How To Get Good At Snooker – 5 Steps To Improve Fast

Foul and a miss. We’ve all been there. Snooker is such a difficult game, it can be incredibly frustrating at times.

But knowing how to get good at snooker isn’t as straightforward as it seems. With most sports, practice makes perfect. 

That’s 100% true for snooker too, but snooker is also a game of technique. You can have the best snooker cue and the best snooker chalk, but, if your technique isn’t right, you’ll always struggle to improve.

So, let me take you through our guide on how to get good at snooker and see noticeable improvements in your game as quickly as possible (if you’re new to the game, check out our guide to the basic rules of snooker first).

Step 1: Learn Your Angles

No matter how perfectly you deliver the cue, if the line of your shot isn’t right, you’ll miss every time.

That’s why the very first step in our guide on how to get good at snooker is to learn your angles.

Potting Angles

There’s one very easy way to check where the white ball should strike the object ball in order to send it towards (and into) the pocket.

Simply stand behind the line the object ball needs to travel in to go directly into the pocket. When you look down this line, imagine the cue ball hitting the object ball directly in the centre (allowing for the size and shape of the balls).

If you get this contact point right, you should pot the ball.

That’s because, by default, force travels in a straight line. Even if the cue ball is travelling in a slightly different direction, when it strikes the object ball, the force imparted will cause the object ball to travel in a straight line away from the centre of the contact point.

This is where the talk of full ball contacts, 3/4 ball contacts, 1/4 ball contacts, etc come from. It’s about where the cue ball needs to be on the object ball in order to create the right contact point that will send the object ball to the desired location.

A full ball contact simply means the cue ball hits the object ball face on, 3/4 would be where the cue ball covers 3/4 of the object ball at the striking point, 1/2 means it covers half of the object ball and the other half is still visible.

Understanding these different contact points will help you judge exactly where the cue ball needs to strike the object ball to send it towards the pocket.

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Cushion Angles

If you’re trying to use the cushion of the table in a shot, you’ll need to understand the angles of the table.

Examples of when you may need to use a cushion, include:

  • Bouncing the white ball off the cushion to get position for your next shot
  • Using the cushion first to pot a ball (such as when ‘doubling’ a ball)
  • Knocking a ball off a cusion into a position that will ‘snooker’ your opponent
  • Getting out of a ‘snooker’ that your opponent has put you in

In all of these situations, there is one important rule to remember. Barring any other influences, a ball hitting a cushion will always leave the cushion at the same angle it hit it from (often called the ‘natural angle’).

For example, if the ball strikes the cushion from a 45 degree angle, it will leave the cushion at a 45 degree angle.

BUT, notice how we said ‘barring any other influences’? That’s because the moment you put any form of spin on the ball, it will change the exit angle as the spin will cause the ball to either grip, or push away from the cushion.

For instance, adding side will either narrow or widen the exit angle (depending which direction you’re playing the ball on to the cushion from).

The speed at which the ball is travelling can sometimes also affect the angle, particularly with powerful shots at narrow angles as the speed can cause the ball to skid along the cushion a little.

So, how do you use this to get good at snooker? The best approach is to experiment to see how different spins and power can affect the exit angles through lots of trial and error!

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Step 2: Perfect Your Cue Action

The next step in learning how to get good at snooker is to ensure your cue action is as near to perfect as you can get it.

Snooker is a game of fine margins. The slightest bit of unintentional side on a shot will mean the ball doesn’t go exactly where you intended, and often you’ll end up missing the shot.

So, understanding the angles of the game is only part of the puzzle. Getting your angles right will only help if you’re delivering the cue in a perfectly straight line.

The Stance

Good cue action starts with a good stance. It helps to give you stability during the shot. The more stable you are, the easier it will be to deliver the cue in a straight line.

Most players take by stepping back slightly directly behind the line of the shot they want to play, then step forward into their stance. 

The most important part of the stance is that you’re stable. That means there are slight variations on the stance, and you can tweak it to suit you.

However, let’s go through one of the most common stance positions, so you have a solid foundation to work from. We’ll start with the feet and work our way up the body.

Feet – Once into your stance position, one foot should be positioned pointing in a straight line towards the cue ball. If you’re right-handed, this will be your right foot, if you’re left-handed it will be your left foot.

Your other foot should be offset from the other one, about 20 inches or so away to the side and slightly in front. The foot on this leg should be pointing slightly away from the line of the shot.

