Part 2 of 2022 #SnookerCoaching Questions: Mental Training…
SnookerZone has asked this question before: How can I improve my snooker game if I can’t get to a table regularly?
The obvious answer is to practice your cue action and technique at home on a kitchen table, or, on a dining table with various tools to help you, such as the Cue Action Trainer, or another cueing aid such as the Pocket Trainer. All these kinds of tools will help, but…
Have you considered the mental training aspect for a sport like snooker?
Pursuing the mental techniques to help build your mental strength is as important, if not more important, than working on the physical and technical aspects of your game on the table. The body cannot act without the mind…
Being able to build mental strength comes from doing exercises such as quiet meditation and going through your pre-shot routine in your head and imagining yourself at the cue sports table, performing your shot process as best you can, and playing the shots in your head.
Imagine yourself at the table, visualize the shots, the way you’re standing, the loose grip, the relaxed manner you’re cueing, and the follow-through. Play some shots in your head and imagine you’re potting them and creating a reality from your fantasy. The brain cannot differentiate between what’s real or what’s not.
This is where visualization comes in.
What is visualisation?
In this article 5 Visualisation techniques to reach your goals, visualization is defined as…
Visualization is the practice of imagining what you want to achieve in the future. As if it were true today.
It involves using all five senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. The process of visualizing directs your subconscious to be aware of the end goal you have in mind.
It reminds you on a consistent basis. And it trains your brain to respond as if that outcome were true in the present moment.
So, in essence, you can use this in your snooker practice and take it into your matches. Do this regularly and imagine yourself in the best place when you go into matches.
What you think usually becomes your reality.
SnookerZone asks you this before we continue…
What has been your best moment in life that made you happy? Was it a meal, a holiday, or something else. What did it make you feel? What were the senses of it? The imagery? Where, what, who, when. Can you visualize that?
The brain works in images, NOT words.
The article goes on…
Have you ever imagined the worst possible outcome? Along with all the visceral fear, and then it actually came true?
What if you changed that to the best possible imagined outcome. With the related elation and full sensory awareness?
For the answer, we can look to cognitive behavior theory. Visualization is built on the foundation it teaches that thought precedes action.
Visualization is a technique that takes that idea one step further. In imagining the future state in full sensory detail, your brain’s neuroimagery records the future state as if it’s true today.
So, rather than imagining negatives – create the positives from your mindset. Focus your energy on this, and take a step forward in your game. Regular practice at this, is as helpful as regular playing on the table. It’s a balancing act of both.
As the article suggests…
We can also use visualization as a form of mental rehearsal. Through process visualization, you increase selective attention. And engage the mental pathway that helps you to fine-tune the movement before you even step onto the stage.
SnookerZone has heard from mental coaches that “winners win in advance”. In other words, they rehearse their game in their mind before they step out onto the stage. Make sure you do not ignore how important this is, just as, like SnookerZone iterated in the beginning, this is probably more important than the physical aspect of physical practice.
How can you be a tough competitor if your mind isn’t in the right mindset?
Visualization is great for managing nerves and anxiety.
When you compete in matches, you’ll be more composed if you’ve rehearsed your technique or have rehearsed your situation. The technique should become more natural and less robotic.
Of course, there is no guarantees of winning. No one has a crystal ball, but, the building of confidence and belief will give you a greater advantage over someone who may have the right technique and be great at the game, but cannot be consistent in being solid and a great temperament in the end line. This will give you an advantage in the long run.
Let’s face it, as the article suggests, if it’s good enough for these top athletes, then it’s good enough for you…
They’ve learned to focus on the critical movements before they ever step into their competitive arena.
- Free Solo rock climber Alex Honnold
- NBA basketball player LeBron James
- Competitive swimmer and winner of 28 Olympic medals, Michael Phelps
- Multi-gold medalist Olympian diver Greg Louganis
- Former Navy Seals like David Goggins or Jocko Willink
They understand that mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise.
Mentally rehearsing your own game REGULARLY in your head is like doing a two-hour practice session on the table.
And, it only takes half an hour (or more) depending on how long you want, of your time.
Does Visualisation work?
Visualization is not a quick fix to winning. It takes effort to get to where you want to go. SnookerZone, for the past 13 weeks has been indulging in handicap tournament snooker.
- Write down your goals (start modest) For example, SnookerZone’s very first goal was to want to win a match at the handicap tournament.
- Then, when achieved that, write down another goal…
- And another.
- Keep track of them every week
- Small steps are better than trying to chase BIG STEPS.
- Accept that you will suffer setbacks!
- Keep going…
From week one, he started out as a nervous wreck in a competitive scenario, and week by week, by hook and by crook, has slowly become more confident on the table and become less anxious about the competitive aspect of play. We love snooker and started to let the game dictate how we were feeling.
Now, we go to the tournaments having rehearsed our mental game, and feel much more confident in our own ability and also our own technique that we can, win or lose, go home feeling we did our best.
As said before, the mental game is not a quick-fix solution, but you can be assured that you will go away from it in a better mindset.
Do not underestimate the power of the mind…
We’ll have Part Three of popular #SnookerCoaching Questions Next Week…
Here’s a great video SnookerZone found where the guy talks about the MENTAL REHEARSAL of your game the right way…
Well worth the watch!
The Full article…
A great starting point for mental training can be read in SnookerZone’s Review of Ninja Psychology tactics course by top snooker coach Nic Barrow, here…