The art of snooker breakbuilding is in your shot selection, shot execution, and overall ability to control the white ball. Breakbuilding is both art and science. The art of breakbuilding lies in your intuitive ability to map out the table, foresee problem areas, and execute your desired results. The science of breakbuilding is about knowing the odds of getting position, and knowing how to attack certain aspects of the pack. See my articles below on snooker breakbuilding.

Tony Fun – Interview with a Canadian Snooker Player

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I had the pleasure to interview Tony Fun, a close friend, and someone I have learned a great deal of snooker from. Tony has been a competitive snooker player since the 1970’s, is a century runner that visited England, played with Peter Ebdon, and was the recipient of Marco Fu’s first 147 maximum break. Enjoy the interview and please do leave some comments below.

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Tony’s accomplishments and Personal History in snooker

I first saw a pool table at the age of 6 at a friend’s house. I gravitated to it right away. The more I played the more I enjoyed it. I found over the next couple of years I was making friends with just about anyone with a pool table. In 1972 or 73 at 11 or 12 years old I saw a snooker match being played on TV, I don’t know who was but I remember seeing these guys in tuxedos playing on a table the size of a football field. That was it. A year or so later I was playing some straight pool at Brentwood Bowling Lanes on a 4 ½ x 9 ft table and a friend invited me up to a snooker room by the name of Jubilee billiards. The only snooker room in Vancouver with a 24 hr licence, a smoke filled hall boasting 12 beautiful 6’ x12’ snooker tables.

At 13 I didn’t have a curfew and often joined friends to go up and play snooker until very late in the morning. I was playing a game now that was so exciting I couldn’t sit still on the days I knew we would be going up there. In order to get cash for table time I would save birthday money, Christmas money, take in bottles and even wore my lacrosse jersey to go house to house looking for donations to team tournaments that didn’t exist. On days I made enough I would tell my friends to leave me in the pool room at 3 or 4 am and I would take a bus home. I would play until I ran out of money and then brush tables for more practice time. I was not yet playing well but was quite determined. Many occasions I got to watch some of the top players on the front table; this would just inspire me more. I remember once traveling on the bus and whenever I could see my reflection in the windows I would stand, take my snooker stance and stroke looking behind in to the reflection to see if I was cueing straight. Many a bus driver had to wonder what the hell this skinny kid was doing.

By the time I was 15 going on 16, I had left home and in to my first apartment in White Rock BC. My landlord knew I was under age and that I was lying about my age but seemed to like me. I had a mattress, a small tv, 1 pot 1 pan and cutlery for 1. In the town was a small pool room with one snooker table and the rest were 5 x 10’s. No one played on the snooker table so the owner let me practice on it if I kept it clean and freed it up should someone wanted it. Within a couple of months my landlord offered me his push button Valliant if I would put gas in it…back to Jubilee. I played some of the locals and faired ok but then early one morning I was practicing on the front table as there was no one else around. A young oriental guy named Danny Dee stood watching me; I asked if he would like to play. He said no thanks, but this guy will. This was the first time I met Tommy Lee…we played for 2 dollars a game. I remember thinking “wholly crap, this guy only shoots black balls”. I was a quick study so Tommy only took 4 dollars from me and I paid $1.80 in pool time. I began to play him every chance I got and even moved closer to Jubilee so I could bus or walk to the hall. I played with Tommy for 2 solid years and became a first class ball spotter and my math was fast and accurate. Two of the most dominate things in my game came out of the beatings I took from him, one was my long potting game as it was the only way I ever got in. The 2nd was learning to make everything possible when I got in because there was seldom a chance I would get a second opportunity in the same frame. I cannot count the amount of times I had breaks of 60 + points and lost the frame. Over the next 4 years there were endless games of cut throat (or follow) the last whole evenings or sometimes days.