Knees – One knee should be slightly bent, the other knee locked to keep your leg straight. If you’re right-handed, the right knee will be locked straight, otherwise, for left-handers it’s the left knee.

Back – With your legs locked in place, bend over to lean into the shot. This might feel unnatural at first but it’s designed to keep your body as still as possible during the shot.

Bridge – You’ll need to make a bridge for the cue with your non-dominant hand. Stability is key here again so spread your fingers as wide as comfortably possible, keep your hand flat to the table (unless the shot calls for a different style of bridge) and push your fingers into the cloth firmly. Then make a ‘V’ shape using your thumb and rest the cue in it.

Grip – Your dominant hand should be holding the butt-end of the cue close to the end. Your grip should be firm, but should allow for some movement as the cue needs to be delivered in as straight a line as possible.

Head – Your head should be low down with your chin making contact with the shaft of the cue. You should be looking down the cue at the shot you want to play.

For some people, looking down the middle of the cue with both eyes is best. However, some have a ‘dominant’ eye and prefer to tilt their head slightly so one eye is more in line with the shot than the other.

Find which works for you and stick to it, but remember to keep your head as still as possible throughout the shot.

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Cue Action

If you have your stance correct you should find you feel really solid and do not move around much even when gently pushed. You should also have 4 points of contact with the cue (the bridge, the chin, the chest, and the dominant hand).

At this point, it’s all about delivering the cue in a straight line to strike the cue ball exactly where you in intended.

Gently move the cue back and forth in order to ensure you have a smooth cue action and feel comfortable playing the shot.

The grip in your dominant hand should release slightly as you pull the cue backwards, then tighten slightly as you bring the cue forward. This will allow you to keep the cue moving in a straight line.

Your elbow joint should remain directly in the line of the shot throughout. If you pull in or out to one side even slightly, it will throw off the line of the shot.

As you deliver the cue, you should be looking to smoothly accelerate through the shot. In doing so, you will retain control and eliminate errors caused by jerking the shot.

Accelerating as you deliver the cue on to the cue ball also ensures your cue stays in contact with the white for as long as possible (without becoming a foul ‘push’ shot).

If you have the correct stance, keep all parts of your body still (excluding your dominant arm), deliver the cue in a straight line, and accelerate through the shot you should find you’re striking the ball cleanly and improving your success rate.

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Step 3: Positional Play

If you thought learning how to consistently pot balls was difficult, the positional side of the game is even tougher!

Yet it’s an essential part of learning how to get good at snooker, particularly as you progress from a beginner to an intermediate level player.

The beauty of mastering positional play is that you make the shots you have to take on easier. The more you control where the cue ball finishes, the easier you can leave each shot.

Imparting Spin

There are 4 main types of spin you can impart of the cue ball:

Backspin – Where you strike the white ball low down, below the middle.

Topspin – Where you strike the white ball higher up, above the middle.

Sidespin – Where you strike the white ball to the left or right of the centre.

Stun – Where you strike the white ball just above or below the middle.

With backspin, topspin, and sidespin, the more to the edge of the ball you hit it, the more spin you will impart (though overdoing it can cause a miscue!). However, it is also about technique.

When imparting spin, you should be smoothly following through with the cue rather than ‘jabbing’ at the ball. The more you do this and the smoother you are, the more reaction you will get.

Remember that imparting spin will significantly change the direction of the cue ball after it strikes the object ball, or cushion. It will travel further forwards (topspin), backwards (backspin), or sideways (sidespin) than it would if you struck the cue ball directly in the centre.

However, sidespin will also throw the cue ball slightly offline and so you’ll need to adjust your aim to compensate.

You might notice we haven’t mentioned the stun shot much. That’s because it’s a different type of shot designed to stop the white ball dead (or opnly travel slightly) after it has struck the object ball.

It’s played by striking the white just below the centre (stun), or just above centre (stun run-through) and requires a slightly more ‘jabbing’ cue action than a normal spin shot.

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Break Building

As you master cue ball control and using the different types of spin to ensure the white ball always finishes somewhere near to where you extended, you can turn your attention to break building.

Make no mistake about it, you can’t build big breaks if you haven’t become very good at both potting and positional play.

But, once you do, big breaks are one of the most satisfying and sought after achievements in the game of snooker.

