Why do players suddenly seem to lose all semblance of form?

It’s happened to a fair few over the years: one moment they are at the top of their game, the next they are plunging down the rankings.

The latest to suffer this fate is Ryan Day. Two years ago he was third in the provisional rankings after reaching the Grand Prix final.

Now he is 24th, will have to qualify for the UK Championship and won’t be at the Masters.

Day has lost his last eight matches on the tour and is badly in need of a run in a tournament to arrest an alarming slide.

Players, like anyone, have pressures away from their professions which may impact their form but snooker is a sport that cruelly exposes any mental frailties.

When a player is at the table it is up to them and if they are not feeling confident, doubts cloud their minds and cause mistakes.

Ryan Day has not forgotten how to play snooker overnight. But something is wrong and, as with Mark Williams a few years ago, turning the corner will not be easy.

The PTCs are, in theory, a good thing for a player struggling with confidence. If you lose early one week you have an immediate chance to make amends.

But the other side of that coin is that a series of swift exits one week after another can deplete self belief at a greater rate than if there were fewer events.

Last season, a player not performing could blame the paucity of tournaments. Not any more, though.

Day is a fine talent: a long potter and break builder of the modern style. In that 2008 Grand Prix he made an excellent 50-odd clearance in the decider against Mark Selby in the last 16 that proved he can compete under pressure.

But he has failed to win any of his three ranking finals thus far and so does not have that reservoir of success to tap into.

Day was ranked sixth last season. I’ve seen players reach such heady heights before and then struggle. I wonder if sometimes they look at their lofty position and think that the only way is down.

After all, they’ve spent years working hard to climb the rankings but, when they get there, they are no longer the hunter but the hunted.

Does this instil a mood of panic, particularly after a couple of disappointing defeats?

I don’t know why Day is struggling but I do know how highly he is rated by his fellow players.

They would expect him to turn the tide at some point, as would I, but professional snooker is cutthroat and nothing is guaranteed.


Shaun foster said...

apparantly he cant miss in practise but as we all know its a different kettle of fish when it matter.to be honest i have always found days tactical game to be nowhere near the standard needed but i do hope he turns the corner before its to late

Anonymous said...

Other examples I can think of including Pinches, McCulloch, Milkins etc. All were provisional Top 16 at one point.

Anonymous said...

no disrespect but I think Day doesn't have the bottle needed to mix it up with the big boys.

Colin M said...

I think Day's problems are mainly psychological in nature. He has all the ability in the world. Maybe he should consult Ray Reardon for a bit of a tactical tune-up?

Anonymous said...

That's probably his only real problem, his head. He still hasn't gotten over losing that Grand Prix final to Higgins and that, coupled with the knowledge that he's lost two ther finals can eat away at the best of them. Day's a talented player, he just needs to get his mind right.


Betty Logan said...

Ryan Day hasn't been the same since he had a baby with his aunt last year. This happens to a lot of players - Hendry/Williams/Higgins/Doherty all had serious dips in their form following fatherhood. There was probably extra stress for Ryan following the News of the World exposé that revelled in the salaciousness of the story.

Dave H said...

Firstly, Ryan is married to his stepmother's sister. She is not his aunt in any blood related way.

Second, there was no News of the World 'expose'. There was a story in The Sun that has been gleefully misrepresented ever since.

Anonymous said...

I think Day will regain a Top 16 place at some point,but when he was there before very much doubted he would get to the next level of Top 4 and consistent title winner.
Day usually has a steady B Game
but has so far lacked the extra gear or level required to beat the top players that much,instead it's a level that competes with them.

When players such as Kirk Stevens,
Thorburn and Alex Higgins departed the Top 16 their slide snowballed.
(how many others can we think of ?)

Day should bounce back,he has a steady lifestyle and is still young enough to overcome lack of form.

Advice from Ray Reardon would be a good launchpad for this.

Anonymous said...

the earlier posters who mentioned ryans safety play are spot on.

his safety play v top players is not anywhere near his other departments marks.

when things go wrong, most players tend to have to work into a game and ryan cant do that most of the time as most top players are far better in that dept.

Anonymous said...

Day is similar to Stephen Maguire,
at their best they can give the very best players a good run for their money though there is something lacking somewhere that prevents them from beating those
creme de la creme that often.

Perhaps they doubt themselves in high pressure situations or maybe the very top level players
'want it' that bit more than them.

Anonymous said...

Some players who had brief success and couldn't sustain or replicate it (ie) Gary Wilkinson Steve James
Kirk Stevens David Gray and
Joe Johnson.
It's not a cert that Ryan will make the top 16 again.
If Matthew Stevens and Day were in a decider I would back Stevens and that's saying something !

Anonymous said...

I'm just surprised that no-one in Stirling has yet had a word in Ryan's ear and suggested that the best way to get back up the rankings is to ask for an EGM and get the points system changed

Ray said...

For Ryan Day to get back on track perhaps he should follow Mark Williams example of practice, practice and more practice. Also get rid of his suicidal shot selections. It's an ego thing that he refuses to change his style of play - like Hendry.Sometimes you have to be more circumspect in your choices because you can't take the game for granted. It's such a hard game that no one will live long enough to completely master it. If Ryan Day thinks he can take the michael out of the game he's mistaken. I wish him well because he's got all the talent in the world to win tournaments.If he always does what he's always done he will always get what he's always got.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7.36am

A pathetic suggestion - only because it is not beyond the realms given recent events

Anonymous said...

Ryan Day at his peak was the type of player that could dominate a match scoring breaks all over the place but when you looked at the score it was 4-4 and in to a decider.

he was one dimensional but when the potting break-building let him down there was absolute nothing to fall back on that's why he has gone down the rankings.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave
Thanks lad for the explanation on the Betty Logan vicious and misleading dig on Days private life out with Snooker. xyz

Anonymous said...

I very much concur with the comments of 3:04PM

Anonymous said...

so do i, though i imagine dave only let that comment through so he could highlight it and correct the poster