Around my 17th birthday I was playing a set on a Friday night with Rene Gauthier (The younger brother of Tom, a very well-known cue maker). The match started out as any other with Rene a very competent potter, missed a first red in and I compiled my first century break of 108. I had worked so hard at achieving this I couldn’t believe it. To me, running a century meant “you are a player”. It was possibly one of the greatest nights of my life; I still wonder if I knew how many points I had through the run would I have been able to break the barrier. I kept the same shirt I was wearing that night for 36 years. Now I wanted every possible century break available, always keeping an eye out if there were 10 or more reds on the table. Always keeping an eye out to clear the black if was hung up somehow because there was a never ending goal in mind. The second century seemed even harder, but more importantly I was breaking many more 60’s 70’s and 80’s. Now you couldn’t get me off a table with a whip and a chair. Over the next few months I had met Brady Gollan from Kelowna who was 15 at the time. We got along well and I had a car…we spent a lot of time together when he was in town visiting different clubs. Around that time I believe he had just won the Jr and under 21 Canadian championships. He was incredible, one of the most naturally talented snooker players I have ever met with an insatiable hunger for action. This is a whole other story.

At the age of 19 I was beginning to enter local tournaments and joined the BC Snooker association. I did ok at starting rounds but up against the stronger players still around like Tommy Lee, Jimmy or Johnny Bear, Jerry Kapchinsky and many more I was a little fish. As I continued to practice, play and gamble the game of snooker was sliding away in interest. Tournaments were getting less all the time; the top players were no longer around or just not playing. It seemed I and a few others were the last of the new generation. There was some action, a few tournaments and the odd head to head matches but nothing compared to earlier years. I was now in my twenties and compiling quite a number of centuries but not against the players of yesterday, this was disheartening as it felt like I missed the opportunity to push past the cliff of being in my mind “average”. So snooker maintained at this “average” for a few years.

At the age of 26 I started to have some tingling in my hands and sore joints, not understanding what the cause as I was in quite good health considering how much I smoked over the years of playing snooker. After 4 months of testing it was concluded that I had a rare spinal disease that was at that time 1 in 900 thousand that were affected. The disease had “no cause and no cure” With an expectation of much pain and an eventual wheel chair. Sometime later I began to lose sensitivity, strength and feeling in my hands and legs. The night before the surgery I had to sign a waiver that because they were working so close to my central nervous system I may permanently lose the use of my legs. Funny that in all that, the only thing I could think of was losing the ability to play snooker. Nothing meant more to me.

The surgery was successful and relieved much of the pressure in my spine; however recovery was about 18 months…no snooker with stitches from the base of my neck & halfway up my skull. As soon as I could walk and move around I would go up to the snooker club to sit and watch all day. This was more painful than the surgery to watch others play; at times I just wanted to jump up, grab my cue and push someone aside off the front table. About 14 months later I would stretch as much as possible, each day trying to get a little further over the table. A total of 18 months later I could get back to my physical form over the balls, but couldn’t play. It felt like starting over and could only stand a couple of hours a day at most. About this time a small golf shop opened next to what was now the new Jubilee, a gentleman by the name of Doug Bogle worked there and was often in the club for coffee. It turned out not only was he a player from the old days of snooker but had spent quite a bit of time with Cliff Thorburn when he was in his prime. I got talking with Doug and it turned out he was monumental for my recovery; he was a great snooker coach and golf coach. He spent many hours in repositioning my body to combine comfort and freedom with a solid platform. It took about 6 months of which time I had never felt so grateful to continue playing this incredible game again, to not only achieve the level of game I previously attained but now starting to surpass it. I had been studying snooker by video tapes for almost 2 years (and actually wore 3 tapes completely out) and was now beginning to learn to apply some of what I had learned to my own game. In 9 months I was playing to a level I had yet to achieve. I was 28 and compiling centuries to the level I quit counting.

