Tom Ford
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Tom Ford – ‘I was in the hotel room in floods of tears’

World number 16 Tom Ford credits speaking to a mindset coach for the recent improvement in his snooker game.

The Englishman has been a professional on the World Snooker Tour for more than 20 years, first joining the circuit in 2001.

Ford was long spoken about as a talented scorer who perhaps didn’t have the temperament on the table or the dedication away from it to fulfill his potential and make it into the higher echelons.

However, a stellar 2023 in which he reached two ranking event finals has helped him to break into the top 16 of the world rankings for the first time in his career.

Now aged 40, Ford has opened up on his battle with loneliness during the coronavirus pandemic and how speaking to a professional has aided his on-table performances.

“The lady I talk to, her name is Sabrina Francis,” Tom Ford said on the Talking Snooker podcast this week.

“It’s just basically understanding how the mind works, why I’d miss a ball and get the hump with myself.”

“It’s okay people telling you that you’re getting the hump because of this and that, but if you truly don’t understand it, then you can’t do anything about it.

“So working with her, I could miss a shot now and I might shake my head, but then I’ll have forgotten about it.

“I won’t let it affect me on the next shot. Whereas before, I’d miss a ball, I’d get the hump with myself, and then when I come back to the table, I’ve still got the hump.

“So my next shot, I could miss that. All of a sudden, it’s a downward spiral.

“Then I’d be missing everything, I’d get the hump, I’d be chucking my toys out of the pram. It’d be horrible to watch.

“If I ever look back at it, I’d think that was really bad.

“And also, I didn’t want my son to start seeing me on TV and thinking that’s how you’re supposed to be.

“Because everyone’s children look at their parents and follow them, and I didn’t want him to go the same way.

“I knew that something needed to change, and obviously it’s proved in what I’ve been doing recently that it’s been working.”

Ford opened up about a specific day during lockdown when things were at their worst for him.

The PTC minor-ranking event winner had just beaten Kyren Wilson and Jack Lisowski to reach the quarter-finals of the 2021 Welsh Open at the Celtic Manor.

But even though he was featuring at the business end of a big tournament, his focus was elsewhere and he had no real interest in being there.

“I couldn’t really talk about it too much before,” Tom Ford continued. “I remember that was my lowest point.”

“I remember playing those two games. I came off and Kyren said, ‘well played’. I said, ‘I don’t even want to be here, I don’t want to be playing in this.’

“It was a lockdown thing, but I didn’t know why I was feeling it. I didn’t know what was going on.

“I remember breaking down to my wife when I was in the hotel room in floods of tears saying I didn’t want to be here.

“And I didn’t mean Wales, I just meant I didn’t want to be here. It was a tough time.

“That’s when I started talking to Sabrina, just talking about things.

“I remember I’d never tell anyone how I felt, I’m not one of them people. I still don’t really do it now.

“But talking to somebody definitely did help, because some of the thoughts that were going through my head were silly thoughts.

“With the lockdown, we couldn’t go anywhere. I think Celtic Manor in Wales was one of the worst for me.

“I remember we went into the practice room, and it was like school exams. Everyone had to sit down at your (own) table.

“You could talk to the person next to you, but you couldn’t talk to the person next to them because you were shouting.

“If you look back at it now, there’s no way we’d do it again, I don’t think. There’d be an uproar.

“At the time, you don’t know what’s going on. We had to do these things.

“It was just one of those things. Snooker is quite a solo sport anyway. I mean, some people have got their teams around them, which is great.

“If they’ve got the money to pay for those people to be around them, it’s brilliant.

“But most of the time, you go in there on your own and you’re out there on your own.

“Dealing with that mentally is tough anyway.

“But under them circumstances where we weren’t even allowed to mix with people, I couldn’t even be with my family, I had to play my match and go straight back to my hotel room, it just completely hit me and obviously I didn’t know why.

“I got through all that, and I can understand how a lot of people have got mental problems now. They’ve got the demons.

“It’s just basically talking to somebody and getting the help that they need.

“I was always one of them to be honest (who said), ‘man up, have a beer or something and you’ll be alright in a couple of days.’

“It just wasn’t the case, and you don’t realise when you’ve got those thoughts going through your head how serious it can be.

“If you don’t talk to anyone, the worse it’s going to get. It’s just finding the right person to talk to.

“You’ve not got to tell the world. You’ve not got to go out and broadcast it to anyone on TV or anything like that.

“But it’s just finding that right person to talk to and going from there really.”

Featured photo credit: WST

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