View Full Version : Becoming a Champion

04-09-2004, 10:47 AM
Becoming A Champion

To be a champion, one must act and think like a champion. If you do not believe that you are a champion, you won’t be. What separates champions from contenders is their outlook on the entire situation. Champions expect to win. Champions look forward to celebrating their victories. Defeat is always knocking on their door, but they refuse to let defeat in. Champions are super-positive, assertive, and they are more often than not, learning junkies.
So what is a “champion”? A champion by definition is one that shows marked superiority in his chosen activity. What is “marked superiority”, and how do we know that we have it? We will know by developing principles about how we conduct ourselves during competition. Champions are not self-defeating. They are not quitters. Champions persevere in the face of adversity. Champions proceed to move forward. Champions put up a fight all the way to the end, and win or lose, take what they can to learn from the outcome.
Non-champions are the complete opposite. They are unorganized in their approach. They have “acute inferiority” and it seeps from every weak spot in their game. They quit, make excuses, and surround themselves with people that agree with their negative, non-productive response to their outcome. They never learn and repeat their errors over and over. These are the players that are spinning their wheels 5 years after you saw them last. These players represent a large population of the playing community, so beware. You can avoid being one of the masses by learning what a champion believes and does not believe, and how he reacts and deals with situations that baffle the losers.

The Development Process

Becoming a champion cannot be taught. In an article I wrote several years ago entitled “Developing a Champion” I explain the elimination process of champions. I use a football player as an example, starting with hundreds of thousands of kids playing Pop Warner football. Some kids “peak out” at this point in their football careers. Others go on to play high school football; first at the junior varsity level. Several players “peak out” at this point and others progress to the varsity level. The player, “Our Hero” is second string for a while until he finally achieves his goal of becoming a starter for the varsity squad. He then achieves his goal of qualifying for a scholarship at the college of his choice, preferable a good football school. Once again, he starts at the bottom, red-shirting for his first year, and being 3rd string for a while, then second string and so on. One day he starts, and becomes a college football sensation. He graduates, and is drafted by the Dallas Cowboys on draft day. He goes through the same process all over again. He makes the team, sits on the bench, develops, learns, and applies his knowledge and skill until he is a starter. Eventually, he starts for his team at the Super Bowl.
Where are the other kids that he played with on his Pop Warner team? They are at home eating nachos and guzzling beer. In “Developing A Champion” I looked at how “Our Hero” progressed. In this article, I will look at how the others did not.


In any endeavor, we have to start somewhere. No matter what skill we have, we start off by not being absolutely proficient at the task. If we are dedicated to improving, we do. If we are easily discouraged, we quit. This is very important when looking at the difference between champions and contenders. Champions persevere in their quest, while the contenders never seem to get good traction. This is due to many factors, which include surrounding ourselves with the proper people to guide us. Non-champions are easily swayed by thoughts of doubt, where champions combat the doubt with undying faith and determination. More times than not, it is not faith in one’s self or in one’s abilities. No matter what faith the champion follows, it makes his/her outlook completely different from those that have no faith-based roots.
Champions have a never-say-die attitude. This evident in some of pool’s greatest champions, most notably, Earl Strickland. Earl is a lot of things, but “quitter” is not one of them. Earl has an insatiable desire to win. This attitude drives everything else in his game. When Earl is playing terribly, you would never know it because he just gets stronger and more determined at accomplishing what is in front of him.
Kim Davenport is another example of determination. Kim is much more reserved in his actions than Earl Strickland. Kim Davenport’s strong point is his focus on the positive. Everything can be going wrong for Kim, but you would never know it from his attitude. Kim Davenport has the innate ability to wait patiently for the momentum to start swinging his way. Buddy Hall has a similar trait. One year at the U.S. Open, Buddy Hall was down 7-1 to Johnny Archer and Buddy miraculously came back from that deficit to win the match. Coming back like that is exceptional in any match, but Buddy Hall did it against the likes of Johnny Archer.
How do we develop perseverance? I believe it all lies in your attitude towards the situation. Ali’s “rope-a-dope” didn’t work only because Muhammad Ali “allowed” George Foreman to punch himself out. Ali had to be able to absorb everything Foreman had in him. That had to have hurt. After that, Ali had to knock Foreman out. That wasn’t easy either. Ali got the job done because he had faith in his ability to overcome the obstacle in front of him: George Foreman.
It is much like trying to get over a brick wall on an obstacle course. You can go around it, you try to go through it, or you can go over it. Avoiding, or going around the wall proves nothing and does even less for your confidence level. Going through it is not very practical, and will hinder your ability during the rest of the course. Above all else, champions respect the obstacle and develop a game plan beforehand to maximize their chances of victory. They don’t wait to develop a game plan when they have the wall two inches in front of their face. If there is a fair amount of resistance to their game plan (which is to be expected in ANY endeavor) champions are able to adapt to that resistance and use a back-up plan if the first plan is unsuccessful. This means that champions figure out more than one way to pull out a victory. This what keeps the champions focused on winning. When one plan doesn’t work, they just institute another plan and proceed. They do not quit or start feeling sorry about themselves, and they certainly do not start wallowing in the negativity brought about by the situation. They merely switch from Plan A to Plan B, to Plan C or D if necessary. Champions know that there is more than one way to get to the top and they are prepared to travel every single road if necessary.

