PDA

View Full Version : Get mad and play better???



BillPorter
08-04-2004, 09:32 AM
In another thread (started by 1a2b3c), it was suggested that being angry might improve your level of play. Maybe it just reduces down to one of the oldest and best-established “laws” in the field of psychology—the relationship between performance and arousal. This is the Yerkes-Dodson Law for those of you interested in such things. It was originally advanced about 100 years ago. The Yerkes-Dodson law dictates that performance increases with cognitive arousal but only to a certain point: when levels of arousal become too high, performance will decrease. At the extremes, it is easy to see how this works: when arousal levels are very high (rage and terror are two examples of high arousal), our motor coordination is poor and our planning/thinking abilities are diminished. On the other hand, if arousal is too low, we are bored, apathetic, and just don’t care much one way or the other. Just about any emotion, if strong enough, can produce high arousal and interfere with performance on a task. Conversely, with little or no emotional arousal, our performance also suffers: we are not “moved” to do much of anything. (It is no coincidence that the words “motive” and “emotion” stem from the same Latin root “motus” or “to move.”)

So, yes, generating some anger could help performance on the pool table if our arousal level was too low. But too much anger (or anxiety) will impede performance if it raises our arousal level too high. By the way, the optimal level of arousal depends on the complexity of the task: for complex tasks, the optimal level of arousal is lower than for simple tasks. I would guess that playing pool is a pretty complex task, so generally our best play would come at relatively low levels of arousal. Pretty calm is likely to be better than pretty excited.

To me, this suggests a niche for a new pool product—some gadget for detecting your body’s level of arousal (maybe just a heart-rate monitor?) coupled with some techniques for either lowering or raising your arousal level. Sometimes you may need to calm yourself down, and other times you may need to psych yourself up.

Cueless Joey
08-04-2004, 09:38 AM
This must be Earl Strickland's strategy. /ccboard/images/graemlins/tongue.gif
I can't play mad.

SPetty
08-04-2004, 10:44 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Cueless Joey:</font><hr> This must be Earl Strickland's strategy.<hr /></blockquote>And, if the theory is correct, he obviously finds the game of pool very simple, which is why he requires such a high degree of arousal.

tateuts
08-04-2004, 01:05 PM
I find that the people who get mad and start shooting like it (agressively) for a few games, get really dejected if they continue to lose and then play really bad after that. It's like they start losing and say to themselves "OK, I tried being pissed off, now what?"

Emotions, positive and negative ones, are probably best kept well under control and off the table. It's hard to play well when you have a lot of things on your mind.

Chris

tn8ball
08-04-2004, 01:52 PM
I do play better if I'm a little mad, but only if I'm mad at myself, not the opponent. I reach of point of grim determination where I actually tell myself "I'm not going to miss again", and mean it. I've noticed that with my game, if I say this to a friend or watcher, it generally puts me on the spot and makes me concentrate (or look like more of an idiot that I already am if I play worse).

Getting mad at my opponent for sharking, lucking out, etc., doesn't help me a bit. I try to realize that I'm really only playing myself regardless of who's at the other end of the table.

poolplayer1988
08-04-2004, 02:45 PM
I find that if my concentration is lacking, I do play better if I get angry. I have even (unbeknownst to me at the time) had my wife intentionally make me mad so I would play better. Funny how she knows that about me and uses it to help me, as opposed to the other times when she's just being her normal self. (J/K honey, don't kill me /ccboard/images/graemlins/smirk.gif) When I'm angry, I get laser-like focus and think I could even block out a bomb going off if necessary.

Doug T.

BillPorter
08-04-2004, 03:34 PM
Chris, you say, "Emotions, positive and negative ones, are probably best kept well under control and off the table. It's hard to play well when you have a lot of things on your mind." It would be nice if we could control our emotions, but one problem with controlling them is that they start up outside of awareness. We become aware of emotions only after they have arisen and gotten up to speed. At that point, I'm not sure we can just shut them down. Anyway, with no emotion at all, maybe we have no motive at all and just don't care. All I'm saying is that maybe we can't totally control our emotional state, but maybe we can nudge it toward higher or lower emotional arousal. Me, I almost always need to find a way to calm down, at least playing money or tournament games. Some people, maybe Earl is an example, often need to psych themselves up to a higher level of arousal to play their best game.

tateuts
08-04-2004, 04:04 PM
Emotions physically change us. We could get into a big long discussion about emotions and their effect on the game. I think the most experienced players have learned to play despite their emotions.

