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Sam van Etten (24), time to focus on mental strength

Posted by on February 22, 2021

Sam van Etten (24), time to focus on mental strength

© Henry Thijssen
Sam van Etten after his last title win in Holland

The era in which young talents in the treble league have to develop in national and international tournaments has been disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis. How do they deal with this setback in their careers? Kozoom spoke with young billiard players all over the world and completes this week's series of 12 interviews. Today: Sam van Etten (24) from the Netherlands.

Name: Sam van Etten
Age: 24
Residence: Schermerhorn, North Holland
Profession/study: Projects for management company, Adelbrecht in Oude Meer.
Hobbies: Cycling, squash, concerts
Relationship: Girlfriend, Sanne
Billiards club: BV Horna in Hoorn, CB Vic (Spain, classic games), STZ Zundert (Netherlands, three cushion), De Witte Molen (Belgium, three cushion)
Sponsors:, Adelbrecht Vastgoedbeheer.

Kozoom/Frits Bakker: How do you deal with this long period in which the COVID crisis dominates all the world?
Sam van Etten: First of all, I am glad that I have a billiard table at home. I can practice at this table when I want, and of course, I am doing as much as I can. Besides that, I started working with new (mental) coaches. They provide new inputs for me in billiards, where this period without matches is an opportunity instead of a threat, because I can work with full focus to develop these new inputs. Besides that, I work part-time for a management company, which makes my days pass relatively fast.
2. Kozoom: Is this a time of standstill and stagnation in your young career, in which fast development and progression are so important?
Sam van Etten: When it started, it really felt like that, because I was working hard and I thought that I need to play many matches to gain experience and improve. To change this attitude, I started with new coaches, billiards and mentally focused. They provide me with a lot of new insights already. Since I have a lot of time to train in this situation as well, I can train these new insights more effectively and focused. So, it does not feel like a standstill, because new doors were opened as well. This will help me in the long term. Nevertheless, playing games should definitely help to develop faster. Unfortunately, this is impossible now, so I am focusing that and aim to develop it as much as possible.

3. Kozoom: How is the current situation in your home town and your country in relation to COVID-19?
Sam van Etten: The situation in my country is that there is a lockdown until we enter March, with curfew. Most shops, clubs, cafes are closed. This means minimal social contacts, which is also the case in my hometown. We have seen some cases with COVID-19 in Schermerhorn, where I live, from feeling nothing at all to death, so here it's the same. Luckily, I live in a small town with a lot of space and nature around. That makes it possible to escape from house and walk or cycle in the fresh air, which is a great advantage relatively to a crowded place.

4. Kozoom: How are the conditions for training? How much you can practice every day or week?
Sam van Etten: The most practice conditions for me are at home. Therefore, I can practice every day. However, the official trainings with my coach Raimond Burgman sometimes could not take place, because of the situation. So, I practice more individually on the new inputs I gain from my trainers/ coaches and practice less match-oriented aspects.

5. Kozoom: How does life look for you without championships, tournaments and competitions?
Sam van Etten: What I said, working and training on new insights and goals. But I'm missing the tension of competition a lot.

6. Kozoom: What is your country or federation doing to develop careers of young talents?
Sam van Etten: Normally, the federation supports us with facilitating trainings with the KNBB coach and is facilitating games for us. As a young player, we sometimes have the advantage that we can participate in a big tournament. For example, after my Dutch Junior championship, the federation enabled me to participate in a World Cup. During this pandemic, it is harder for the federation to help young players to develop. The restrictions in our country do not enable much for billiards, because of NOC/NSF. That makes it more difficult to help young players, but it is understandable. Despite this, not enough opportunities were sought in my opinion. Trainings stages were shut down for most of the time and no tournaments are organized for juniors since March 2020. When there were some (virtual) tournaments organized for the top players, there was nothing organized for juniors. That is a missed chance, because some tournaments could be combined, especially the virtual ones.
However, the KNBB is working on a new development plan in the trainings centre from Carl Verhoeven in Uden. The specific plans will be presented soon, I guess. This could be a very nice development and a good opportunity for (some) young players to develop their career.

7. Kozoom: How do you see your future as a sportsman and possibly as a professional billiard player?
Sam van Etten: I am really positive about it. I see my future mainly as a three cushion player. And playing lots of tournaments during the season such as we did before the pandemic. I love the sport and the addiction to improve. The future will tell how this will develop towards my career.

Sam van Etten, focus on technics and mental strength

Dutch classic champion Sam van Etten at the European championship



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