Channeling Negative Feedback

Along the way, we will receive criticism from others that have seen our performance. Some of these critics are worth listening to, some of them are not. Champions understand this, non-champions usually give equal precedence to all the critics equally. Knowing who and who not to listen to is very important because the way we channel this feedback will have a direct effect on how we deal with it.
Case in point: Several years ago I competed in a regional level 9 ball tournament. Along the way I played this guy I had never seen before. I developed a 3-0 lead on him and somewhere along the way I lost focus and ended up losing the match due to many errors I had made. I stayed around the tournament and watched some of the matches. The guy I lost to made a comment during a conversation, and asked me if I knew why I lost the match. I shrugged my shoulders as if I wanted to hear his opinion rather than my own. He looked at his friend and giggled and said, “That’s okay. You’ll never figure it out.”
This guy was an advanced BCA Instructor, a respected person within the regional pool scene. He was from out of town and I really wanted to hear what he had to say about my performance, especially since he was successful in defeating me that day. I was taken aback by his attitude. What did they see that I didn’t see. In my opinion, I played a bad match. It was plain and simple. Had I overlooked something? This effected me in the loser’s bracket. I was in a real battle in another match when I saw this guy and his friend watching my match. Their comments made me paranoid, and lost my match hill-hill. Afterwards, I sought out a friend of mine that had seen my match and told him about what the other guy had said. My friend told me that all this guy had done was slow me down to interrupt my rhythm. He was merely joking about it to be a jack-ass and to hinder my performance. From that day to this one, I have never held anything this man has said in high regard, no matter the subject. I use this as an example to show you how to develop a filter for people like this and their comments.
If someone is a BCA Instructor they should have a desire to help other players improve. If they don’t have that trait, they should not teach anyone. They shouldn’t comment, nor should they give advice unless they have some positive feedback to go along with the criticism. Every negative has an opposite, or a positive that will nullify the negative. Plainly, for every wrong way there is a right way. Don’t tell me what I am doing wrong unless you can tell me or show me how to do it correctly. That’s my filter. If I make an error, point it out to me constructively, not destructively. Champions understand this principle and turn a deaf ear to idiots like the one I described. Non-champions (like me that day) listen to the garbage that unqualified people say and try to digest it. People that care and want you to succeed will feed you positive things that will enhance your abilities. They won’t stab you in the gut with their comments, and they certainly won’t try to mess with your mind.
Champions surround themselves with positive people. They know who to listen to, and who not to listen to. They know who to be around during matches, and who to stay away from. They understand the “garbage in, garbage out” principle very well. I have seen many people at tournaments that enjoy overwhelming people with negativity. I cover this in another area, but it should be said here as well: Negativity is everywhere. You don’t have to be part of it.


Attitude IS everything. When faced with a tough situation, how do you react? Do you wince and cower in fear? Do you say bad things to yourself? Do you get angry at the world? The next time you are faced with a tough shot, try this next tip I am about to give you.
Remind yourself that you ARE a champion. Remind yourself that you fit the definition of a champion and that you act and react like a champion. Champions deal with tough situations like champions. Champions make tough shots. That is what makes them champions. Champions know what to do in every situation. Champions know their abilities and they know their limitations. They know when to go for it, and they know when to play safe. Champions are successful no matter what the outcome because they are always in the learning and development process.
I have yet to have someone that took that advice to heart say that it doesn’t work. I use this, and better than 85% of the time, I make the tough shot or I play the best safety I can for the particular situation. This not only works, it works well and it works for everybody that has used it.

Good Luck & God Bless

Rich R.
04-09-2004, 11:48 AM
David, it is nice to see you posting again. I hope your health problems are behind you and we will be seeing more of your posts in the future.

Welcome back. You have been missed.

04-09-2004, 12:47 PM
David, Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. This post came at a very timely time for me. I hope your health has improved. I know all of the CCB members have missed hearing from you. God Bless You, Lock McKinnon /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif