View Full Version : How do you maintain your concentration?

05-14-2002, 10:21 AM
Well last night I lost a very important match. It was the first round of our annual local APA 8-ball team championships. I played pretty well (Tom in Cincy was there, he can vouch for me /ccboard/images/icons/smile.gif ). I played my opponent to hill-hill and he broke and ran the last game. A year ago this guy would have cleaned my clock in 4 straight games.

The problem is that I missed 2 makeable shots due to momentary lapses of concentration and that was enough to cost me the match.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to keep your concentration at a high level for an entire match?

I think I can predict 2 of the responses:

1. Experience - if you play enough important matches you can develop the habit of concentrating throughout.

2. Pre-shot Routine - trains your mind to execute what you know you can do.

Do y'all agree with those or do you have other suggestions? All responses greatly appreciated.

Wally~gonna kick butt tonight in loser's bracket.

05-14-2002, 10:24 AM
I use a mantra that spaces me out, as if I need that. LOL /ccboard/images/icons/smile.gif

05-14-2002, 10:48 AM
There is something to that Mantra thing, as I have spoke to many players (with ability), that maintain when they have everything set and they are stroking and ready to pull the trigger - - - they sing a song mentally. The purpose of this is to remove any interruptions by restricting thought processes. The mechanical part executes from memory. ***Lester***

05-14-2002, 10:53 AM
It is hard to explain the 'mantra' and even harder to give someone a mantra; they have to find their own. If I told you what mine was you would laugh your a$$ off /ccboard/images/icons/smile.gif

05-14-2002, 11:00 AM
And YES,, Wally did play a great game.
Pressure does play a big part in execution. But, pressure is just like any distraction, it can be dealt with, but not as easily as others.

Pre-shot routine is the best method I have ever come across to calm the nerves and deal with the distractions.

What Wally failed to mention was, his opponent also missed some routine shots. Not that it led to Wally winning his match, but none the less, both players missed easy shots.. MAYBE two each over the course of 9 games.

Wally, your shooting, shot selection, table management and attitude was the best I have seen you shoot. You played a great match that was lost by a lucky roll in the final game that your opponent almost $hit a brick when it happened.. he almost scratched in the side pocket and after rattling the corners of the pocket came to rest with shape on the 8 ball.. how lucky can anyone get.

You should be very happy with all the great shots, good games and sound table skills.... you just caught the bad roll in the last game..

I thought you table concentration was well above average..

AND your opponent was very vocal about his winning.. like he hadn't been there before.

05-14-2002, 11:27 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Tom_In_Cincy:</font><hr> And YES,, Wally did play a great game.
Pressure does play a big part in execution. But, pressure is just like any distraction, it can be dealt with, but not as easily as others.

Pre-shot routine is the best method I have ever come across to calm the nerves and deal with the distractions.

AND your opponent was very vocal about his winning.. like he hadn't been there before.
Greetings Tom,

Thanks for the vote of confidence....but.... if I had played GREAT I'd have won /ccboard/images/icons/smile.gif

IIRC his next-to-last shot hit the T1T of the side pocket and kicked out across the table for his 8-ball leave. That was tragic. /ccboard/images/icons/frown.gif

The balls I missed were not from pressure, they were from lack of concentration. I just get mentally exhausted after a few games. I think if I had executed my pre-shot routine properly I would have made them.

Oh one more thing. The reason he was vocal was because he hadn't seen me play in a couple years and he was surprised and glad to escape with his pride still intact /ccboard/images/icons/smile.gif He's been in APA about 13 years and manages to play just good enough to remain a 5.

05-14-2002, 11:45 AM
Go ahead! I promise not to laugh.

Even though I don't use a specific mantra, I have been known to play a mental version of the guitar riff from "Back in Black" during my pre-shot routine. If that isn't laugh-worthy, I don't know what is.

05-14-2002, 11:50 AM
Hiya Wal,

One thing I try to do is to lower my concentration between shots(not the 1 1/2 oz. one) and peak every time I get down on the next.
Also, I try to make sure I am only thinking of the shot and not anything else i.e. what if I miss, what's the score, what if I don't get perfect position. Even though po is just about as important as making the shot, it isn't MORE important. I know I'm guilty of it sometimes. If the OB doesn't go down, the rest doesn't matter, right?

Eric &gt;tries not to mispronounce "focus"

05-14-2002, 11:51 AM
Hey, you guys into the T.M movement..
I believe their are only 16 "true" mantras according to the KRSHNA!!

But what do I know..
Of note, I think most ccb'ers will be able to relate when they realize that they have a "playing" song..
You know, a song comes on the juke, and you just cannot miss, as you sing and dance along..

Well that is your Mantra song, sing it always as you play, and you will find the "on fire" button..

