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SNOOKER: A MICROCOSMIC METAPHOR FOR LIFE?

Postby Dan-cat

Something that I wrote for a seminar I'm doing, thought you guys might like to read / slay / take the snake hiss.


Snooker. Let’s talk about snooker again. There is a point to this. I’ll keep it brief. For those of you who don’t know, snooker is like pool, only on a much bigger table. It requires a better technique than pool. If I don’t practice regularly, my game falls apart, but with pool I can pick it up and play competently even if I haven’t played for a few weeks. Timing on the stroke is everything, you need to be very still, push the cue through in a straight line and follow through on the shot.

To play snooker real good you have to be truly present. Truly in the moment - you have to empty your mind of thoughts. You can’t think about the bad shot you just played before. How would that help you? In its own microcosmic way, you must drop the baggage of the past. Strike it and move on. How many times have I talked myself out of victory in my head because I’ve played 3 or 4 terrible shots in a row? Or just lost a game I should have won? How can I expect to play a good shot, get my timing right, push the cue through correctly when I’m still ruminating on my poor play before, or that missed black ball that meant I lost the last game? When you are down on the shot, as soon as you start thinking about anything at all - the positional side of the shot, or the next shot after that, or how many points you are gonna get, the position you are in the match - you are sunk. The ball won’t go in, you’ll miss-time your shot. I play weekly, and it’s a wonderful weekly practice session for ego-management, boxing the chimp. I’m literally putting the methods I’ve learnt into use in every session.

Stephen Hendry, the most successful snooker player ever with seven world titles to his name, was once asked what was in his mind when he was playing the shot. Turns out he had a mantra of sorts, not that he called it that. His mantra? Get in the pocket you bastard. Get in the pocket you bastard. Pretty simple. Setting an intention too. The dude knew what he was doing.

The 1980 World Champion Terry Griffiths, who came through qualifying to beat the top players in the world and is now the most sought after coach would sing a song in his head when down on the shot. Exactly the same idea. A barricade to negative thoughts coming in. As a Welshman, the song he chose was Myfanwy. When down on the shot, he would literally be singing this song over and over in his head. If you are singing a song in your head, how can any negative thoughts come in? Pretty useful tool this, to stop negative thoughts getting in the way. He taught this method to fellow Welshman Mark Williams, while coaching him to two World titles, who chose ‘Waltzing Matilda’ as his song of choice.

There’s more to my snooker metaphor. When you play and think positively, and are playing well, the table responds positively to you. Little nudges, canons and kisses go your way. You can make your own luck on a snooker table. It’s a strange phenomenon to observe but it is real. Attack attack! Trust me, I’ve done a lot of on-table research. Hours and hours and hours and hours. Play positively, and good things happen. Exactly like life.

I have a long-standing rivalry with my studio partner Steve. We are pretty evenly matched, which makes for tremendous tussles. We have a shield that passes between us - the erroneously engraved Planck Music Cup - and we play tournaments, first to 9 games, over several sessions. The target provides a storyline and drama in each session. If he gets ahead by a few frames, which can happen, then of course my chimp goes into overdrive. ‘rubbish, if he gets this frame, he’s only two away from winning the tournament’ - and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to put into practice the methods I’m sharing with you today. Sometimes I find myself on a five minute long downward negative thought spiral before I catch myself and sort out my thoughts. I sing a song.

‘Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda, you’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me’

Don’t worry I won’t sing again. Those aren't even the right words. I just looked them up.

We call it the cruel game. You can have the most awful luck on a snooker table, no matter how positively you are playing. Sometimes, it just feels like the snooker gods have got it in for you. You might not get a decent chance at a pot in what seems like an age. It can be so frustrating. An entire game can go by without you feeling like you had a sniff of a chance to get a break going. You watch in pain as the ball runs safe again and again after your opponent makes a mess of his pot. Or you keep going in-off - scratching the white. Sometimes you can give your opponent 20 odd penalty points and in an amateur level club game twenty points is a big deal. I can feel the rage inside me come up and internally I’m screaming ‘just give me a shot! One chance and I’ll get some points on the board!’ and I have to take myself to the toilet, look at myself in the mirror and give myself a good talking to.

