Snooker as Practice for Running
There was a snooker table in my grandparents’ house when I was growing up. It was the right fit for a growing boy.
I used to play all the time.
My grandfather loved the sport. My uncle even used to play competitively. He played frames against legendary players such as Cliff Wilson, Willie Thorne and Steve Davis.
I looked forward to watching snooker on the television as well. I have fond family memories of the World Snooker Championships on the BBC every late April to early May.
My favourite player was Stephen Hendry. He was the most dominant player of the 1990s, arguably the greatest player who has ever played, and who I admired for his impressive break building, stoic mental strength and consistent match performances.
My favourite player of the modern game is Ronnie O’Sullivan, mostly because, like Hendry, on top form he is unbeatable. O’Sullivan also has a fast potting style, can play with both hands and win matches without having to play his best snooker. He’s also a runner.
I loved potting balls. My main attribute was long pots.
Although I did move up to cueing on a full-size table I never played snooker competitively. But I remain fascinated by a sport that relies so heavily on mental fortitude and inner peace.
Snooker is a game of concentration, patience and consistency. Much like an endurance event, an appreciation of the challenge ahead must be balanced with appropriate decision-making in every moment.
For the past several years I have played on a slightly larger table than the one during my youth. It’s six feet long, and three feet wide. Although I only have a pool cue to use, some pocket nets are missing, room to strike the balls is limited by the walls of my lounge, and the cloth is slightly uneven I’ve enjoyed reliving one of my first sporting loves.
Snooker is a straightforward sport. Pot balls. Similar to running, the simple repetition of placing one foot in front of another, the difficulty arises from the choices that precede the execution. Every time you speed up or slow down, cut a training run short, or veer off the route you intended, you must rely on strategy. You must take intelligent actions.
The more you practice the better you become at making the right choices, quickly. That will be the difference between success and failure at the important moments in race situations.