Renewed Self Confidence!

February 19, 2007

I had a great 45 mins snooker practice at the Riley’s club in Folkestone on Saturday, and its given me a new self-belief in my own ability. Recently I’ve been playing pretty poorly but I think its been down to a combination of having a new cue-tip and trying too hard/getting frustrated. I was beginning to lose confidence in myself but in this fairly quick practice session I decided to just try and concentrate *only* on pushing my hand through to the object ball and nothing else. What happened? I buzzed like a buzzard that’s what happened! First visit to the table I cleared the table down to the final pink ball from a lineup (I got the wrong side of the blue and went out of position). I was playing at a fluency that I haven’t felt in years. It felt wonderful, so easy, as though I couldn’t miss. I was actually playing very fast, which may or may not be a good thing, but it has massively restored my self-confidence in my own ability, and now I *know* I still have it in me to make consistent century breaks again. Whenever I’m playing badly or getting frustrated from now on I’m going to look back at this practice session for inspiration and draw some confidence from it. This is even more proof for me that playing good snooker is all in the mind. Let’s see how I get on tonight against Larry!

Friday’s Snooker Session

February 17, 2007

I actually felt pretty good when I got to the club and was quite confident that I was gonna play some good snooker. Unfortunately the ridiculously loud (crap) music being played and the idiots on the table next to us shouting and swearing and generally acting like complete losers made it impossible to concentrate for more than 2 or 3 shots at a time. You couldn’t even hear yourself think. There were loads of 20+ breaks in this session, but had the playing conditions been right I think we might have seen some much higher breaks.

Me 4-2 Laurence

38-66 (32 [laurence]), 66-5, 47-51, 65-35 (30 [jimbo]), 67-46, 57-29

Me 2-1 Laurence

63-48, 64-33, 41-70

Session stats:

Frames: 9

Time Taken: 2.5 hrs

Average Frame Time: 17 mins

Overall Frame Score: Me 6-3 Laurence

Jimbo thirty-plus breaks: 30

Laurence thirty-plus breaks: 32

Jimbo’s rating for Jimbo’s performance: 3/10

Jimbo’s rating for Laurence’s performance: 3/10

Monday’s Snooker Session

February 13, 2007

If you’d asked me at the time I would have said the session was a dreadful one (from my point of view), but its amazing when you look at the stats and realise that in context is wasn’t actually that bad. Sure, I felt irritated right from the start (there were lots of distractions such as people walking past all the time, loud brain-numbing music etc) and I played some really really awful shots, but over the 18 frames we still managed to knock in eight 30+ breaks between us. Compare that to a year ago and it doesn’t look that bad:

Me 2-4 Laurence

38-59, 45-51, 67-48 (36 [jimbo]), 41-59, 57-35, 39-69

Me 1-4 Laurence

15-76 (59), 80-5 (35), 47-56, 12-59 (42), 42-54

Me 4-0 Laurence

49-45, 52-31, 60-21, 66-21 (45)

Me 1-2 Laurence

51-62, 101-0 (38, 39), 9-70 (30)

Session stats:

Frames: 18

Time Taken: 4.5 hrs

Average Frame Time: 15 mins

Overall Frame Score: Me 8-10 Laurence

Jimbo breaks over thirty: 36, 35, 45, 38, 39

Laurence breaks over thirty: 59, 42, 30

Jimbo’s rating for Jimbo’s performance: 3/10

Jimbo’s rating for Laurence’s performance: 5/10

I think from now on I’m gonna try and get in at least one practice session a week – perhaps during my lunch hour. I need to get some more confidence around the black spot so I’ll start off doing some line-ups. I must admit I lost it a bit last night and let the ignorant people constantly walking past get to me more than they should have. This is definitely a stumbling block for me, and something I’ve got to improve on! At one point there was this bloke on his mobile phone walking around the table (near the reds end, but not in our way), but he was pacing up and down and I found myself more concerned with when he was going to finish his bl***y call than what was going on at the table. Quite disappointed in myself really; I should know better! 😦

Friday’s Snooker Session

February 10, 2007

Another good session tonight! In 9 frames we knocked in breaks of 50, 69, 55, 44 and 33. There were quite a few 20+ breaks as well. Great 69 break from Laurence in frame 4.

Me 4-2 Laurence

40-63, 56-44 (50), 57-27, 17-69 (69), 57-17 (55), 62-43 (44)

Me 1-2 Laurence

64-34, 37-54, 10-70 (33)

Considering I’ve got a brand new tip on my cue I was quite pleased with the way I played. A few twitches here and there but on the whole I played confidently throughout and didn’t let any misses get to me (much). It’s pretty hard not to get frustrated when you miss balls you know you should pot 99% of the time, but tonight I thought I kept that frustration mostly at bay. Keeping your confidence high is not easy, but I believe with enough practice at it, it should possible to do it in any situation.