How does getting angry serve me in this case? How would getting frustrated at my seemingly bad luck help me win the game?

Strike it and move on. Your luck will turn, it always does. Be patient, and wait for your chance, enjoy the ride. And when that chance comes, don’t invest too much in the outcome. Have a plan in place for your next step, which ball you are playing onto, clear your mind, get down, and be present.

Get in the pocket you bastard.
Last edited by Dan-cat on 26 Sep 2016, edited 1 time in total.

Re: SNOOKER: A MICROCOSMIC METAPHOR FOR LIFE?

Postby Cloud Strife

Just joking.

A really nice piece, if not a touch pretentious if I may say so. However, I enjoyed reading it, which is the main thing.

Re: SNOOKER: A MICROCOSMIC METAPHOR FOR LIFE?

Postby SnookerFan

Dan-cat wrote:Stephen Hendry, the most successful snooker player ever with seven world titles to his name, was once asked what was in his mind when he was playing the shot. Turns out he had a mantra of sorts, not that he called it that. His mantra? Get in the pocket you bastard. Get in the pocket you bastard. Pretty simple. Setting an intention too. The dude knew what he was doing.


Not heard that before. Love that. rofl

Re: SNOOKER: A MICROCOSMIC METAPHOR FOR LIFE?

Postby Dan-cat

Cloud Strife wrote:Just joking.

A really nice piece, if not a touch pretentious if I may say so. However, I enjoyed reading it, which is the main thing.


Ouch. Does it come across that way? It's from a 4 hour self-development seminar I'm doing called 'Happiness Technology' about meditation, ego-management (boxing the chimp!), being non-reactive, nutrition, unlearning pre-learned behavioral patterns, achieving your goals, and loads more that is super-double top-secret...

So that's the audience. Well anyone really. Does that make it less pretentious? Not sure :)

Re: SNOOKER: A MICROCOSMIC METAPHOR FOR LIFE?

Postby Cloud Strife

Dan-cat wrote:
Cloud Strife wrote:Just joking.

A really nice piece, if not a touch pretentious if I may say so. However, I enjoyed reading it, which is the main thing.


Ouch. Does it come across that way? It's from a 4 hour self-development seminar I'm doing called 'Happiness Technology' about meditation, ego-management (boxing the chimp!), being non-reactive, nutrition, unlearning pre-learned behavioral patterns, achieving your goals, and loads more that is super-double top-secret...

So that's the audience. Well anyone really. Does that make it less pretentious? Not sure :)


Take no notice of me, probably just my ignorance shining through.

You were talking broadly about a subject and snooker just happened to be the example you used to illustrate your views on that subject. That's fine, that makes it less "pretentious". :-)

One thing I will say though, snooker in my opinion is a very simple game, simple to play and simple to understand (obviously difficult to master) and your piece made it sound like the most ludicrous thing ever undertaken by man. A mental roller coaster if you will. rofl

Re: SNOOKER: A MICROCOSMIC METAPHOR FOR LIFE?

Postby Dan-cat

Yes Cloudy you're right. It is fundamentally so simple! Like life is, if we let it.

'your piece made it sound like the most ludicrous thing ever undertaken by man.' hehe. Sometimes, it is really tough out there!!!

Re: SNOOKER: A MICROCOSMIC METAPHOR FOR LIFE?

Postby acesinc

Dan-cat wrote:Something that I wrote for a seminar I'm doing, thought you guys might like to read / slay / take the snake hiss....

...
Get in the pocket you bastard.


Now I have to re-think everything...just when I had finally come to accept that I am the odd duck that must see the world through drunk goggles and everyone else's viewpoint must be correct because they all see things the same way, Dan, you come along and pontificate exactly what I have been striving for the last six years. Thank you! I am validated.

I concur with all of this. For me, the song was The Monkees' Daydream Believer for quite a while after the passing of Davy Jones. I have gotten away from that but I ought to re-incorporate it into my game.

