BEHIND every great sportsman is a great coach. And that’s why the best snooker players in the world call on Del Hill in their search for glory on the green baize.

The Nations Cup winning England team of Stephen Lee, John Parrot and Ronnie O’ Sullivan with team coach Del. Missing from the line-up is Jimmy White.

For big Del is the gentle giant who has earned the reputation of being ‘the coach with the most’ having masterminded world championship victories for both Rocket Ronnie O’Sullivan and Graeme Dott.

In fact, such has been Del’s impact on the game that the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association have made him an Honorary WPSBSA Coach - the only non-professional ever to receive the accolade - and given him the responsibility of coaching the coaches and conducting the grading examinations.

He is also spending more time with the amateur game both in this country and abroad and managed and coached the EASB team to many memorable victories, including a 5 year undefeated retention of the Prince of Wales Shield.

Del’s snooker roots can be traced back to Cricklewood in London where his father Jack was a Billiards player of some repute.

But Del discovered his gift for coaching when he moved with his wife Maxine from London to rural Lincolnshire and the old farm at Friskney which they have enlarged and transformed into a lovely family home - with  atmospheric snooker rooms, and 2 fishing lakes for some off the baize relaxation.

He began helping professional Graham Cripsey to reconstruct his game and reach number 34 in the world rankings - and on the way learn about both the technical psychological aspects of snooker.

It was in 1991 that Del went to a Blackpool tournament with Cripsey and met a mercurial 16-year-old with a phenomenal natural talent - Ronnie O’Sullivan - and a couple of years later  started working with him on the table.
Del and Ronnie O'Sullivan show off the World Championship trophy, the morning after the Rocket's Crucible triumph.

He guided O’Sullivan to the Asian Classic in Thailand in 1996 and was in his corner when he won the UK Championship a year later. Del has since been the Rocketąs coach, mentor and right hand man for many of his finest moments, including one golden season in 2001 when Ronnie won his first world title and five other major tournaments.

In all, Del guided the Rocket to many tournament wins and is proud to have been associated with a world class player of such unbelievable natural talent. He is quick to point out that being with Ronnie over the years made him the coach he is today.

Many of the game’s top professionals have sought Del’s help, not least Graeme Dott whose game he transformed into that of a world champion.
Moment of glory for Del and Graeme Dott at The Crucible after the Scot won the world title. Pictures: Eric Whitehead, Snooker Images.

"I have never approached any player to offer my assistance. I’m just a snooker fan with some talent for coaching, and when these stars ask for my advice I feel really honoured," said Del.

So what is Del’s secret? His mantra is Application; Preparation and, not least, Motivation.

He believes they key lies in ‘memory and patterns’ and has devised a set of disciplines which co-ordinate shot practise to such a degree that they become embedded into the memory - providing  a ‘fail safe’ under pressure.

"I don't believe in pulling anyone’s game apart – that’s not the way I work. But within five minutes I can get into someone’s cue action, understand their game and then help them get through the ball their way."