The relationship between performance and fitness in snooker is not as obvious as in other sports. It is clear why a hockey player should swing and why the slightest discomfort puts players on the lawn. Of course, in snooker, you almost do not have to run, and intelligence and self-control solve more than the muscles, but health problems distract no less and deprive psychological confidence. It’s hard to win titles if you can ‘t stretch out to hit with a rest without a sharp neuralgia.

The best example of how body condition affects a top player is the career of Mark Selby. The Englishman’s neck problems were first reported in the 2011-12 season , when the Leicester Prankster withdrew from the China Open during the tournament. Ding Junhu went through to the quarter-finals without a fight , and Selby focused on treatment: “I don’t want to hurt myself any more , because the world Cup is coming soon, so I’m going back to the UK. My neck got sore during the first round match.” It turned out that mark had a disc in the upper part of his spine, which made it difficult for The player to even bend over with the cue.

The therapeutic treatment did not work, and Barry Hawkins defeated Selby in the first round of the world Cup with a score of 10: 3. “I can’t perform some punches because of the pain,” mark complained. – When I play with rest, I feel an unbearable pain in my hand.” The following season, doctors offered to perform surgery on the Joker, but He refused out of fear that a long rehabilitation would end his career. Since then, he has been fighting the pain – the trauma recedes, then returns again. “I didn’t know if I could play again,” the Englishman admitted in December 2012 after winning the British championship. – I want to be at the table all the time. I was depressed when I had to sit at home and watch others play.”

In 2015, the unpleasant feelings returned on the eve of the match against Mark Joyce at the China Open. “I pulled my neck again,” Selby said. – The day before the match, I did some exercises, massage and took pain killers. Before the start, everything was fine, but during the break I went to the toilet, slipped and felt it again. I can throw punches, I just feel a little uncomfortable.” He did not withdraw from the world Cup, but it was no coincidence that he lost to Anthony McGill in the second round (9: 13). This tournament stands out because the year before and in the next two seasons Selby took the trophy to the Crucible. The neuralgia receded, but it never completely disappeared.

Perhaps this is why the Joker is unstable and alternates powerful performances in the finals with failures in the early stages. For example, in qualifying for the China Open 2019, he lost to 92nd ranked Craig Stedman, and a month later was eliminated in the second round of the world Cup by Gary Wilson. “In the case of neuralgia, it is significantly more difficult to play – Estonian snooker player Andres Petrov explained to Eurosport. – If neuralgia gives pain in the neck, it is simply unrealistic to bend into the right position. If Selby’s pain really keeps him from flexing, I don’t see how he even gets out to matches. Even if there is no pain, but you know that you have an injury, it interferes with the game and puts pressure psychologically.” Petrov’s words are confirmed not only by the case of Selby – the spine and neck have become vulnerable places for many snooker players, as they bend most during the game.