Regarding Laurence’s 69 break… There was a situation where there were three reds left just below the pink spot, but the pink was (at that time) on the blue spot. Laurence potted one of the reds and screwed back for the pink. Now he had a situation where once he potted the pink, it would go back on the pink spot, leaving only a very small margin for error when playing position for the remaining reds.  As it happened, he under hit the shot, went out of position and missed the next red. In hindsight if he’d have rolled the red through and played the black off its spot, the 2 remaining reds would have been out in the open still, with no pink ball in the way hampering his positional play. Other than that though it was a fine break. We talked a bit about confidence during the week and in my mind during this break he certainly played every shot with confidence, and didn’t seem to put himself under any added pressure (I can usually tell when this happens as he suddenly slows down a lot and concentrates on a single shot too much – as if there’s so much riding on it). I’m betting there’ll be quite a few more good breaks from Laurence in the forthcoming sessions.

Looking forward to Monday’s sesh!

New Cue Tip and Ferrule

February 8, 2007

I finally got off my arse and had a new tip and ferrule put on my snooker cue! Looking at these ‘before and after’ photos I’m not surprised I’ve been playing so crap lately! 😉 Oh well, I’ve got no excuses now…

snooker-tip-and-ferrel-before.JPG snooker-tip-and-ferrel-after.JPG

I made a promise today not to neglect my cue any more.

Monday’s Snooker Session

February 7, 2007

Hmm. Definitely an improvement on my part from Friday’s game. Much better start from me in the first two best-of-sevens resulting in a 51, a 47 and a couple of 30+ breaks. Larry played super in frame 2 where I didn’t really get a look in. Me being a plonker tried to pot the black on the respot in the second frame of the third set and ended going in-off. That’ll learn me.

I then had another off-patch – not quite as bad as Friday’s, but the twitches came back a bit to haunt me. Laurence started to play much better at this point and managed to win one frame without me getting a single point! The last set was a bit scrappy, but it was getting late and we were getting a bit tired.

Me 4-1 Laurence

56-52, 15-64 (30, 34), 88-26 (51), 67-18, 81-14 (38)

Me 4-1 Laurence

75-1 (47), 61-26, 18-61 (30), 71-29 (35), 58-31

Me 1-4 Laurence

20-80, 56-63 (respotted black), 60-45, 0-86 (36, 37), 16-60

Me 3-1 Laurence

16-49, 65-37, 61-34 (32 [jimbo]), 52-34

I did a bit of research into twitching and relaxation/focus in sports on Sunday night and found an interesting newsgroup post that put a tight/tense cue-action down to having a lack of oxygen to the brain. Apparently if you’re slightly stressed, nervous or tense etc you tend to breath a little shallower and sit/stand with bad posture. This results in a lack of oxygen to the brain which therefore impacts how the brain sends commands to your limbs. The post goes on to say that breathing deeply and standing with good posture (i.e. not slumping forward on your shoulders) can improve the brain’s oxygen supply greatly. Anyway I tried this and it seemed to work for the first couple of hours or so (not many ‘twitch’ tendencies). After that I had a couple of mis-cues (my tip and ferrell really need changing!) and some bad run and my confidence went down a bit. My mind started to wander and I became unfocused, I began to try too hard to ‘recover’ and it all went to pot (no pun intended). I completely forgot to do the breathing/posture thing from that point on.

I think I’ve just had a revelation. Its dawned on me now that the ‘twitching’ I experience seems to be directly related to my confidence. If I’m confident of potting something I’ll be fine. The minute I have doubt of potting something (i.e. usually after a couple of misses or a mis-cue), the twitches start to manifest. It seems to me now that in my personal game, doubt=twitches. Hmm, so maybe next time I play I should just focus more on not getting upset or frustrated when I miss something, and just stay positive (but realistic). Unrealistic confidence can be even worse than doubt – since unrealistic confidence is more likely to result in failure, which in turn results in even worse doubt. Easier said than done, but I must get into the habit of not judging myself as good or bad, rather look at the results of my shots objectively, almost as another person might. Is this the magical cure for twitching? Who knows… I think I’m on the right path though.

Friday’s Snooker Session

February 2, 2007

What a contrast to Monday’s game where I played great with one 99 break and numerous 40s and 50s. Tonight was a different story. I just felt so twitchy and tense right from the start, and it wasn’t until the last frame that I started to loosen up and flow. Honestly I was finding it hard to string together 3 balls. My highest break was 20! Laurence didn’t particularly play well either (although he did have a nice 50 break in the second best of 7). I think I brought him down a level by playing so crap myself.

Me 0-4 Laurence

40-62, 44-49, 50-57 (respotted black), 47-58

Me 4-3 Laurence

44-35, 47-18, 18-49, 18-75 (50), 54-8, 21-67 (37), 65-17

I wish I could pinpoint what it is that makes me all twitchy and tense sometimes. If I could do that I swear I’d be far more consistent. If anyone reading this has a magical cure, feel free to let me know, please!