At this time I woke up every single day gracious, but again there was not much going on for snooker. I had gone back to work for the most of a year and saved some money. My mother had recently passed and I had a small inheritance so with this combination I was by no means wealthy but didn’t have to work immediately. I thought I may have reached a plateau as I was headed to Calgary to play a tournament at the Crystal Palace, the night before leaving had 2 century breaks over a 2 hr session against Wade Bryant and 1 against Tom Gauthier at the original Alpha billiards in New Westminster BC. Back in Vancouver I was sitting in the Jubilee snooker club daydreaming about when I was 11 or 12 watching snooker on TV and how I had always dreamed of going to England, the home of snooker. The next morning I went to the passport office to get a passport as fast as possible. In such short notice they would only grant me a 6 month passport. 3 days later I was on a plane. I had no hotel or accommodations booked nor did I know anyone. I had a suitcase, a snooker cue with a Canadian flag on it, and on arrival at Heathrow had nowhere to go. Come to think of I had not told anyone I had left. Two weeks later I was playing in a house tournament against Peter Ebdon at Kings Cross, of course not knowing who he was. (He was the #1 amateur in England at that time). From there was 5 months of snooker heaven, playing in sometimes 2 tournaments a day. Peter was such an incredible host…so much more to tell.

Almost to the day…6 months later I was home. I kept a pair of 6 month old low heeled shoes as a souvenir as they were most comfortable for playing long hours of snooker. 4 months after buying them I had played so much snooker that I had worn completely through the leather on the right outside portion as this was a pressure point in my stance. My baby toe was sticking through the shoe. Well again, there was not much going on for snooker in Vancouver…but it no longer mattered. Looking back I was fortunate enough to play against these younger players and got a firsthand look at the quality of the amateurs that were on their way up. I won a number of matches based on experience and being on form that day but also lost many matches simply by being outplayed. I was so overwhelmed at how talented and deserving these players were. Their achievements came from nothing short of hard work and dedication. They wanted every point available but played with the discipline in making good choices. The first lesson that came my way was in modesty. Was I disappointed in my outcome, absolutely not…I didn’t go to England in hopes of turning pro, I went to find out what my best was and could be. And I did. After playing on the conditions of English tables that were for the most fantastic and consistent, then coming home to Brunswick Anniversaries where your fingernails were dirty after 2 frames and no one to play…I quit.

A few years later, friends that had a club in Port Moody BC called me up and asked if there was any chance I could come down on the Saturday to their Snooker hall. I said that I wasn’t playing and had a date that night. Bob the owner said “were not looking for you to play, there’s a kid down here we want you to look at, he had to ban from the junior tournament. He’s 13 and knocking in 70 breaks. No one else wants to play”. I immediately considered my date secondary, cancelled it and went down to the club that Saturday night. As I walked in I saw a very typical looking Chinese man with a kid next to him. Bob said “Tony, I’d like you to meet Marco Fu and his father Willie” We chatted for a few minutes, Marco’s English was much better than Willie’s but both were very polite and I enjoyed speaking with them. We decided to have a game on an 18th century Samuel May table. I watched as Marco pulled out a 15 oz snooker cue with about a 8.5 or 9mm tip. The butt looked like a weathered fence post as the stain had worn off. We played a few frames and ended up pretty much even, I wanted to play snooker again. I began to meet Marco for practice sessions (watched intently by his father Willie). Marco was all about offence, not surprizing the way he could pot. Willie asked me to work with Marco but in a very short time I felt I had reached my limit as I too was very much a feel player and had limited teaching capabilities. After watching Marco long enough to know he was something special, there was another strength which was his maturity and ability to concentrate to a level beyond his age. At that point I did not want to cause any complications with Marco’s progression and thought it best I introduce him to Tommy Lee. Much more to tell, but about 18 months later Marco and I both played at the Canadian Championships in Guelph Ontario where Marco was the youngest qualifier ever to play in the event. Marco was not allowed to attend the dinner where there was an honorable mention in his name as his mother heard there was alcohol present.

