It’s often stated that snooker isn’t a physical sport, but a mental one.
The numerous hours that are put in alone behind closed doors in a dimly lit room can often lead to a player going a tad stir crazy.
Not only this, with the addition of so many new tournaments around the world in as far away places such as China, India, and Thailand, a significant amount of time is spent on the road – or in the air – away from family, friends, and loved ones.
While team sports permit a bonding which can help alleviate the loneliness often experienced by all the travel and competition, snooker players can find spending solitary hours on end as par for the course.
On the table in tournament play, snooker is arguably the toughest mentally of all sports.
In no other elite level sport would a player be unable to respond to his or her opponent’s move.
On the baize, if one player is potting balls and constructing big breaks, the other must wait patiently for a turn that ultimately might never come.
In an interview with Kyren Wilson provided by Iain Fenton, a sports journalist in esports news and betting for EsportsOnly, the Kettering cueist discussed the importance of making the right preparations.
“I think that snooker is one of the toughest sports in the world and it can be quite easy to get down on yourself when things aren’t going to plan,” says Wilson, the world number 11.
“But that’s what I love about snooker, it’s extremely challenging and seems to throw up new scenarios all the time.
“I think your mindset is huge in terms of dealing with being a professional but you have to put things in perspective, the standard is extremely high so you have to set realistic goals to begin with.
“Your mindset has to stay the same throughout the match and before the match to keep yourself focused and calm on the job at hand.
“For me it’s all about winning so I try not to let a certain match or certain occasion change the way I approach it mentally.
“In the past I’ve wanted to maybe play the flair shot to crowd please but now my mentality is all about getting the win.”
After an unsuccessful first stint as a professional, Wilson returned to the Main Tour in 2013 and hasn’t looked back since, surging up the rankings with the high point in his career so far his sole ranking event triumph at the 2015 Shanghai Masters.
“I fell off tour after my first year and couldn’t find my way back on tour for two years,” continued the 25 year-old.
“So I found a part-time job and practiced in my spare time, got back on after the two years and haven’t looked back since.
“It can be hard doing lots of travelling sometimes but I’d rather be playing more snooker than less, which we are lucky to have the luxury of at the minute.
“It can be tough when you’re having a bad day. I’m unfortunately one of those players who can take my form home with me and can be a bit of a nightmare at times.
“That’s why my wife deserves a medal for putting up with me but I am getting better – there’s more to life.
“I think it’s all about learning the techniques that combat the demons in your mind.
“Everyone knows how to say the right things to keep positive but if you don’t have triggers in place ready to combat them it can scramble your brain completely.
“I try to enjoy it now. At the end of the day it’s a great buzz to feel pressure so why not embrace it and thrive off it.
“It’s massive to be able to deal with pressure. I think it comes with experience but that’s why the greats of our game are the greats, because they have had the pressure on them at some point and have dealt with it.”
Wilson will next be in action at the World Games, when he’ll be in Wroclaw hoping to secure a gold medal for Great Britain later this month.