What you said about playing positively made me think I want add a photo for you but I don't know how or if I can do that so I will just have to describe it for you: About a year ago, I began writing some notes to myself which are simple little thoughts for me to mull over while I sit in my chair waiting for my opponent to make up his mind what shot he will finally decide to play (I tend to have a lot of time on my hands for this so reading material is welcome). I wrote these on an envelope and numbered each one as it came to me and flipped the envelope over and continued on the back side. I am at bullet point 7) at the moment and I haven't added anything in quite some time so I went ahead and laminated it for posterity. So number 7) says, "Always play positive snooker. It really is a thing. And don't try to explain it. Anyone who can understand positive snooker already plays it. And anyone who doesn't play positive snooker cannot understand it."

Other than myself and my kid, I have had three people pass through my club who play positive snooker and all three of those have been National Champions of their respective countries (two US and one Iraq). To be fair, my definition of "positive snooker" in this case is not quite the same as your meaning I think. I believe that you are referring more to a positive attitude in general while by my definition, "positive snooker" means to go for the pot even when it is far from certain (but only with an excellent understanding of white ball reaction), continue the break rather than bailing out (look at Alex Higgins' 69 break again), win the frame (Stephen Hendry's spin on this thought was always, "Win the frame...in a single visit). This is as opposed to "negative snooker" which is regularly falling back on the safety play when conditions aren't perfect, passive shot choices of a red without definite colour, and playing the frame NOT TO LOSE which is very different from playing the frame to win.

I don't want to get too wordy here and it's time for dinner anyway so I will leave it at that for now.

Re: SNOOKER: A MICROCOSMIC METAPHOR FOR LIFE?

Postby Dan-cat

acesinc wrote:
I don't want to get too wordy here and it's time for dinner anyway so I will leave it at that for now.


Blimey. There's a first time for everything! :P

Thanks Ace. One of my friends who plays cricket quite seriously read this and said that one of the best pace bowlers of all time Glenn McGrath. and his one-time Australian team mate Craig McDermott used to sing songs as they ran into bowl, to 'quieten the voices in their head'. Ian Bell apparently says 'watch the ball' over and over again, not so he watches the ball, but as a mantra to focus his mind.

I'd like to think that they sung 10CC's Dreadlock Holiday: 'I don't like cricket, oh no, I love it!'

Re: SNOOKER: A MICROCOSMIC METAPHOR FOR LIFE?

Postby acesinc

Dan-cat wrote:...
I have a long-standing rivalry with my studio partner Steve. We are pretty evenly matched, which makes for tremendous tussles. We have a shield that passes between us - the erroneously engraved Planck Music Cup - and we play tournaments, first to 9 games, over several sessions.
...


I did want to say that your rivalry with Steve is much like mine with my Samwise. We don't have a shield or trophy to pass.....I should look into that. Over the summer when he was off school and had much more time, we had a number of "Best of 35 World Championship Finals" played out over two or three sessions.

Currently, we have a pretty solid Friday night match so we just play Best of Fives but it is special format and so the matches are much more exciting and enduring than it may sound. He usually wins thanks in part to the generous handicapping I give him but that is part of the plan. I usually manage to take about one out of every four matches from him. Last weekend though I was coming off a win from the previous weekend so I was not favoured. In a stunning upset, I took him down 3 and 0 and 0 which never happens. We just made a short night of it because he really did feel awful; he has became quite passionate about the game. He could have used your words of wisdom because really, I didn't take him down at all, he just took himself out of it. Let me explain...

To promote this idea of positive snooker, we actually invented our own game and in fact, our own club within the club. We are the sole members and will probably remain the sole members because, unless one of the aforementioned National Champions were to attend with any regularity, I don't think anyone else in the club is interested or could even qualify. It is called Club 74 and for very good reason. First, to qualify, one must demonstrate promiscuity in potting balls. This is done simply by running a rack solo, no opponent, playing standard rules snooker (in the case of my son, with his usual handicap in place) and the playing partner keeps time, keeps score, and spots balls. To qualify for Club 74, at the end of ten minutes, the player must have scored a minimum of 74 points. Not as easy as it sounds; if you squander scoring opportunities potting reds without colours or take a lot of baulk, time will run short before you can get to the final sequence. You should try it. I ran the test three times and passed all three; for my best, I managed a healthy 99, all the way through the final Brown. Sam was understandably worried about accomplishing it, but on his second try he squeaked out a 76.