I played over the next few years as new members on the BC Snooker council were getting more tournaments together. In a practise session at a new club Embassy Snooker where I met Marco for an afternoon session, I expected Marco to beat me up a little as he was starting to excel again. But today was a little different, I broke and he broke his first maximum break…I think he was 15. At this point Marco was winning every match and tournament he entered, at one point I believe Marco had gone 34 matches without a loss. For me it is worth mentioning that Marco ‘s winning streak ended when I won 5 to 3 over him at Western Canadians in Vancouver. The last game came down to a final black. After 3 well played safety’s on Marco’s behalf, I was left on the green side of the table with the cue ball 2 inches up and 1 inch off the side rail and the black 3” up from the top rail and an inch off the side rail. Safety was marginal at best, so bridging over the corner pocket I released my cue as if the black was over the pocket. I did not see the black disappear…but it sound like someone snapped a piece of wood. I would have to say this was a tournament best for me based on Marco’s performance over the last months without a loss.

Over the next few years I had played at the Club 147 in Langley BC on a gorgeous BCE Westbury with a gentleman named Bill Beatle. Bill was from The 70’s and knew Cliff quite well. This table was identical to those played at the World Championships, including the cloth. Bill was a great player and an expert at everything he did – world class target shooter, jewelry maker, wine coinsure and a hell of a snooker player. This club was the last I played regularly at, had quite a number of centuries on this table as well. The last larger tournament I played was at the Western Canadian Championships in Winnipeg Manitoba. I was happy to finish as a quarter finalist with my health again becoming challenging. A thousand dollar check was a nice added feature to the trip. Over the last couple of years of play I had Marco Fu join me in an exhibition match with proceeds going to a local hospital. This was quite close to the time Marco was leaving for Hong Kong and then England. Great to watch his progression over the years, I am not surprized at his success whatsoever.

Summary: Shortly after I met my wife, changed careers and had kids… snooker began to show up in the rear view mirror. I play now and again at Kevin Deroo’s home about 20 minutes from mine, but it feels like little gas is left in the tank. I’ve gained some weight, eyes going and have somewhat taken a spectators seat. I look back at my life in snooker at 55 and feel so incredibly fortunate to have had the experiences I have with the sport I love. Having the privilege in meeting and playing with professional players like Cliff Thorburn, Bill Werbenuik, Jim Wych, Kirk Stevens, Peter Ebden, Dennis Taylor, Willie Thorn, Brady Gollan and Marco Fu as well as a number of the top Canadian players was amazing. The time spent playing the game of snooker and the experiences of what comes with the clubs, the people, the gamble and the never ending curiosity of what the next day brings is hard to put in to words. I always said if I put the effort in to anything else as I did snooker I couldn’t fail. This is true as like the game of snooker only gives us what we put in; it forces us to be honest with ourselves in order to make it to each next level.

Stories you can ask me about

  • The longest follow game I ever played – 42 hrs 7 different players
  • Jubilee Billiards – Standard Sat. night raid
  • Tommy Lee – falls asleep on a perfect game of blues
  • Tommy Lee vs Jim Wych – Seymour billiards – penalty frame
  • Brady Gollan – follow game in Port Coquitlam. Paul Stanton, Reed Unger,
  • Brady Gollan vs Bill Werbenuik
  • Brady Gollan Vs Tom Finstad – Western Canadians Washroom break(Jerry Kap)
  • Bill Werbenuik – pints of lager Ace Billiards trick shots
  • Crystal Palace – Russ Schuster Pranks
  • Jubilee – newspaper set on fire – bet
  • The flight to England – almost kicked off the flight
  • First day in England – Ritz snooker club
  • Meeting Peter Ebden first time in final of house tournament (breakfast)
  • Kings Crossing – Kids & practice
  • Snooker clubs in England – private rooms, sound proofing, tv waiters, block irons
  • My snooker cues stolen and retrieved
  • Baz Nagle & Willie Mosconi
  • My buddy Charlie Brown – gambler, rounder – cards, snooker, 9ball, golf
  • Brady Gollan – Little Paul snooker and golf 400.00

Ton Fun’s Achievements

  • Qualified and played at 2 Canadian Snooker Championships
  • Guelph Ontario, Vancouver BC
  • Qualified and played at 2 Western Canadian Championships
  • Vancouver BC, Winnipeg Manitoba Finished ¼ finals
  • Qualified for pro am Vancouver BC
  • Including Cliff Thorburn, John Bear, Brady Gollan
  • Won BC Tournament at Chenier Billiards
  • Placed 1st in BC Qualifiers for the year 1995
  • Century breaks – unknown played 13 years after my first

Memorable Photos


Tony Fun with Marco Fu at the Black Dog Billiards, a charity fund raising exhibition match


Black Dog Billiards, a charity fund raising exhibition match. The cheque is being accepted for New Westminster Memorial Hospital


Canadian Snooker Championship in Guelph Ontario with Hal Grobman


Tony Fun at the Canadian Snooker Championship in Guelph Ontario solo photo



Thank you for reading!

