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Too late?

Postby Dougal

Hi guys

I've just booked some coaching with Ian Williamson at Northern Snooker Centre, Leeds.

I've played bits and bobs and in fits and starts since I was 14. I'm 32 now and I've decided to challenge myself.

Have I left it too late to learn to play to any sort of standard? I don't mean like making centuries and winning the World Championship. I mean more sort of being able to pot a few, play some half decent safety and knock a 50 in every now and again. I practised for 6 weeks one summer and made a 40 break, but I was young then. I've never had any sort of coaching.

What do you think?

Re: Too late?

Postby Sickpotter

It's never too late <ok>

You show some talent having applied yourself for a while and making a 40 break, no reason you can't build on that even as you get older.

There's a lot of talk regarding shelf life of pros and how they tend to drop off after mid 30's but IMO that's more down to a lack of desire than it is any physical limitations.

Certainly your eyes will go but with today's medical options there's no reason your eyesight should prevent you reaching your occaisional 50 break goal. Even without eye surgery or glasses you'll still be ok, you just might find the initial opening long red is a little tough to make consistently. In among the balls it won't be much of an issue at all :spot on:

Best of luck playing the greatest of cue sports :clap:

Re: Too late?

Postby Dougal

Thanks for your response. :)

Yeah, sighting long pots is definitely harder than it used to be. I've got very limited vision in one eye and I want to learn to compensate for that. That's always been the same though. Very left eye dominant.

The thing that annoys me and that I want to sort out is that I know my technique is wildly inconsistent. And when I've played in the past I've tended to hit a glass ceiling where I can't seem to get any better. I hope that sorting my rudiments out will make it more enjoyable and less frustrating.

If I can consistently get the same enjoyment out of playing as I do from watching, we'll be on to a winner.

Re: Too late?

Postby Sickpotter

Inconsistent technique can be addressed by working hard on your pre-shot routine. With enough practice it'll become automatic which will help drive consistency.

Good luck

Re: Too late?

Postby Dougal

Yeah I'm definitely prepared to practice and put the work in. I've never known exactly what it is I'm practicing, really. I mean I've read things and watched vidoes and all the rest of it but having someone telling me where I'm going wrong will be very helpful.

I've been reading through the coaching section and your input and insight is really helpful. :)

Re: Too late?

Postby Dougal

I hadn't played any snooker for about 6 months and I played for a couple of hours yesterday as a kind of pre-cursor to my first coaching session and it was a total nightmare. Couldn't hit the ball straight for the life of me.

It's just as difficult as I remember.

Re: Too late?

Postby Roland

Hitting the ball straight is a technique thing which is something your coaching lesson will sort out. Back to basics for a bit then once you have a routine and hit the ball straight consistently you'll be away. It's not as hard as all that once you get a bit of confidence in your technique.

Re: Too late?

Postby Dougal

Sonny wrote:Hitting the ball straight is a technique thing which is something your coaching lesson will sort out. Back to basics for a bit then once you have a routine and hit the ball straight consistently you'll be away. It's not as hard as all that once you get a bit of confidence in your technique.


Yeah that's what I figured. When I was a kid, I was very impatient. It was kind of 'sod learning to stand properly. I want to learn how to do deep screw'. So I did, by trial and massive error.

I'm looking forward to learning to hit the ball properly now though and really want to put the work in to learn to enjoy playing and to have some confidence.

Re: Too late?

Postby Roland

Haha I can relate to that.

Re: Too late?

Postby Dougal

Had my first coaching session today and really enjoyed it.

Ian is a nice bloke and explains things clearly- that helps. I was doing quite a few things I wasn't aware of that were holding me back (changing my grip on screw shots for example) and everything was pretty inconsistent.

He's now given me a routine, completely changed my grip, and for the first time I know what it is I should be doing. So it's a lot to change all at once, but I like to think of myself as a quick learner. I'll put the hours in to make sure that what feels like a lot of processes at the moment becomes something I do with the minimum of thought. I guess driving is an analogy, but I've never driven so I wouldn't know.

