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Playing snooker is much more than what it appears on the surface and requires a perfect balance of concentration, practice, and good judgment. As a beginner, you need to start with honing your basic skills and then develop more strategic thinking to help you play like a pro.
When you are starting off, you will need to learn the basic skills of playing snooker game, including the body stance, rules, and all the moves. But, as you develop the skills and progress in the game, you will realize that there is still a lot of scope for improvement.
Whether you are a beginner, a professional snooker player, or a local team player, you can benefit a lot by learning the tricks and tips by others. In this article, we have created a list of snooker tricks and tips for beginners to help you improve your all-round game.
#1. Remembering snooker ball values
In snooker, every player uses the white ball or cue ball to hit the 21 object balls of diverse values. There are 15 reds worth 1 point each, the yellow ball worth 2 points, the green ball having 3 points, the brown ball 4 points, blue ball 5 points, pink ball 6 points and black ball 7 points.
A good tip to remember the positioning of the balls is ‘God bless you’ where God stands for green, Bless for brown, and You for yellow.
#2. Get familiar with snooker fouls
Foul play happens in snooker just like in any other game and the rule breaker has to bear the consequences. When you break a game rule, points ranging between 4 and 7 are credited to your opponent’s account depending on the type of foul. Some examples of fouls are provided below:
- 4-7 points if the ball doesn’t hit the ball as it was supposed to
- 4 points if the cue ball jumps off the snooker table in any way
- 4 points if the cue ball gets potted
- 4-7 points if the wrong ball is potted
- 4 points if the cue ball doesn’t touch any ball
#3. Essential snooker terms
When you are new to the snooker game, the technical terms may appear alien to you but with practice, you slowly get used to them. Here are some of the common and not-so-common ones to help in breaking the ice:
- Cue ball: the white ball
- Bolt: the lower half of the snooker table
- Break: refers to the total number of points scored in one turn
- The D: refers to the D shape at the top of the table
- Baulk: the top half of the snooker table
- Baulk line: that line on the table wherein sit the yellow, brown, and green
- Frame: implies each round or game of snooker
- Century: when someone scores 100 points on his turn at the table
- Maximum no of points: 147 points
- In-off: occurs when the cue ball gets into a pocket
- Re-rack: implies setting up the table for another game
- Pack: refers to the triangle of reds
- Free ball: occurs when your opponent fouls and you get the chance to hit any ball
#4. Try to practice solo
Unless you have a snooker table at home, chances are you don’t get enough time to engage in a solo practice. However, if you are keen about improving your game and honing your skills then you need to spend about 30 percent of your time in solo practice to focus on certain areas such as the technical aspects or structured routines.
#5. Mix it up during practice
During the practice sessions, it’s important to mix up your partners so that you get the opportunity to play with players of varying level of competence. While playing with beginners like you will give you a comfort level, we would suggest that you occasionally practice with lower standard and highly competent players to identify weakness and maximize your chances of improvement.
#6. Always maintain a snooker dairy
For beginners, we strongly suggest that you maintain a snooker diary where you can jot down points to give you an idea of what went wrong in the last game. Keeping a record will serves as a log so that you can work on those aspects in your next solo practice. It will also serve a good yardstick to measure your improvements over a period of time, say progress made in the last six months or so.
#7. Have planned practice sessions
This is a very important tip, not just for beginners but also the experienced players. Always do a structured planning of your solo practice session. Besides maintaining your diary about the areas to be highlighted for improvement, you will also need to include goal setting and performance targets as a part of your practice regime to stay motivated and focused.
#8. Learn to stay focused
As a beginner, you need to stay focused during a practice session as this is the key to real improvements. There are several types of exercises that you can perform in order to increase concentration in a short span of time. An important tip is to keep the sessions short – about an hour of focused and structured practice is much more effective than several hours of unstructured playing.
Straight cueing exercises to improve
When you want to improve your game, a few exercises can come handy. From shot preparation to actually taking the shot, there are so many things to keep in mind, and here are a few of them:
- First off, choose your target
- Walk-in on line to stay focused
- Accurate foot placement, a position that works for you
- Check your aim to make sure you approach the straight line
- A pre-shot ritual that you follow every time to maintain consistency
- Complete the shot in the right posture
- Verify your outcome
#9. Work on your level of balance
It’s known that any sport that uses a ball to play requires a certain amount of balance. For beginners, it’s important to learn to strike that balance while maintaining a strong and natural shooting stance. Remember that your stance needs to be strong enough to resist a shove on your shooting side.
#10. Get that stroke right
When you hit a stroke, it should have a smooth and rhythmic motion that has a well-defined beginning, middle, and end part. Make sure you don’t rush with your stroke and also not choke it off completely. If you want longer runs, position for the angled shots rather than straight-in shots.
#11. Take practice sessions seriously
It’s important that you take the practice sessions as seriously as real matches while preparing for one. As a beginner take one thing at a time and learn to stick to the routine and habits, for example using the same rhythm and tempo. You will benefit from the practice sessions only if you perform the same thing in a real match.
#12. Preparing yourself for uncertainties
If you are preparing yourself for your first big match, remember one thing that you need to be prepared for anything that comes at you. To be a successful snooker player, you need to be alert and ready for any surprise elements such as a lucky break, an opponent’s form, the referee on the day, the conditions of play, and so on. Every aspect of the match is not in your control and you need to accept this.
