Q&A: Meet WPBSA Snooker Coach Gavin York
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Here’s Gavin on his thoughts on why there’s not enough UK talent coming through, his highest break, and, who replaced him in his local league as Captain!
1) Can you state your name, age, and where you are based?
My name is Gavin York and I’m 40 years old.
I coach in the Northampton area and currently coaching from Coopers Snooker Club. However, I do coach at other clubs and at people’s houses. I’ve also spent a lot of time running tournaments and junior clubs at Barratts Snooker Club.
2) How did you get into snooker
I was first brought a small table when I was about 9 although I lost interest in it as I played outside much of time. I started to watch snooker on television when I was about 12 or 13.
In the early 1990s and started to play on the table again. I played with my brother who was also enthusiastic. My bedroom wasn’t even big enough to play shots properly and we often had to jack up the end of the cue or unscrew the butt end and just play with the top end. My next-door neighbours also had a table and it was slightly bigger than mine, so we started to play in their loft and made cups and trophies out of containers covered in silver foil. The only problem was in the winter it was freezing, and, in the summer, it was sweltering! Then one year we went on holiday to Devon and we found a full-size snooker table. My brother and I played a couple of frames together and I was hooked. I was probably about 16. When we returned my mum persuaded my two older cousins to take me and my brother to a local club to ask if we would be allowed to play. The manager said we seemed good lads and that it was okay.
3) What made you want to start a career in coaching?
Once I started to play on a full-size table i Improved very quickly. I made a 50 break within 6 months and got my highest break up to 90 within a year. I knew that technique was very important in snooker and so I read every single book I could get my hands on. I even got a copy of the Joe Davis instruction manual and the coaching book written by Frank Callan who was the best coach of the time. I kept making alterations to my own game which, looking back, probably didn’t help my consistency but improved my technical knowledge.
In my twenties, I started to struggle with some health issues which made it difficult to hold down a job. I told the lady at the job centre that I didn’t want to go onto benefits and she suggested that if I loved snooker so much why didn’t I go and coach it. I was already being asked by players at the club for my advice on their cueing, so it seemed perfect. I took the WPBSA course led by Del Hill and passed at the same time as Wayne Griffiths (Terry Griffiths son).
4) Have you played in leagues or events, and where? Have you won any titles?
I have played in the Northampton town league on and off since about 1995 or 1996 although I haven’t played for a few seasons now because I suffer from a tremor that makes it impossible to play. I have led a few teams to division titles, I have won the town double twice and I have reached the semi-finals and finals of various singles tournaments. I have also won the high break prize on a few occasions.
5) What’s your highest break?
138, although, I potted the cue ball on the green whilst clearing up for 142. I also missed the 14th red with the rest when on a maximum.
6) Who do you most admire in the game?
2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy is a great ambassador for the sport. I also like Judd Trump and the way he is honest in interviews. If he feels confident he will say so and if he is struggling he will admit it. Many other players just say what is expected but this can be boring.
7) If you had the chance to create a snooker product what would it be?
To be honest I think the Cue Action Trainer developed by Nic Barrow is probably the closest to what I would create from a technical point of view.
8) Can you give the readers of snookerzone one actionable tip they can take away and use to help improve their game right now?
Most beginners I see do not complete the shot properly.
When you play the shot, you need to go right through until your grip hand finishes at the chest. This helps with consistency. Many beginners stop the grip hand as soon as they strike the cue ball instead of following through. This results in a stabby action and very little spin.
9) If you were a pro what would you call yourself as a nickname?
I couldn’t think of one, so I asked my wife and she said, ‘Gavin the Great’!!!
10) Have you got anyone you coach who might be a future prospect in the game? Don’t name names but do you see many talents coming through in your neck of woods?
There is a young man who has just turned professional. He used to play in my handicap tournaments when he was younger, and I gave him a few lessons. Hopefully, he will do well next season. There are also a couple of young lads in my area that I have coached who have some talent, but they need to work extremely hard to get good enough to turn professional because the standard is so high.
Sadly, I think the standard of young talent overall has dropped in the UK in the past 10 years. I think this is purely because fewer children play the game now. Many of my children’s friends have not even heard of snooker and many other youngsters play pool as it is easier to get good without much work. I worked in China for a year and it is much more fashionable to play over there. Girls can often be seen playing snooker or pool whereas over here the girls are often sat watching the boys because they are too embarrassed to play. I think many children get pushed into playing football at a young age when they are not always interested and perhaps could try some other sports instead.
11) When you are coaching, give us an example of a routine you would teach a player?
It would depend on the ability of the individual. I like to push my students. If they complete a routine quickly then I have set the bar too low and they won’t have learned very much. I like them to learn something from every new routine. One routine I may set is to place 4 or 5 reds between the pink and black spots with all the colours on their spots. First, I may ask the player to try and clear the table. If they do this I may then ask them to do it, but each red can only be potted into a middle pocket or I may say that the cue ball has to strike a cushion on every shot they play. Routines like this get them to think and help them to practice their positional play.
12) Tell us something about you that people who know you may not know – can be a funny story or just something unusual!
I was the captain of a league team in Northampton when I was younger. I found a new job in Bedford and moved away. A friend of mine took over the team for the following season and a young player took my place. His name was Kyren Wilson! He is now a ranking event winner and World championship semi-finalist!
Many thanks to Gavin for his time talking to snookerzone and answering the questions.
Gavin is available for coaching in the Northampton area and beyond and can be contacted on his website on https://snookercoaching.net/coaching
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