It is another busy week for Ronnie O’Sullivan as he prepares to begin the defence of his world title later this month. In his latest blog, the five-times champion tells us why sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters (pictured above, right) is the wisest signing Liverpool have made, how his practice is coming along before he breaks off on the opening day of the World Championship on April 19 at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre and why he will be helping out at the London Marathon on Sunday.
Liverpool are winning mental battle in bid to end 24-year title drought
I’m not a fan of any specific football team, but I love watching the big games. I suppose that helps when you are witnessing the great matches from the Champions League as a neutral fan. I watched Atletico Madrid against Barcelona last night. You can just sit back and enjoy some glorious teams.
At the moment, Liverpool are playing some lovely stuff in the Premier League. Last week, I tweeted that I felt Liverpool could win the title. After watching their 2-1 win over West Ham on Sunday, I think they will win it.
I put a lot of Liverpool’s success down to the work Doctor Steve Peters is doing with Brendan Rodgers and the team. Manchester United, or any club, should use him if the opportunity arises. I think England are going down the same road. I can't recommend him highly enough.
I noticed the Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard saying the other day that he had become a lot more patient in his outlook, that he had bought into the concept and understood the importance of mental preparation. He (Dr Steve) has had a similar effect on me.
The guy is just a phenomenon. He is not a sports psychologist, but a sports psychiatrist.
He knows how the brain works, and how human beings react to certain situations. I think there are times when we all need some advice from such highly-educated professionals to enhance your well-being.
When I walked out of my semi-final with Stephen Hendry at the UK Championship in 2006 after only six frames of a possible 17, a lot of people were thinking I had lost the plot.
Afterwards I was asking myself why I did that. The mental side of sport is a key aspect to performing at your peak levels. I’ve always tended to take care of myself physically, but the mental aspects of the game sometimes let me down.
Hendry never had that problem. He used to just turn up and win, but I always felt like there was something missing in my mental armoury.
Now when things aren’t going for me, I know why, how and what is happening so I can control my emotions. Dr Steve explained to me how my head was reacting to certain situations.
It wasn’t because there was anything wrong, just the way I was viewing certain situations.
Dr Steve inspires you. He makes you walk out there feeling confident within yourself. Yet he instils in you the feeling that you are the underdog. It is an approach that has worked well for me over the past few years.
Snooker is a sport where you can spend a lot of time in your seat pondering stuff. A lot of things can pass through your mind, but Dr Steve has helped me understand that it is okay to spend time in your seat pondering. It is how you spend your time when you are not at the table. It is important to be full of positive thoughts.
I have a lot to be thankful for with my kids, my running and my hunger to do well in snooker.
I’m content with my life at the moment, but sometimes that can be a bad thing. You don’t want to get too content, or you lose your edge.
Dr Steve helps me with that too in keeping my drive, helping me stay motivated and hungry for success. If I lose my edge, guys like Ding Junhui will only be too happy to take my world title away from me.
I’m fascinated to see if his work will drive Liverpool to the title in the final few matches of the season. I think it will.
Getting past first round at World Championship is all I’m focused on
In hindsight, I would probably have liked to have played a few more matches to feel a bit sharper going into Sheffield. I feel a bit underplayed.
Next year, I would probably alter my preparations slightly because I wanted to play in the China Open. I would have liked to have gone a bit further at the German Masters, but I wasn’t feeling very well in qualifying. It would have been nice to reach the quarters there, a quarter-finals at the China Open in Beijing last week and maybe one more match at the PTC Players' Championship.
In saying that, if I can get through the first two rounds at Sheffield I will feel a lot sharper because I will have been in the tournament a week. And when you get into the semi-finals and down to the one-table situation, you should be up to speed.
When I look at some of the other fancied players like Ding, Neil Robertson, Mark Selby, Judd Trump, John Higgins and Barry Hawkins - the list goes on and on - I’d say a lot of those guys are match-sharp. And that should stand them in good stead for the Crucible.
There is nobody I would look at and say that I want to particularly avoid him in the draw for the first round. Graeme Dott and Mark Williams are former champions. They have to qualify, and they bring a lot of experience to the tournament. But you have guys like Liang Wenbo who can turn you over. I practice with him, and know how good he is.
The way snooker is these days, they can all turn it on when they are in the mood. You just have to hope that you are striking the ball well to get over the first hurdle.
Last year I played Marcus Campbell on the opening day. Marcus is an excellent player, but is maybe not as aggressive as other players.
I played decent stuff against him. I scored well, my positional play was fine and my safety was good. My long potting wasn’t great, but I have come to accept that it is never as sharp as you maybe want it to be.
I never played as well last year as I did in winning it in 2012, but I still did enough to defend the title. I can’t be too hard on myself because winning a world title is the hardest achievement in the game.
I’m backing marathon newcomer Mo Farah to break British record
I’m helping out at the drinks station at the 19th mile in the London marathon on Sunday. I’m a member of Ilford running club. 26 clubs from around the area are doing it, and Ilford is one of them.
I’m usually in Sheffield at this stage of the year, and I usually watch it on the TV, But I’m home for it so I thought why not? It gets me out the house, and it will be great to watch the top boys. And I mean the real top boys.
Geoffrey Mutai is in it. He won the New York half-marathon, but all the Kenyans obviously always go well at these big races. Emmanuel Mutai will be difficult to beat, but I’m predicting a bright race from Mo Farah. I just love watching that guy run.
I think Mo will break the British record (2hrs 7mins 13 secs). Whether he can win or not in his first marathon is a big ask coming up against guys who specialise in the longer distance.
My training partner has done a few marathons, and the more I’ve been training, the fitter I’ve got. I do fancy doing one. But I’d like to try to go under, or around three hours.
As a sportsman, you always want to push yourself. Like in snooker, it is nice to set yourself personal targets.
Maybe I’ll give it a go next year.
Ronnie O'Sullivan was speaking to Desmond Kane.
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