Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Mark Allen on... his mind and motivation

What inspires Mark Allen? This is the million dollar question.

That was at the heart of part three of his exclusive interview with OnCue.

Picture by Monique Limbos
Find out what makes The Pistol tick and the struggles he faces when it comes to playing the game...

I've always enjoyed the big occasion and the big crowds.

Nothing beats walking out in front of a packed house and playing one of the top players in the world live on TV.

That's what you dream about as a young boy growing up wanting to be a snooker player. You don't ever think about playing in a cubicle with only a handful of people watching.

It's no big secret that I struggle for motivation in the smaller tournaments. Some players can block it out and take it for what it is, but when it comes to the big matches on the big stages, that's when I really switch on. I seem to be able to find an extra gear.

I've got a good record against the top players in the big events. That's what I live for and that's when I really want to put on a show. That's something that will never change about me.

I seem to struggle when it doesn't feel like there's much on the line.

My first professional tournament was the Northern Ireland Trophy in 2005. I got into the event as a wildcard and managed to beat Steve Davis and John Higgins before losing to Stephen Hendry. I still believe that put me in good stead for playing on the big stage.

I've enjoyed lots of memorable wins. I beat Ken Doherty in my first year at the World Championship and have beaten Ronnie O'Sullivan at the Crucible and The Masters since. Those definitely stand out.

I know it's not just about these results though. You can't just beat the big players. You''ve got to beat everyone else as well.

It's been well-documented that I don't enjoy the PTCs. If I had my way, I wouldn't enter any of them. Unfortunately I can only afford to miss the odd few. Over the course of the season the ranking points on offer add up and I need to play in them.

If I'm honest, I just don't see much benefit to the top players. I don't want to be too critical but I think they help the journeymen professionals and the chasing pack, rather than the top 16.

I have to find a way to create a positive attitude at the PTCs, so I go there thinking I'm in a win-win situation. If I win a match I know I'm in the next round but, if I lose, I'm pleased I can go home. That's not a great way to approach a professional tournament but, up until the quarter-finals or semi-finals, I can't find motivation.

I also struggle with being away from home. It's not so bad coming over to the UK but, if it's further afield, I don't really enjoy it.

I've got a great partner, friends and family so I want to be in Northern Ireland as much as I can. I don't want to come across as moaner, but that's how I feel. I'll continue to go to the tournaments because I still enjoy competing at the top level.

I hope I can learn as I get older to adapt to play well when I'm not up against a big player or on the TV because there's a lot of matches to win. I know I need to work on it. 

A while ago I announced that I was battling against depression and I think that's still in the background and waiting to come up again. I'm lucky that my private life is very good at the moment which helps me on the table. I think as long as that continues, I won't have any further problems.

You have to look after your mind, especially in the game of snooker. I know the early symptoms of depression now and always keep a look out for those signs. I've have a good mindset for a long time, so I hope that continues.

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