Moving on to the actual match then, to win a Club 74 frame, a player must score a minimum of 74 points. If in any individual frame score, neither player manages 74 or better, it simply goes in the books as a draw, much like a stalemate except that the next breakoff does change hands. There are a few more rules I won't bother with here and there is actually quite a bit of maths involved to figure who may or may not cross the line, and often the losing player may need to make a new goal of just forcing a draw on the frame based on current scores. It really does stimulate the neural synapses.

So because of the score requirement, and because most players are a bit rusty swinging the cue the first frame of a match, nearly always, our first frame will come down to a draw, rarely a winner. By the second frame, we are both potting balls pretty well so the scoreline may well advance to 1 and 0 and 1, etc. The final score of a best of five then usually requires about 7 or 8 frames actually and will come in at 3 and 1 and 3 or some such. So last weekend, I did manage some wizardry at the end of the first frame to stumble across the line with 74 points exactly to take the first frame clean! Sam did not take it well at all and from that point, he could not get into his usual groove. Our matches are usually so much fun and laughs, but this one was not. Middle of the third frame, I asked if he just wanted to end it here, and to his credit, he did say, "No, let's just finish this one."

Moral of the story is that this is exactly the lesson that you are talking about. So often, we will create our own reality and what thoughts we have, good or bad, will so often come to fruition in real life. I occasionally go back to an old video from the 70's or 80's, one of the lines that has always stuck with me but is so easy to forget in the heat of battle: Jack Karnehm is referencing positional play around the Black spot and in his gentle, soothing voice says something along the lines of, "If you can imagine it, it is very likely to happen." And this applies whether in the positive or negative sense. I am sure that I am not the only one who has looked at a long, eleven foot, nearly full ball pot into a top pocket. Just slightly off full ball and the red will pot. But then, suddenly you think, if I hit the wrong side of center, white may follow into the pocket. And of course, it does. Times like those, you MUST stand up, look at something else, come to a final decision as to whether you still want to attempt that pot or not. And if you do attempt that pot, you must somehow obliterate the negative thought from your head before you crouch down to strike.

Re: SNOOKER: A MICROCOSMIC METAPHOR FOR LIFE?

Postby acesinc

PoolBoy wrote:Get a room!


Good idea! In fact, I think I will spring for a large suite. You know, room enough for three as obviously, you like to watch. ;-)

If not, move along...nothing to see here.

Re: SNOOKER: A MICROCOSMIC METAPHOR FOR LIFE?

Postby Dan-cat

acesinc wrote:Jack Karnehm is referencing positional play around the Black spot and in his gentle, soothing voice says something along the lines of, "If you can imagine it, it is very likely to happen."


I remember this too. I also remember a quite strange video that I can't find now with Ronnie talking about visualization.

Remember his strange 147 where he nearly refused the black? There's a bit at the very beginning at the first red where he wanders off and walks around the table. He's visualizing getting to the final black of a 147.

In the interview I saw, which is actually some university thing, Ronnie says when he's playing well the pockets seem huge - like buckets - and he visualizes easily where the white will go.

Jedi mind tricks. We all have them, some people have learnt how to use them

Re: SNOOKER: A MICROCOSMIC METAPHOR FOR LIFE?

Postby SnookerFan

Dan-cat wrote:Something that I wrote for a seminar I'm doing, thought you guys might like to read / slay / take the snake hiss.


Snooker. Let’s talk about snooker again. There is a point to this. I’ll keep it brief. For those of you who don’t know, snooker is like pool, only on a much bigger table. It requires a better technique than pool. If I don’t practice regularly, my game falls apart, but with pool I can pick it up and play competently even if I haven’t played for a few weeks. Timing on the stroke is everything, you need to be very still, push the cue through in a straight line and follow through on the shot.