Do you want me to answer specific questions about snooker?

I’m happy to share what I know and answer specific questions any readers may have. Please feel free to use the comment box below, and I will personally answer any questions you may have. Thanks!


Snooker Breakbuilding Tips and How To – 62 Break Explained

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Breakbuilding is crucial to your success in snooker and other cue sports. The best way to win in cue sports is to clear up all the balls. I have been working on my break building for many years and have finally started knocking in several 50+ breaks. I was at my friends last night – he has a 5’x10′ table – and I knocked in a 62 break. I have recorded my commentary and tips in the break and placed them on Youtube so can learn and get better at your snooker breakbuilding and cue ball control skill. Shot selection is crucial in snooker and I have tried to provide some ideas and tips in this break.

Got comments? Leave them below!

WITH Commentary:

WITHOUT Commentary:

How to Fix your Cue Action and Stance – Analysis of Duane

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A commenter, Duane, asked me a number of questions recently as you can see at the following comments on a few of my articles. Duane sent me some videos of himself playing on a pool table and I provided a bunch of feedback through analysis and assessment of his cue action. If you are looking for FREE assessment or analysis of your cue action, stance, stroke, or game play, send some videos of you playing snooker, billiards, pool, or any cue sport. I love watching these videos and learning from my students and providing feedback to help them.

SCROLL to the END of the article to see the video

Hello Mayur
I am working on approach and coming down slowly it does seem to be a key ingredient in great play when you say look at the cueball while feathering do you mean on your practice strokes and then are you looking at the object ball aim point only once at the flow through

Thanks this is great insight into the game

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Hello Mayur
Thanks for responding to my question .It has been very helpful. I am currently implementing some of your suggestions and am having some good results.Yes I am interested in hearing more of your thoughts n this subject. I believe steering is a major reason why I and others miss balls.I in particular fall victim to this because I have difficult looking at the object ball last

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Great instructional video on fundamentals. I learned a lot about what I should be doing and shouldn’t.
Here are some question I have problems with.
One ,what is the best way to make sure your stroking arm is on line ,and straight ,mine tends to chicken wing out off line or in ,but not fall straight on line.
Two what is the best way to release the cue straight( follow stroke) some times I feel I jerk the cue especially on firm strokes I feel aim holding the cue loose but I still am steering. Thanks looking forward to hearing your response

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Hello everyone. Great article on pressure and how to use it. I never thought about it that way And it really shed some light on why I Need to play more safe, instead of just going for it.

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Hello I live in the US. I am a serious student .I have played pool ,snooker and billiards for 25 years. I currently play 8 ball, 9 ball, and 10 ball, and one pocket.I have been recently getting lower on the ball for improved aim My high run back 15 years ago was 69 on 5 dx10 but have not played snooker in several years .I play with a 60 inch cue 19 oz with Predator z 2 shaft 11 3/4 mm. I am trying to make it to the next level and believe that fundamentals is one of the main ways to do this. I would appreciate any help you have to offer. Thanks Duane

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In the video below, I provided various feedback to Duane, talking about:

