Snooker is often seen as a relaxing pastime; a sport played for pleasure rather than progression.

It is a game played casually with friends at the pub or perhaps something to watch on TV one sleepy Sunday afternoon. However, there is so much more going on than that behind the scenes. Professional snooker players must combine geometry, physics, coordination and focus in order to succeed in their craft. These skilled sportspeople are dedicated to improving their game through regular practice and the cultivation of a calm, controlled, level-headed mindset. Because of all the different aspects involved in playing a good game of snooker, it can be incredibly beneficial both physically and mentally to anyone that plays.

Mental Maths

The application of different maths and physics disciplines in snooker is often overlooked when watching the game. It takes a significant amount of skill and knowledge to calculate the exact trajectory and angle of a ball in order to apply the required force with the snooker cue. Being able to determine where a ball is going to end up is what a snooker player’s entire move depends upon. Using similar areas of the brain to those used in other games like dominos, chess or blackjack, snooker players must consider their next move based on the probabilities and geometry implicit in the game. So, if you were a maths whiz at school, then here is a great opportunity to hone your skills in real life. If you struggled with the subject in the classroom, snooker is the perfect way to develop your knowledge in a fun and engaging environment.

A Sharp Mind

Focus and concentration are essential parts of the snooker player’s toolkit. The slightest interruption can throw off a player’s calculations as they circle the table, which is why noisy audience members are penalised at live games. The hushed atmosphere of a live snooker tournament lends a sense of magic and mystery to the situation but in reality, it is simply to make it easier for players to concentrate. Snooker superstar Ronnie O’Sullivan certainly knows how to play up to his audience, but when it comes to crunch-time he’s all business. Like many other successful players, he uses his sharp mind to visualise many possible plays before taking his shot. This need for creativity and imagination balanced with the more logical skills mentioned above is what makes snooker the ultimate mental workout.

Physical Benefits

Whilst snooker may look like a sedate sport, you do need to be in fairly good physical shape to play it. It may not leave you out of breath like a 5km jog or an hour on the tennis courts, but it does involve gentle walking and stretching across several hours. It is the perfect exercise for those who are looking to get their body moving but for whom intense physical exertion is either unnecessary or impossible. Walking around the table, periodically changing from a standing to a seated position and reaching across the table for those trickier shots is all perfectly legitimate gentle exercise. It can be a particularly good exercise for improving balance and hand-eye coordination.

Social Butterfly

One of the best things about snooker as a sport is the social aspect. Born as it was from a need for entertainment amongst British military men stationed in India, it has maintained its community-based character. Snooker tables are now welcome additions to pubs, recreational halls, shared living spaces and entertainment complexes across the world. Due to the accessible nature of the game and its turn-taking structure, it makes the perfect pastime to pursue with a group of friends, colleagues or other enthusiasts. Perhaps the adaptability of the sport is what fuels its casual reputation; however, it is also this exact aspect that has ensured its survival and popularity over the past hundred years or so.

As you can see, snooker may seem like a relaxed, easy-going game on the surface, but underneath this façade there’s a whole world of complex maths, physics and forward planning occurring. Professional snooker players are adept at predicting exactly where a ball will travel to and how much force it needs to get there. Using the direct, real-world application of maths to almost look into the future, they can calculate the exact angle from which to hit a ball and how much effort to apply to their shot. Through exercising different areas of the brain and remaining cool, calm and collected at all times, snooker players learn how to be well balanced, make difficult decisions and think quickly on their feet. If you’re looking for a new hobby to try, then taking up snooker may be the smartest decision you ever make.