IT WAS ANNOUNCED last week that Terry Griffiths, much sought after as a coach, will be working with six players this season.
Several others approached Griffiths but he is limiting himself to six players to ensure he gives them all the time they need. The players are Ding Junhui, Mark Allen, Barry Hawkins, Mark Davis, Michael Holt and Jack Lisowski.
Griffiths, the 1979 world champion and also the winner of the Masters and UK Championship during his long playing career, has been a well regarded coach since his retirement from professional snooker in 1997.
He has worked with players such as Stephen Hendry, Mark Williams, Marco Fu and was director of coaching at On Q Promotions before this management group was discontinued at the end of last season.
Griffiths has become a kind of Yoda figure within snooker, imparting just the right amount of wisdom to his players at crucial moments. It is not only in the technical aspects of the game where he has worked wonders but also in the all-important psychological side of the sport.
Many of the best coaches in sport did not have great careers at the top level. But the fact that Griffiths did means he is speaking from experience.
His tie-up with Ding is intriguing. There is clearly nothing wrong in general with Ding as a player but something did go wrong last season. Having won five ranking titles during the 2013/14 campaign – equalling a record set by Hendry for a single season – he failed to reach a final during 2014/15.
Ding will doubtless be hoping that whatever it was that was missing can be supplied by Griffiths’s wise counsel in the months to come.
Griffiths did not work with Allen last season because the Northern Irishman had left OnQ. Although he reached four finals, he said that he was missing the veteran Welshman being in his corner. The two of them seem to be different personalities but nevertheless a good match.
Hawkins has also attested to Griffiths’s influence during his rise to prominence in recent years and Davis, another player who has produced his best snooker in the last few seasons, will continue to receive the benefits of his advice.
The last two players on the list are interesting. Holt has been a professional for nearly twenty years and is a fine talent but at times seems to have lacked the inner confidence needed to compete at the very highest level.
If ever anyone needed a wise word in their ear, Holt is the man, and if Griffiths can help him make that important step forward it would be a popular development for a well liked player.
Lisowski is a superb potter but still raw when it comes to tactical play, an area in which Griffiths excelled.
Getting the balance right here is crucial. Griffiths won’t want to curb Lisowski’s natural game but if he can help him develop into more of an all round player – as his good friend Judd Trump has – then Lisowski, who has not quite made the breakthrough many were expecting, could well flourish.
Ultimately, it is all up to the players once they get to the table but preparation is key and to have had advice and encouragement from a figure as respected as Griffiths must be a plus.
Snooker is an often lonely game and just to have someone to talk to around the matches can make a difference. But when that someone has a proven track record as a player and a coach then it has the potential to be significant.
Terry’s half dozen will certainly hope so in the season to come.