Aaron Hill feels he has found the mentality to fulfill his immense snooker potential

Aaron Hill

Aaron Hill makes the most of a new mentality on the table (Image: WST)

After a quick return to the World Snooker Tour, Aaron Hill is back with a new perspective and now feels ready to fulfill the immense potential he has shown in a flash in his fledgling career to date.

Hill first came to the pro scene aged just 18 and immediately made headlines when he defeated Ronnie O’Sullivan in his first tour event and defeated the reigning world champion 5-4 at the European Masters.

He was highly regarded anyway but this raised expectations and the youngster failed to repeat his initial success as he struggled for results over two seasons and slipped off the tour.

20-year-old Hill was forced to make money snooker wisdom very quickly and he already takes the shock of losing professional status as a positive, marking his immediate return through the Q School.

“I think it’s probably the best thing that could have happened to me,” he said. “I was really disappointed with my results on the tour because that’s not me. I’m way better than that.

“I know there were some good results, but I was really disappointed. I was never in the present moment in my matches, always looking ahead or thinking about a shot I missed.

“It just doesn’t work with the standard, these games are so big, there’s a lot at stake. Don’t put yourself under unnecessary pressure because it’s hard enough as it is.”

Speaking after easily beating talented Chinese star Zhao Jianbo to get through Q School Event 2, Hill was justifiably proud of what he had achieved, even more so than when the rocket was launched.

“To sit here after going through is a much bigger accomplishment than beating Ronnie,” Hill said. “The state I was in a few weeks ago. One day changed everything, things I learned that day will stay with me forever now and I’m just really grateful to be here today when I come back.

On the day in question, Hill used the power of having close friends there to help him out and he feels a simple conversation has done wonders for his game.

“It was just some buddies of mine, just a chat really, I learned a few truths that night,” he explained. “I think I was stronger than anyone here. I showed on the table how strong I was up there.’

As for the problem he had to fix, Aaron explained: “It was personal stuff because he was on the table. It was just hard, a bit lonely, really.

“I accepted that I would go through it and everything would stand for me. Luckily it was this week, I’m back now so bigger and better things are ahead. It was never a problem on the table, I knew I was always good enough, but just getting the simple things right in my head was the most important thing for me.

“It’s just about being happy all the time, it’s just a game of pool. If your opponent is sitting at the table, you’ll be sitting stressed for no reason.

“Just be happy and everything changes when your mood changes. Bad things will happen in a bad mood. In a good mood, good things will happen.

“All week I was calm and relaxed. Of course the pressure came and I was a bit nervous, but I was able to handle it better than I could have done last time. I’m just really looking forward to getting back on the road now and seeing what happens.

Most players will be well into their 20s by the time they have that kind of aha moment, and Hill hopes removing that mental burden from his game will free him up to achieve great things.

“The number of games I’ve lost in the last two years just because I put unnecessary pressure on myself is staggering,” he said. “It’s not that I can’t play under pressure. I can play under the snooker pressure, it’s just unnecessary extra add-ons that you put on yourself and only you do it, nobody else.

“When you get stuck in it, it’s like you’re stuck in the mud, you can’t get out. What I mean by learning truths was changing your thoughts, getting rid of them and it worked.

“I know my game is there. It’s just about getting mentally right, that was the most important thing for me. I started touring when I was 18, I guess you could say I was thrown in at the deep end, I didn’t expect to be as tough as it was.

“Especially in the Covid year, it was really hard for the head. Above all, having to do everything alone. I really didn’t have anyone in my corner except my family at home. I’ve changed that now, I’m back and I’ll make it easier for myself. I’m working with a few people now so my game is in great shape.’

The Irishman would not change his immense win over O’Sullivan in 2020 but apart from the boost to his confidence it made things difficult with the expectations and sudden interest that quickly waned.

“It was my first week on tour. I was just buzzing, I just wanted to play snooker,” Hill recalled. “I suppose when I beat Ronnie the expectations started to grow, not just for me but for everyone around the world, at home and so on.


Hill took down O’Sullivan early in his pro career (Image: Getty Images)

“Then when you start getting the bad results the guys aren’t there so you can’t go into it, just focus on yourself and keep going.”

Having only turned 20 this year, the sky is the limit for Hill as he has refocused his energies on enjoying the game and letting his talent flow, and he still aspires to be at the top of the sport.

“100 percent,” Hill said of his remaining goal of joining the snooker elite. “I will not disappoint the people, the people who always stand by me.

“You know what I’m capable of, I know what I’m capable of. I can beat anyone in my day and all that experience and that confidence will build and I believe there’s a long, long career for me in this game.

MORE : ‘Just hit me’ – Fear left Zak Surety, who dreaded snooker matches and feared for his future

MORE : Andy Lee’s unique snooker journey continues with return to the Pro Tour, his proudest achievement

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snooker Aaron Hill feels he has found the mentality to fulfill his immense snooker potential

Nate Jones

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