Here are a few rules of break building you can use to improve your highest break:

  • Don’t assume the easiest pot is the best shot. Often, a more difficult pot will provide greater rewards in terms of keeping a break going.
  • Always try and give yourself an option of more than one possible pot when playing a positional shot.
  • You won’t always want to be dead straight on a pot. Often, leaving an angle is necessary to get on to the next ball or to develop a ball.
  • Develop reds when possible as this will ensure you have more options for each shot.
  • Remember that a coloured ball will be respotted after being potted – make sure it doesn’t snooker you on your intended next shot!
  • Keep an eye on the score, your choice of shot may depend on the score. For example, don’t risk a very difficult shot if you will leave your opponent in for a possible big break if you miss.
  • Try and think a few shots ahead (especially if there aren’t many balls left in pottable positions), sometimes you’ll need to play a different shot now to keep the break going in 2 or 3 shots time.

Keep in mind that while professionals regularly make 100+ breaks, such a score is extremely difficult to achieve.

Many beginners will be happy with breaks over 20 or 30. Intermediate players might aim for 50+ breaks, only more advanced players will hope for centuries and only the very best will get near to maximum breaks!

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Step 4: Tactics

As your game improves and you start knocking in sizeable breaks, your attention will turn to the tactical side of the game.

Tactics are useful at any level. But, good tactics are difficult to use to your advantage unless you’re already a reasonably good player.

That’s because as a beginner, you might have the perfect idea, but not the skills to implement that idea.

With that in mind we aren’t going to go into detail about the tactical play of specific shots. That’s something you’ll begin to learn through trial and error.

Instead, there are two key areas that can improve your game no matter what level you’re playing at…

Shot Selection

There’s no doubt about it. You cannot learn how to get good at snooker without being able to pick out the right shot at the right time.

Sometimes that’s choosing the correct ball to try and pot from multiple possibilities, at other times it’s about whether to try and pot a ball or play a safety shot and wait for a better opportunity.

Typically, beginners will try to pot a ball at almost every visit. That’s partly because ball potting is more fun, but it’s also because beginners often lack the confidence of being able to pull off a good safety shot.

So, the first rule of shot selection is to understand your own skill level. Each time you’re faced with more than one possible shot, think about how many times out of 10 you might expect to pull off each shot successfully.

The shot that has the highest score will become the front-runner at this stage. But, that doesn’t mean it’s always the correct shot.

You also need to factor in the risk vs reward. An easier shot might have very little reward if you take it, or it might have a lot of risk attached to it if you miss it.

Likewise, a more difficult shot might create an opportunity to score heavily while having very little risk attached if you miss it.

You need to weigh up the pros and cons of each shot against your own ability and confidence to pull of the shot. Only then can you decide which shot is the best one in the circumstances.

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Mentality

Your mentality while playing the game becomes increasingly important the higher the level you play at.

For professionals, it is a major part of the game. For beginners just playing a few frames with friends, it hardly matters at all.

Yet, there is one part of your mentality that is vitally important if you want to improve – that’s your concentration levels.

Snooker is a highly technical sport. On every shot you are trying to judge multiple things such as the amount of pace needed, how much and what type of spin to use, where the cue ball needs to strike the object ball, and so on.

Then, as you deliver the cue, you’re trying to get your stance right, stay perfectly still, and deliver the cue perfectly straight, smoothly, and at the correct speed.

It’s a lot for your brain to handle, and that’s why gaining strong concentration skills is so important.

This will obviously be much easier if you play in a quiet snooker club where talking and music is kept to a minimum. But, if you’re in a crowded and noisy venue, keeping your concentration is extra tough.

If you find external noises distracting, you might want to invest in noise-cancelling headphones. Even just wearing them without any music can help. If you do opt for music, you might prefer to listen to tracks that have few or no lyrics to minimise distractions further.

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Step 5: Practice!

And so we reach the final step in learning how to get good at snooker. As any snooker coach will tell you – practice makes perfect!

This goes for any player at any level. Even the most gifted of pros put hours and hours of practice in day in, day out.

Understanding the theory behind playing better will help, but it’s not until you’ve put that theory into practice over and over again that it will begin to become second nature and your game will naturally improve.

Of course, you might not have the time or desire to spend hours practicing every day, and that’s OK. Just realise that the more you practice, the better you’ll get and the quicker you’ll improve.

While just playing frames over and over will certainly improve your skills, there is a better way to get better at snooker…

Routines & Drills

The core of any professional snooker player’s training regime and the go-to tool for any good snooker coach, routines and drills will focus your improvements in the areas you need them most.

Of course, that means you need to be somewhat self-aware to understand exactly where you need to improve most. You might find recording a video of yourself playing (from different angles if possible) will help you pinpoint where your opportunities to get better lie.

