The most important advice concerning the mental game is:

  • Have a consistent and purposeful pre-shot routine, being sure to visualize and plan successful execution of each shot before getting down.
  • When down on a shot, don’t “pull the trigger” until the alignment and aim looks perfect. Then, with a clear mind and still eyes, execute the stroke. There should be no uncertainty whatsoever just before or during the stroke. If there is, you should get up and re-start your pre-shot routine.
  • Give every shot the respect it deserves in terms of attention and focus, even “easy” shots.
  • Be confident and trusting in your skills and abilities.
  • Work to improve your skills. That will create confidence.
  • Take deep breaths when necessary to fight nerves or break tension.
  • Learn from your mistakes (by practicing missed shots and positions).
  • Recognize and deal with negative thinking, replace with positive energy, and have faith and trust in your pre-shot routine, abilities, and skills.
  • Quiet your mind and focus while in your stance and during your stroke, on every shot.
  • Practice under pressure as much as possible (in leagues, tournaments, streamed online videos, gambling matches, etc.). The only way to become good under pressure is through a past history of successful experience under pressure.
  • Never give up, even if you are far behind in a match.

For more information, see The Compete Instructional Works of Tom Ross – Volume II: Mental Aspects and Joe Waldron’s collection of articles dealing with the mental side of pool.


The book “Pleasures of Small Motions: Mastering the Mental Game of Pocket Billiards” by Bob Fancher provides good coverage of the mental side of the game. Important messages from the book:

  • Focus on and enjoy the process, and focus less on the goals or outcomes.
  • Do not try to deny your fears. Acknowledge and accept them, and do your best to address and manage them (e.g., by being aware and taking deep breaths).

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