Interview with Les Nailer on the Junior Academy

Les Nailer is the Head Coach of the new NZPA Junior Pool Academy. He has a wealth of experience in the game, winning several National titles. He is an accredited qualified coach who focuses on youth development.

How did you start playing pool?

I started as a 16 year old playing in a billiards room in Greymouth. I am from Ikamatua and my parents used to bring me to Greymouth for shopping, but of course I snuck into the billiards hall to play snooker. That was the only game back then.

What was the first tournament you ever won?

It was the West Coast Open Singles Pool Tournament. I was 22 years old. That was a long time ago……. I was living in Christchurch and was invited to Greymouth to play the event with a friend. I won and my friend came second!

What is your proudest moment as a player?

I am lucky enough to have a few of them. My first really big tournament was at the Marine Club in Auckland. It was on the north shore. It was a pairs tournament. I had been knocked out of the NZ Championships that morning so I entered the pairs with a mate. Some of the best players in Auckland were playing and we made it to the final. We didn’t win but that was a big day for me. I have won a few really big tournaments since then but that day showed me that I could compete against the best.

Why did you decide to try coaching?

Ok, I can see what’s wrong with the technique of another person. Most of us are self-taught and we do things wrong. Because pool has given me so much over the years it was a chance to give something back.

What is the NZPA Junior Academy?

The academy is a place where we can bring juniors into a safe environment and have coaches on hand to teach them the ins and outs of pool. You can’t learn in 1 or 2 sessions, it takes time. The academy provides a structure to properly put that time to good use. The academy is lucky we have the top male and female players in New Zealand (Matt Edwards & Molrudee Kasemchaiyanan) involved who will be part of the coaching team at the academy. We will be teaching things that the junior players will keep for a lifetime.

Have you ever done something like this before?

Yes, back in 2001 I started the academy in Christchurch, which ran for 6 years, we had around 40+ juniors attending at any one time. Our biggest success story would have to be Matt Edwards who joined us at the age of 13 years, He’s won multiple National titles and is now the #1 player in the country! The first time I meet Matt I placed the object ball over the middle pocket and put the cue ball in the centre of the table, just to see where he was at…. he missed the cue ball completely the first three times! The rest is history!!

What are the objectives of the Academy?

The objective is to train juniors in the art of pool. It used to be a misspent youth but that is all gone now. It is a real sport. We have a chance to cater for the kids who do not like to play rugby, that want a different type of sport. We want to develop players for the future of the game, it would be a win if an academy member was to be a future national champion.

What is the best tip for the average amateur player?

Keep your head still. Pool is like all sports, if you move your head you will miss. If you stand properly, hold the cue properly and keep your head still that is it in a nutshell.

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