New 2022 Interview: Nathan Mann’s Mission to Rejuvenate Billiards…
THE 36-year-old EABA and WBL finalist has recently taken up a role at the English Amateur Billiards Association in order to modernize its image online.
Nathan Mann has told SnookerZone in an EXCLUSIVE interview that he fears billiards could fizzle out in ten years if something isn’t done now to bolster its image both off and online.
The Norwich player and insurance analyst has made it part of his mission to increase the number of people becoming interested in the game and part of that is through social media and Facebook groups such as the EABA Facebook group.
Mann said: “The English amateur competition this year has had a 50 percent increase in participants versus last year and the social media group has helped to attract new players from local leagues, past players, players from WBL, and a new junior too.”
SNOOKERZONE’S interview report yesterday can confirm that there needs to be more talented William Thomson’s taking up both snooker AND billiards! Learning a bit of billiards will help your overall snooker game.
Mann added: “The biggest cause for concern is the age profile and demographic of the sport. The junior hubs don’t exist to the same degree they did 20 years ago. Philip Welham has done a terrific job over a number of years from Norfolk bringing players in, but there needs to be more active coaches out there. We need to actively take responsibility as an organization along with WBL to ensure we encourage more coaching to take place, provide support and give good reasons for Juniors to take up the sport we are passionate about.
In the grander plan, Mann is positive about how the sport can grow, but it requires a group effort from players to step up and help widen the appeal of the sport to youngsters and get people playing the game.
He added: “It’s not easy with the lack of funding, but the social media aspect is a start. We need to keep digitalizing it more and make incremental improvements. This year was really about stability and recovery from the impact of the pandemic. I’m hoping next year we can push on further, branch out to new venues, provide some streaming, and get further new players on board.”
And warned: “It’s crucial action is taken now, and should be at the top of the priority list.
Mann’s ideas on speeding up billiard games…
Recently, the EABA came to Woking Snooker Centre in Surrey for the first time and had a positive reception.
Mann also believes that speeding up the game and making changes similar to what snooker has done in the professional Snooker Shootout and the recent Snooker Legends 900 would do something to help new people give the game a go.
Mann said: “I think attacking fast play would be crucial to give the game good publicity on air. Removing the pot white and making this a foul stroke would stir things up. Adding in a shot clock too, replicating the recent 900.
“The Matchplay format, a series of 100up best of short games would relate more to like the frame of snooker. But this would reduce the art of the large 300plus breaks. It’s certainly not an easy task, but I think viewers would shortly start to appreciate some of the finer details.”
Mann, who has competed across a wide variety of billiards events, has these important tips for players who want to come into giving the game a go.
“It’s tough to always keep full concentration for all periods and say you’ve applied yourself fully…but you have to do that to compete at the top level. Your technique needs to hold up when put under pressure and that isn’t always easy! It’s a game of mental toughness as well as great skill.
SnookerZone thinks that anyone learning cue sports, whether it’s pool, snooker, or billiards, needs to follow a mental training routine off the table, as well as the physical act of practicing on the table. Both are needed for sure.
He adds: For those taking up the game (initially), it’s really about focusing on enjoying it, and mastering the basics. Put in plenty of solo practice where time allows, and experiment with different shots, and contact points, and don’t be afraid of taking a step back to take two forward. The breaks and results will come, and you get out what you put in.”
There has been some talk of a cross-event between snooker and billiards – and Mann believes this would be a good idea.
Getting into the zone is an amazing feeling…
He adds: “Ronnie O’Sullivan would clearly have a flamboyant style that could emulate Dave Causier playing with freedom and flair. Someone like Mark Selby I could imagine would be great over the long format of the game and be in his zone competing in a 5-6 hour match.
It would be great to see a return of a cross-cue sports event like the Lindrum masters, with a few frames of snooker and a points up total at billiards.”
Finally, when asked what his best memory has been of the game, Mann told SnookerZone: “My best memories of games have been ones basically where I can recollect very little from the match itself! That’s a great sign that you are firmly in the zone and so focused on the shots. Playing against Mike Russell in the British Open in 2016, I managed to hit a ton and a couple of 80s to win by 150 points over 75 minutes. It was only with 5 minutes to go I realized I had a great chance of causing a huge upset. Similarly in Jersey this year in the quarter-finals of the World billiards event I beat Martin Goodwill, with a similar type of performance. These type of games where you play at your maximum level you can look back on and reflect on what’s possible. They are world-class players and the best in the business!”
SnookerZone would like to thank Nathan Mann for his time, and we hope to see more billiards and even play in the future at Woking.
You can follow the EABA on the website or the Facebook group.