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  • What's the optimal....

    AGE?

    In American Pool it is widely excepted that the optimal age for a professional to peak in their game is 35.

    So what is the optimal age for a snooker player?
    As we know, the newly crowned world champion is 44 with the runner up a couple years behind.

    However, the most dominant players of the modern era were younger in years. Steve Davis, Steven Hendry and Ronnie O'Sullivan...
    Did Hendry retire too young?
    Could Ronnie still win tournaments into his 50's?
    Can John Higgins make 3 consecutive WC finals in 2019?


    What is the optimal age for a snooker player to peak?
    I practice and hope
    "I got injected with the passion for snooker" - SQ_FLYER
    National Snooker Expo
    25-27 October 2019
    http://nationalsnookerexpo.com

  • #2
    Probably depends on the person, but I know that fitness isn't really a factor. Neither of the WC finalists seem in particularly good shape. I'd say anywhere between 20 and 50

    Comment


    • #3
      Mental and physical fitness aren't the same thing....

      Comment


      • #4
        I think there are generational differences which go along with the development of the game. With US pool, the profession was built around hustling and money games largely until the 80's when it gained in popularity, and since then gambling is secondary to tournaments, which tbh as time has passed have become pretty poorly paid. Players like Strickland and Reyes kept playing to a high standard, but I'm guessing the motivation was to keep a roof over their heads rather than ambition, so it's difficult to say whether they started to decline due to age or lack of motivation.

        I'm guessing the same with snooker players. Whether it be age, motivation or a change in the way the game is played or operated, or whether something external happens like Hendry having his cue broke, its difficult to say that snooker players peak at a certain age, or whether it is age itself that is determinative. What's clear, is that in the right circumstances physical aging isn't a decisive factor between winning and losing.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Mark187187 View Post
          I think there are generational differences which go along with the development of the game. With US pool, the profession was built around hustling and money games largely until the 80's when it gained in popularity, and since then gambling is secondary to tournaments, which tbh as time has passed have become pretty poorly paid. Players like Strickland and Reyes kept playing to a high standard, but I'm guessing the motivation was to keep a roof over their heads rather than ambition, so it's difficult to say whether they started to decline due to age or lack of motivation.

          I'm guessing the same with snooker players. Whether it be age, motivation or a change in the way the game is played or operated, or whether something external happens like Hendry having his cue broke, its difficult to say that snooker players peak at a certain age, or whether it is age itself that is determinative. What's clear, is that in the right circumstances physical aging isn't a decisive factor between winning and losing.
          Originally posted by jonny66 View Post
          Probably depends on the person, but I know that fitness isn't really a factor. Neither of the WC finalists seem in particularly good shape. I'd say anywhere between 20 and 50
          You've cast a wide net there Jonny
          "I got injected with the passion for snooker" - SQ_FLYER
          National Snooker Expo
          25-27 October 2019
          http://nationalsnookerexpo.com

          Comment


          • #6
            theoretically, as long as fine motor control does not decline in regards to cueing arm, vision does not go etc, and general flexibility and fitness, dont see why players cant play well into their 40s going onto 50s.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by blahblah01 View Post
              Mental and physical fitness aren't the same thing....
              This is what interests me.
              In American Pool the player matures mentally to the game around the age of 35. This includes tournament play, money matches, travelling on the road, budgeting, being comfortable in ones own skin etc.

              Snooker players on the other hand are a lot more pampered, as many of them have managers and agents to cover costs and complete administration work. So does this mean the US pool player matures at a later stage because he or she has a lot more going on in their plight to compete at the table?

              Some pundits alluded to recent WC results that the younger players lack bottle... Is this the case or not?
              "I got injected with the passion for snooker" - SQ_FLYER
              National Snooker Expo
              25-27 October 2019
              http://nationalsnookerexpo.com

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by thai_son22 View Post
                theoretically, as long as fine motor control does not decline in regards to cueing arm, vision does not go etc, and general flexibility and fitness, dont see why players cant play well into their 40s going onto 50s.
                But at what age do their skills peak?
                "I got injected with the passion for snooker" - SQ_FLYER
                National Snooker Expo
                25-27 October 2019
                http://nationalsnookerexpo.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by the lone wolf View Post
                  This is what interests me.
                  In American Pool the player matures mentally to the game around the age of 35. This includes tournament play, money matches, travelling on the road, budgeting, being comfortable in ones own skin etc.

                  Snooker players on the other hand are a lot more pampered, as many of them have managers and agents to cover costs and complete administration work. So does this mean the US pool player matures at a later stage because he or she has a lot more going on in their plight to compete at the table?

                  Some pundits alluded to recent WC results that the younger players lack bottle... Is this the case or not?
                  I think there's a lot of truth here.

                  The cost of living, the weak job market (depending on sector), the tricky housing market (unless you already own one in a decent area)...all make it really hard for younger players.

                  The prize money at the top also makes it more interesting for the top players to stick around for longer.

                  The mental side of the game is far better understood (or at least worked on) than ever before and advances in eye care (e.g. laser surgery), general healthcare etc. (no smoking in snooker clubs for example) mean that the current generation of players can go on for that bit longer. Hendry was a bit of an unlucky/unusual case and were it not for unfortunate events he may have carried on for longer (lets not forget he hit a 147 a few days before retirement, so wasn't completely useless)!