By the end I started to recognise that I was hitting the ball more cleanly already. Every pot looked incredibly difficult on Wednesday, but I feel like the process has been de-mystified even if I can't do it right yet. I can't wait to get down to the club and start putting some hours in to make it happen.

Feeling pretty happy.
:)

Re: Too late?

Postby Dougal

It's coming along....slowly....I'm putting plenty of practice in and trying to make everything second nature. Ian has changed absolutely everything about my technique and it's starting to pay off. I'm now pretty confident that I can cue well. I need to work on sighting and lining pots up. I need to work on my timing. I feel like I'm imporving everytime I practice at the moment. Good vibes.

Re: Too late?

Postby Sickpotter

Glad to hear it's working out for you, especially if Ian's completely re-vamped your whole cue action, that's a lot to deal with.

It's nice that you're seeing steady improvement but keep in mind that you will not always see immediate results implementing coaching suggestions. Don't let that get you down, it's all part of the process.

Good luck :-)

Re: Too late?

Postby Dougal

Yeah I've had some very frustrating sessions- especially when I play frames with my pal. Solo practice and going through the routines, I am noticing improvement but it's not coming through into frames just yet. Overall though, I can see that my level is rising. I'll just keep working at it. I'm enjoying the challenge.

Re: Too late?

Postby Dougal

Noticable improvement. For the first time, last night some of the solo practice I've done came into a match with me. I play my mate about once a week. For the last 3, he's beaten me quite comfortably (I only started playing again 3 weeks ago). But last night, a few things happened which gave me a bit of confidence.
1) I beat him 3-2.
2) I made 2 breaks over 20. That doesn't sound like a lot, but I haven't scored AT ALL in the last 3 matches (highest break since I started this was 16 and that stood alone like a beacon. The rest was mostly red-colour). The second one was very satisfying because I had to pot some very difficult balls and leave myself with half a chance of potting the next. It should have been over 30 though because I misjudged a potting angle on the pink. Never mind.
3) Certain long pots that I've been practicing came up and I knocked them all in.

Onwards and upwards!

Re: Too late?

Postby Dougal

An update for those that are interested.

I've had 8 lessons so far, and I'm working really hard on my game. My cue action is coming along nicely. I'm still working to iron out 1 or 2 bad habits (a little twist in my wrist on my shot being the main one and not always fully following through the other) but i'm getting there. I'm getting the cue through straighter and more often.

In solo practice, I've been practicing the line up a lot in the last month and have come on quite quickly- I made a 59 on Tuesday, and my high break seems to improve week on week.

It's starting to come though into frames a bit more. If I make a point of slowing down and concentrating hard I play better.

Basically, I'm loving it.

Re: Too late?

Postby Roland

It is a great game

Re: Too late?

Postby Sickpotter

Glad you're enjoying it, keep it up <cool>

Re: Too late?

Postby andydavis69

Hi there. It was interesting reading your story about your lessons i am going through a similar period in my snooker carrear just wondering if you would recommend Ian as a good coach in leeds

Re: Too late?

Postby Dan-cat

This is a really inspiring thread, 59 break after a few weeks! I gotta get me some coaching asap.

I wonder if Dougal has improved on this since, it was in 2012

Re: Too late?

Postby acesinc

Dougal wrote:Hi guys

I've just booked some coaching with Ian Williamson at Northern Snooker Centre, Leeds.

I've played bits and bobs and in fits and starts since I was 14. I'm 32 now and I've decided to challenge myself.

Have I left it too late to learn to play to any sort of standard? I don't mean like making centuries and winning the World Championship. I mean more sort of being able to pot a few, play some half decent safety and knock a 50 in every now and again. I practised for 6 weeks one summer and made a 40 break, but I was young then. I've never had any sort of coaching.

What do you think?


I'm coming late to this party, but when I saw the title, "Too late?", I was intrigued. Then, reading that you are 32 years old (in 2012), I about choked on my morning coffee laughing out loud (pardon...it's coffee, not tea for a Yank). So to re-visit my story quickly....

Learned the game at 20 years old, played a few times a week for about five years. In that whole time, I had two breaks in the forties, and maybe a dozen in the thirties. Twenties were not uncommon but I often went full sessions without seeing a twenty break.