#13. Get your posture in-check
If you want to learn the art of playing like a master then need to get your stance in check. It is important to address the snooker ball square on. If you are a right-hander then straighten the right led and bend your left knee. This will enable you to drop your shoulder so as to get down low n the cue. This helps you get close to the perfect shot and get maximum accuracy.
#14. Hold your cue in the right manner
As a beginner, this is one of the most basic things that you will learn. When holding the cue, you must ensure that the grip is relaxed, so that there is not much-unwanted pressure or power behind the shot. You will also not want to let it too loose or else you may end up losing the control of the shot. The key to getting this perfect is to practice as much as you can.
#15. Form an open bridge
When you want to achieve that perfect shot, you need to be mindful of the bridge that must be solid foundation. At the same time, it should also be loose enough to let the cue to move around smoothly. With an open bridge, you can play the different types of shots using your bent or straight fingers.
#16. Isolate the body when taking a shot
When you aim the cue to take a shot at the ball, you must make sure that only your cue arm moves and no other parts of the body show movement. Practice to keep your hips, bridge, feet, and head completely still or else you may spoil your shot.
#17. Pause at the front and back of the stroke
It’s important to take a pause at two occasions – once before you pull the cue backward, and the second time before you play the shot. This lets you to properly assess whether or not you are in the correct position and this also increases your chances of getting the right shot.
Mental Tips For Beginners
Besides the above mentioned technical and practice related tips, there are also several mental and psychological factors that come into play. We have listed some of the mental tips for beginners to help you prepare and start playing like a pro.
#18. Keeping the pressure in control
As you play more games, you will realize that you perform much better in the practice sessions than the real matches, and the obvious reason is that the pressure is off in the former case. It is known that anxiety related to performance exists in all types of sports, but it can prove to be destructive in a snooker game unless you keep it in check.
A useful tip to keep the pressure in check is to learn to breathe correctly as this helps in relieving the pressure. When breathing is shallow, the oxygen level within the blood gets reduced, affecting the brain and muscles. So, learn to deep breathe to give your body a rush of oxygen even under pressure.
#19. Plan out your strategy
As a beginner, you still lack experience hence you need to plan out your gaming strategy before every snooker game. You can actually cut back on so many errors by just planning in advance. Unfortunately, many people get lazy and fall into the habit of comfort-hitting balls without sparing a thought. Some people are so busy thinking of the outcome that they miss the process.
We suggest that you decide on the correct line and stay committed to it. Focus on the correct posture, the accurate line, correct pace, and the right spin. Focus on the place where you want the cue ball to land.
#20. Keep your eye on the shot
A common mistake many beginners commit is that once they hit the cue ball, they will get up and wait for the verdict to be given. If you are serious about the game and wish to learn from every session or match, it’s important that you keep your eyes on the ball. There is a direct relationship between the movement on the shot and you being good at playing snooker.
After you have hit the ball, stay focused, and keeps your eyes glued on to the ball to see the path that the ball follows. This small exercise fosters deep learning which allows the brain to make certain adjustments in the future. If you want to improve your game and better your skills, keep this tip in mind for every game.
#21. Set a target and practice with goals
Unless you set certain goals, it’s hard to achieve anything in life and snooker is no exception. To set your goals, you need to first create a routine that covers each aspect of the game and then focus on a few of them in every session.
Most of the beginner players out there do not have a lot of hours at hand for practice, nor do they have snooker tables at home. Hence, when they play it’s even more important to make the most of the time spent by using every moment wisely. This implies you need to resist the temptation to comfort-hit balls and always stick to a certain targeted routines aimed at improving your game.
#22. Learn from your mistakes
Another mental tip is to not be hard on yourself for your mistakes but rather learn from where you go wrong so that you can work on those aspects. Snooker is a technical game hence it can be tricky to identify and extract benefits out of the tweaks here or there as time slips away between the sessions.
Maintaining a journal after each game can come handy when you go back and check where you have improved and points that still need improvement. Besides recording your thoughts and observations, we would suggest that you also keep a scorecard for your observations and thoughts.
#23. Accepting things as they are
Again, let’s not forget that several things go into building that mental strength needed for winning a snooker match. Small changes and improvements can bring about a big difference in what happens at the table. So, we urge beginners to see mistakes and learn from them rather than getting disappointed with the losses.
Make sure you keep a track of the results instead of basking in your success or feeling bad for your loss. You should also learn to focus on the current scenario and stay in the present moment rather than pondering about the ‘what-ifs’. There’s nothing bad about having weaknesses because even the pro players have them but the key lies in identifying them and working towards getting better.
#24. Introspect and get control
Not only in snooker but all types of cue games, it is important to have good control. Please remember that your affect on the cue ball is only indirect. If you feel that a game is not going in your favor, we suggest that you first check your body mechanics.
#25. Listen to the voice in your head
Any game has a level of pressure that you need to deal with especially if you are playing a match instead of a practice session. Remember that your most terrifying opponent is that little voice in your head that can either scare you or encourage you. A good tip is to create some simple commands or phrase such as ‘Feel the ball’ ‘Calm down’ ‘Relax’ and ‘Focus on your game’ to block out any negativity.
Is snooker easier to play than pool
No, snooker is easier to play than pool and but it is played on a more difficult equipment. So, if you know how to play 3 balls on a 30-foot pool table then snooker will not be a tough game for you. With consistent practice and guide, you can soon be a pro at it.
How many hours should a beginner practice
If you are a beginner and wish to become a professional soon, you will need to practice for at least five or six hours a day. Please remember that in a game of snooker, natural ability and concentration matters a lot, so there’s only so much that you can learn.