Gary Wilson can cut a frustrated figure on tour at times and it is no act, with the Scottish Open champion saying frustrations have plagued his career and he hasn’t consistently enjoyed snooker for 25 years.
The Tyneside Terror is more than an accomplished player, currently ranked in the top 16 and with two ranking titles to his name after lifting the trophy in back-to-back years in Edinburgh.
He feels like he can and should do much more, though, and even when victories come he doesn’t always feel the glow of success, irritated by struggles with technique and getting comfortable at the table.
No player feels great all the time and they are all searching for more consistency of performance, but Wilson feels even more bogged down in these struggles than most.
This season so far is illustrative of the peaks and troughs in his game, with another brilliant win in Scotland, but also a number of disappointing early exits.
‘It’s been a bit hit and miss all season,’ Wilson told Metro.co.uk. ‘Obviously I had another good win this season at the Scottish, but the rest of it has been very poor at stages.
‘Some really bad results, losing first rounders. It’s not what you want to be doing when you feel deep down you can compete for tournaments.
‘I know I can do it now. I always felt like I could do it. There’s players that maybe think they’ve achieved all they can achieve and have played as well as they’ve ever played. I’ve always felt like I’ve been playing nowhere near as good as I know I can play. So it’s been frustrating.
‘I know how good I can play. I’ve proved it to myself. I’m just not doing it, I’m not doing it at all. The odd time I do do it I have a good run or a good result, it’s just about trying to feel like that more often.
‘I think I’ve been frustrated with the game for 20-odd years, I’m thankful in that way that I’ve been frustrated for such a large part of my career and I’ve still had a career. I am thankful for that.’
Turning a childhood passion into your profession will always change its dynamic in your life, but it is still sad to hear that the frustrations have near enough killed the enjoyment of the game for the 38-year-old.
‘Not really, no,’ Wilson said when asked if he enjoys snooker. ‘Only when I’m feeling good about my game but that’s been very few and far between for me. It’s a game I’ve not been able to enjoy for a long time, to be honest.’
Asked when he did last enjoy it, he said: ‘Yeah, I’m just going to go back about 25 years, it was about then.
‘You don’t have all these scars, all the chopping and changing, you don’t have that when you’re young, everything’s fresh, you’re doing something new. You’d love to go back to be a kid because everything’s so simple, but I guess it’s harder for people as they get older to enjoy it as much, it’s harder to feel that way again.’
The question for Wilson to answer is how can he enjoy the sport again? He is searching for a technique that allows him to relax at the table and feel comfortable in himself, but feels the long search for perfection has made the game all the more difficult.
‘For me it’s quite basic, I just want to be happy with how I’m cueing,’ he said. ‘Then everything else starts clicking and coming together.
‘Even this week at the Championship League I’ve had a couple of matches where I’ve felt comfortable and it’s come together, then a couple of games it’s not felt good at all. I know every player feels that to an extent at times, but for me it’s been more often than most.
‘I’ve been a victim of chopping and changing too much in the past and it’s got to the point now where it’s hard to break that habit, If you’re struggling the instinct is to try something different, but sometimes it’s better to stick to what you’re doing. It’s a balance.
‘I’ve got two tournament wins now to back up the fact I can do it. What I have been doing is alright at least, I’ve got to stick to what I’m doing.
‘This season at the Scottish I found something technically that worked, that I was focussing on, that was solid around the last 16, quarter-final stage and I kept that going throughout and stuck to it. I felt a lot happier doing it that way and that’s what I’ve tried to stick to since, but it’s easier said than done.’
The former World Championship semi-finalist is not working with a coach and does not think employing one is the answer as his problems seem to be more about how he feels at the table than anything else.
‘Nobody can feel what you feel,’ he said. ‘It can look great and feel awful. People have told me I’m playing great, but I didn’t feel like that at all.
‘It’s like the Stephen Hendry story, his last 147 at the Crucible, he said he played six good shots, the rest were awful. Ronnie says it as well, steering balls in, twitch one in there, snatch another one in, but he looks brilliant!
‘I don’t think you can’t let somebody in like that, they’ll tell you one thing and you’ll feel another.
‘Sometimes you’re hitting them so good, but they’re just not quite going where you want them to go, it doesn’t look like you’re playing well, but you feel brilliant. It’s a strange game.’
Wilson is not about to give up on his quest to unlock his best form on the match table, far from it, he is working hard and believes he can do it.
‘I’m aiming to sort myself out every day, aiming to get myself feeling great,’ he said. ‘I’m not there yet but we’ve got to try, otherwise what’s the point?’
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