is all in the mind. How often have we heard this expression and
how easy is it to say?
But does this just mean turning a switch from negative to positive
in your mind to give you confidence?
As far as I am concerned it is just another of the many generalisations
that abound in snooker and many other sports. I never accept things
at their face value and I have found out through experience that
things are not always as they appear to be. If we are talking
about negative thoughts then I would be more concerned. I would
wish to establish how and why they got there in the first place.
Most players of whatever ability will know the feeling when things
are going well. Every time they go to the table there is plenty
of play on and the more they play, the higher their confidence
becomes. But what happens when they start missing shots they would
usually get and chances become less and less? What are they doing
wrong today that they were not doing wrong yesterday?
Everyone who has played the game will have encountered the problem
that whatever they try and do, things just seem to get worse.
The ordinary club player who does not get the time to practice
can only grin and bear it hoping that in the end things will come
right. But in the meantime, how can their confidence be as high
as it was when things were going well.
aspiring amateurs and professionals who are dependent on the game
for their livelihood, these spells are more serious and can only
add to the pressure they have to contend with during match play.
Sometimes they may be able to sort out the problem themselves.
Perhaps they have been moving on the shot or snatching. But there
can be much more to it than that.
In snooker, where the only movement is confined to the back arm
and the hand the errors are more subtle because the game itself
is more precise and exact. The slightest error in most cases means
When top players come to me for help they all maintain that they
have no problem when they are in among the balls, as there are
no really hard shots to play. The problems arise when they come
to the semi-hard shots and those played with power when the cue
ball and object ball are well apart.
Percentage wise, if you are playing a long shot with power and
are maintaining an average of 8 out of 10 in practice, your confidence
will be much higher when called on to play the shot in an important
match than if your percentage is only 3 out of 10.
Even if you are recognised as having 'good bottle', then the knowledge
that you are managing only 3 out of 10 in practice, is bound to
be present in your thoughts and must have some effect on the outcome
of the shot.
If the problem persists and I know only too well that it can,
what happens to your state of mind? I have known good players
who have given up the game through sheer frustration.
So how can you improve your mind set when things are not going
right? If you are unable to sort out the problems then you must
seek out a coach or coaching manual, that is not only able to
find the cause of the problem, but more importantly can put things
The players armed with more knowledge about their action and how
to correct their faults, will come to realise that many things
are all 'in the mind'.