Ronnie speaks with Hector Nunns about Work Ethics

Ronnie will play in the World Grand Prix this afternoon. He will face Andy Hicks, a player who turned professional in 1991, and reached the semi-finals in all four BBC tournaments in the 90th: the 1995 World Championship, the 1996 Masters, the 1995 UK Championship and the 1994 Grand Prix. Andy is here this week largely thanks to a run to the QFs in the recent UK Championship. To get that far he had beaten David Gilbert in the last 16. He can play.

Ahead of this event, Ronnie has been talking to Hector Nunns.

Grafter Not Genius: Ronnie O‘Sullivan Reckons His Work Ethic Is Often Overlooked

Ronnie O’Sullivan reckons he is more grafter than genius – and that his dedication and commitment to the hard yards on the practice table is sometimes overlooked.

And the Rocket also insists that his competitive instincts would have seen him get to the top level in another sport if things had not worked out so well for him in snooker.

Six-time world champion O’Sullivan, 46, is regularly hailed as the greatest player ever to pick up a cue, and praised for his natural talent that can make a difficult sport look almost effortless. But the holder of many of the game’s records, including most Triple Crown and ranking-event wins and also 147 maximum breaks and centuries, says most of it is down to hard work.

World No3 O’Sullivan, also a regular pundit for Eurosport, said: “I do think the hard work and graft I have out in over 35 years does get overlooked sometimes. You just hear the comments about natural talent.

But ask Anthony Hamilton about me or anyone that has practised in the same facility as me and they will tell you about my work ethic.
Listen it’s lovely if people say ‘Ronnie is a genius’, that’s nice they speak about you in those terms. But when they say ‘It’s okay for him, he’s just got the talent’ that bothers me.

It isn’t just me getting out of bed for 30 years and winning titles, there is so much practice for up to eight hours a day.

And I don’t care who you are, Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Lionel Messi at their peak -they have won what they have won by doing the hard yards in practice.

If things hadn’t worked out in snooker for me and I hadn’t been quite good enough to make a living from it, I am sure I would have been a sportsman in some other way.

The competitive animal in me and also the desire to put in the hours of training and dedication would have found a home somewhere.

Maybe if I had got into a car as a kid, then I could have been Formula One world champion! Be a Schumacher or whoever else, as I love that. And I like to think that whatever other sport I would have chosen I would have done very well at it.

I look at some snooker players who have done well without that much talent but they have really applied themselves. And I’d like to think I could have done that at something like golf.

I wouldn’t have had anywhere the talent of the best players, but maybe enough to make the top ten through hard work.

I watch a lot of sport. Many of those earning a decent living are not that good in terms of raw talent. I think most people could be a professional sportsman with some real time and effort. But part of me thinks if you can play one ball sport, you can probably play most of them with training.

O’Sullivan has also never been afraid to dabble in the political arena, having in the past supported and spent time with Ed Miliband when he was leader of the Labour Party ahead of the 2015 general election, and backed Jeremy Corbyn in the 2017 national poll.

And with the Prime Minister Boris Johnson under pressure on various fronts, he has given his less-than-flattering opinion on the current incumbent of No10.
O’Sullivan added: “The world is a strange place at the moment. America had Donald Trump for a few years and that put them in a spin. We had Corbyn come along and tried to rebalance things here, that was good in many ways because it got people talking about some of the issues.

And we have ended up with Boris who may be a nice guy – but he is just funny and a bit of a joke. You can’t really take him seriously. As a backbencher and someone you roll out every now and again he was funny. But seeing him in that situation as Prime Minister, you just laugh.

And politics isn’t a laughing game. Maybe we need another Tony Blair. I watched the documentary about him and Gordon Brown recently. They came in at a different angle and knew the mood of the people. They were better times for the country and so we need a serious person at the top who also has some charisma. Those people are not easy to find.”

Back on the table O’Sullivan will be in action in Coventry at the Ricoh Arena in the World Grand Prix following on from the Scottish Open in Llandudno. The Grand Prix is reserved for the 32 best-performing players of the season to date, and that means Chinese sensation and new UK champion Zhao Xintong will be the No1 seed.

Anthony Hamilton did indeed speak highly of Ronnie’s work ethics in a recent interview with Phil Haigh and Nick Metcalfe.

I can understand Ronnie’s frustration at people – including some commentators/pundits – who seem to think that he only has to “turn up and try” to be certain to win, so when he doesn’t win it’s because he allegedly doesn’t try. It’s not that way. There are a lot of very good players on the tour, players who can beat anyone on their day, especially in short matches.

To his own admission, Ronnie has taken a more relaxed approach to the game after his 6th World title in 2020 and he has paid the price in terms of results. In the last weeks he has applied himself but it hasn’t translated into big wins so far.

He’s 46 and, again to his own admission, recovering after big matches takes more time than it used to take. It’s normal. Also, Ronnie has never been the most confident person, and he certainly isn’t confident right now.

Ronnie may or may not come good at one point later this season, or the next, only time will tell. Ronnie had a lean two and a half years spell between 2009 and 2012. He has since won 15 more ranking titles including three World titles. People were writing him off, he proved then wrong, big time. Of course, he was younger then. At 46, it will be more difficult, it may not happen at all, but I refuse to write him off just yet. It’s too early.

We have a commentator on this site who has come up with systematic negativity and complete disrespect for the ability of the vast majority of the other professionals. I have removed one of their post because it was plain insulting to one of Ronnie’s rivals. I have answered the others, but won’t do that anymore: I have said all I have to say here. I’m not feeding trolls.

As for the “gifted” versus “hard work” debate, my view is simple: if you are “gifted” but don’t work hard enough you will never achieve your full potential, if you are not “gifted” you will never go very far no matter how hard you work. And remember, we are all “gifted” at some things and not “gifted” at other things.




2 thoughts on “Ronnie speaks with Hector Nunns about Work Ethics

  1. Yes, but as a mathematician might say ‘the converse is not true’.

    Ask any successful person, and they will say it’s ‘down to hard work’. Of course they will emphasise that, and it is largely true. But that doesn’t negate talent, opportunity, luck. For example, a vital factor in success is support from parents. In snooker, you can’t work hard unless you have access to a table.

    This does not mean that a ‘work ethic’ guarantees success, at least not at such a high level as ‘top ten golfer in the world’. An example of ‘hyperbolics’ (not the mathematical term).

    Similarly, just by saying ‘it’s necessary to work hard’ doesn’t mean that those who aren’t successful are lazy, as has been suggested. That’s horribly unfair. Unfortunately that has been used in snooker as cover for a system that has limited the development of new players – to blame the young players.

  2. Well said Monique.

    I remember attending a “talk in” with Ronnie a few years ago, in the middle of one of those seasons where he was winning everything – he was at pains to point out he’s not a genius, he has to practice just like everybody else. He also pointed out that and those with a table in their house obviously are able to practice more and fit it around other things, hence the top (richer) players stay at the top.

    I loved the interviews with Hamilton/Gould about their sessions with him, there’s also an excellent article by Alan McManus about how Ronnie practices, can’t remember exact wording but basically “he doesn’t just wander about knocking in centuries, he knows how to do that, there’s no point for him, he spends hours a day playing the awkward shots”. I reckon that’s the bit where age plays a part, 46 years old doing 8 hours of full length blues off the balk cushion etc when you’ve won everything there is to win must get quite boring! Kudos to him and all the older players for still doing it really!

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