Technique Tips - How to Pot a Ball

32.jpg

This is mainly for those who are new to the game or even those who play snooker leisurely but need some reinforcement of what fundamentals they should incorporate into their potting technique. This will include tips from all over as well as some insight provided by professional players.

Identify the line of the shot (potting angle) and walk into the shot

This is one of Ronnie O’Sullivan’s top tips which can be found on YouTube where once you have assessed the shot you want to make – take a couple steps back and walk into the shot. This makes it easier to get your feet and body into a stable position where you can focus on your bridge and cuing

Go for accuracy and not power

I would avoid going for the Judd Trump-esque kinds of shots; particularly when starting out. If you try to hit the cue ball too hard, you’ll often cue across the white and miss your pot by a long way. Instead, focus on delivering a solid cue action using the further tips below and work on getting your pots closer to the pocket. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it can make. Once you’ve got the hang of that then by all means, scroll that power bar right up!

The following tips mainly apply to when your hand is on the table and about to take the shot. Getting these things in your cue action right (as early as possible) will have a huge impact on your potting success. So let’s see what we should keep an eye on.

Maintain a stable bridge

The bridge refers to the position your opposing hand takes that your cue rests on. There are a few common positions that players use and there is no wrong position when it comes to this. The main staple is using a bridge position that allows you to comfortably deliver the cue in a straight line as consistently as possible

Deliver your cuing arm as straight as possible

One of the main reasons you are probably missing pots and don’t know the reason for this is because you are not actually hitting the cue ball where you are intending. This occurs when you cue across the white ball and do not hit it directly in the centre (or where you were planning to) which in turns affects the outcome of the shot

Something Steve Davis used to do before practicing is just stroke the cue ball up and down the table. And he would make sure the cue ball would return to him in a straight line. When he was able to do this, he knew that he was delivering his cue arm as straight as possible. You can practice this using the baulk line to ensure you are not putting unintentional side when you strike the cue ball.

Keep still

Keeping your head, bridge and body as still as possible will reduce the chance of an improper cue action. Steve Davis is the perfect example of a player to watch when it comes to technique. Even once he played the shot he would keep his head down and still until the ball went into the pocket.

Try to maintain a consistent pre-shot routine

When playing a shot, you tend to feather the ball a few times before you take the shot to ensure you are striking the cue ball where you want to and in a straight action. This is similar to how golfers like Shaun Murphy attempt practice swings before their actual shot. If you watch Mark Selby, he has the same pre-shot routine for every shot where he lines the cue up and takes two large backswings before he takes his shot. He does this for every shot whether going for a pot or a safety and this is why his safety play is so high-tier.

Practice

The difficult thing about snooker and making a pot is remembering to implement all of these tips into every single shot. Due to the lengthy nature of snooker, it can become very easy to forget these fundamentals and just hit the cue ball out of frustration, especially after not potting a ball in a long while. But, as with everything, the more you keep practising, the more second-nature these techniques will become.

Have fun!

No explanation necessary

There are definitely a lot more things that you can do to improve your game but this was mainly for those (including myself) who have difficulty even when it comes to potting a single ball in snooker. There’s a lot of advice out there on the internet and YouTube (I recommend Barry Stark’s videos) in which you can pick up little things that you can take into your next session. Hopefully you were able to pick up some things here!

Snooker is a difficult game; but don’t knock it until you’ve given it a solid attempt. You’ll find yourself having a fun time even if you miss most of your shots. I wouldn’t go into this game expecting to be able to pot everything just by emulating what you see on TV. But the great thing about snooker is that there’s always room for improvement; even at the highest level. Technically speaking, no one is the perfect snooker player. But snooker is a game with a steep learning curve where players (professional and casual) can elevate to new heights with even the minutest of changes.

What was snooker like in the Joe Davis era?

31.jpg

Snooker in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. But let’s be honest, it’s more easily known as the Joe Davis era. There’s probably less than a handful of people that can actually recall what snooker was like during this period. So I thought I would try to give a few ideas on what the sport we all know and love was like during this era. Because let’s be real, it wasn’t the same as we watch it today.

Firstly, there was no WPBSA at that time. Instead, snooker was regulated by the BACC, otherwise known as the Billiards Association and Control Council. It wasn’t until 1968 that the WPBSA was formed.

When it came to the World Championships, tournaments were often held at various locations around the UK. However, particularly during the earlier WSC’s in the late 1920s, each match in a given tournament would be held at different venues. So a QF match would be held in a different venue than a SF – and then the final would be held somewhere completely different. A lot of these venues were back room snooker clubs as opposed to the theatre-like venues that we view today.

Another (obvious) difference was that there were far fewer players and tournaments during the Joe Davis era. We can only really comment on the WSC because there isn’t much documented relating to other tournaments besides the Gold Cup. But despite rising popularity, there were still few entrants in World Championships in various years. In 1931, there were only two entrants in the WSC – Joe Davis and Tom Dennis.

The lack of entrants was most likely contributed by the difficulty of the game. We’re all likely aware of how difficult snooker is however, playing conditions were quite different back in this era. Snooker balls were made of a different, denser material which made it difficult to break-build and compile centuries. Centuries during the Joe Davis era were significantly fewer than what we see today.

