SnookerZone will get to review Chris Henry’s The Balls soon…
However, a friend and amateur league snooker player Michael Waring, founder of Snookerhub.co.uk who lives 30 miles from Carlisle in Cumbria, kindly agreed to post a review of Chris Henry’s The Balls as he had recently purchased them out of curiosity.
Although Michael has only been working with them for a few weeks, they must have had some kind of impact on his game.
On Sunday, he told SnookerZone he had reached the semi-finals of his monthly handicap tournament at the Portland Snooker Club.
He added there are/were some very good players who attend the monthly competitions there.
So well done to Michael on his achievement.
Watch The Balls featured on the BBC at the UK Championship in 2019
At the UK Championships last year, there was a big feature about The Balls with the six-times World Champion Steve Davis who hooked up with Henry to find out more..
And Chris Henry is renowned for his psychological approach to coaching with players.
CLICK to watch the feature below AND then read Michael’s review after:
Chris Henry’s The Balls: Review by Michael Waring…
When I first heard about “The Balls” I will admit to being sceptical.
However, I saw lots of professionals using them and saw more and more about them on the internet and social media. Eventually, curiosity got the better of me and I bought a set.
Now, I am not what anyone would describe as a great snooker player. I’m 63 years old and what I would call club standard. If I make a 50 break, I’m over the moon – my highest ever being 58. I do feel that there is still time for me to improve though, so I’m always open to ideas.
When I first tried The Balls I wasn’t surprised when it showed me I wasn’t actually hitting the cue ball where I was intending. But the simplicity of Chris’s accompanying videos has already helped me to correct this. I’m only two weeks into using them and I am convinced that they will make a difference. My only regret now is that I didn’t buy them sooner.
Who is Chris Henry?
Chris Henry is a sports coach who teaches modern psychology and philosophy in a straightforward and understandable format. His clients include world snooker champions Stephen Hendry, Shaun Murphy and Mark Selby along with many other top professionals in snooker and golf.
A red and a white that are roughly 10% of the weight of regular snooker balls. Oh yes, and they are weighted by having slightly thicker plastic in one part to give them a slightly heavier spot. This weight, being offset, is what makes The Balls unique.
What do The Balls do?
When you hit a ball, either the white with a cue or the red with a normal cue ball, they exaggerate any off-centre contact. Hit the cue ball with any unintended side, and the offset weight will mean it will not travel towards your intended target. Hit the red anywhere other than the correct contact point and the resulting error will be magnified by the offset weight in the red.
What will The Balls help correct?
This is the clever part of Chris’s system. By continually using The Balls, you will re-train your ‘visual cortex’ (the part of your brain that understands what you are looking at) so that, without changing the mechanics of your cue action, you will eventually hit the correct place.
If you think you are hitting the centre of the ball, but aren’t, move your aim. You will eventually discover where the centre is and what it looks like when lining up the shot. The accompanying videos and exercises explain this in more detail and are very easy to understand.
Are The Balls worth the money?
They are not an instant cure for aiming or striking problems, but I believe they can help if used correctly. The routines and assessments will highlight any areas for improvement and help you measure progress.
Overall, I think, yes, they are worth the money.
The snooker Youtube channel Break from Life also reviewed The Balls as well. Here is his take on it…
Australian Neil Robertson made history in Austria over the weekend – becoming the second player to whitewash an opponent in a ranking final to win the first ranking event of the 2020s.
The last time it was done was in the 1989 Grand Prix where Steve Davis hammered Dean Reynolds 10 – 0.
This time, the 37-year-old Aussie demolished Chinese talent Zhou Yuelong 9 – 0 in the Betvictor European Masters with a string of big breaks.
It was the first time Zhou, 22, was in a final, but Zhou couldn’t match what his younger counterpart Yan Bingtao did in Riga earlier this season by winning his first ranking event.
Robertson claimed the 80K first prize and his 17th ranking title along with the Champion of Champions title he had won late last year this season.
There was also a good run again for England’s Ali Carter, who, only a week earlier, had reached the final of the Dafabet Masters, but fell short in Dornbirn as he was beaten by Robertson in the semi-finals.
“You never expect a final to be played like that,” Robertson told Eurosport. “I played fantastically well, up there with my best-ever performance in a final, and I’m sure it won’t be long before Zhou is in another ranking final.”
🏆 CHAMPION | Congratulations to Australia's Neil Robertson (@nr147) who has whitewashed Zhou Yuelong 9-0 to win the BetVictor #EuropeanMasters this evening in Austria.
So, one issue I’ve been having which has been highlighted a lot since using the Cue Action Trainer or Coach CAT as we like to call it now, is the grip and gripping of the cue when cueing.
It’s an issue that many players have at one stage or another, right?
The problems with gripping the cue can be a minefield.
There’s so many ways to grip the cue.
