Playing snooker isn’t just an enjoyable pastime – it can improve your mental health, new research reveals.

Popularised by the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, strategically concentrating on potting balls helps to improve focus.

Played by millions across the world, it distracts adults, allowing them to escape the pressures of real life, scientists believe.

The findings come despite a host of professional players having come forward with their battles with ‘the blues’.

Popularised by the likes of Ronnie O'Sullivan, concentrating on potting balls helps to improve focus, scientists believe

Popularised by the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, concentrating on potting balls helps to improve focus, scientists believe

Described as the greatest player to ever grace the game, O’Sullivan’s mental health has made for a colourful and controversial career.

The five-time world champion, who was knocked out of this year’s World Snooker Championship in the quarter-finals yesterday, previously told the BBC that his bouts of depression stopped him from reaching his full potential.

Mark Allen, 30, is another whose struggle with the mental illness has been well-documented in the past. 

The world number 11 said it was sparked by the constant travelling that was required to compete with other leading potters.

Researchers used results from a survey carried out by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) in April 2016.

Some 1,029 adults who reported playing the sport as a hobby or pastime answered questions about their emotions.

Played by millions across the world, it distracts adults, allowing them to escape the pressures of real life, experts claim

Played by millions across the world, it distracts adults, allowing them to escape the pressures of real life, experts claim

Played by millions across the world, it distracts adults, allowing them to escape the pressures of real life, experts claim

Nearly 53% of respondents said they felt their mental health benefited as a result of potting the balls, they found.

Participants cited finding it easier to relax and stay agile both physical and mentally. 

More than half said they felt playing snooker had a positive impact on their day-to-day lives, including the honing of skills needed in other areas of life. 

Some of the examples given were the necessity of concentration, the ability to assess and manage risk, and the importance of patience.

A small handful of volunteers even claimed that potting the balls somehow improved their physical health.

Lead author Rohit Sagoo, of Anglia Ruskin University, said the study has firmly put snooker on the map of scientific research.

He added that professional players are unlikely to receive the same benefits due to the added financial pressure.

However, he told MailOnline: ‘For the everyday player there isn’t any other drivers, they play purely just for enjoyment.’

He added: ‘This research has clearly outlined that when individuals play snooker, the game plays a vital role in maintaining or developing cognitive function.

‘As a “mind sport”, these results back up the view that there is a significant degree of mental cognition involved with acquiring and developing knowledge of the game of snooker.

‘The learning curve that the sport provides promotes positive mental health and wellbeing.’



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