Tutorial: How to stop missing certain angles in snooker

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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.

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!

 

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34 replies
  1. Thiagan
    Thiagan says:

    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)

    Reply
      • Thiagan
        Thiagan says:

        Thanks Mayur,
        Wish you and all ladies & gentlemen writing in to this very useful forum, the very best for a bright, healthy, successful, prosperous and blessed New Year.
        Hi Guys & Gals,
        Thiagan

        Reply
  2. bill
    bill says:

    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?

    Reply
  3. Garry
    Garry says:

    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

    Reply
    • Mayur Jobanputra
      Mayur Jobanputra says:

      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.

      Reply
  4. Bill
    Bill says:

    Very useful. Just found your site and want to improve my game. I have been just playing full games against myself but wondered whether just practicing the same shot again and again woukd be more beneficial. You have answered my question. As I thought… Lots of hard work
    Thanks

    Reply
  5. ryan
    ryan says:

    Thanks a lot for the post Mayur ,will definitly be practicing this .If possible can you make a post regarding different aiming methods which proffessionals use.

    Regards
    Ryan

    Reply
    • Mayur Jobanputra
      Mayur Jobanputra says:

      Hi Ryan. Thanks for the comment. I think it would be great to do a series on aiming with the different professionals. I will keep this idea in mind. It would be great if I could get access to the professionals.

      Reply
  6. Stormin Normam
    Stormin Normam says:

    Can’t wait to apply tip in Seniors Snooker league over the winter. It is very competitive with a number of seasoned Pro’s participating
    Thanks from Van.BC
    Norm

    Reply
  7. jeev
    jeev says:

    I generally not in line with the cue and object ball I always miss the simple shots because of the wrong striking position …..please help me how can I cure this and play efficiently….

    Reply
  8. Nicrominus
    Nicrominus says:

    Great advice. Like the way the article was wrote and you seem like a nice humble bloke! Definitely going to put all that into practice. I’m pretty much a total novice, really enjoying playing though. Hard game but rewarding quickly when breaks of double digits are a massive high :) Cheers!

    Reply
  9. Gord Smith
    Gord Smith says:

    Sir, I am a sixty year old player who, until just over a year ago, hadn’t played too much in some thirty years. Used to be pretty good,, but kind of lost any meager skills I had during my “hiatus”. I’m currently working hard to get that skill back, and it just seems harder than when I was younger. Frustration crept into almost every shot, and I was missing shots that normally I could hit all day.
    However, due to articles like yours, which I read faithfully, and coaching videos on youtube, as well as time spent solo at the table, I’m starting to see some improvements in my game again. That’s not to say I don’t have a long way to go, I do, but the learning curve has gotten a little less steep.
    Anyway, just wanted to let you know your articles are being read and appreciated during the long Canadian winters.
    Thanks for your time….
    Gord

    Reply
  10. Sivaprasad
    Sivaprasad says:

    Hi Mayur,

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience. Please excuse if I am asking the following question in wrong forum. My question is

    Q) Regarding the position of cue ball for the next shot which among the below to be considered first?
    1) Decide the area to which the cue ball to be brought and then select the appropriate ball that can bring the cue ball where we want. OR
    2) Decide the object ball and then think of possible areas of the cue ball?

    Hope my question is clear.

    Many thanks in advance.
    Siva.

    Reply
    • Mayur Jobanputra
      Mayur Jobanputra says:

      Hi Siva. Thanks for your comment. There are two types of positional shots to think about. When you are on a red, there are only certain locations that can give you a color. So for example, potting a red in the scoring area, the obvious choices are black, followed by pink, followed by blue. These three colors never move. They are always replaced in the same position. The reds, however, are navigation balls. At least that’s how I see them. The reds help you get on the next color. With obvious shots, its easy to pick out what the color should be. So for example, a straight in red, stun run, and get a black. These reds are easy to pick out. The reds which are what I call 50/50 shots are much harder to identify. Sometimes, you can go up for a blue, and other times, drop it in for a black. The choice to make here for a color are less clear and they change depending on what kind of stroke, potting ability, and style you choose. Breakbuilding is based upon known rules, but there is also a lot of room for interpretation on ball selection. When breakbuilding, you need to consider BOTH cue ball position and ball selection. They go hand in hand. How you execute shots and what kind of shot you mostly choose is important to understand. My coach, Andrew, talks about the “mother stroke”. What kind of stroke are you most likely to use and are most comfortable with will dictate what your breakbuilding looks like. Regarding your question, I would suggest that option B is the choice for me. There is a narrow margin within which you can position the cue ball. So for example, if you are on a red near the green, you wouldn’t be thinking about getting on a black (unless you are on a 147?). But giving you this black/white answer doesn’t really clue in for you the essence of this game. If you WERE on a 147, is it suddenly more appropriate to go for another black even though under other circumstances you would never do this? The key thing to realize is that your ability to move the cue ball around is directly proportional to the size of your toolbox. How many different ways can you execute a shot and get both pot and position? Start there. Reply back with your average breaks. The question you ask is from someone that understands the game to some level.

      Reply
      • Siva
        Siva says:

        Hi Mayur,

        Thanks a ton for the feedback. My highest break on Wiraka M1 table is 112 but my average break is not more than 30 most of the time. Its because my game is not driven with strategy. Since now, I decided to take my game to next level, I would like to apply some strategies and techniques and fortunately I found your web site of great help to me. I will keep posting about my progress by applying the precious suggestions by you and will keep you updated with my ease on break builiding.

        Best Regards
        Siva.

        Reply
        • Mayur Jobanputra
          Mayur Jobanputra says:

          What will help is seeing you on video. I ask everyone that comments to provide some videos showing me their game. It’s difficult to analyze your game without video. One tip you can start thinking about is looking for red ball clusters. The first and most important cluster to remove (if possible) is around the black. If the black is open to both pockets, this greatly increases your winning percentage. The next most important are the ones that would hamper your ability to pot the black. So for example, reds that are half way between the black, pink, and side cushion. These are in the way and need to be removed so that you can cue the black and pink (into the side) properly. These reds dont look like trouble, but they will slow or prevent a break. Most often these reds prevent you potting the black because you can’t cue perfectly and this can be very debilitating to your game. The third group of reds, once these first two are removed, are the reds in the cluster. Now, given these rules, there are no hard and fast rules. Sometimes, you can break the cluster while still managing the first and second cluster set. It’s a balancing act. One thing I highly recommend is to find yourself five extra blue balls and using them on the colors when in practice. This makes you focus more on just building a break, rather than favoring the black over the other colors. Favoring the black, rather than playing the “right” stroke causes problems for those trying to get a big break. The game is based on logic, scoring, and consistency and staying on the table as long as you can. The breaks will come later when you start strategizing on ball selection, which it seems you are.

          Reply
  11. Hannan
    Hannan says:

    you are a gentleman and a scholar mr Mayur.

    This has to be the best explanation of missed shots study that i have come across in literal form.

    Congratulations on a great site and wish you more success. Loving your work.

    Hannan

    Reply
  12. Frrancis Mascarenhas
    Frrancis Mascarenhas says:

    I am Francis and Im from India about 64 yrs old playing averrage snooker with 20-25 break in a game.I am trying to incorporate the back pause in my cueing and this has negatively affected my game.I also have a problem playing the right angles.Can you help please

    Reply
  13. Nick
    Nick says:

    Hi there,

    Is it okay to play snooker with glasses or does that creat mis-alignment and impair one’s ability to play?

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Mayur Jobanputra
      Mayur Jobanputra says:

      It’s preferred if you play with snooker glasses. I play with snooker glasses and I have no issues. One of the great mistakes about snooker is that you are not supposed to use the eyes for aiming. It’s actually the back hand that matters. It’s the back hand that “aims”. Its the back hand that delivers the cue, not the eyes.

      Reply