Fast forward, I got away from the game for twenty years, and at 50 years old now, ancient by your standards, I have been back at the table for the last five years and loving it more than ever. For the last couple years, I have broken my age (half century) three or four times a year. Playing about 8 to 10 hours a week, I will break forty about once or twice a month, and the thirty breaks are too numerous to talk about. I now run twenties in more frames than not.

When I came back to the table, aged 44, I realized that the eyes just weren't right. I agree with Sickpotter that among the balls, it's not that big a deal, but it can be very difficult to get a break going with a long and/or thin starter pot. For me, contact lenses were the perfect solution. Took about six months and plenty of patience to sort out the correct prescription but well worth it, not because I necessarily stroke better, but simply because with clearer vision, the confidence level is higher.

Also, I agree with Sickpotter about the myth of the shelf life of professionals. On the cusp of 40 years old, I see Ronnie playing the game as long as he wants to. Of course, the victories are going to drop off, so what? I love to watch Steve Davis put together a good frame every now and then still. If playing perfect snooker even as you get older is your biggest priority, you have the wrong game. On the other hand, if enjoyment of the game is your driving force, you can play and enjoy this game until the day you drop dead. And if you are smart enough to learn something every time you swing the cue, then as an amateur like most of us, your game will probably continue to improve until that day as well, despite the physical deterioration of your body. Myself, I am looking forward to the next twenty, thirty years. And though I am not pressuring myself to produce it, I fully expect to reach 70, 80, and yes, even the century one day.

A couple things you said actually concern me a little bit.

The first was, "....I had to pot some very difficult balls and leave myself with half a chance of potting the next. It should have been over 30 though because I misjudged a potting angle on the pink. Never mind."--NEVER look at those apparent missed opportunities with that negative outlook because the next time a similar opportunity presents itself (which won't take very long, believe me), you will have simply added another layer of pressure on yourself to perform and it will just be that much more difficult and failure will soon spiral out of control because of the negative outlook. ALWAYS realize that another chance at a break is just moments away. We rank amateurs are not playing against a pro who can, at will, leave us buried behind a baulk colour with no chance to pot. Our real opponents leave us openers all the time. Literally, every single frame, I see the realistic possibility of a thirty or forty break several times but only occasionally I manage to convert my vision into an actual nice break. But like with twenty breaks now, I expect the day will come soon that I begin to make these thirties and forties happen on a very regular basis.

The second thing you said was, "If I make a point of slowing down and concentrating hard I play better." In my view, "concentrating" is ONLY useful when you are sitting in your chair watching your opponent at the table, or when you are standing, surveying, and deciding among your possible shot choices. If you are "concentrating" when you are actually down and stroking the cue ball, your mind can only get in your way. Sickpotter also mentioned the importance of "pre-shot routine" which I exactly agree with as going through this reflex action with each shot gets your body doing what it does naturally all the while preventing your brain from going places it ought not. My statement about this is: "Question: Why is Ronnie so good at potting balls? Answer: He approaches it exactly like he approaches tying his shoes....doesn't think about it at all, simply does it." Of course, you must concentrate, and think, and mull, and decide, and do arithmetic, and all kinds of other mental exercises when playing snooker, BUT (here is the important, critical factor) NOT when you are crouching and feathering and stroking the ball. If any distraction creeps into your mind while you are crouching, any uncertainty about a decision you made, or anything else, you must stand back up and start over again. THAT is why the pre-shot routine is so important...it keeps your mind out of the PHYSICAL business of striking the cue ball.

So the answer to your question "Is it too late?" at 32 years old....I am a far better player at fifty years old than I could even dream of at 25 (when I began my hiatus). Yes, I do wish I had my younger physical body to go along with this fantastic older, wiser brain, but as an either/or choice, I have the better of the two worlds now. And I expect to update this post with the positive events of the past decade about ten years from now when I am sixty.
Last edited by acesinc on 23 Jan 2015, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Too late?

Postby Dan-cat

Yes Acesinc! Thanks for all that. Love the positivity :)

I think that playing good Snooker is like a metaphor for life. As in life, you must be truly present. You can only change what is happening right now. It doesn't matter that you messed up, missed shots, you can rectify it. But you have to be present and focus on the right now.

