This I hope will be the first of a series of many articles talking about getting the most out of your practice time on the snooker table. On the Cuepower website we have a section devoted to snooker practice equipment all of which are there because we have found them useful in helping our own game.
The one defining factor in how fast your snooker game improves is how much time you devote to it. If you only play once a week or so and always against the same few players you may have a good evening out in good company but your game is likely to stay around the level you started especially if you are the better player in your group. If you’re serious about improving join a local snooker league to vary the skill of your opponents and get extra practice time in when you have a snooker table to yourself. Playing against someone else is only part of practice, it’s like sparring but it’s not enough on its own.
One practice routine that most snooker players have seen others in the club trying is the ‘Line up’ where you simply put the colours on their respective spots and then line the reds along the centre between brown and black. There are no rules on how many reds you use or how far apart they are, you can spread them the length of the table to make moving the cueball between them easier but if your more confident you can get all but 2 reds to fit between black and blue so you don’t travel up and down the table so much and keep your play to the bottom of the table where the points will be.
You can place the cueball anywhere you like to start but then stick to snooker rules and keep score. You can track how many balls you can pot in succession or their value but compete against yourself and analyse what you are doing. Make sure you understand if you miss a pot or more importantly if you miss your cueball position why it happened otherwise you will only repeat the mistake. It may be necessary for you to get someone you trust to watch you take a shot from several different angles and see if you are delivering your cue in the way you are intending.
So once your setup and chosen your first red go ahead and pot as many reds and colours as you can but if you miss I think it’s best to start from scratch, it may help to reset the shot and practice the one you missed but really the best use of the line up is going for a straight run of pots from the start and not from when reds are already missing from the line up.
Obviously the object of the practice is a 147 but really any improvement in our break building is the goal and the line up is a perfect practise routine for that because all balls are potable from the beginning and a good break is there for the taking but the point is that the break is made with the positional play and not just the pot. A spectator told Dennis Taylor after his famous 147 that he could have made all the pots in that break. The point of the line up is to put the cueball in a position that makes the next pot within your potting skill. Any practise time where you give it all your attention will improve your potting but the positional play is where the break building comes from.
Keep practising and analysing your play and see that time spent show in your match play and your confidence.
There are variations you can try such as only plying 5 or 6 reds near the black spot and only using black and pink as the highest scoring colours or if your brilliant and I applaud anyone who even makes a good go at it but you can start with the red nearest the black and work up in succession making your window on position much smaller.
My last pointers on the line up is keep it simple and gentle. Use only the power needed and use the cushions only when you have to. My reason for this is because cushions in clubs are inconsistent and the angle and bounce may not be exactly what you expect, a power shot for position firstly means the object ball has to go in at speed so there is already a smaller margin for error and if you miss then it doesn’t matter how good your cueball position was because you’re in your seat and secondly you have a cueball travelling distance where anything can effect it such as a kick, accidental side or your angle being just enough off to hit another ball and ruin your position. At times you will need cue power in your arsenal but if you can do the same job with delicate stun and screw shots then they will give you more accuracy.