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View Full Version : How do you maintain focus?



dooziexx
11-13-2003, 10:41 AM
Every Wednesday I play in a local tournament which I know I can win it all. Ive came close taking 2nd,3rd & 4th a few times. But lately I have not been in the money. Few weeks ago I was in a slump where I advance past the first round for about 4 weeks. I think that Im coming out of that slump couple weeks ago when I started winning some matches.

My main problem is focusing, maintaining focus and shutting out negative thoughts. All this is easier said than done as my mind plays alot of games with me. There are times when Im down on the 8 or 9, in mid execution and all of a sudden my mind says Im gonna miss and I miss. How do you guys stay focus and maintain it thruout a tournament and how do you tackle negative thoughts??

Popcorn
11-13-2003, 11:07 AM
You are trying to win the tournament and not the matches one at a time. Just play each match as best you can. It is actually not that hard to maintain focus, as long as you limit your focus to just the task at hand. In a tournament, you can't wish yourself to win the tournament, you just play one match at a time and keep all other thoughts out of your mind. Easy to say, Right? I sometime deal with busy executives and one thing you will notice with the successful ones is, as busy as they are, they seem to be able to focus on the task at hand. They don't think about the 4 o'clock meeting in the middle of the 2 o'clock meeting. If they thought about everything they really had to do today all the time, they would never get anything done. I think it can be the same principle with pool.

Tom_In_Cincy
11-13-2003, 11:38 AM
Focus and concentration are always part of well executed shots. Distractions need to be delt with, acknowledge these thoughts, take the time (quickly of course) and make sure you've addressed all the negatives that are causing these distractions.

You can't avoid these distractions, so what I do is acknowledge them. Then I focus on the table, the layout, the current shot, shape on the next shot, how to accomplish the objective, and when I have all this LOCKED into my brain, this is when I get down on the shot.

Sometimes this takes only a few seconds, sometimes longer, like a minute or two. But, I have found that this really helps fight the non-focus problems I've had in the past. They still happen, but not as frequently.

Now if I could only find a way to beat those better players.

cheesemouse
11-13-2003, 12:51 PM
dooziexx,

This is one of the mysterys that the best in sports have difficulty explaining. Perhaps they don't understand themselves what is taking place. The focus, the zone or any other name you apply to the focused state of being remains a fickle character hard to discribe with words. It appears to be natural to some and no effort seems nessessary for a high level of focus to be applied to their games...oh to be so lucky...

Since you have noticed you are not one of these 'naturals' at focused thought you need some practical way to re-direct your thoughts to the job at hand, that job being the running of balls, selecting your best shot and so forth until you have finished the game, match and set. I suggest you investigate the use of a mantra: a mystical formula of invocation or incantation. Let a mantra guide your mind. The unguided mind in a pool player can be equated to a drunken monkey just stung by a scorpion....

....hey you asked.....LOL /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Rick the stick
11-13-2003, 01:50 PM
ZEN, DONT MESS WITH THE STICK...he's busy now goin
oooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmoooooommmmmmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmm
You mess with his wa, it ain't pretty.

smfsrca
11-13-2003, 02:00 PM
Here are a few ideas:
Don't try to win the tournament. You can't win the tournament unless you win the match. You can't win the match unless you win the game. You can't win the game unless you make the shot. Play the moment your in now, not the one you know you can be in later. Avoid doing things that cause your mind to drift forward rather then stay in the moment. Don't keep analysing the tournament board to remind you who is in your bracket. Don't play imaginary match against future apponents. When your not playing don't get involved in unrelated activities. Keep your self in the game by watching other matches.
When you are not at the table
Don't be looking around other things.
Focus on the table and play the runout in your mind.
Count to yourself to maintain a sense of rhythm.
When its your turn at the table:
Stand back from the table when you analyse the lay of the balls.
When you are on the cusp of the win and you can feel the rush beginning to build. Take a deep breath and push it our slowly. At the end of that breath hold your breath for a few extra moments and focus into slower even breathing. Then get down on your shot and bag it for the trophy.