And so many ways flaws can creep in.
What is the ideal grip? Should the fingers unfurl, if at all? Is it essential?
[bctt tweet=”The Cue Action Trainer can spot faults like grip and help you test and correct, instantly…” username=”@chrisgaynor2″]
In this post, I’m going to explain briefly why the Cue Action Trainer is so powerful in giving you feedback on all aspects of your technique, and why it gives you that instant feedback to be able to self-correct aspects of your game that need improving.
WATCH: Kyren Wilson’s Cue Action Analysis from Snooker Pro Club…
You will get vital feedback first hand.
Not from what a coach says is GOSPEL and you should do WITHOUT getting you to test it and see first.
Not from reading from a textbook that says you should do this, BUT doesn’t know anything about you, etc.
Not from listening to someone down your club who says, I do it like this and this is the way you should do it because it works for me.
Remember: whatever you do: WITH OR WITHOUT HELP FROM COACH CAT…
The focus is to get you to deliver the cue straight along the line of aim in a stance, grip, and cue action comfortable and right for you.
So, our issue picked up by the CAT is not so much how we grip the cue, but should we unfurl the fingers FULLY when delivering the cue on the backswing?
Will not UNFURLING the fingers help deliver the cue straighter?
Most coaches say that the textbook grip way is to have a relaxed grip.
But what does that mean?
How relaxed a grip should it be?
All these questions can be answered by using the CAT and receiving instant feedback and FEELING what a relaxed grip is so you can get straight cueing.
Our problem with grip and what the CAT highlighted…
However, since using the Cue Action Trainer, we have noticed that on our grip when unfurling the fingers, the fleshy part between our thumb and index finger slips off the cue slightly when we open the back fingers. This ends up feeling like the thumb has slipped off the cue too.
And, more importantly, from observing the CAT legs when training, we can see our cue is NOT going through straight all the time.
This causes the cue to stray offline, and this has been highlighted when testing with the CAT.
The grip plays an important part in cue delivery, and anything you do with it should be designed to keep the cue delivered straight on the line of aim.
Test, test and test everything with the CAT and see if it results in straighter, smoother cueing…
All this you will feel when practicing cueing using the CAT!
And, you will pick up the right signs from observing what the CAT legs are doing!
What’s happening at the moment with us, is we are being forced to self-correct this aspect of the grip and re-adjust the thumb so that the fingers stay fixed in the positions they should be. I.e, the fleshy part between the thumb and index finger should be fixed. For us, it seems to slip a little.
so, we tested out our grip using the CAT with the fingers fixed on the cue and not unfurling them on the backswing and this was the result.
What feedback Coach CAT gave us…
We did 10 sets of 4 repetitions, and on those, we noticed that when NOT UNFURLING the fingers (opening them on the backswing) our cueing was MUCH straighter than when OPENING UP the fingers on the cue.
This tells us that the CAT is saying that we deliver the cue much straighter when our fingers are loose but closed on the cue and don’t open FULLY.
So, the moral of the story?
As said before, test, test, and test again to find out which style of grip, action or stance is right for you.
COACH CAT will tell you INSTANTLY what’s going on and what you need to do to correct it!
Stuart Bingham found top gear to claim the 2020 Dafabet Masters at the Alexandra Palace in London on Sunday night – despite being 7 – 5 down to Ali Carter and looking out of it.
The Ballrun, 43, pulled himself together after an onslaught of relentless play from his opponent Ali Carter who went to the mid-session interval in the evening 7 – 5 up after being 5 – 3 down in the afternoon.
But, we all know that intervals can change matches, and this one was no exception as Stuart then lived up to his nickname reeling off frames quickly. His final frame he needed at 9 – 8 to win 10 – 8 saw him finish off the match in style with a magnificent steely century.
Winner winner, chicken dinner – again…
Bingham almost broke down in tears after, in his post-match interview with Hazel Irvine from the BBC as she pointed out it would be another “big” chicken dinner win for him since his historic World Championship win in 2015 against Shaun Murphy.
In his 2015 win, he said after it was a “winner winner, Chicken dinner…”
He also added in the interview: “I’m shattered”, saying he had only got nine hours kip in his last two matches or so.
He now has two of the three triple crown events on his CV with just the UK Championship eluding him, which he admitted after was now a target to aim for to complete the set of majors.
For Ali Carter, yet to win a major, although a runner-up in the World Championship losing to Ronnie O’Sullivan, it was a remarkable story of a player who only managed to get into the event because Ronnie O’Sullivan had decided not to enter ironically.
Asked if Ronnie would be on his card list after bagging 100K for the runner-up prize, Ali quipped: “Ronnie’s always on my Christmas card list.”
He added: “I’m not sure if I’m on his though!”
This is the third year that the Masters has seen a new winner with the last two years seeing the likes of Judd Trump win the Masters, and Mark Allen win a major.
