Snooker is a great game for casual players, but what does it take to be a professional? Here are some of the biggest factors that can make the difference between being a good amateur, and a pro.
As with all professional sports, it’s a lot easier to make it as a professional snooker player if you start young. Not only are youngsters better at learning new skills than those who are older (the brain becomes less plastic/adaptable with age, alas) but there’s a lot less pressure when first starting out. This accustoms players to be able to cope with more stress later and, importantly, provides lots of experience early on. This can then be drawn on, and, hopefully, coupled with improving judgement due to increasing maturity, means a player enjoys a steady path of getting sharper and being able to keep a cool head.
There’s a lot to like about becoming a professional snooker player, from travelling the world to making a living playing the sport you love. However, the lucrative prizes for winning the top tournaments make it highly competitive, and not everyone can make the grade. Being born British is both an advantage and a challenge in this regard as the UK is undoubtedly the leading light in world snooker which means plenty of facilities and opportunities to play, but also more competition. Snooker’s also a popular sport in China, which has produced a number of high-class players in recent years. Even if things don’t go quite that far, there are a number of pro-am events in which to compete.
It’s not unusual for sporting mentors or parents to bet on their children turning pro or even becoming world champions. Snooker’s a fantastic sport for betting on due to the wide range of markets, from forecasting century breaks to consecutive frame markets, betting on high or low breaks, frame forecasting, and the straightforward winner market, to name but a few. Those who like the idea of betting but are a bit cautious should take advantage of new no deposit bonuses offered by betting sites 777 Casino, They have a wide range of betting categories as well as terrific bonus offers for UK players. These promos allow the chance to win real cash betting, while not having to deposit (and risk losing) anything at all.
Snooker has a lot of strategy to it, with the safety game being a critical aspect. Not only can this present an opening for a frame-winning break, but players can (and have) come from behind to win due to foul shots forced by great safety play in circumstances when there aren’t enough balls on the table to win by conventional means. It can also be a great means of turning the screw on an opponent, preventing another player from getting a chance to strike back. This is especially effective when the adversary has been denied a decent break-building opportunity for some time.
In almost every single sport there are periods when one player or team is unable to affect what is happening. This can come in the form of a joint break, such as rests between games and sets in tennis, halftime in football, or quarters in various major league sports in North America. But in no sport is this quite so pronounced as in snooker.
All else being equal, a player will spend half their time being able to do nothing but watch, and sometimes it can be a lot more than half the time. This puts an unusual mental strain on snooker players, who have to be able to keep positive when unable to try and shift a frame in their favour, when it is very easy to let the mind drift to a missed pot attempt or lacklustre safety shot that let the other player back in. This is made even more difficult due to the fact that, when not languishing in their chair, a player has to be consistently focused because a single missed shot can mean a frame is over.
Beyond coping with the two halves of the game, which present drastically different psychological challenges, players have to be imbued with a quiet resilience (or not so quiet, in the case of the occasional explosion of shouting from Peter Ebdon). Unlike many other sports, such as soccer which offers the chance for an immediate levelling of scores after the first goal, or tennis, which resets the game counter with a new set, there is no way to rapidly narrow a large frame deficit. Especially at the biggest tournaments (the UK and the World), players can end up a long way behind, and only those with substantial reserves of mental fortitude can set their shoulder to the wheel and keep the fire of hope burning. The most obvious example of this is the 1985 Snooker World Championship Final, in which Dennis Taylor defied all expectations (including from the bookies) to beat Steve Davis by coming back from 9-1 to take the title in a final frame thriller, one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time.
It’s not the most glamorous aspect of the sport, and may be what makes the difference for most players, but a commitment to practising is essential. The hours of daily toil can make the difference when it comes to high-pressure moments, and building muscle memory will turn a cue action into a silky smooth, almost effortless thing that requires little or no conscious thought. Getting excited by a quarter-final in the World Championship happens to everyone, but winning it might depend on the solid work ethic that sees a player put in the time on the table when nobody’s watching.
Safety play can make be vital in tight competitions, but the only way to win matches is by potting balls rather than hiding behind them. Rattling in a century after your opponent makes a single mistake is not only the way to win a frame and relax yourself a little, it also piles the pressure on your adversary who knows a single slip can mean the frame is gone. Not to mention the crowd loves a rapid fire frame-winning break. It’s also a nice little feature that tournaments sometimes offer (substantial) prizes for the first player to knock in a maximum (and bettors often have the chance to bet on that occurring too).
It takes a lot to make the leap from talented amateur to professional, from time practising to mental fortitude, but playing snooker professionally can be a great way to make a living.