Phil Haigh ✍️
Ronnie O’Sullivan says the rigours of the professional snooker tour are so tough that he’d rather be going into boxing training camps and ‘get his head punched in for 36 minutes’ than the constant grind on the baize.
Life on the snooker tour is strenuous for players mentally, with the Rocket regularly speaking of ‘snooker depression’ setting in.
With hours on the practice table in dark rooms, a life travelling from event to event and countless disappointments on the match table, snooker can grind you down, even if you are the greatest.
The six-time world champion has warned of the pitfalls of life as a pro and how he sometimes wishes he had taken up a different sport as a child.
‘Be careful if you want to take this game up, because you’re letting yourself in for a lot of disappointment, loneliness, on the road, a lot of dedication, a lot of playing in an environment when you don’t talk to each other,’ said O’Sullivan.
‘When you roll all that together you have to ask, is it really healthy? Probably not. So before you undertake something like that you need to have a plan in place to preserve your own sanity.
‘It’s bad for the guys at the top, so imagine what it’s like for the guys that are not making it. I sometimes wish I’d have done something else, but no matter what you do is going to be hard.
‘If you want to be the best hairdresser in the world I am sure there are going to highs and lows with it, and you look at the rewards and ask if its going to be worth it?
‘I’d rather have gone through the stresses and pains of being a golfer or a F1 or rally driver or a footballer in a team sport because nothing’s easy, so if nothing’s easy you at least think where’s the benefits?
‘If I’ve got to go through all this stress and pain I can at least look back it and say that softened the blow. Snooker can be one of the toughest sports. You’re away from home a lot, you don’t see your family.
‘I think I’d rather be in training camp like a boxer and get me head punched in for 36 minutes, then go home to my family. At least you’ve got your home and your family around you, with snooker it’s just continually going around and playing, it can be tough.’
The 46-year-old has found a way to deal with the difficulties on tour, taking the pressure off his results on the table and focussing on his fitness and healthy eating away from the game.
He says every player must find a way to keep their mind settled, whatever that might be.
‘You’ve got to make the best of the situation,’ he said. ‘I try to run, do my gym, keep my sanity, keep my health. If I win great, if I don’t I’m still feeling good no matter what.
‘Some people probably feel what I do is painful. Mark Allen would probably think, “What? I’ve got to run seven miles and go to the gym? Leave it out, I’d rather have a curry, a few bets on the football and beers with my mate.”
‘That’s how he might deal with it. We’re all so, so different. Steve Davis used to play chess. Sitting there looking at his chessboard, playing chess against a guy that’s 300 miles away. It kept him going and you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to keep your sanity.’
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