When it comes to the world of snooker, it doesn’t come much bigger than Stephen Hendry.
The Scot is one of the most successful players to ever pick up a cue, having won an astonishing seven world-championship titles while also holding the record for the most seasons as world number one.
He won his first world title at the tender age of 21, making him the youngest world champion in the history of the sport – a record he still holds to this day.
Naturally, as someone who spent decades performing at the highest level, Hendry knows what it takes it get the job done inside some of the biggest pressure-cooker environments that sport has to offer.
So, as you would expect, getting an insight into his thoughts during a recent episode of the High Performance Podcast made for awfully fascinating listening.
GIVEMESPORT have picked out three key takeaways from what proved to be a truly absorbing interview.
Over the course of a 27-year career, there are always going to be ups and downs but, for Hendry, it was all just part of the learning process during a fiercely determined mission to ascend to the summit of the game.
It is no secret that Hendry was a machine when he stepped up to tournament tables, but that almost mechanical ability to just go on winning was something developed over countless hours of practice.
Naturally, that meant that other aspects of his life had to take a back seat and Stephen spoke openly about how he lived a very different sort of life to the other teenagers he went to school with.
“I mean, people always say, do you regret missing out on what normal teenage boys would do? You know, parties, girlfriends drinking for the first time, whatever it is,” he said.
“And I never felt left out, I just wanted to play snooker, you know, as soon as school was finished, sometimes before school finished, you know, I just wanted to play.
“The only thing in my mind was getting on that table. So, yeah, the sacrifice was probably necessary to keep improving. If I had not played as much snooker to study or do other stuff then possibly that rise wouldn’t have been as it was”.
‘Enjoy the pressure’
Speaking on how tough it was to plough thousand of hours into his craft, Hendry made mention of his first manager who used a simple phrase to keep him motivated through those days that no one saw.
“My manager, there’s no way he has any scientific reason behind it. He was just the Scottish businessmen who’d worked his nuts off throughout his life and he thought, well, that’s the way everyone else must do it to get success.”
“There was no, as I say, I don’t think he’d put any research into it. Basically, I think he thought if I’m going to back you and sponsor you, you’re going to work, I’m putting it in.
“So you’re going to put it in. The three ingredients you need are obviously natural talent to go with it [the hard work] and you need the ability to play under pressure. You need those three things together. That was the phrase. Enjoy the pressure.”
“I was there to win. And I think if you look at snooker nowadays, and I think most sports, actually the competitors getting a lot younger and more single minded, they’re just there to win.
“People always say to me, there’s no personalities in the game anymore. There is, but it’s just when they’re on the table, they’re there to win.
“And I think Steve Davis was that. And I think after Steve Davis, again, I kind of learned a bit of Steve and, and just having this, not showing any emotion.
“In practice I would show emotion if I missed a shot, you know, bang my cue and swear. But when you go in that, that table, in the ring, you can’t show your opponent any weakness.”
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