When Ronnie’s interview on don’t tell me the score. came out because of the BBC putting the focus on one sentence taken out of context, there were a lot of negative reactions from people who had clearly not listened to the interview.
Now, a few weeks later, Phil Haigh, writing for metro.uk, has extract some key elements of this interview in three separate articles.
Ronnie O’Sullivan opens up about how anxiety has affected his snooker career
Ronnie O’Sullivan is arguably the most naturally gifted snooker player in history, but that does not mean everything comes easy to him on the baize. The Rocket has battled various mental health struggles over his lengthy career, from what he labels as ‘snooker depression’ to a range of addictions. The 43-year-old has also had to fight serious anxiety which comes to the fore when he is playing tournaments, specifically when he is away from home a lot, which has led to his significantly reduced schedule in recent years.
For someone who many consider the best player of all time, it is hard to comprehend that he would have serious doubts about his own ability, but that is exactly what the five-time world champion has had to deal with while trying to perform in front of big crowds. ‘I likened it a little bit like when people go on stage and before they go out they freeze, because it’s all about the performance, and that’s exactly what it was like me with snooker,’ O’Sullivan told BBC’s Don’t Tell Me The Score podcast.
I could do brilliant performances but it was always about the next one, am I going to fall apart? Am I not going to be able to pot a ball? Am I going to embarrass myself out there? Are people going to start laughing at me and think I’m a fraud? I had all that going on.
‘If I don’t compete and don’t put myself in that situation with snooker that fear and anxiety disappeared.’ Simply not playing was not a realistic option for the Rocket, so he took steps to manage his anxiety that have allowed him to compete at the highest level and remain world number one at 43-years-old.
A big part of this career management has been competing in just a handful of tournaments per season in recent years, but also working with psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters. ‘Even though I’ve worked with Steve Peters and it’s helped me a lot, I still get moments,’ continued O’Sullivan. ‘It’s nowhere near as bad as it was but I still get moments when I really do doubt myself.
‘I think you’ve just got to manage it and I’ve realised since 2005 that I have to see it coming. I do a diary so I can look back on it and think ,”What did I do here?”
‘I hit a little bad period here, because I took too much on. Sometimes I don’t spend enough time at home cooking for myself, looking after myself, spending time with my partner, seeing my children.
‘Once I’ve done all those things it builds up a shield and I’m ready to now go into that two week battle and do some graft and win this tournament and compete against the best snooker players in the world.
‘If I try and do four or five weeks competing with the best in the world from hotel room to hotel room, country to country I start to neglect myself and start to question what it’s all about. This isn’t really making me happy, I might have won a couple of tournaments but really I just can’t wait to get home.
‘I’m like a racehorse, if you race him every day at some point he’s going to come last.’ O’Sullivan has not played since going out in the first round of the 2019 World Championship to James Cahill, but is expected to return to the table at the Shanghai Masters in September.
Ronnie O’Sullivan explains how rejecting Western philosophy has helped him battle addiction
Ronnie O’Sullivan has become one of the deep-thinkers, not only of snooker, but of British sport.
The world number one has gone through struggles on and off the table during his hugely successful career and has come up with various ways to overcome them.
The Rocket admits that he has had to battle his own addictive personality over the years, and continues to try and avoid temptations, which he believes are ingrained in Western philosophy.
‘I went through a lot of denial in the early stages, thinking I didn’t have an addiction problem,’ O’Sullivan told BBC’s Don’t Tell Me The Score podcast. ‘I’d get a month of training and eating well practicing, and I’d play a tournament and do really well and then the next two or three months I’d binge on food and drink and going to nightclubs. It was never me, but it was my addictive side.
‘I could never have one meal or one night out and get back to training the next day, I kept falling off the wagon.
‘It wasn’t until I started looking at addiction and how it’s not just about food, it can be about women, relationships, gambling, spending, working too hard. It covers so many different areas.’
O’Sullivan has now accepted the problem and learned to manage it, focusing his addictive personality on positive outlets like running.
The 43-year-old believes that addiction has become difficult to avoid in modern Western society and points at the contrast between boxing rivals Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather as an example to illustrate his point. ‘The Western world has become a world of addiction in many ways, we’ve forgotten what it’s like to sit down as a community and just do things together and do things together, support each other,
’ Ronnie continued. ‘We live a hectic, fast-paced life and everyone’s trying to get on top of each other, climb that ladder and do what they do. ‘I go to Thailand and it’s not like that, they have a different way to measure success.
‘You look at Manny Pacquiao and he wants to feed his village, it’s all about taking back to the Philippines and I think that’s a much better way to share your success.
Ronnie O’Sullivan explains how he stopped snooker success costing him relationships
Ronnie O’Sullivan has always had a difficult relationship with snooker and part of that is down to how the game has impacted his relationships off the table.
The five-time world champion has found a work-life balance that suits him now, but there have been times in his career at which snooker has taken over to an unhealthy level.
The Rocket has been developing how to manage his game on and off the table over a career that dates back to 1992 and has learned to put more importance on the things that matter away from winning titles. ‘
When I play snooker I go into a tunnel vision type of world. I don’t know I’m doing it but I block out everything and everyone around me,’ O’Sullivan told BBC’s Don’t Tell Me The Score podcast.
‘The people that care about me don’t get the best out of me, they take it for so long and eventually they go, “well I’m not putting up with this,” and you think, what have I done? ‘I’m out there grafting, I’m trying to be the best I can be, I’m pursuing my career, but they’re not getting their wants and needs.
‘So I want a balance in life. Snooker, winning titles is great, but if that’s all life is, if all my life is built on is being a success then at some point that’s going to go and what am I left with?
‘I think human relationships are very important, and probably more important than anything you’ll ever do because we need to interact with people. The healthier the relationships you have, the better your life will be.
‘So I have to draw in sometimes and think I have been a bit selfish. I have neglected certain things, and then when I reproach things, things get better again.’
‘When I’ve got in that tunnel vision I’ve probably trampled on so many people, not in a horrible way, but just in my pursuit to be the best. ‘You have to make tough decisions, and when I look back on them they were ruthless decisions, and I don’t class myself as a ruthless person.’
If you find it difficult to listen to the full interview, for whatever reason, those articles at least will give you a correct feedback on some important aspects of it. Unlike the very misleading title and introductory text that the BBC chose when the interview was initially published.