SnookerZone asks you: Are you someone who likes helping others who are struggling in whatever it is they are struggling with? Are you someone who likes motivating others? Are you someone who can pass your passion onto others? Maybe you’re someone who can get the best out of others your way, and not always by the textbook’s way!?
If that’s you, then a WPBSA coaching course may be right up your street!
New coach Steve Barton has just passed his WPBSA Coaching course level 1 and is now into level 2 (the portfolio).
In the last year or so, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association have been running new programs replacing old ones for those who are keen to pass on their knowledge of the game and passion of it in a structured and educational format so that as graduates they can go out and be confident that they are providing the best service to clients looking to improve their snooker! The courses are partnered with 1st4Sport – providing a professional framework for those wishing to hone their skills in sports coaching in snooker. They are generally held in Gloucester at the South West Snooker Academy or Leeds at the Northern Snooker Centre.
In this exclusive Q&A with SnookerZone, Steve Barton kindly agreed to explain briefly what the WPBSA Coaching courses entail and what you get out of them as well as what he thought of them. If you’re someone who has been thinking about doing a coaching course in snooker but has been sitting on the fence, then this Q&A may sway you one way or the other!
Over to Steve…
1) Can you state your name, age and where you are based in terms of snooker?
Steve Barton. 34 years old. Based in Willenhall in the West Midlands.
2) How did you get into snooker?
My Dad has always been a big snooker fan. He would take me and my brothers down the club occasionally when I was younger. I was never particularly very good, and then when I was older (in my early teens and twenties), I would play with my older brother maybe once a month.
3) What made you want to become a snooker coach?
I didn’t really start taking the game seriously until I was 27. The highest break in my life ever was 37. Then in 2011, I was able to practice more and really start studying the game. In 2013 I made my first century in a proper frame, and then I studied the game even more.
It was basically this improvement that made me want to become a coach. As I did all of my learning as an adult, I really feel like I have a different insight into the kinds of things players struggle with. Instead of me just always being a good player, I was a below average club player, that completely transformed my game as an adult.
I would now love to pass this knowledge on and help other players get more enjoyment from their game. I find this very rewarding.
4) You’ve just passed your WPBSA coaching course – congratulations! First of all, can you tell me what the level is?
After completing the 4 days of training in Leeds, I am now a Level 1 coach. I am currently in the process of completing a portfolio. Once that is completed, I must deliver a training session while being assessed, and if successful, I will gain my Level 2 qualification.
5) Can you briefly describe what the course entails as I’m sure there are fans of Snooker who may well be wanting to do a course but don’t really know whether to do it or not? And also, can you give us an example of one particular aspect of the course that you learn? A sort of teaser?
I attended the level 2 course. This involves 4 days of training.
The first two days are purely classroom based. You are trained in safeguarding, risk assessments and health and safety. Another key area of the classroom-based learning is how different people respond to coaching. Not all people learn in the same way, so the course looks at the best ways and different approaches coaches can use, to ensure your pupil gets the highest level of training.
The next two days are a bit more practical – in the snooker club. You’ll look at the basic setup, stance, bridge, grip, all those kinds of things. Again, discussing how to teach different people (we don’t all learn in the same way).
As a bit of a teaser, Steve Davis delivered the last day of the training, where he looks at different aspects of technique, and as a group, we discussed how sometimes the “textbook” approach isn’t always the best way! All very “interesting” coming from a 6 times world champion!
6) What was the best part of the course? Did the course meet your expectations in terms of the lessons etc and the customer service/support? Is there anything you would improve after doing the course?
I couldn’t particularly pick out one best bit of the course, it was all incredibly useful. But something I would say was that being surrounded by very enthusiastic snooker people like myself was great! In terms of lessons learned and customer service, it was outstanding in my opinion. The WPBSA offer a lot of support and guidance, and it more than met my expectations. I honestly don’t think I would have liked anything to have been done any differently. The course I attended was the brand new Level 2 course. The course I did replaced the old Level 2 course, so there have already been lots of improvements since the WPBSA implemented this course a few years ago. It was very well structured, well organized and each section of the course was delivered by an expert in that field.
WATCH: Here’s one of Barton’s Youtube videos below: Click play…
7) What’s your highest break and have you played in any events/leagues etc?
My highest break is 126 and I’ve had two total clearances (126 and 123). I’ve had somewhere around the mark of 50 or 60 centuries in total now, including a few in matches.
I play in two local leagues: The West Midlands Snooker League and The Aldridge and District Snooker League.
I play in the top division of the West Midlands Snooker League. My team finished 3rd last Season. I also won the Doubles with my teammate.
My team in the Aldridge and District Snooker League, have just won the main title for the 3rd year in a row.
I generally play in local handicap tournaments, and I’ve won my local one several times, and the one held at the South West Snooker Academy.
8) If you had the chance to create a snooker product, what would it be and why?
A device that could re-spot the balls for me when I’m practicing on my own. That would help a lot!
9) For you – what’s the key to being a good coach in snooker, especially?
As I said earlier, I think because I have done all my learning as an adult, it really helps me to understand the difficulties players will have when they’re trying to improve.
I was a below average player and through hours and hours and watching videos, reading every book going – followed by experimenting on the table, I have turned my game around.
One of the keys for me is looking at the strengths of a player and working with that to improve their game. We all have areas that we are strong at in the game, and other areas that are just a little bit behind. If you can work with a player and use what they have, and then push them in the right direction, that’s very important in my opinion. We can’t all play in exactly the same way.
10) Would you recommend the course to others?
If you are interested in coaching other people, I would highly recommend the WPBSA coaching course.
11) Can you tell us three things about you that people may not know – can be snooker related or outside of the game etc?
- I have just started a YouTube channel for snooker coaching. People can check that out for free tips and advice.
- I used to practice a bit with Adrian Gunnell (a former pro who made a maximum in tournament play).
- When I made my first century (112), my friend had just made a 147 in the frame before! I’ll never forget that!
12) Who do you most admire in the game?
Ronnie O’Sullivan – Just incredible to watch. As snooker players, we all wish we could do what he does at times!
But I’m also just a massive snooker nerd! So, I love watching any player. Mark Selby: amazing bottle and tactical game. Mark Williams: such a clever player.
13) Finally, if you had one tip/s to offer beginners (or anyone) to improve in their game now – what would it/they be?
Practice properly! If you get bored and you’re messing about, you’re just wasting time. Even if it’s just potting two reds and blacks, or clearing the colors – play properly and take it seriously!
SnookerZone would like to thank Steve for his time talking about coaching courses in snooker and wishes him well in his career as a coach.
PS: Are you a coach or a coach with a product – then email SnookerZone and let’s see if you fit the bill for the site! Email email@example.com.