Tutorial: How to stop missing certain angles in snooker

There will always be some shots in snooker that you will consistently miss. I have put a lot of thought into why I miss shots over many years of playing. Often, when I leave the table after a missed shot, I try to recreate the shot in my head to see if there was something I missed. I often ask myself questions like:

  1. Was I rushed?
  2. Was I standing in the right place?
  3. Did I rush the shot?
  4. Did I cue poorly?
  5. Did I not concentrate?
  6. Was I on a big break and got nervous?
  7. Was I distracted by something or someone?
  8. Did I understand the angle correctly?

Whenever you miss a shot, this is good practice to do. It’s important that you do this because you can experiment and change the next time you face the shot (or any other shot) or remember to work on the practice table as well. If you pay close attention, you will find with some experience that there will always be some shots that you consistenly miss. You end up having to concentrate more on these shots which in turn makes you miss even more. Many of the common issues that will cause you to miss a shot can be corrected through a fundamental approach to every shot:

  1. Step 1: Determine where you want the cue ball to go
  2. Step 2: Determine where the cue ball will strike the object ball
  3. Step 3: Determine how to strike the cue ball – pace and position
  4. Step 4: Stand behind the intended line of the cue ball (NOTE: this is where a lot of amateur players get into trouble)
  5. Step 5: Walk into the shot in a specific consistent way
  6. Step 6: Feather and pause as needed
  7. Step 7: Strike the cue ball

However, even if you do everything suggested above, there will still be some shots that you miss often. A common example of a shot we all miss is shown below.

Shotmaker-Snooker-Scene1

I tried over the years to determine WHY I missed this shot and I discovered that the MOST common reason players miss this shot is that they miss-read and misunderstand the angle.

What I mean by this is that even if you do any of these steps you could still miss:

  1. Stand in the right place
  2. Approach the shot correctly
  3. Feather and Pause correctly
  4. Cue perfectly

Somehow, either during practice or prevoius (or recent!) bad habits, you have learned an incorrect point of contact. This can be especially true if you previously played with a lot of side spin to “throw” the object ball into the pocket and you have sinced picked off that angle consistently incorrectly. I try to illustrate this point below. Notice the first cue ball making contact with the object ball below in grey. It strikes the black ball which in turns heads in the direction shown to the left. The second cue ball is shown in slight pink.

ghost-ball

Other possible reasons you may be missing the angle or point of contact in a consistent basis are:

  1. You have changed your cue tip size
  2. You have changed from center-ball striking to striking with more side spin or visa versa (NOTE: always use center ball striking in snooker. Side really should not be learned until you become a regular 40-50-60 break player with center-ball striking.
  3. You simply haven’t practiced the shot enough
  4. You use some other imprecise method for aiming

Over many years of trial and error I have discovered a very useful method and practice routine you can use to understand angles of some shots better. This process involves working up to the angle from an angle you know (full ball for example) to an angle that you are uncomfortable with and don’t know (like the shot shown earlier). It’s a simple process that you can follow as shown below:

Start with this shot and count your success out of 50. You should be able to make this shot 50 out of 50 without difficulty.

Start with this shot and count your success out of 50. You should be able to make this shot 50 out of 50 without difficulty. It’s a good shot to start at because it will show you all the technical issues you may have.

After you have success with the previous shot, try this shot. Count your success out of 50. Try hard and concentrate.

After you have success with the previous shot, try this shot. In this shot, the cue ball is just slightly below full ball. It’s about 1-2 inches away from full ball and you should comfortably be able to make this shot. Count your success out of 50. You should be able to make this shot at least 45 out of 50. Try hard and concentrate.

Now the shot is getting harder. If you are not making this shot at least 40 out of 50, then there is something wrong and you shouldn't progress any further. I explain what  to look at and pay attention to further below.

Now the shot is getting harder. Again, move the cue ball another 1-2 inches further away from the previous shot. If you are not making this shot at least 40 out of 50, then there is something wrong and you shouldn’t progress any further. I explain what to look at and pay attention to further below. Often, as mentioned in this article it’s a combination of your mechanics and technique and not recognizing the correct cue ball contact point on the object ball.

With this shot, you are starting to work towards the toughest shot and you should be see whats going wrong. Again stop with this shot until you fully understand the shot and are making it 40 out of 50.

With this shot, you are starting to work towards the toughest shot. This is a common angle to start missing because some players tend to look at the pocket and in this shot, this will be difficult. Again stop with this shot until you fully understand the shot and are making it 40 out of 50. When I say ‘understand’ what I mean is to keep studying the angle, and the cue ball path until you intimately understand the shot and you can visually see the impact as well as the cue ball path instantly.

Only attempt this shot if you have mastered the other 4 shots. You should be able to make this shot at least 40 out of 50.

Only attempt this shot if you have mastered the other 4 shots. You should be able to make this shot at least 40 out of 50 with practice and study. You should really spend focused time when doing these practice routines. Focus on angles, contact points and pace. Work hard and study your body and the reactions of the balls. You should be paying attention when in practice.

 

With the above tutorial, it’s a simple process of doing the shot from easy to hard and creating some success. If you believe it’s just about muscle memory and angles, you are missing the point. The real growth will come when you study the missed shots. It’s when you miss and then study what went wrong, that you understand what you need to do. When I say understand the shot, what I mean is:

  1. Perceive the angle perfectly
  2. Feel when it’s wrong
  3. Sense where the cue ball will go
  4. Know the object ball will get pocketed

I use a lot of “right brain” (creative) ways of describing how to understand the shot because I believe that success in this game is part science (angles, collisions, spin) but also part art as well. Only you can fix the shot based on your own brain’s ability to perceive and sense where it’s going wrong.

I hope that helps!  Please leave comments and rate below!

 

8 thoughts on “Tutorial: How to stop missing certain angles in snooker

  1. Hi Mayur,

    We have spoken before.
    A friend just gave me an original Riley Paul Hunter Series RIL- 107 3 piece cue, well I am sure it is not the best, but it is straight and seems far better than the earlier cue i was using. My best (and only) break was 46 (I think) but I have deeply studied the theories in Snooker and regularly scare the daylights out of some Sri Lankan National Players having breaks of 70 to 80 +.
    All of them say one, thing. I quote “don’t ever think you are not a very good player” we have never seen anyone concentrating so much + succeeding so consistently on almost impossible shots:-) I find these comments awfully funny, is I am just running through how I can use the theories I studied on to any shot, until of course i can make my muscle memory strong and kicks in.
    My question what is the best/ most effective THICKNESS of a CUE TIP, not the size, which I believe is 9.5mm, but the THICKNESS (from wood to top). + What is the best outer shape that is best CURVED (recommended in theory, but tends to slip off cue ball during cushion shots) or FLAT.

    Thank you.
    Your missing shot training is I am sure brilliant:-) I tend to miss (you guessed it) oh so important BLACKS.
    Thiagan (+94777644789)

  2. I recently turned 70 and have not played in 50+ yrs and I am constantly missing small angle shots but after reading your advice I am anxious to put into use. When I first started “playing” again I kept hearing 1/4 1/2 and 3/4 shot and I thought they meant hitting the the ball to be potted ball at these angles instead of the cue ball so I am assuming the amount of the cue ball angle to hit shot ball is correct, is this right?

  3. I am going to put your suggested practice in my routine. Would like more practice ideas. Though I am older I love the game and feel that I can improve with a good practise routine as well as playing! Thanks Garry

    • Hi Garry. That’s great thanks for the kind comments. My real challenge right now is how to record the videos. I have a local club where I could do some recordings but I’m going to see if I can setup my recordings when the club is closed so that I can work in silence.

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