Mark Selby had a scrambled brain ahead of this year’s World Snooker Championship, writes Will Jennings.
That’s the view of new coach Chris Henry, the Belgian-British player-turned-mental coach who has helped iron out the Jester from Leicester’s flaws ahead of a tilt at a fourth Crucible crown.
The world No.7 beat Jordan Brown in the first round in Sheffield but it was far from straightforward for the three-time champion, who struggled for fluency once again in his second-round match against Noppon Saengkham and is currently level at 8-8 after the opening two sessions
Henry says he inherited a player ‘barking up the wrong tree’ but is confident Selby can turn it around as he bids for an 18th ranking event title.
“He explained a few things as to where he was and typically sportspeople try to turn over old stones and try to find out what’s wrong, and sometimes they’re barking up the wrong tree,” Henry, 54, said.
“They can start to blame things that actually aren’t ineffective and that was one of the things that Mark was doing.
“So we’ve looked at all the areas, we’ve identified what the weaknesses are also on a rewiring process to create better automatic thoughts which release different chemicals to make you feel better basically.
“What you’ve got to be very good at is doing the things that help you perform at your best, things that you can control, and it’s important to get rid of the things that you can’t control that you can get frustrated with and can affect the way you feel.
“So he’s got a little bit caught up in trying to control things he can’t control and trying to affect things that didn’t need affecting. He’s in a much better place I believe. He’s more perky now, a lot more bubbly again, he’s sounding far more confident.”
Selby made breaks of 102, 84 and 70 against Saengkham but that wasn’t enough to prevent falling to a morning session deficit, with the pair resuming their second round clash on Thursday night.
The Leinster cueman has won two ranking event titles this year - the English and Scottish Open - but has struggled for form at some of the more high-profile events, losing in the first round of the Masters and the fourth at the UK Championship.
You can't split them.— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) August 6, 2020
Thai qualifier @147Noppons is holding his own against three-time world champion Mark Selby.
They'll return for the final leg of this match tomorrow afternoon #ilovesnooker @Betfred pic.twitter.com/xZX1Jiqqgv
Henry reckons his influence has removed Selby’s ‘anxiety’ and ‘self-doubt’ and that he’s not a three-time Crucible winner for nothing.
“That’s a big thing for him, that doubt and anxiety, and that worry that he had has just disappeared,” he added.
“The good thing with Mark obviously is he’s an incredible snooker player, he’s three times former world champion. He hasn’t maybe done too well in recent times but what we’ve got to do is bring those wonderful memories back into his recent memory file bank.
“So we’re using some tools through our five senses, through our audios, videos and visualisation to help him just to remember a little bit about who he is and what he’s done, and also prove to him that his on-table game is there."
Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship from 31st July – 16th August with analysis from Jimmy White.