The 2020 Masters provided drama all week as the very top guns fell quickly in the first round of the 16 man event, with some nail-biting matches including seeing Stephen Maguire come back from 5 – 1 down to beat Australia’s Neil Robertson 6 – 5.
The Cue Action Trainer is like having your very own daily coach with you every day, training you to do technical things right, and not fall into bad habits.
We all fall into bad habits, right?
Sometimes, we think we have a problem with something, and it turns out to be something completely different.
Although we’re not suggesting for one minute to not seek out a one-to-one lesson with a good coach, you can, at the very least, iron out some problems you may be having, or think you have, using a coaching aid like the Cue Action Trainer on a regular basis in addition to good coaching!.
So, what kind of problems can the Cue Action Trainer iron out, and what problems has it “ironed” out for SnookerZone so far?
Apart from the obvious one of helping you to deliver the cue straighter, there are 4 other technical things that the CAT will help you iron out.
Gripping the snooker cue too tight…
The CAT has helped SnookerZone figure out the right grip pressure on the backhand to apply when cueing the cue straight through the CAT legs. If you grip the cue too tight when doing Nic Barrow’s “stop and check” routine, you will move the legs a lot, and you will not be cueing through the legs on the CAT smoothly. Any good coach will tell you to relax the grip when playing shots as any tight grip will cause the cue to move offline because of pressure. Using the CAT regularly will help consistency with this problem that can arise from time to time with players of all levels.
2) Striking cue ball with unintentional side…
One of SnookerZone’s major problems has been imparting unwanted side on the cue ball, namely left-hand side. The CAT has helped with this problem because of being able to determine where we are standing in relation to the shot.
The CAT determines the line of aim and, more importantly, how your body is positioned in relation to the cue and where you need to be on your sighting line. Then, it is a case of cueing through the line of the CAT and “feeling” what the cue is doing on the backswing. One of the reasons why we were imparting left-hand side was because our brain naturally tells the body to cue to the left, rather than the “right” which in our case is dead center of the cue ball. Weird right?
How have we done this? Simple. Put a cue ball in front a distance away center of the CAT and cue through normally. Is the cue pointing directly at the center of the cue ball? There’s your answer.
3) Developing a confident long backswing that FEELS straight AND IS STRAIGHT…
Sometimes, a player will be afraid to pull the cue back too far (especially on power shots) for fear of the swing not feeling straight. We know this because we’ve had this problem for a while now.
Even if the backswing on the cue IS straight, some players have that doubt in the back of their mind about it, and generally, that is what then turns into missed pots.
This is a more psychological aspect that can make players doubt their own ability.
Fear breeds fear.
Anxiety turns into players questioning other aspects of their game. With the CAT, you will get the truth right in front of you via the CAT legs. If your backswing is not straight, then you will know! This is part of Nic Barrow’s “stop and check” daily routine! DO IT! Through natural learning, you will then get instant feedback that you will be able to correct!
4) Developing a consistent overall cue action…
With the CAT, you can experiment with different types of actions. Long. Short. The works. This will give you the safe experimentation to be able to find the perfect action that suits you.
Not what a coach has told you.
Not what a player down the club has told you.
Not what a textbook has told you. Find it through the CAT and your own discovery.
In SnookerZone’s case, our action is simple. Three controlled feathers. A nice pause. And a controlled delivery.
You will be able to work that out for yourself when using the CAT.
We were striking the ball with complete authority and going through with so much confidence.
We discovered a new-found sense of confidence with the cueing.
Although it’s still a work in progress at mo, our little attempt at a routine from the Cuestars Academy website called the John Higgins routine led to us making a nice break of 35 with some tough shots made during the break.
Although it was only a 35, it was not so much the amount scored; it was the way we felt with the cue and how we were getting through the ball much more confidently on certain shots.
We felt like we were striking the ball like a pro.
Do you want to get a cue action you can be proud of?
Of course you do, right?
Do you want the buzz of potting balls you never thought you’d be able to pot?
Of course you do.
Do you want the buzz of being watched in your club and people looking around and thinking, how did he cue that shot so well?
Of course you do.
One of the ways to getting to that feeling of euphoria and excitement is honing your cueing away from prying eyes of your stiffest competition.
Maybe your cue action is letting you down.
Maybe you’re just not feeling confident with it.
Maybe it’s just not performing how you want it to.
Maybe you’re not doing the right kind of training.
Just 15 mins a day doing this simple but useful exercise with Nic Barrow’s Cue Action Trainer can allow you to get a feel for what straight cueing ACTUALLY IS AND NOT WHAT YOU THINK IT IS, so when you go to a snooker table, you can transfer what you’ve discovered AND practice to pot more.
We’ve been doing this for 30 mins a day five times a week. 15 mins in the morning and 15 mins in the afternoon.