To play snooker real good you have to be truly present. Truly in the moment - you have to empty your mind of thoughts. You can’t think about the bad shot you just played before. How would that help you? In its own microcosmic way, you must drop the baggage of the past. Strike it and move on. How many times have I talked myself out of victory in my head because I’ve played 3 or 4 terrible shots in a row? Or just lost a game I should have won? How can I expect to play a good shot, get my timing right, push the cue through correctly when I’m still ruminating on my poor play before, or that missed black ball that meant I lost the last game? When you are down on the shot, as soon as you start thinking about anything at all - the positional side of the shot, or the next shot after that, or how many points you are gonna get, the position you are in the match - you are sunk. The ball won’t go in, you’ll miss-time your shot. I play weekly, and it’s a wonderful weekly practice session for ego-management, boxing the chimp. I’m literally putting the methods I’ve learnt into use in every session.

Stephen Hendry, the most successful snooker player ever with seven world titles to his name, was once asked what was in his mind when he was playing the shot. Turns out he had a mantra of sorts, not that he called it that. His mantra? Get in the pocket you bastard. Get in the pocket you bastard. Pretty simple. Setting an intention too. The dude knew what he was doing.

The 1980 World Champion Terry Griffiths, who came through qualifying to beat the top players in the world and is now the most sought after coach would sing a song in his head when down on the shot. Exactly the same idea. A barricade to negative thoughts coming in. As a Welshman, the song he chose was Myfanwy. When down on the shot, he would literally be singing this song over and over in his head. If you are singing a song in your head, how can any negative thoughts come in? Pretty useful tool this, to stop negative thoughts getting in the way. He taught this method to fellow Welshman Mark Williams, while coaching him to two World titles, who chose ‘Waltzing Matilda’ as his song of choice.

There’s more to my snooker metaphor. When you play and think positively, and are playing well, the table responds positively to you. Little nudges, canons and kisses go your way. You can make your own luck on a snooker table. It’s a strange phenomenon to observe but it is real. Attack attack! Trust me, I’ve done a lot of on-table research. Hours and hours and hours and hours. Play positively, and good things happen. Exactly like life.

I have a long-standing rivalry with my studio partner Steve. We are pretty evenly matched, which makes for tremendous tussles. We have a shield that passes between us - the erroneously engraved Planck Music Cup - and we play tournaments, first to 9 games, over several sessions. The target provides a storyline and drama in each session. If he gets ahead by a few frames, which can happen, then of course my chimp goes into overdrive. ‘rubbish, if he gets this frame, he’s only two away from winning the tournament’ - and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to put into practice the methods I’m sharing with you today. Sometimes I find myself on a five minute long downward negative thought spiral before I catch myself and sort out my thoughts. I sing a song.

‘Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda, you’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me’

Don’t worry I won’t sing again. Those aren't even the right words. I just looked them up.

We call it the cruel game. You can have the most awful luck on a snooker table, no matter how positively you are playing. Sometimes, it just feels like the snooker gods have got it in for you. You might not get a decent chance at a pot in what seems like an age. It can be so frustrating. An entire game can go by without you feeling like you had a sniff of a chance to get a break going. You watch in pain as the ball runs safe again and again after your opponent makes a mess of his pot. Or you keep going in-off - scratching the white. Sometimes you can give your opponent 20 odd penalty points and in an amateur level club game twenty points is a big deal. I can feel the rage inside me come up and internally I’m screaming ‘just give me a shot! One chance and I’ll get some points on the board!’ and I have to take myself to the toilet, look at myself in the mirror and give myself a good talking to.

How does getting angry serve me in this case? How would getting frustrated at my seemingly bad luck help me win the game?

Strike it and move on. Your luck will turn, it always does. Be patient, and wait for your chance, enjoy the ride. And when that chance comes, don’t invest too much in the outcome. Have a plan in place for your next step, which ball you are playing onto, clear your mind, get down, and be present.

Get in the pocket you bastard.



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