There have been times when I've played really well pumped up and scared, but usually it's not a good thing. When I'm pumped up, I'm usually not thinking too well and firing balls a little too hard. My eyes might even be twitching and my heart racing. I've seen pros play with their hands shaking. On the other hand, I don't think I've ever played well complacent.

What I mean is, it shouldn't be something we're thinking about while we're playing. It should be something we try to put and leave behind us.

Relax is the key word. Relax. Just Relax and shoot pool, big man.

Chris

BillPorter
08-04-2004, 06:05 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote tateuts:</font><hr> Emotions physically change us. We could get into a big long discussion about emotions and their effect on the game. I think the most experienced players have learned to play despite their emotions.

There have been times when I've played really well pumped up and scared, but usually it's not a good thing. When I'm pumped up, I'm usually not thinking too well and firing balls a little too hard. My eyes might even be twitching and my heart racing. I've seen pros play with their hands shaking. On the other hand, I don't think I've ever played well complacent.

What I mean is, it shouldn't be something we're thinking about while we're playing. It should be something we try to put and leave behind us.

Relax is the key word. Relax. Just Relax and shoot pool, big man.

Chris<hr /></blockquote>

Chris, as you just said, you usually don't play well "pumped up and scared"; that's what I am calling a high level of arousal (heart rate, respiration rate and GSR all high). But you also say, "I don't think I've ever played well complacent." That's what I am calling low arousal (heart rate, etc. all low). Optimal performance occurs somewhere in the mid-range of arousal (Yerkes-Dodson Law again). And I agree that we shouldn't be dwelling on all this stuff while we are playing, UNLESS it is pretty obvious that our arousal level is really hurting our play. If we KNOW that we are too tense, too anxious to play well, it would improve our chances to use some technique to calm down and relax (as Ralf Souquet seems to do when he sits there in sort of a trance state between shots). On the other hand, if we KNOW that we are so bored, indifferent, and low in arousal that we are playing sloppily and poorly, it would improve our level of play to do something to increase our arousal. But maybe I'm beating a dead horse here.

Rod
08-04-2004, 06:41 PM
Bill,

I don't get mad, but I can get agressive. Sometimes it might be to late but it's where I need to be when the competition gets tough. I guess I'm in the low arousal group. LOL

I think over the years, if I'm ready to play as in being prepared, my arousal factor is somewhat higher. I've had it go both ways and with either state of mind. I thinking though, a near midrange point as I think your suggesting is best. What ever that is.

Rod

brian_
08-04-2004, 07:55 PM
I guess I can play either way, mad or extremly calm but not inbetween. When I first started playing tournaments I tried to be real calm, I can't stay calm between innings and watch the table at the same time. So I figured out if I make myself nervious and have the aditude that I'm tired of screwing around I play alot better. If I go to a tournament thinking ya well it'd be nice to win or well there's alot of good players here so I might have a chance I might as well not enter. Yet if I look around and think yay no major problem players, now how much money's here, then I play my best. The only time I look calm during a tournament is during the match, any other time you'd think I was about to have a nervious break down or so I'm told. I'm always watching the ladder and the tables hoping my side of the ladder gets easier and where and who I'd be playing if I happen to go to the loser side. If I don't do all that I never place in the money.

Does anyone else shake after the match/game is over? or am I just crazy? LOL I can stroke the 8ball like it's the first shot of the game but after it's down if I have to rack for the next pair I can barely stay steady enough to rack. It only lasts a min to maybe 2mins tops but I've always thought it was wierd.

Chris Cass
08-04-2004, 11:56 PM
Ummmm,

Kind of like that movie "Me Myself and Irene"? /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Regards,

C.C.

