The psychological benefits of playing snooker might not be obvious when you consider the number of professional snooker players who have struggled with their mental health (Mark Selby, Mark Allen and Ronnie O’Sullivan to name but three). Indeed, you could be forgiven for thinking that playing snooker does very little for your psychological well-being. If, like these three famous names, you were competing for hundreds of thousands of pounds every time you took to the table, you might well be right. It’s probably true at the other end of the rankings too, where a player’s family income is literally on the table. However, if you’re playing for fun, snooker offers quite a bit more than just a friendly game over a beer or two; the game provides at least five psychological benefits.
The five psychological benefits of playing snooker
Playing snooker keeps your brain sharp and helps you relax. This was a headline in the Daily Mail during the World Snooker Championship finals of 2107 (won by Mark Selby). It appeared in response to a survey carried out by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA). Over 1,000 respondents took part in the survey and more than half of them said that they felt their mental health had benefited from playing the game. It seems that the concentration required to work out the potting angles and where the cue ball was likely to go suspended their everyday concerns, at least temporarily. That’s something Mark Selby identifies with when he says he only feels fully in-the-moment when he’s at the table.
The lead author of the WPBSA’s report (Rohit Sagoo of Anglia Ruskin University) said that the survey’s results “back up the view that there is a significant degree of mental cognition involved with acquiring and developing knowledge of the game of snooker. The learning curve that the sport provides promotes positive health and wellbeing.”
The same author has been working with Age UK to evaluate how the game of snooker can make a positive contribution to enhancing people’s well-being in later years. According to the Mental Health Foundation one in five older people suffer from depression or poor mental health. One of the best ways for them to combat this is to engage in meaningful activities, especially those that offer social interaction. As Rohit Sagoo’s research found, “snooker for older people has the ability to build social participation, knowledge building especially around the game of snooker, engagement in sports and most of all, maximising a social experience”.
No matter how old you are, when you’re at the snooker table you’re honing your concentration, developing your cognition and motor skills, learning how to assess and manage risk and growing your patience. Your daily concerns can take a back seat while you focus on your game. These are the five psychological benefits of snooker, but there’s one more that is just as important; where you choose to play.
A psychologically safe environment
At the Surrey Snooker Academy we’re hot on values. One of those values is inclusivity. Everyone who shares our passion for playing the game in the right way is welcome here, regardless of their age, gender, orientation, ethnicity or any other distinctive characteristic. Our aim is to ensure that we provide a psychologically safe environment in which to play this absorbing and rewarding game. We’re always around to make sure that our members are treated in a friendly and respectful manner and we do our utmost to get everyone to know each other. That way we can ensure that our members play the game they love in an environment that makes them feel at home.