How to Win in Snooker

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Everyone has their own theories on how snooker should be played. I’m of the opinion that scoring heavily truly is the recipe for success. Break building is something every snooker player should aspire to work on. By scoring heavily you ensure success for several reasons:

  1. Your opponent has no chance of scoring
  2. Your opponent can’t snooker you or play safe
  3. You increase your confidence

There is one aspect of consistent break building that is often missed by aspiring players: the ability to clear the balls under pressure. If you are a consistent and heavy scorer, that skill helps you to win frames, but it also helps you save frames. Under pressure when you need all the colors to win, being a consistent heavy scorer has it’s benefits:

  1. You become skilled in moving the cue ball into various positions
  2. You know how to play cannons and kisses
  3. You know how to clear the colors at the end of the frame
  4. You aren’t scared of taking chances and scoring heavily
  5. You are willing to split the pack early and clear the balls

So how do you become a good break builder and heavy scorer?

Many snooker players try to approach break building from the perspective of a pro. They go into the pack off the blue and then try to score. The problem with this approach is that they often aren’t ready or skilled enough to clear the table. Often it’s a complex mix of many primary issues:

  1. Lack cue ball control
  2. Lack potting ability
  3. Have poor ball selection
  4. Have poor mechanics
  5. Have poor focus and concentration

Often it’s a complex combination of the above primary skills that let them down. I think it’s actually more important and more useful to break down the individual pieces of a big break and deal with them one by one as individual practice routines:

  1. Clear the colors from a ball in hand position
  2. Learn how to go from black to yellow from different cue ball positions
  3. Learn how to go from pink to yellow from different cue ball positions
  4. Learn how to go from blue to yellow from different cue ball positions
  5. Clear 3 reds, 3 black balls and all the colors
  6. Clear 5 reds, 5 black balls and all the colors
  7. Clear 7 reds, 7 black balls and all the colors
  8. Open a pack of 3 reds below the pink with the cue ball low on the black, clear all reds with blacks and pinks, and all the colors
  9. Open a pack of 6 reds below the pink with the cue ball low on the black, clear all reds with blacks and pinks, and all the colors
  10. Open a pack of 10 reds below the pink with the cue ball low on the black, clear all reds with blacks and pinks, and all the colors

Focus and concentration can’t be worked on directly through any of the individual practice systems. Your focus and concentration develop as a side effect of practice assuming you are trying your best and looking to practice perfectly rather than imperfectly.

Once you have worked on the above practice routines and have had some success with each of them, it becomes much more apparent that you can score sufficiently when in match play because situations will become familiar to you and you will be able to draw on practice experience, knowledge, and muscle memory.

Break building is part science and part art. If you work on the fundamentals of cue ball control, potting, mechanics, and so forth, the rewards of practice eventually pay off in match play because things become familiar. As something becomes familiar in practice, it becomes familiar in match play when you need to “turn it on” and score. As it’s often said in cue sports, “practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect”.

Did you like this article? Let me know by leaving a comment and sharing your opinion!  Thanks!

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6 replies
  1. John Gillard
    John Gillard says:

    Great article Mayur. Straight to the point. Very useful advice and great practice routines, breaking down the elements of heavy scoring into workable chunks. Over the years I have practiced many isolated break building routines but this is a new one and I will try it. Current highest break: 142 (One day hopefully a 147!). Thanks, John

  2. David Tinsley
    David Tinsley says:

    I just read the letter from the guy who inquired about simonis cloth on a snooker table. It is no good on a snooker table, I believe it has no nap. They used it at last years Canadians and I am sure they will not use it again.

  3. Tony Fun
    Tony Fun says:

    How to win in snooker is a very interesting topic. We currently see more and more bigger breaks and outstanding pots than in past decades. I think sometimes it compares to golf we watch on TV when players are seen constantly knocking balls on to the green within a few feet of the pin…well considering the average approach shot in professional golf is 22 ft from the pin tells us we are shown what viewers are interested in. In our case it is constant hundred breaks. The great game of snooker has absolutely become so much more aggressive and awesome to watch. I would have to think that those learning the game might want to look at their snooker game in a wider spectrum than only point accumulation to win. While it is true that if you make enough points, your opponent can’t win…then if all is equal with your opponents skill level, one of you has to get in first with safety and not waiting for your opponents to be first at making a mistake (cause that could be you). There are many more ways to win than just making more more points and that I believe that is one of the brilliant parts of this game. To win by playing shots that attack your opponents weaknesses is an option…an example; Your opponent tends to constantly leave his cue ball in neutral positions (middle of the table), therefore he is exceptional using the blue to continue his break or getting back from a weaker position on the pink or black. Take the blue off its spot and watch how often he finds himself out of position having to use the bulk colors. This forces a whole new set of shots and angles and inevitably minimizes his breaks and confidence level. Another…most players prefer one side of the table vs the other as their vision changes from one side to the other, you will see this in his safety play (especially thin ball contacts) this can increase your safety success percentages when facing either side to choose from in your next shot. I couldn’t agree more in learning cue ball control for break building but keep in mind there are many more aspects of the game that cue-ball control can be a contributing factor in you winning. For those that learn how to use 3 and 4 rail safety can increase their opportunities to win by factors that are most times not recognized. Straight up and down safety’s have limitations Ask any golf pro how to play better golf. most will tell you the real scoring is done around the greens, not from 350 yard drives. I guess my point is it’s best that we learn a full variety shot’s because as many frames we see won in a single visit, there are a huge amount of frames won in other methods that are in the archives, they just don”t get the attention the crowds love to see. Great column Mayur, lots of interesting points in this amazing game. Cheers,

    • Mayur Jobanputra
      Mayur Jobanputra says:

      Thanks for the comment Tony! Absolutely, there is more than break building to the game. Taking balls off spots that take away from your opponent’s game are equally important if needed. How about doing a “20 ways to win in snooker without making big breaks” guest post?