Jamie Jones: Welshman says he got fed up of 'hoping' he would perform
|2018 World Championship|
|Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 21 April – 7 May|
|Coverage: Watch live across BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Red Button, Connected TV, the BBC Sport website and mobile app.|
Jamie Jones got fed up of “hoping” he would play well.
Seeing his 30th birthday cake in front of him in February made him think about where his career was heading.
The Welshman has made a more than decent living from snooker, but is in no doubt he has under-achieved in his career so far.
“I was fed up of going to tournaments and not performing, not producing what I do in practice,” the world number 51 told BBC Sport.
“There’s only a certain amount of that you can take before you either give up or change something. There have been a couple of times I have been playing so bad that I have actually thought ‘am I good enough?’
“I know I am and the odd tournament I would do okay. But I was turning up and ‘hoping’ I would be okay. The top players can’t be ‘hoping’.”
Cue the Neath-born professional’s 30th birthday celebrations.
“In my mind I still feel about 14 or 15,” he added. “I am 30 and I still see myself as a young snooker player. But getting my birthday cake made me think.
“The years seem to trickle by and I don’t want to be scratching my head saying ‘why is nothing happening?’, when deep down I knew I wasn’t working hard enough and doing the things that the top players do.
“Sometimes you have to give yourself a telling off and start afresh.”
Ditching the beers for yoga
He has made some subtle lifestyle changes and some pretty radical changes. But the word change crops up repeatedly. Something had to give.
Jones no longer sweats out a few beers with his pals days before a tournament. Now he is sweating buckets doing hot yoga, acting more like an athlete, getting his mind, as well as his body, fitter.
“It sounds a bit easygoing,” he said. “But some of the strength work people do in that environment is amazing.
“It’s a weird thing and I get some funny looks when I tell people, but it makes the mind clearer – and in this game that is massive.
“It’s not far off a sauna heat and you do plenty of stretching and there is exercise involved. If you put all that together, it’s a good workout. Hopefully it will make me play better.”
The two-time ranking event semi-finalist describes himself as “very inconsistent”, needing focus, structure and a regime where he does not cut corners and sell himself short.
“There has to be method as well,” he explained.
“You can put in five or six very good hours practising or you can just stand there knocking balls around for 12 hours.
“But it’s also off the table. Before, maybe I would go out with my mates a weekend before tournaments.
“It certainly didn’t help me. It might not have had an affect but you have to give yourself every chance. I see other players on tour and they are doing things a lot more professionally than I ever have.
“I had to move forward with a different approach.
“I am very inconsistent with everything I have ever done really. I am a very up-and-down person but as I am maturing I am trying to get that structure with my practice and my life.”
‘I wasn’t doing things the top players do’
The new-found commitment has not brought instant mind-boggling results, but Jones says it’s “starting to pay off”.
Negotiating three tough qualifying rounds to reach the first-round at the Crucible for the third time was a good start.
Jones beat Craig Steadman and Yu Delu in the first two rounds and then whitewashed the immensely talented 2015 UK Championship runner-up Liang Wenbo 10-0 in the final round.
A brilliant comeback from 8-5 down to beat former world champion and Triple Crown winner Shaun Murphy in the World Championship first round brought back some good memories.
His best showing at the Crucible also saw a first-round win over Murphy, a 10-8 success in 2012, leading to a run to the last eight where he lost 13-11 to eventual runner-up Ali Carter.
Reaching the last 16 this season has already guaranteed him £27,500. In the grand scheme of things, the money is not important; the true reward is not financial.
“A last-16 place isn’t an amazing result,” he said. “But it gives me a little bit of repayment for the hard work I have put in.
“From the outside looking in I am still earning a half-decent living from the game and I still get to travel the world so it looks good.
“It’s six years since I got to the quarter-final here and I thought, ‘am I going to be sat here in another six years wondering why am I still not playing well’, when I knew I wasn’t doing the things that the top players do.
“The disappointment of driving home three hours on your own after a defeat is a lot to take all the time, but if you don’t work hard you don’t deserve to win.
“You have to be confident and at least bring a certain standard of performance, whereas I could turn up and be absolutely shocking like I had never played before. I was sick of it.
“It’s a tough sport to turn up and hope.”