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:
- Was I rushed?
- Was I standing in the right place?
- Did I rush the shot?
- Did I cue poorly?
- Did I not concentrate?
- Was I on a big break and got nervous?
- Was I distracted by something or someone?
- 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:
- Step 1: Determine where you want the cue ball to go
- Step 2: Determine where the cue ball will strike the object ball
- Step 3: Determine how to strike the cue ball – pace and position
- Step 4: Stand behind the intended line of the cue ball (NOTE: this is where a lot of amateur players get into trouble)
- Step 5: Walk into the shot in a specific consistent way
- Step 6: Feather and pause as needed
- 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.
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:
- Stand in the right place
- Approach the shot correctly
- Feather and Pause correctly
- 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.
Other possible reasons you may be missing the angle or point of contact in a consistent basis are:
- You have changed your cue tip size
- 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.
- You simply haven’t practiced the shot enough
- 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:
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:
- Perceive the angle perfectly
- Feel when it’s wrong
- Sense where the cue ball will go
- 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!