing snooker or Juniors looking to improve their snooker game then I can recommend popping down to Elite Snooker Club in Lostock Hall for their saturday morning Kids Club. Enjoy a couple of hours of snooker get a drink, enter a competition and even get some coaching all for £5. The club is an excellent, safe environment where mum's and dad's can leave their kids for a couple of hours. Some of the kids are playing league snooker with the adults!
There is no secret to playing well at this great game, you need your mind to be free of daily stuff so you can concentrate on doing the right things on the table. I personally have other things on my mind at the moment and it is showing in my snooker, winning only 2 of my first 6 games across 2 leagues. This is a reminder to my pupils, keep a little perpective on why you are playing the game, is it for fun?...do you want to turn pro?...don't be too hard on yourself if you have not practised all week then find you struggle in your 1 frame league match, I am suffering exactly the same fate. If you are playing for fun and have not had much practise during the week, make sure your expectation levels are realistic when match day comes, focus on trying to keep your action smooth and not much else, otherwise if you expect to be making 50 breaks at every visit you will only come away feeling disappointed and frustrated.
Some of you already know that I have created a Google+ page for World Snooker Coach which can be found here : https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/101066190483831009161/101066190483831009161/about/p/pub
Now as my personal preference regarding social media is Google+ over facebook or twitter I have a special offer for anyone who comes and joins me there. For anyone who has been added to my World Snooker Coach Google+ page they can look forward to a discount off the cost of coaching sessions starting immediately. ALL google+ participants will now only pay £10 for a coaching session lasting 1hr. I really want people to enjoy the social media aspect of my coaching business and I am able to do many more things using Google+ than anything else so
Most snooker players have been crying out for some time now for more amateur and pro-am snooker competitions, well that's just what we're getting down at Elite Snooker Club in Lostock Hall. Owners Shokat Ali and Chris Norbury are putting on a series of Pro-Am's and some amateur only competitions, the next amateur only event being held this sunday 1st July. Entry fee is £15, best of 5 frames with a best of 5 plate competition for the 1st rd losers so anyone out there who needs some competitive practice or just loves playing, get yourself down there for 10:30am for an 11 o'clock start. The club details for your sat nav are Elite Snooker Club, Coote Lane, Lostock Hall PR5 5JD........see you there!
Fantastic 147 break from the master Stephen Hendry in the 1st round of the 2012 World Championships in sheffield....enjoy.