That’s nearly 3 hours of PURE CUEING TRAINING.
You will soon see an improvement in your cueing every time you go to use the device.
And, more importantly, when you go to a snooker table.
This device will train and provide you with…
======>Instant cueing feedback…
=====>Instant self-correction to your cueing errors so you learn FASTER…
====> Instant improvement in cueing confidence when you go on a snooker table NEXT…
===> Instant awareness on how you’re set up on the shot…
And, what can Nic Barrow’s CAT teach you that a good snooker coach can’t?
So, do you want a cue action that even a superhero like Batman would be proud of? I bet you do, right?Who doesn’t?
Three things I battle within my cue action sometimes are these:
The right pace of the shot
I bet you struggle sometimes to achieve some if not all of those, yeah?
Before having the CAT, my tempo and cue action were all over the place! And I thought I had a good cue action! lol. Since using the CAT, I’ve discovered two key things:
I was hitting the ball way too hard on long pots and safety shots with no consistency…
I wasn’t timing the ball well on the final delivery of some shots…
Here, I will focus on each of the three things mentioned above briefly and explain how Nic Barrow’s Cue Action Trainer helps you to improve them and why a coach can’t teach these. It’s something you have to learn for yourself.
A coach isn’t holding your cue, and so, therefore, can’t play the shot for you as it should be! Only a device like the CAT can truly get you to work on your cue action, hone it, and improve it!
A coach can then observe and make suggestions if need be.
Showing and telling someone how to cue is not the same as you being able to feel what perfect cueing ACTUALLY is first hand…
The problem a coach has is they can tell you to be slow and steady with the backswings and can tell you to glide through the ball on final delivery, but, they can’t hold your cue and play it for you. They can show you how to do it with their own cue, but, again, it has to be you that plays the shot and gets the feel of what a perfect cue action is.
That’s where the Cue Action Trainer comes in. By taking away the bridge hand, and just having the backhand in action, you can get a feel for what smooth cueing feels like.
After spending two weeks with the Cue Action Trainer, I’m starting to slowly reap the rewards in frame play of what a smooth, consistent and straight cue action actually is. Through private sessions at home and a couple of sessions so far on the baize, we’re beginning to understand how a good solid cue action can work and how it can work well under pressure. Let me explain how the Cue Action Trainer has helped with that so far.
The CAT training provides you with consistency…
The Cue Action Trainer will help you gain consistency in one simple way. Most players with what we might call “poor” cue actions, deliver the cue way too fast with no tempo and no buildup to the shot. To get the action you want, (i.e, screw or top) you need to build a consistent and rhythmic tempo in cueing. The CAT will help train you to do that if you practice simple drills.
For March 2020, Nic Barrow has 37 CATS on offer to those interested in taking their cueing to another level. They’re going to go fast, so …
An easy drill to start to practice with the CAT at home, or away, is to actually demonstrate the effect of “poor” cueing yourself using it. You will find the legs on the CAT will come off easily. Really exaggerate this motion and you will see what we mean. We found that grip is so important when learning straight cueing. How tight or loose you hold the cue really affects the straightness in cueing. I was holding my grip far too tight – despite thinking it was loose!
Instant CAT feedback leads to instant self-corrections in cueing…
Another useful CAT drill to practice is Nic Barrow’s “stop and check (see video).” We really recommend this drill as you can do it at home. For instant feedback, you can really “feel” what the cue is doing on the backswing and see how the legs are moving. We noticed when regularly doing this drill at home on the kitchen side, we found our cueing was arching to the left of the CAT legs meaning we were cueing to the left of the cue ball and imparting left-hand side unintentionally.
The CAT will correct and highlight these errors instantly allowing you to feel what a straight action is! Also, you will be able to “feel” what a perfect tempo of cueing is. No coach can get you to feel that sensation. Only a training aid like the CAT can do it! What looks straight to your naked eye, may actually not be!
Timing is striking the ball at the right rhythm and pace and getting the desired effect on the cue ball. The “secret” to a good cue action has four main components:
A consistent pace of backswings (feathers)
A slow and steady final backswing
A nice pause before the final delivery
And, a steady final delivery that is neither too “fast” nor too “slow”…
You can use the CAT to discover all these components and how to build them into your game. It will not take you long either to go from a very inconsistent action to a much-improved one. After just two weeks with the CAT, mine has done just that. But there is still much work to be done in the Bat Cave Robin! lol
In SnookerZone’s next installment of our series on the CAT reviews, we will go over some of the modes you can use when playing on a snooker table. These will include a couple of videos. We will also log our progress with it during our frame play and ‘friendly” matches at the club.
PS: When your mind and body have discovered what straight cueing actually is with the CAT, and you start to implement it into your game, there will be a new sense of freedom among the balls. You will focus less on technique and more on the positional play and shot selection. We’re slowly on the way to that second phase.