Belgian snooker coach Eric de Ruyver (pictured above on the right) was one of the coaches lucky enough to get to soak up the atmosphere at the Betfred World Snooker Championships this year in the CueZone at the Winter Garden in Sheffield.
SnookerZone was lucky enough to see Eric first-hand there on our visit to Sheffield and witness the great work coaches like him and others were doing in the CueZone helping to promote the game and get people – especially youngsters to pick up a snooker cue and give snooker a go.
We caught up with Eric after to find out more about how he got into snooker, and, his views on coaching and what he thought of his experience helping out in the CueZone.
He also brought along a great little fun product, nicknamed The Target (self-made), as a way of making the time fun there and teaching newbies a vital skill on the 12ft by 6ft snooker table!
Here’s the EXCLUSIVE SnookerZone Q&A with Eric below…
How did you get into snooker? And, more importantly, what made you want to become a coach and what level coach are you?
I started playing snooker at the age of 15, but couldn’t play for about 10 years due to circumstances. When I picked up the game again 3 years ago I had a shoulder injury that kept me away from the table and I couldn’t achieve my former level anymore so I decided to become a coach to stay a part of the snooker environment and pass my experience on to others. I recently did my assessment during the WC in Sheffield to become a 1st4sport WPBSA World Snooker Coach Level 2 and passed it successfully, with Nigel Bond as my pupil to be coached.
You recently did coaching for the CueZone in Sheffield, can you tell us what it was like to be part of the coaching set-up there and how you felt to be a part of that setup?
I took part in 2 days for CueZone, Thursday as a Level 1 Coach, Sunday as a Level 2 Coach. It’s an enriching experience that helps to promote the game amongst all kind of people. There were non-players to pick up a cue for their first time, players of all levels, kids, youngsters, adults and elders, disabled persons, men and women. In Sheffield, the CueZone is mainly set up for fun, so the aspect of real coaching is rather small, there are so many audiences that we need to give all of them the chance to try and have a taste of it. It’s great to meet and work with other coaches from around the world, this keeps up the same level and approaches all around.
I noticed from when SnookerZone was there that there was a unique little product being used in the CueZone. Can you tell me a little bit about it and how it was made, and what it is designed to do to help players?
It was some sort of archery target, cut out of an old table cloth with points drawn on it from 5 to 10, with 10 being the bull’s eye. The six colours are placed on the baulk line between the yellow and green spot, the cueball can go anywhere, and with 6 shots one must try to shoot the colours at the target, scoring as many points as possible, sometimes with direct shots, sometimes by using 1 or 2 cushions. This allows players to improve in a fun way their aiming and lining and controlling the pace of the cueball.
SnookerZone adds: Try it! If you can’t get cloth, use a fairly big piece of card, from a stationer, and use that. Be creative!
Watch The Target in action on this video below: Click play…
In your country/area, are you seeing many talents in the game and do you have anyone you coach that you think may go far in snooker?
In Belgium, the average level is not as high in the UK, but we do have some decent players that regularly make their centuries. Unfortunately, it’s not common to see much youngsters or women starting to play. At the moment I’m coaching some pupils of which I think they might achieve a very high Belgian level and maybe perform on a world level once. Luckily I also have some juniors with great potential of whom I hope they will carry on and be an example for the next generation.
Luca Brecel is a product of Belgium snooker! How is snooker growing in Belgium, in your opinion…
Luca is a very natural talented player who has still time and space to achieve his highest level, we haven’t seen half of his abilities! I can tell his performances are kind of triggering younger players to try this game, which is a good case for Belgian snooker. High standard coaching should help their game improve. Ben Mertens is also a talented young player with great potential, I’m sure he’ll be a great player once at high world level.
Other than the product used in the CueZone in Sheffield, if you had the opportunity to create a snooker training product, what would it be and why?
How often do you personally play snooker and what’s your highest break if so?
I used to play 4-5 days a week for several hours, but nowadays coaching takes away some time of it. My highest break is 134 in gameplay, 121 in competition, but this was many years ago before the 10-years-pause. I’m now happy with every good performance or break and still make breaks between 50 and 100, although it’s getting harder due to the lack of proper training.
[bctt tweet=”Luca is a very naturally talented player who has time and space to achieve his highest level, we haven’t seen half of his abilities! I can tell his performances are kind of triggering younger players to try this game, which is a good case for Belgian snooker.” username=”@chrisgaynor2″]
In your opinion, what makes a great coach?
As a coach you must have some strengths : you must recognize and discuss achievable goals with your pupil, you must have enough technical knowledge to be able to correct and improve one’s technique, you must help to keep the balance between technical and mental aspect of the game, and keep triggering someone’s will to carry on evolving, and above all keep the fun in the game at any level! Also, be aware that a good coach needs to improve him (or her-)self continuously to become an even better coach.
From people you’ve been working with to improve their game, what’s the common error you see players make?
The most common and well-known error is the technical flaw of not hitting the centre of the cueball and/or not cueing in a straight line to that point. This results in putting unintentional side on the cueball, and not hitting the object ball at the point you want. Lots of players underestimate the importance of a proper pre-shot routine, a good stance and a technical correct delivered shot. Also, mental strength is very important for snooker is a high set mind game! As some great (ex-)players use to say: keep practising those things over and over and over again to become constant and minimalize your flaws.
Who do you admire in the game – excluding Ronnie O’Sullivan of course…
As a young kid, my idol was Stephen Hendry. This era, I’m quite fond of Neil Robertson for his technique, Kyren Wilson for his overall présence, and Zhou Yuelong for I believe he is such a complete player already, a big example for the youth and I’m sure in a few years he’s the next world champion or number 1 ranked!
Finally, can you tell us something about you that people may not know? It can be something unusual related to snooker or something else such as an unusual hobby etc? Maybe you have experienced an unusual incident on your travels?
I used to write some fiction books with short stories (think about Guy De Maupassant, Adgar Allen Poe and Stephen King) but never published one. Maybe that’s something for when I’m retired?
Just finally, what’re your plans with coaching snooker at mo?
As the WPBSA states: I want to be a part in growing the game, keep improving myself as a coach and support my pupils to become better players. The indescribable opportunity I’ve gotten from the owners of snooker club The Mambo in Kortrijk for allowing me setting up my Victory Snooker Academie will grow in the future, and I’m planning on starting a Juniors Club on a regular base so the future champions find their way to the table! With the help of my wife Stiene who is my biggest support in developing my coaching, I’ll carry on for as long as I can!
We’d like to thank Eric for taking the time to answer our questions for the Coaching Zone and wish him well in taking Belgian snooker to the next level!
Are you a coach that would like to be featured in the Coaching Zone? Got an innovative product you want to showcase? Email SnookerZone @ firstname.lastname@example.org
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