                  In American pool its definitely a much tougher life, so maybe that makes a difference, although intuitively I'd say that the players winning the Matchroom series of events appear to be generally getting slightly younger if anything (thats just off the top of my head, so may be wrong).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by the lone wolf View Post
                    But at what age do their skills peak?
                    Its different for everyone, but appears to be between 33-38 roughly these days!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by the lone wolf View Post
                      But at what age do their skills peak?
                      im not sure, theres a given age to peak or not to peak. I mean 15 odd years ago as you said players seemed to do their best mid 20s to mid 30s. then you hear about players as the likes of hendry who have other commitments and no longer want to put in the 5-6 hours a day.

                      mark williams was similar situation going through the motions but then started to put alot of hours in with the addition of sightright and is working wonders. rumours are that ronnie puts alot of practice in but claims not to.

                      so at least with snooker it seems that as though as long as you are grafting and have some talent, provided all is well, maybe there is no peak.

                      after all, we know that if we took a month off the game or two, we'd come back probably playing like crap. so i could imagine with guys like williams, osullivan and higgins pushing well into their 40s, it just seems like they havent gotten lazy or complacent with their game and thats perhaps a bigger factor rather than this notion of "peaking" at a given age. maybe peaking doesnt exist.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mark187187 View Post
                        I'm guessing the same with snooker players. Whether it be age, motivation or a change in the way the game is played or operated, or whether something external happens like Hendry having his cue broke, its difficult to say that snooker players peak at a certain age, or whether it is age itself that is determinative. What's clear, is that in the right circumstances physical aging isn't a decisive factor between winning and losing.
                        I don't really buy the theory that he declined due to his cue breaking. Look at the 2002 world final, he still had his old cue and had multiple chances in the final frame to clinch his 8th title and there's no way the Hendry of the 90s fails with that many chances. None of the pots he missed were easy but I'd back him to get them at least 4 times out of 5 and he missed all three. He also made the final of the UK Championship making 9 centuries along the way straight after he started using his new cue but lost in the final.

                        His bottle went, his break building was always there and never left him and if it was the cue that was the problem then his break building would have declined.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          It's important to keep in mind with the younger top players of years past that the standard of Snooker had been increasing steadily for about 40 years. During that time every generation coming up was pushing the standard higher by emulating and improving upon what the last generation did. This was driven by the boom in popularity in snooker in 80's. So I think if you delve into individual player stats you may find that a lot of players were always peaking around age 35, but the younger generation was pushing everything forward beyond that peak. For example, conventional belief is Steve Davis played his best in the 80's, but his break building stats actually peaked in the early to mid 90's. It's just Hendry changed the game and made regular centuries the norm. Nowadays, it is possible that the standard is as good as it is going to get or the areas of potential improvement are not in breakbuilding, in which case experience will become so much more important because younger players are not overpowering older players.

                          In Pool, I think the standard is improving but not as dramatically and really hasn't for a long time. Players are just getting a little more consistent in all areas of the game, but it is not an overwhelming shift. So the top players have been trending to being aged 30ish for a long time now and being competitive into their 50's. One of my theories about this is that although Snooker has had a WC since 1927, major competition didn't really start until the 70's because professional competition was a closed club and many of the players were from a Billiard background. Pool on the other hand has seen major competition (tournaments and gambling) and participation since the late 19th century and most, if not all, of the players from the 1920's could be transported to present day and be competitive. So there has been a lot more room for improvement in snooker over the last 40ish years.

                          Snooker is not a highly physical game and I've never believed that a player should peak in their mid to late 20's. The key thing is to stay fit and healthy.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by the lone wolf View Post
                            This is what interests me.
                            In American Pool the player matures mentally to the game around the age of 35. This includes tournament play, money matches, travelling on the road, budgeting, being comfortable in ones own skin etc.

                            Snooker players on the other hand are a lot more pampered, as many of them have managers and agents to cover costs and complete administration work. So does this mean the US pool player matures at a later stage because he or she has a lot more going on in their plight to compete at the table?

                            Some pundits alluded to recent WC results that the younger players lack bottle... Is this the case or not?
                            Not as interesting as your post, lol.

                            The younger Snooker players, imho, are potters and break builders because they haven't gone through what you posted about the American Pool players, and I would add the olde snooker bods ie Reardon, Spencer, Higgins et al. When "the class of '92" came through there was a far better Youth and Amateur System (although from Eurosport Williams turned Pro as there were Under 16 Comps then it was over 18's, so a bit of gap..) But they were essentially pre-Hendry in terms of development, and who they looked up to - mainly Davis.

                            Hendry blew snooker with his pot or bust attitude, and almost all the Chinese and UK kids are of this ilk and\or had that easy living that you described. There are very few Matchplayers among them, with Wilson becoming a glaring exception, but then he has Barry Stark. Whether this is bottle, or just being Matchplayers\battlers may be semantics, but it is true and very few could have turned round the swinging fortunes\momentum of that Final.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Csmith View Post
                              It's important to keep in mind with the younger top players of years past that the standard of Snooker had been increasing steadily for about 40 years.
                              I'll agree to potting and breakbuilding, but not overall standard.

                              Comment

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