What’s your favorite sport? If you answer “billiards”, more than one of them might look at you wrong. Billiards? “Come on, if that’s just a game to have a laugh with your mates on Friday night.” And then the eternal debate begins: what is billiards, a sport or a hobby? In this article, we give you some arguments to convince that person who made a bad face when you answered “billiards”.
By definition, “sport” can mean two things:
1- Physical activity, exercised as a game or competition, the practice of which implies training and subject to rules.
2- Recreation, hobby, pleasure, fun or physical exercise, usually in the open air.
Billiards fits quite well in both senses: it is a game or competition that involves training and is subject to rules. It is also a hobby, fun, and pleasure.
In fact, “sport” comes from “deportare”, which in turn means “to distract”, that is “to entertain”, to have fun. So, it’s possible that sport and hobby are the same thing.
The question is always whether it is a physical activity or not. Pool players don’t burn as many calories as a footballer or a tennis player. But they do, of course. It’s physical because championships can last 8, 10 hours, or even several days. And one must be fit to endure such a marathon.
Billiards is a mental sport. The vast majority of players agree that 70, 80, or even 90% of success in this discipline is due to the “head”. It requires strategy, calculation, concentration, self-control, pressure… and a long list of other mental qualities.
Billiards follows the same pattern as other “games” more recognized as a sport, such as chess, darts, or archery. In all of them, mental activity predominates over physical activity, but they are still sports.
As a pool player, I (and everyone who competes) feel like a sportsman. Although it’s clear that you might also take it as a hobby, a pastime to unwind.
Well, it depends on the motivation, the objectives, the goals you set when you play. It is so respectable that you play once a month with your friends to entertain you. You train once a week thinking about the next tournament. Or you play every day because it is your job, you compete all over the world and you are a super pro.
I hope that with these arguments it will be easier to convince anyone that billiards is a sport. We’ll talk about whether I should be an Olympian another day.
Being a professional pool player is not easy. And if you’re into pool, even less so. It is a minority sport that is poorly televised and barely professionalized. It produces much lower figures than other disciplines or even other forms of billiards, such as snooker. That’s why very few players in the world can make a good living from their game. We will review how much pool players who are in the elite earn.
It is impossible to know exactly the total income figure of a professional billiard player. Like a tennis player, every season is different. It depends mainly on the tournaments he wins and the sponsorship agreements he has signed. Those two, prizes for results and sponsors, are usually his main sources of income. But there are also many others that we will see later.
To get some idea of what billiard players win, the only figures that are accessible are the tournament prizes. AZBilliards.com has a global earnings ranking that covers most international competitions. According to this list, right now the top 20 players earn over 40,000 dollars per year. Chinese 8-Ball World Championship, World Cup of Pool, and World 10 Ball Championship are some of the highest-paid pool tournaments. Winning one of these prestigious competitions makes you climb the ladder and opens the doors to sponsors.
Base on the list of winnings from the player’s entire career, eight players exceed one million dollars. Which they accumulated after several decades of competing. Efren Reyes is the king, in part because of his glory years between 2001 and 2006. In six years he won, in prize money alone, $1.5 million. In 2006, he broke all records for a pool player’s winnings by getting $644,000 at the end of the season. This happened after taking the 2006 IPT World Open 8-Ball ($500,000 for the champion).
What about the other pool professionals? As it usually happens, the figures are much lower. The 20th place barely earns $5,000 a year for tournaments, the top five earn at least $32,000 and the top one earns $66,200. 12 of the top 20 players are Asian (mostly from China). This shows that the level of professionalization is much higher in that region than in Europe or the United States.
In addition to tournament prizes and sponsorships, there are other sources of income. Elite players compete in matches for money. Money games, with money bet on brands or any other people, so that the winner of that match gets a percentage of the bet. It is common for billiard players to also give classes and sell sports equipment or training courses. Depending on the country, they may also receive subsidies from the national billiards federation. In the Netherlands. players who achieve good results in European championships receive an annual salary.
It may seem that with all these income streams, Pool players live quite well. However, you have to take into account that very few are at the top of the rankings. Also, competing means a lot of travel, accommodation, and registration costs for them. If you think that’s too much, compare it to Snooker’s income.
The training of billiards alone is vital to progress. But it is not enough to just throw balls or play single games. One must train well, with a purpose. That’s where the famous drills or routines come in. With these exercises, we get our arm (and mind) used to concrete situations. These situations are going to be repeated in the championships. Do you want to do good pool training? Check out the best sites where you can find a lot of drills.
There are sites that contain a multitude of routines and specific exercises for any situation. Short, long, thin, glued to the strip, sequences with a lot of traffic… The good thing is that you can consult the diagrams with the position of all the balls and also watch the demonstration videos.
Before you devour those pages in search of exercises, let me give you 3 tips that I was given at the time and that has worked well for me when training alone:
1- Make progressive drills
You know better than anyone what your level of play is. Based on that, find the exercises that you can finish with some ease and start with them. From then on, you can increase the difficulty. If you start with super hard routines you’ll only lower your confidence (because you won’t be able to finish them).
2- You don’t want to do them all on the same day
Of all the things he wanted to do, in the end, he didn’t do any of them right. Less is more, so it’s best that you decide “today I’m going to train just these two or three exercises”. This way you can perfect them and assimilate them much better.
3- Repeat, repeat and repeat
If you just do the routines one day they’ll do you little good. To get your arm and mind used to this kind of situation, you have to repeat the exercises a thousand times. Repeat, repeat and repeat and you will win.
What pool training exercises would you like to learn?