Chris Cass
08-05-2004, 12:50 AM
Hi Bill,

I once got in a game with this kid I know, that plays pretty sporty. We were playing some 9 ball, heads up. After a few cheap sets races to 9 for $40. I was losing on pure luck box moves. It was tearing me apart. The sets would go, I'd be on the hill and he'd need 3 games. Every stinken time I turned around he got a bump here, a tic there and that was it. I'd end up losing the set. Not to mention he can run some balls too. /ccboard/images/graemlins/crazy.gif

I was down 3 sets straight. Now, I'm starting to go crazy. The music bothered me, the drunk in the bar with the loud obnoxious mouth bothered me. Not to mention the drunk would play the same songs in a row. He'd play about 4 songs and the same four songs every 20 minutes.

I'm trying to win and now, they turn the music up full blast. I'm like smoking mad. I'm at the point my head was going to blow or twist like the exorcist. I'm down, then I win one and then lose the next one. Back and fourth. I'm down like $80 now and it's getting late. I thought this was easy money and it wasn't.

I say to the kid, "Let's play for the whole thing. One set for the $80.00." The kid says, "I gotta go." I was totally foaming at the mouth. I said, "Atleast play one last set?" He says, "I'll play you one last set for the $80. but you post the $80 plus the $80. for my end too."

I hadn't posted anything as we knew each was good for the money. Now, I have to stop playing go get change for a hundred and broke with $40. left. Also, started thinking he didn't show any doe and I'm betting he had none and although I trusted him. It was my money out there. Not that it mattered because the $80. I lost was his but nerve racking to say the least. I don't do that now BTW. He goes on to say he wants the "7 ball". Great.

So, I posted the $160. at the counter and played him. I seemed to calm down myself to the point of not saying anything and ever so focused on the task at hand. Every shot was planned to the T.

I did win the set 11-4 and finally I broke even. Now, the kid was mad for a change and thought he had me to the point of going off. He did but, I did have to calm down. Like after the storm.

I've learned something about myself that day that was new. I'd learned that the more mad I had gotton with myself and my performance. The more I focused on everything but the game. The sounds around me, the people moving around and everything my mind could come up with.

I also saw that when I was calm, I couldn't make a mistake that was not intentional. I heard nothing around me. I didn't see the score. I didn't second guess anything.

I also found out. That I don't play that way in my practice or my usual game. That's when I knew this wasn't for me. I practice how I play but maybe to a lessor degree of focusing power. I didn't like the way I felt when I did play so angry. I didn't like how I had to feel to get to that level of play. I lost the fun and enjoyment out of what I concider, the sport.

Regards,

C.C.~~to each his own but for me, naaa. Good post.

tateuts
08-05-2004, 01:00 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote BillPorter:</font><hr> On the other hand, if we KNOW that we are so bored, indifferent, and low in arousal that we are playing sloppily and poorly, it would improve our level of play to do something to increase our arousal. But maybe I'm beating a dead horse here. <hr /></blockquote>

No, definitely not beating a dead horse. Anything I can gain from your idea is useful.

The best I've ever played was pumped full of adrenalin but totally relaxed and well under control. Imagine that. It's full tilt ahead when that's going on!

Chris

BillPorter
08-05-2004, 05:25 AM
Chris, interesting story. The thing you said at the end about "losing the fun and enjoyment" really hits home with me. After all, for most of us, "fun and enjoyment" are the main reasons for playing pool. When I find that I'm not enjoying playing, it is a sign that I need to change something (play different people, play for less or more $$$, buy a new cue :&gt;), focus on different goals, etc.) or maybe just lay off pool for a week or two.

BillPorter
08-05-2004, 05:28 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote tateuts:</font><hr>
The best I've ever played was pumped full of adrenalin but totally relaxed and well under control. Imagine that. It's full tilt ahead when that's going on!<hr /></blockquote>

Sounds like a great state to be in! All that energy and a steady hand.

Leviathan
08-05-2004, 07:11 AM
'Lo, Bill. Interesting stuff.

I've won a couple of fistfights when I was angry, but I've never played pool well when I was angry. It may be better to be angry than to be comatose, but I think that one can overrate the value of anger as a stimulus. We've all seen players make bad shots, become frustrated, start banging, and win. Hurrah for anger! But I think that the angry player usually just goes down faster because he loses his capacity for tactical subtlety and fine control.

The best stimulus may simply be a strong interest in the game at the time you're playing it--an interest in devising routes, pocketing balls, and controlling the cueball. I play my best, such as it is, when I'm happy, well fed, sober, and want to shoot pool! /ccboard/images/graemlins/cool.gif

AS