If you watch archived footage of Joe Davis playing, you can see that break-off shots were very different as well. Due to the material of the snooker balls, they couldn’t travel around the table and the cue ball would often stop at the side of the table. A future short relating to the differing materials of snooker balls will follow.

Lastly, snooker matches were contested over a much longer period. Because of the minimal prize money available during this era, players mainly competed for a share of the gate fees. So what they would do is play ‘dead frames’. This meant that they would compete until there was a winner, then play a further number of frames (which wouldn’t change the result) to extend play over a few more days so they can generate more revenue to split amongst the players.

For example, in 1927 Joe Davis had won the final against Tom Dennis 16-7 but an additional 8 dead frames were played so that the final could be extended for another day even though the outcome had been decided. If you look at the archives of WSC finals, there were often 60-70+ frames of snooker played. In the post Joe Davis era this raised to 145 frames being played over a period of weeks. So, in today’s context if a best-of-35 final was played, all 35 frames would be played even if the result was 34-1.

Besides that, it’s pretty much the same game! Let me know if anything was missed!

Five Players who should have won the World Championship

30.jpg

The idea for this was conceived quite some time ago but because this has been written only recently, Judd Trump is no longer on this list. So, which 5 players do we think should have won the WSC?

Ding Junhui

A finalist in 2016 and semi-finalist the year after; former Masters and UK Champion Ding Junhui has everything it takes to be a World Champion. China are still searching for their first Asian World Champion and many think that Ding will be the one to be at the top of that pedestal. He always seems to come up against the eventual winners of the WSC but if Ding can take his game up another level to withstand the longer matches in the later rounds and maintain his consistency, a WSC should be in his near future.

Alan McManus

The 1994 Masters champion; McManus’ best WSC run was in 2016 where he made the semi-finals. This included a victory over Higgins but an eventual loss to the aforementioned gentleman above. Although his positive quirk and snooker know-how is well suited in the commentary box, McManus’ knowledge around the table is vast enough to win him a world title and many, including myself would love to see him lift the trophy.

Marco Fu

Much like McManus, Fu’s most recent and best run in the WSC was in 2016 where he had one of the best matches of the tournament against the eventual winner, Mark Selby. Fu is probably the player I want most to win the WSC. He has every element of the game covered; he’s beaten all of the top players; and produces some of the best matches in the WSC. Just watch his match against Selby or his matches the following year against Brecel and Robertson. Fu is my ultimate dark horse. One day.

Barry Hawkins

2013 WSC finalist and multiple time semi-finalist since then, no one has a bad thing to say about Barry Hawkins. Despite his unfortunate second round exit this past year, Hawkins is someone you can always rely on performing well at the Worlds. He’s a player that doesn’t seem to lose his ability with age and a strong contender to eventually lift the trophy. And seeing that his birthday always falls in the WSC tournament, what a great present that would be.

Jimmy White

Multiple time runner up, we couldn’t not include the Whirlwind on this list. We like to keep hope alive and considering White is still playing on the tour, the possibility is always there. And if you’re a believer in multi-verse theory, then it already has. But that’s beside the point. He hasn’t qualified for the WSC since 2006 and his last considerable run was to the quarter-finals in 2000 but as long as White still holds a cue, he will be going for it every year and he will have the support behind him.

This is only Part 1 of this Short. There are others who we think deserved to win the WSC which will be covered at some point in the future. Many more to come.

Player Spotlight – Neil Robertson

After a stellar 2018/19 performance which included 3 ranking titles and 3 further finals, Neil Robertson was one of the Holy Trinity of players that dominated this past season. An incredible career so far and he seems to be back in top form, so let’s find out more about the 2010 World Champion.

The Thunder from Down Under turned professional in 1998 but despite his display of talent from a young age, he had a difficult few years in the snooker environment. He had to re-qualify for the main tour a couple times before maintaining permanent residence since 2003. Robertson formerly practiced at Willie Thorne’s snooker club in Leicester.

Robertson really started to shine in 2006. He had just made the quarter-finals of the UK and World Championship (05/06 season) then went to win 2 ranking titles later on in the season; his first being the Grand Prix (06/07). At this stage of his career, Robertson was beating players like O’Sullivan, Hendry and Davis to stamp his authority in the snooker world.

However, it was 2010 which was the year of triumph for the Aussie. The first of the Triple Crowns and probably his most notable; victory over Graeme Dott 18-13 in the World Championship to establish himself as the 3rd non-UK player to win the WSC – preceded by Cliff Thorburn and Ken Doherty.

Since then, Robertson has played the game we are all familiar with today - tremendous break-building and temperament followed by the completion of his Triple Crown collection with a Masters and UK Championship secured in 2012 and 2013 respectively. He is the only non-UK player to achieve this feat.

Robertson has won 11 ranking titles since his WSC win in 2010 which takes his tally up to 16 ranking events and counting. His other significant accomplishment came in 2014 where he reached 103 century breaks in a single season – something which hasn’t come close to being replicated since then.

Although the following years may not have seen the success one would expect from Robertson, he has now recently found the form that had brought him these success stories some years ago. Robertson is one of those players that prove to be unbeatable when he is in top form and now that flame has been rekindled this past season, he is a danger to others who may be looking to steal the spotlight. And Robertson is a huge video game fan, which is a plus in the eyes of Snooker Shorts!