Once you have pinpointed what you should work on, you just need to find a drill that will improve that area of your game. There are drills and practice routines for virtually anything, certainly far more than we could list here.

However, if you need some help in coming up with routines and drills, the book below is well worth considering…

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Frequently Asked Questions

There are lots of things to learn to be able to understand how to get good at snooker. The guide above takes you through the core steps to go through.

While it’s not a fully comprehensive guide to everything you need to know, it should give you a great grounding to improve your game.

Here are answers to some of the other common questions we are asked…

How do you always win at snooker?

There is no way to guarantee you always win at snooker! However, if you practice the correct stance, understand angles, gain good cue ball control, and use the right tactics, it’s possible to win more often.

We’ve outlined the basics of doing all of this in the guide above. If you follow these 5 steps you should be well on your way to winning at snooker with more regularity.

How do you play snooker like a professional?

How To Play Snooker Like A Professional

Snooker is an incredibly tough game to master. It can take years of practice to play snooker anything like the level the professionals play at.

As well as a natural talent for the game, you’ll need to learn the correct technique then spend hours day in, day out, practicing it until it becomes second nature.

You’ll need to work on understanding tactics and shot selection as well as ensuring you have the right mentality and the ability to hold your concentration for a long period of time.

If you manage all of this, you might be able to turn professional, but it’s by no means a guarantee.

Why am I not getting better at snooker?

Snooker is an incredibly difficult game to play. If you don’t feel you’re getting better at it, it’s probably due to incorrect technique.

As a highly technical game, everything from the way you stand through to how you deliver the cue can make a huge difference in how good you are at snooker.

And that’s before you even consider whether you’re getting your angles right, choosing the correct shots, and imparting the right amount of spin.

Therefore, anyone looking for ways to get good at snooker should start by learning the theory. Once you understand the theory, you need to practice putting it into action over and over until you do it it without thinking.

Why is snooker so hard?

Snooker is such a difficult game for many reasons. Firstly, the size of the table (approx 6ft by 12ft) means each ball has to travel a long way. The further a ball travels, the more difference even the slightest inaccuracy will make.

Secondly, the balls are relatively small, meaning it’s harder to get the levels of precision needed to pull off shots successfully.

Thirdly, the pockets are relatively small and do not have large margins for error.

Finally, because snooker involves lots of balls with different points and positions, the tactical side to the game is much more involved and can take longer to perfect.

What is the most important thing in snooker?

The most important thing in snooker is to get a good stance and cue action. Once you have perfected this, you’ll find it much easier to play each shot as you intended as you will not introduce as many errors that throw shots off.

However, even with a good stance and cue action, you’ll still need to understand angles, potting and break building as well as tactics and positional play.

So, while the stance and cue action is the most important since it’s involved in every shot, it’s by no means the only important factor in learning how to get good at snooker.

How can I practice snooker at home?

Practicing Snooker At Home

If you don’t have a snooker table, you can still practice things like your stance and cue action at home. Why not try recording a video of yourself in your stance, pretending to cue a ball to see if you can spot anything that may not be absolutely perfect?

Of course, nothing beats actually getting down and playing shots on a table.

If you’re lucky enough to have a snooker table or even a pool table at home, you’ll be able to run through certain practice routines and drills to help improve your game.

Otherwise, head down to your local snooker club and hire a table for an hour. Even if you’re just there to play on your own and see what size break you’ll still gradually get better!

How can I improve my cueing in snooker?

To improve your cueing in snooker you should start by ensuring your stance is perfect. Bend one knee and keep the other straight with your legs slightly apart to give as much stability as possible. You should be looking to cut out any movement during the shot other than from your cue arm.

You’ll need to keep certain parts on your body (such as your foot and elbow) on the line of the shot and ensure the cue is making contact with your body at 4 points (bridge hand, chin, chest, and grip hand).

Keep your head still and look down the cue. Flick your eyes back and forth between the intended contact point on the object ball and exactly where you want the cue to strike the cue ball. As you play the shot, you should be looking at the object ball.

Where do you look when playing snooker?

When playing a shot in snooker you should be looking down the length of the cue. While lining up the shot, flick your eyes between the intended contact point on the object ball and the point where you want to hit the cue ball.

Then, as you play the shot, look only at the intended contact point of the object ball.

This can take some practice as it’s a more natural tendency to look at the cue ball as you strike it. You might find it useful to position a camera down your eyeline so you can watch shots back to ensure you’re making the correct eye movements then looking only at the object ball as you strike the cue ball.