  • Importance of having a stable, predictable, and well planned stance and how it’s important to stand in the right place, facing your shot head on, with both feet, and learning to walk into the line of aim correctly.
  • General recommendations on height vs cue size
  • Thinking about how to play safe in 8-ball and 9-ball vs snooker and why playing safe is an inevitability at some point in any cue sport. I also mentioned about the art of safety play on the smaller table. I also mentioned about the push shot in 9-ball off the break.
  • Mentioned some strategies to prevent steering – namely that steering actually starts from the stance and pre-routine.
  • How to think about the ghost ball in you pre-shot routine and mentioned that it helps in identification of the 1/4, 1/2 ball, and 3/4 ball
  • How to prevent aiming when you are down and why aiming in cue sports is so difficult.
  • How to create an approach system for getting into your shots
  • Accuracy in cue sports (snooker, pool, 8-ball, 9-ball, billiards, etc)
  • Talked about traditional cue action mechanics and getting your head down low and why it’s important to actually have your head down vs being a stand up player.
  • What happens when your head is above the cue
  • Slight variance about missing shots
  • Twisting of the wrist and why it’s happening and when Duane’s wrist came out of line on the backswing
  • Conscious vs Subconscious potting and wrist issues
  • How to create a stance that actually works
  • I also mentioned Mark Allen, Mark Selby, and Ronnie O’Sullivan
  • Thinking about the body being a starting point that can either inhibit or enhance your aiming system

There are MANY more comments in the video. PLEASE comment and enjoy!

CLICK HERE to watch on YOUTUBE. COMMENT on YOUTUBE or in the comments below or on Facebook! Thanks!!

CLICK the video below to PLAY

Knowing when you might miss a shot

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We all miss shots. Missing a shot is something you need to learn to accept, evaluate, and eliminate. Missing shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing, but instead as a learning experience that provides you the necessary feedback to improve.

Getting Upset

I see players that miss shots and then are upset with themselves. It’s natural, in a match or in practice to get upset initially, but you should move on quickly from that mistake. It’s history. It can’t be changed. The consequences of that action are already playing themselves out. Once the cue ball is struck, what happens after is not within your control. If you find yourself getting upset often, then your expectations exceed your ability. Or perhaps you lack the emotional control required to deal with failure. Whatever the reason, something you are doing needs to change.

Why you miss

If we could look back at videotapes or ourselves playing, it would be easier to identify why we miss shots. Recently I have been recording my own match play at a friends house. I have had the advantage of seeing a lot of video of myself and it has helped me become more self aware. Some people struggle in identifying their weakness or are unwilling to accept that they lack the skill. They stubbornly stick with the same way of thinking, unwilling to work on their weakness, and then wonder why they continue missing and get upset.

There are many reasons why we might miss shots:

  • difficult cueing – over a ball or near the cushion for example
  • pressure – either in a match, or when trying to reach a new personal best in practice
  • imperfect mechanics – either from your stance, your eyes, your hand, your grip etc.
  • difficult pot – the pot itself is inherently difficult like a long shot, or thin slice or having to pot into only a portion of the pocket
  • unwilling to sacrifice position – sometimes, potting the ball successfully means that you just won’t get the position you desire and need to reassess your outcome
  • equipment issues – kicks, bad cushions, miscues, etc.
  • inadequate understanding – of english, ball striking, ball control, cushions, etc.
  • unreasonable expectations given our level of skill

Everyone is individual and will have shots they are more or less likely to miss compare to someone else. For example, depending on your eye dominance, you may miss “right angles” more than “left angles” or visa versa. Pros on TV are no exception – some are just better at some shots than others.

Some shots, as a general rule, are also missed more than others by everyone. For example:

  • down the cushion
  • very thin cuts
  • shots with the rest
  • long shots

Playing your best vs playing perfectly

What if I told you that you won’t play the kind of snooker you WANT to play, and that you WILL miss shots you didn’t expect to? Most snooker players are always looking to improve their game and so always see a gap between their aspirations and their current ability. Would that make it easier to accept misses? I doubt it. Missing still hurts because its unexpected.

Now, what if I told you that for any shot you attempt (safety or pot) that there is ALWAYS an estimated chance you will be successful? That knowing your past history with that shot, we can guesstimate your success rate for the next one? This success rate is something we all know as snooker players. We know when it’s a tough shot vs an easy shot. For most players, that’s as far as their thought process goes: it’s hard vs it’s easy. It’s nearly impossible, however, to determine success rate on a shot by shot basis and then make a decision based on past performance.