The Mantra can change.. So you people that are Mantra-ing to Inglebert Humperdink, hang in their, a new Mantra is just some cheesy radio DJ spin away..


05-14-2002, 12:02 PM
Wrong Buckko! I've played great (for me) and have lost on several occasions and the lucky or bad roll often has something to do with the outcome.

Regarding concentration.....BREATHE. Control the breathing and the rest of the body and mind will follow...imo. The quiet rhythmical breathing slows down everything I do including the preshot routine and most importantly the body/head/cue alingment and resultant aiming.

05-14-2002, 12:04 PM
Another idea is to exhale while you are making your last two pre-shoot strokes, this calms the inner self and helps me remain focused just before I pull the trigger.

05-14-2002, 12:20 PM
Some may think I'm crazy, but I've been working on a new shooting style. During my warmup strokes, I'm aiming my shot. When I pause before my final backswing, I check my aim and make sure it is exactly where I want it. At that point, I very carefully check the angle and position of my cue in relation to the cue ball. I never take my eye away from the cue ball after that and take my backswing and try to return the cue to the precise position on the cue ball that I had prior to the backswing. I have been very surprised with the results so far. I have been making as many shots as I did when I focused on the object ball. I have only used this in practice so far. I have several theories about using this method, but haven't tested them in competition yet.

1. I see no way for you not to concentrate, if you are focused on returning the cue to a precise position on the cue ball. You are somewhat shooting blind, and have no choice but to concentrate.

2. I suspect less problems with trying to guide or steer the object ball into the pocket. I really didn't have a big problem this way, but it happens on rare ocassions.

3. I often miss shots, yet have perfect leave. Hopefully this will decrease since I'm not looking down the table and seeing where I want the cueball to roll. If I apply the right follow, draw, and/or english, and know what speed to stroke the ball, I should get reasonably good position.

4. It may take some pressure away from the clutch shots, since I'm only focused on returning the cue to a precise position on the cue ball.

5. No last minute adjustments in aim during the final stroke. If you're not looking where the ball is supposed to go, you're not going to have any tendency to adjust.

This may, or may not work. I'm still in the testing stages, but have been impressed so far.

05-14-2002, 12:55 PM
Wally, I agree with both #1 and #2. Keep in mind your not a pro and even those guys miss shots! But I will say this, missed shots or poor position on a shot is caused by poor execution. By that I mean, most of the time the cue was not delivered "through" the cue ball. Players get "tight" in or before that critical area and the shot goes sour. If you think about the other shots that come off as planned, you were probably more relaxed and let the cue go through. At least it had to be a lot better. As SS and another said don't forget to breathe, let a little air flow.
My next suggestion is to let it go, everyone makes mistakes and there is no sense dewelling on them. Every game is a new adventure, without the excess baggage.

05-14-2002, 06:00 PM

phil in sofla
05-14-2002, 06:28 PM
Congrats on a strong showing!

What helps me is not going with the shot until I feel everything is perfect. Once I get that confirmation of my line and my balance, I take my last backstroke and let it go down that line. If I do not get that 'locked-in' feel, my results are highly variable, so I'll practice stroke until I get it, and if it doesn't come, I'll reset from the beginning.

The funny thing is that the concentration time is maybe just a second, give or take a little. At least that last, finishing touch critical to the shot is very brief.

05-15-2002, 01:43 AM
^ ?

05-15-2002, 05:19 AM
Good morning:

Needless to say the mind is an extremely complex computer which, much to our dismay, processes more information then we would like from time to time. Concentration and Focus are two distinctly different, yet equally important, components you need to master. The book entitled "Pleasures of Small Motions", albeit a little deep from the psychological perspective, is a good source of information and guidelines for practice. However, short of an indepth study of the book, identify something you do; something which dominates and captivates your attention, focus and concentration with little effort, and become conciously aware of what it feels like and the overall sensation. When I compete, as well as practice, I create a ZONE around the table with-in which I orchestrate my game. Easier said then done, but with a little effort it can be attained.

Dr. D.

Gayle in MD
05-15-2002, 09:18 AM
There are few subjects more interesting than pondering the processes of the human mind. Scientists tell us that NONE of us use more than a fraction of our available intellect. Artists and athletes often amaze us with their consistant displays of excellence. Many think that bio-rhythms play a part in the, on again, off again, experience of performing tasks which require agility and physical skill.

