By Elijah Talley
If someone asks you to play snooker, don’t be alarmed.
The game of snooker, which is similar to billiards but played on a larger table and scored in a different way, originated from Jubbulpore, India and was given its name by Colonel Sir Neville Chamberlain in 1875 while he was serving in the army.
In the earlier versions of snooker, there were fifteen red balls and one black ball. In today’s version, however, besides the 15 red balls and one black ball there are one ball each in the colors yellow, green, pink, blue and brown, with each having a different number on them.
There are many local places to play snooker here in the Springfield area, such as Sharky’s Billiards and Grill, Goodall Billiards, and Shooter’s Billiards & Pub. Listed below are ten ways to improve your snooker game as well as help someone who is just starting out.
Richard Weeter, a snooker player from Sparta, Mo. with more than 40 years of experience, took time out of his busy day to write down and talk about his list of the top ten most important things to becoming a better snooker player.
Stance: When asked about how important stance was Weeter said, “Stance is the biggest thing to factor, bad stance will ruin your shot every time. The best thing to do is find a stance that is comfortable and gives you balance.”
Cue: Using the right cue when playing snooker is important. Depending how comfortable you are with the different cues, the most common and best cue to use is one that has a smaller tip than a regular eight ball cue. The smaller tip gives you better force, aim, and better control of the ball and your shot. Weeter says, “Not only is this true but you find more often than not that the type of shot you’re wanting to make can be the determining factor and which type of cue you actually use.”
Shape: Shape is when you take one shot and place the cue ball where you want it to line up for your next shot. You can do this by using a technique called English. “You have to factor in shape, which is at least 25% of the entire game itself,” said Weeter. “Without shape, you’re just making whatever shot you get lucky enough to have. With shape, you can make the shot you want to take.”
English: “English is being able to control the cue ball and in turn control where the ball your shooting goes,” Weeter said. “When you learn English you gain the power to not only control where your target ball goes but also to have shape, meaning that you can line up your next shot.”
Force: Force can make or break you in snooker. You have to remember the balls on a snooker table are lighter and move easier, so hitting a ball with excessive force is an easy way to miss a lot of shots. Likewise, not using enough force is a good way to miss by not getting the ball to the pocket. Weeter knows this from personal experience. “When I started out, I came from playing eight ball, which is very much different,” Weeter said. “I would either blast a ball and miss completely or get nervous and not hit hard enough. I kept working on it every game, and eventually I learned depending on how far the shot was that there is always a happy medium that can only be taught by trial and error.”
Confidence: “When you step up to the table, you need to be confident even if you’re just staring out,” Weeter said. “You need to believe that you can make the shot. Without confidence, you’re less likely to make your shot.”
Breath: “Don’t try and hold your breath when trying to shoot,” advised Weeter. “People have a bad habit. It seems that they will try to hold their breath to get a better shot, but you have to remember you’re shooting snooker—not hunting.”
Focus: “When you go to make your shot, don’t worry about anything else,” Weeter said. “When you go to shoot, make sure your mind is clear and you’re calm.”
Grip: When holding the pool cue, be sure not to hold it as tight as possible. Hold it tight enough to hit straight but no so tight that your every movement messes up the shot. “Grip and aim go hand in hand,” Weeter said. “Hold the cue too tight, and it’ll account for every ounce of force and spin on the ball; hold it too loose, and then you won’t have enough direct aim.”
Know your limits: People have different limits when it comes to shooting snooker. One of the biggest limits is height—if you want to make a shot that you are confident that you can make but you’re having a hard time reaching, then use a bridge bar. This is a tool used to help players make long difficult shots. “Everyone has some type of limit, whether it’s flexibility or height,” Weeter said. “Everyone has something that is a limit. You’ll never be a great snooker player until you really know your limits and how to get around them.”
Weeter said that at the end of the day, people are different, and snooker is all about finding what works for you and what makes the balls sink.
“The steps I said are definitely going to improve your game,” Weeter said. “But once you’re good, it’s ok to make your shooting style your own. Personalize it and play each game with heart. And when in doubt, hook it out.”