Topic locked

A Bit About The Coach

Postby Sickpotter

Hi Everyone and welcome to the coaching section of Snooker Island. :excited:

My name is Robert Waddell and I’ve been a snooker lover for almost 25years. My goal here is to share the knowledge and experience I’ve gained through the years which will hopefully translate into improving your game. Here's a little info. on my background in the game.

Player info:

Name: Robert Waddell
DOB: I’m old, let’s just leave it there ;-)
Nationality: Canadian


- over 1000 tons run in practice (alone and in matches, I quit counting once I hit that milestone)
- high break on competition 144
- high break in practice match 147

Points of interest:

- 50 break made on first day playing.
- First ton in less than a year
- Best match played was a best of 19 where I made 10 breaks over 80 including 4 tons in a 10-1 win.


- Break building and potting


- Safety play (never been a big fan of it, might be a White/Hendry influence but mostly I just like potting….the sicker the pot the better hence my posting name of “sickpotter”)

Cue specs:

Custom made Ron Benedict, ¾ butt, 17oz, 9.5mm tip, standard length.

Favorite players in no particular order:

Jimmy White, Steve Davis, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Stephen Hendry.

To be honest I hated Hendry for years for denying White his WC but in the end there was no denying his talent.

I’ve got issues with Ronnie and his professionalism but he’s an amazing player and great to watch when on song.

Davis I’ve always admired for his professional conduct, tremendous focus and great safety.

White I’ve always admired for his all out attacking play and gentlemanly conduct.


By no means are my suggestions the be all/end all of snooker advice but if a suggestion falls flat or I’m not certain how to address your issue I’ve got other resources available to assist.

I continue to maintain friendships with several former professionals including Cliff Thorburn, Kirk Stevens, Alain Robidoux and Bob Chaperon so if I get stuck on a question I’ve got other knowledgeable sources who can provide input.

A brief history of how I started playing:

I started playing snooker rather late in life (compared to the starting age for most) and first played a frame of snooker around the age of 16. I had been a good 8-ball player for a few years and would make my way to the pool hall every Saturday to play with my friends. Eventually they got tired of my always being on the table and one Saturday I was told to look elsewhere for a game.

Looking around the hall there were few tables going and no single players available to play 8-ball so I looked for another option, finally spying an older gentleman playing snooker by himself.

I’d always thought snooker looked like a great challenge so I took the opportunity to introduce myself and ask for a game. The gentleman’s name was Ross and he was very sceptical about hitting balls with me when I told him I’d never played. I persisted explaining that I was a strong 8-ball player and potting was potting so he finally relented and I got a match.

From my first frame I was in love. Finally a game that didn’t end once you’d made 8 balls, there was more to do!! I managed to string together some breaks in the 30/40 range including one in the 50’s, much to the surprise of my new acquaintance.

I thanked Ross for showing me the basics and bid him farewell as another Saturday morning came to a close. The following week when I returned to the hall Ross was right where I’d left him. He called me over and asked if I wanted to play again and I jumped at the chance.

As I made my way over to the rack of cues Ross called me back. “If you’re going to play you have to have your own cue” he told me and proceeded to pull out an old B&W, wood joint, 16oz, 8mm tip. We played 10 frames or so and I again managed to string some decent breaks together. At the end of the match when I went to return the cue to Ross he told me to keep it, I was going to need it to realize my potential in the game.

For the next while Ross brought me around to various tournaments and helped fund much of my table time. I won a few events in the amateur circuit during the first few months but it rapidly became clear to the organizers that I was not a B division player. In my last B division event I thumped my opponent 5-0 in the final to which my opponent remarked, “if you’re B class I’m Z class”. Organizers decided then and there that I had to move divisions. Some would be distressed being forced into a new division but it didn’t bother me in the least, I wanted to challenge the best around. I proceeded into the A division for my next few events but found that the “A class” division had very few players and none that were significantly more difficult than those I found in B division. Tournaments lost their thrill for me but I kept honing my skills with the intent of getting into the pro-am events.

I made rapid progression through the various levels of break building and made my first ton just under a year after having been introduced to the game. I was fanatical about the game, playing 6-12+ hrs a day, first to arrive at the local hall and last to leave, 7 days a week. Once kicked out of the hall for the night I would retreat to watching hours of White, Hendry, and Davis. In my mind these were the guys to emulate, these were the best of the best. While Ross continued to provide input, the vast majority of my knowledge was obtained watching hours upon hours of professional play and non-stop practice.

At the age of 18 I finally had my game at a level where I felt I could compete with the best but the amateur circuit in Canada had pretty much disappeared. Events were few and far between, fields went from 64+ to struggling to get 24. Even worse, Ross passed on from a heart attack and I was left to my own devices to find money for table time. RIP Ross Walton, you are sorely missed.

I played in few of the pro-ams that had larger fields, negotiating my way through a few rounds but eventually losing out to pros such as Kirk Stevens, Bob Chaperon, and Cliff Thorburn. Seeing my tournament costs soar with little return I had no choice but to return to hustling 8-ball. I got a job in a bar and spent the next few years wasting my talent.

I eventually ended up tending bar in a private snooker club (the game always pulls you back) and wound up serving a dual role as bartender and house pro. Alain Robidoux came back from England for the summer and played out of the club so I spent a summer getting back into the game. It was great to finally have a top notch player to hone my game with but it wasn’t to last, shortly after my interest returned Alain went back to England. To further discourage me, I missed out on 3 147 breaks in a week which was a bucket of cold water on my love of the game. When I missed the 3rd due to a horrendous kick on the pink I quit. Frustration had got the better of me and I decided that my chance to go pro had disappeared.

I quit the bar scene after 10 years or so and gradually educated myself over the next couple of years in computer science and networking. I got a full time job as a consultant and got on with “normal” life, snooker became a neglected hobby. I never completely stopped with snooker but I just didn’t have the time or motivation to play anymore.

A couple of years back I managed to qualify for the Canadian championship by winning a one shot qualifier I happened to walk in on. Few of the players remembered me but after I romped through the field dropping 2 frames in 4 matches people started to ask questions, the main one being “who let this guy play?” . Some who’d played the entire snooker season and were hoping to finally qualify via this one shot event were very unhappy I was allowed to come and play without having invested any time in the regular events so they changed the rules. Participation in 5 regular events became mandatory so for the next two years I played the minimum events required and qualified each time. Unfortunately the end of the season has a 2 month gap until the championship so I was well and truly out of form when it arrived. I lacked consistency and thus never made it out of my round robin brackets but I did play well enough in patches that Kirk Stevens requested I be brought in for some invitational events. Unfortunately time has not permitted me to attend any invitationals this year but my schedule is looking up for next season.

These days I get to play a couple of hours a week but it’s hard to rekindle the desire to practice. I played two qualifiers for the Canadian championship this year and made semi-finals in both but I haven’t had the time to attend any other events. As I mentioned earlier, one has to play in at least 5 events to qualify so I won’t be attending this year. I’m not really upset by this, I know I haven’t put in the time needed to do well so I just have to look to next year.

In the meantime I’m trying to keep something resembling a stroke by playing in a team 8-ball league. This has panned out rather well as this year my team has won a trip to the championships in Las Vegas (end of May, beginning of June). It’s not my favourite cue sport but at least it’s gotten me a trip ;)