Andrew Highfield is a professional WPBSA World Snooker Coach, course tutor and one of the sport’s prominent instructors. He is resident coach at the Golden Cue Snooker Club in Wolverhampton.
We caught up with him recently during the 2017 Open Disability Snooker Championship, hosted by the West Midlands club.
How long have you been involved in coaching?
I’ve been a coach for 20 years since the age of 21.
How did your first link with a snooker club come about?
I joined Golden Cue aged 10. I grew up at the club really. I started working elsewhere but soon left my job to become a full-time coach. The club expanded around the same time and they said: “the match room is yours!”
Can you explain how your coaching has developed within the club environment?
I was initially using a club table but decided to buy my own championship table, situated in the club. I soon expanded into junior coaching. These juniors have grown and become part of the club’s teams. Some of the lads I’ve coached have even come back with their children!
What are the benefits to a club forming a relationship with a coach?
There are many benefits. I’d say the key ones are as follows:
- A coach introduces people to the club who may not have come in without accessing tuition
- These players often become fully-fledged members of the club
- A lot of those who I coach spend time at the club practising between sessions, which brings in revenue
- Players come here for coaching then tend to tell their friends about the club
- There are spin-offs for clubs because new players buy cues, use the re-tipping service, and more
Do you feel that the Golden Cue Club has capitalised on its association with you?
Yes, the coach is often a good link to opportunities in the world of snooker. For example, I’ve arranged events and exhibitions for the club through my contacts. The first was Cliff Thorburn, who played six junior players.
The club has now held 16 exhibitions in my time here and raised a significant amount of money for the Paul Hunter Foundation. This link to the foundation has also supported the club by way of funding Lee Edwards to complete a level one coaching course. Lee now runs a free, two-hour Monday evening session for junior players.
What steps should a club take in developing its playing programme?
I’d advise any club to approach its local coach. There’s a ‘coach finder’ available on the WPBSA website, which is a good starting point. The club needs to link in with all the new developments in the sport, such as the coaching programme and the new affiliation scheme. A strong club will have all the proper structures in place.
What are your top tips for clubs?
- Link up with a coach – the demand for coaching is far greater than people think
- Set up a junior section – support this with a table-time offer and promote it to local schools
- Speak to WPBSA Coaching Consultant Chris Lovell for support with coaching and the Paul Hunter Foundation
Andrew Highfield offers one-to-one and group sessions to all ages and abilities. To find out more contact Andrew by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 07831 310 651 or tweet @AndyH147