Success Rate

Success rate is an important feedback mechanism in shot planning. I believe one day we might even start seeing success rate for any given shot for pros as they already have the ability to measure distances between cue ball, object ball and pocket on television with the technology available.

Since you have the ability to assess your own individual success rate for every single shot you play, are you able to use that in shot planning? I would venture to guess you probably already are. Subconsciously, you probably turn down shots that others wouldn’t pass up. Are you willing to pass up shots you haven’t yet perfected because you know based on past experience that your success rate is unacceptably low?

Knowing our own success rate from shot to shot often comes into the pre-shot decision making process – going for the pot or playing safe. Our success rate also gets used by our opponents in determining what shots they decide to leave us. I remember many years ago, friends would always leave me side pocket shots because I struggled to pot them until I practiced and overcame my own lack of skill.

We can also make general rules about success rates for different kinds of shots also and suggest that some shots are always harder to execute. For example, I have one friend that consistently plays his cue ball on or near the cushion. He claims that doing so is a defence mechanism against his opponent – as most people have trouble off the cushion, but I also know his success rate off the cushion isn’t that much better than anyone else.

Accept misses as part of the game, and work hard on perfecting your own skill level in the game and improving at your own pace. If you personal high break is 30, carefully monitor what shot you missed, and practice it until you fully understand it. Each time you do this, you increase your chance of beating your last performance.

Monitor your own progress

Watching videos of yourself playing will tell you a lot about your own game. I have also found that practice routines will give you this feedback. One practice drill in particular – the lineup – provides great feedback for most players.

I have been doing the lineup recently in practice (2 reds below black, 6 below pink, and 7 below blue). In every session I have discovered certain patterns emerging. At first, I was having trouble clearing more than 5 or 6 reds, but once I started assessing what shots I’m missing more than others, I worked on them and overcame the difficulties. The lineup – and any other practice routine – is great for this kind of individual feedback because the balls are always in the same position, and if you play close attention, you can pickup on patterns for yourself. You will, however, need to be disciplined in how you approach practice so that you can gain this additional benefit and feedback: if you miss, or cannon a red, start over. With the lineup start with the 2 reds below the black (nearest the cushion first), and then directly above the black and either side of the pink, followed by all the remaining reds in whichever order you prefer.

Practice is great for understanding what shots you are more or less likely to miss, but what about when you are in a match? I think as snooker players, we tend to have a black/white method in our decision making on shot selection – either we go for the shot, or play safe. This polarity in shot selection, however, doesn’t translate into our success rate on producing the outcome we desire. Overall past success is much more grey and uncertain. Depending on our personality or mood, we might be more courageous than past performance allows.

Should you ignore past performance?

I’m sure some of you are reading this article thinking that past performance shouldn’t be an indicator of future success. I fully understand that courage, determination, and perseverance shouldn’t be ignored and that you need those qualities in match play. I know that you should overcome your fears and doubt, and take the shot on that’s called for, but I also know that you will need to accept failure as a possible outcome, if you decide to take that path.

I have found that it’s very hard to play matches by taking any shot on. Offense has it’s place in snooker, but so does knowing when to play the safety as well. Being realistic about our own abilities, and following our own success formula in match play, and then working on our weakness in practice will reduce the pressure we place on ourselves, and provide a system for improving our offensive and defensive capabilities.

Think through your past results when faced with a difficult shot. Knowing how often you missed a shot in the past, can provide a good baseline to make decisions from. If you decide, in the end, to take the shot on anyways – regardless of past performance – you can at least do so knowing that the results might not go your way.

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!

Review of Saeed’s Cue Action and Review

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When asked I review the cue action of people that get in touch with me on Skype or email. Email and Skype are OK, but I prefer to see videos because I can see what is going on. See this video below of Saeed who got in touch with me and asked me for help.

Notice the position of his feet, the movement of his body and shoulders to the right as he measures and cues. Please watch the video and leave comments! Thank you!