'each morning we are born again. It's what we do today that matters most.' atrib. Buddha

Acesinc, you mentioned a few months ago you would detail exactly how you rebuilt your game. I'd be really keen to hear your story when you have time.

Dan

Re: Too late?

Postby acesinc

Dan-cat wrote:Yes Acesinc! Thanks for all that. Love the positivity :)

I think that playing good Snooker is like a metaphor for life. As in life, you must be truly present. You can only change what is happening right now. It doesn't matter that you messed up, missed shots, you can rectify it. But you have to be present and focus on the right now.

'each morning we are born again. It's what we do today that matters most.' atrib. Buddha

Acesinc, you mentioned a few months ago you would detail exactly how you rebuilt your game. I'd be really keen to hear your story when you have time.

Dan


Thanks Dan-cat. I have always had the same thought of Snooker as a metaphor for life, except that you choose to use the words, "...playing good Snooker..." whereas I would say that Snooker IS life, the good, the bad, and the indifferent. At every turn, we are at a crossroads, a decision needs to be made, often mundane, sometimes important and consequential. We make that decision based on hope, based on fear, based on intelligence, based on "gut feeling". Most importantly, based on previous experience. As in life, the actual execution and implementation of our decision is an entirely different and, in its own way, a more complex aspect of our overall game plan. How we actually live may well be very different from how we would like to live. Sometimes, we experience a roll of good fortune, and other times, misfortune will find us. As in life, we all want to win the game, but even that desire is eclipsed by good ethics. We would rather do the right thing than something nefarious, whether at Snooker or at life, at least that is how I live and how I play the game and I wish the same for all my opponents. If that is unfortunately not the case and my Snooker opponent's ethics are questionable, then I also know exactly where he stands in life and I can only wish to help the poor soul because he is not in a good place. And as in life, though many will whine and deny and shift blame elsewhere, the greatest impediment to our advancement toward our goals is simply in ourselves.
_______________

I'm sorry I have taken so long to do a write up. There is so much I would like to say, but I am just paralyzed and haven't yet managed to put pen to paper. I can give you a spoiler alert though; there is no magic. It is mostly recognition and desire, experimentation and dedication, and frustration in untold amounts, and finally, acceptance. And then you are over that hill.....only to find the new view at the top of the hill is more and steeper hills ahead. And a lesser man will hang it up at that point, but you have learned to lick your lips, grit your teeth, and continue on, knowing, KNOWING that those bigger steeper hills will not stop you either.

It's a state of mind and it's a good place to be.

Re: Too late?

Postby TheSaviour

I certainly hadn´t had any thoughts of snooker as a metaphor for life.. What an absolute garbage once again written on these pages to be honest.. It is ´just´ s sport. Just enjoy as the top-players go for it if you do enjoy it, or why not trying to play yourself if you really fancy it. It´s never too late to test and challenge yourself.

Re: Too late?

Postby Dan-cat

Saviour, how do you think Dr Steve Peters has helped Ronnie?

By teaching him acceptance and being in the 'now' i.e. it doesn't matter that he just played a terrible shot, he must strike it from his mind and move on. Next shot. Which is exactly like life. You mess up or something bad happens in life, you must accept it and move on. You can only change what is happening right now.

There's room for all kinds of chat on this forum.

Re: Too late?

Postby acesinc

There are many spectators in the game of life as well. Playing the game is much more fun.

Re: Too late?

Postby Dan-cat

Bounce.

Acesinc, how's your write up coming along? Hehe. No pressure :)

I came looking for this thread because I'm just about half-way through writing a three hour seminar, and I wanted to find what I'd written about playing good snooker being a metaphor for life because I'm using that to discuss being present. I'm holed up at my mum's retreat in the Spanish mountains, about an hour from Valencia. I came here specifically to write this seminar which needs to be approx 30,000 for a three hour talk. I'm at 13,980 so far, 3 days in, not too bad! It's flowing. Nearly halfway! I'm having some wine to celebrate. I want to reach 15,000 before the night's out, it's 23:03 right now. I can do it! He said slightly hysterically.