Popcorn
11-13-2003, 02:12 PM
Quote
"The focus, the zone or any other name you apply to the focused state of being remains a fickle character hard to describe with words"

The zone and focus are two different things. Focus is a discipline, that need to be developed. The ability to stay on task and not be think of worrying about unrelated things. It can be learned, where as, being in the zone can't be controled.

fast_eddie_B
11-13-2003, 02:22 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote dooziexx:</font><hr> Every Wednesday I play in a local tournament which I know I can win it all. Ive came close taking 2nd,3rd &amp; 4th a few times. But lately I have not been in the money. Few weeks ago I was in a slump where I advance past the first round for about 4 weeks. I think that Im coming out of that slump couple weeks ago when I started winning some matches.

My main problem is focusing, maintaining focus and shutting out negative thoughts. All this is easier said than done as my mind plays alot of games with me. There are times when Im down on the 8 or 9, in mid execution and all of a sudden my mind says Im gonna miss and I miss. How do you guys stay focus and maintain it thruout a tournament and how do you tackle negative thoughts?? <hr /></blockquote>

In my personal opinion, you have to always be confident with every shot and just let the stroke go, like instinct. You must keep your mind clear of everything outside of the shot itself. Meaning the score, your opponent, and whatever else. If you get out of line, use percentages to your advantage. Don't try shots that you know you have a poor chance of making. Expand the mind and find the safe. The worse thing you can do in a tournament is sell out and give your opponent those easy games. Make him earn it. In short sets to 5, every single mistake counts and just because you may be up 4-0 doesn't mean you slack or get risky. I play my opponents tight, whether I am giving them the 5 7 or playing them even. You should always try to control the table, because when you don't, you give them the opportunity too, and then all sorts of rolls can go their way, and well as them catching a stroke.
Also, be aware of what you are playing on, but don't dwell on it. If you are playing on a table that you know fades real bad, then by all means don't hit that cut shot soft.
Go extra rails if you have to.
Also remember that you came to the tournament to win, but don't dwell on winning and losing. Results will be results, win or lose, but your on the table to perform, so perform. Read the book "I Came To Win" by the Monk. It can help you with your mental game which is where most of us need help.

UWPoolGod
11-13-2003, 02:50 PM
One thing a friend told me was to never have any doubt that each shot you take is going to do what you want it. Whether it is making the ball...with the correct english to go to the next...or in playing safe. Works both ways. Never have any doubt or fear. Confidence.

bluewolf
11-13-2003, 02:55 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote dooziexx:</font><hr>

My main problem is focusing, maintaining focus and shutting out negative thoughts. All this is easier said than done as my mind plays alot of games with me. There are times when Im down on the 8 or 9, in mid execution and all of a sudden my mind says Im gonna miss and I miss. How do you guys stay focus and maintain it thruout a tournament and how do you tackle negative thoughts?? <hr /></blockquote>

You sound like a fine player. I learned in psychology that the way to change behavior or thoughts was do have a 'competing' thought. Although, I do not always win, when I am down on the 8 or 9, if an I am going to miss thought enters, I block it with an 'I have a perfect stroke' thought. Does not mean I have a perfect stroke or even if whatever positive thing I say to myself is true, but it does block out the bad thought so that I can shoot. That way, if I make the shot or not, it is not because I sabotaged myself. If I miss it then, it is something to do with my technique or lack of experience, rather than due to 'stinking thinking'. /ccboard/images/graemlins/smirk.gif

Laura

phil in sofla
11-14-2003, 07:15 PM
Focus is weird, in that you can't really focus for a tournament, a match, or a game. You can only focus for this shot, and then this shot, and then this shot, but TRYING to focus may very well ruin the focus.

I think of focusing as doing the shot, and ONLY the shot, during the execution phase, once down. No thinking, no non-verbalized language process in the back of your head. Any stray thought when you're in final execution mode divides your attention, and may cause a miss, or missed shape after the shot. The only mental activity that should be going on is non-verbal imaging of the intended shot and shape, imagining the whole thing, including the feel of the intended hit, and even the sounds involved.

The peak of concentrated focus can only be maintained for a brief period, after which you go to a more generalized focus, to repeat the process of honing in that field of focus in your pre-shot routine. At its peak for the next shot, you have pinpointed it to nothing more than the cue ball, where you're contacting it, and the object ball and the contact point (or however you aim, maybe the line you're seeing instead). We're really talking about maybe 10-20 seconds or less of stilling the mind, and it is always surprising how hard it is to do that consistently. To do it effortlessly, you need a strong routine, and to apply some mental hygiene concepts. Thoughts that you are going to miss are a flashing red light telling you to stand up and reset the process.