– advice dealing with various topics
– books dealing with mental aspects
– changing bad habits
– “choking” (how to help prevent)
– “dead stroke” (being in the zone)
– knowledge can be useful, but you still need skill
The main messages in the video above can be summarized with five words with a snappy single-syllable acronym: Focus, Enjoy, Reset, Visualize, Inhale, Diagnose (FERVID).
For more info, see: “Mental Game” (BD, April, 2020) and the mental game handout.
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 and feels 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 the “easy” shots.
- Be in the present and focus only on the shot at hand.
- Quiet your mind while in your stance and during your stroke. If your mind is not quiet, get up and restart.
- 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. Also replace negative self directions (e.g., “Don’t drop the elbow”) with positive ones (e.g., “Keep the elbow still). Remember: “You can’t don’t.” The self-conscious mind that performs actions needs simple and positive action commands (e.g., “Keep still”) and will sometimes drop the negative words in a command (e.g., “Don’t) and just do the action word (e.g., “Drop”).
- 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.
- Work to control only the stuff you can control. Don’t linger on stuff out of your control.
- Remind yourself why you play pool (for the fun, social connections, relaxation, challenge, competition, etc.), and try to enjoy the game, even when things are not going well.
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).
The books “The Inner Game of Tennis” by Timothy Gallwey and “The New Toughness Training For Sports” by James Loehr also provide excellent coverage of the mental and emotional sides of conditioning and peak performance (in any sport, including billiards).
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