For example, there is a Chopin' Nocturne which has near the end, a turn of four notes, played over and over again, and beginning slowly and softly, building to a fast and loud crescendo, and then trailing off again to slowly and softly. This turn requires that you use... ring finger, middle finger, little finger, index finger, and is very awkward to perform. VERY! The great Rubinstein, master of the Chopin' works, said in his biography that in order to perfect his performance of it, he made himself practice it over and over again, while reading a book! I have played this Nocturne for many years, and practiced that particular segment intensely more times than I could calculate. There are some days when I can go to the piano and play it perfectly the first time, when my fingers have wings, and my touch is perfect. Yet, there are other days when it is a struggle to achieve one perfect performance, and then only after a session of practice. While I am no Rubinstein, there are days when I can play that nocturne just as perfectly as he does. My point here is that...
1. There is one thing all great artists and athletes have in common, and that is PERSISTANT PRACTICE!
2. If you practice doing something over and over, you reach a point where you do it without thinking about it.
3. There is no difference between natural talent and learned ability except the amount of time required to reach the goal.
4. The very best in any arena, make mistakes. Why? Because we all have our good days and our bad days, but it is the time one devotes in practice hours which determines the degree of effect that our off days have on our performance.
5. The greatest enemy of success is lack of confidence, and it is the one thing which can cancel out greatness at any given moment.
And so, what do you think? If you really wanted to, most of you already know that you could be the next Allison , or Efren, but most of us won't be, because our lives are so rich and full of so many other wonderful things, and we have taken a different path, a path which leaves only so much time in its wake for practice.
So here is my questiion to you, my friends,...would you rather be great at one single thing, or be very good at many things? Because often, that is the decision that we unconsciously make.
I hope I haven't strayed off too far from the original question, but it does seem to me that we all bash ourselves too much over our performance when we don't do well, but if we stop to think how many things we each do well, and in the whole scheme of things, how important the other aspects of our lives are to us, those which we each successfully juggle, improve on, and polish, maybe the important part of maintaining our concentration is learning how to give ourselves a break at the moment that we make a mistake, and remind ourselves of all the good shots we have made. I think if we could to learn to say, "Okay, drop it!" after we miss, our concentration level would be higher, and we would notice ourselves playing better in competition. Everything works, except when it doesn't, and we must learn to choose it to be that way, before we can get past it. JMHO....
Gayle in MD

05-15-2002, 09:22 AM
Good morning Gayle:

Well said young lady. Very well said.

Dr. D.

05-15-2002, 10:16 AM
Gayle, I believe your post is very much on target. Excellence can only be achieved through rigerous practice. Those unwilling or unable to commit to a rigerous practice schedule must accept the fact that excellence will not be an attainable goal. If a person is fairly good without considerable practice, they should be very happy with that. Considering the amount of practice I get in, I'm satisfied with my current level of play. My goal is to become one of the best local players. I'm not working due to disability, so time is not an issue for me. Once I am able to have my own table at home, I think this is a very attainable goal. I can't get to the pool hall often enough to achieve this goal.

I relate this to my prior experience as a tournament archer. I became one of the best in this part of the country, but it was only through considerable sacrifice of time. Once other things became more important to me, and I was unwilling to put in the required practice time, I was no longer able to compete at a high level. Notice that I said UNWILLING. I have to decide what is important to me.

05-15-2002, 10:19 AM
Good afternoon:

I could not agree with you more. My pool game, in a matter of 17 months, has advanced rapidly because of; (a) Excellent instruction from Gerda Hofstatter and (b) a consistent regimen of 16 to 20 hours of "Drills" each week.

Dr. D.

#### leonard
05-15-2002, 12:37 PM
Wally I think around 4th grade I developed the ability to sit in a classroom and mentally go elsewhere. Some call it daydreaming but I called it my first step in learning how to divorce oneself from the task and perform the task with excellance. It is a learned response that can be developed it just takes practicing going elswhere so you don't interfere with your greatness.####

05-15-2002, 09:44 PM
Wally I just learned this from SCOTT lEE watch Allison Fisher she will waggle several times pause then shoot. But if it is exceptionally difficult shot she will repeat the process several times, several waggles,then pause again, then shoot, then she is so good, it is unreal she does not shoot till she is ready. A wise man once told me the most important shot in pool is the one you are now shooting. A wall is built one brick at a time,just my opinion.Thnx EZMark

05-16-2002, 01:55 AM
I agree, and take dead aim. It only takes 3 to 10 seconds, and that's pushing it a ton, to stay focused. Some people think that this is a short time, but they find out how long 5 seconds last. Most people, even though they think they can, can not stay focused that long. As a matter of fact most people, lets say waiting in a line they think they have been their for 10 minutes, when in fact they have been there for 3 minutes. Peoples perception of time goes along with how patient they are. I don't care for hyper people, in a time sense.

05-16-2002, 08:27 AM
Rod,I am talking more in the line of 2 seconds to pause [ 1 thousand 1,1 thousand 2] the length of the pause after the warm up strokes. During this period of time ascertain the point on the ob the cb the speed of stroke the area the cb should stop.If there is any hesitation repeat. Two seconds is long time Allison is the best at it almost robotic. Just my opinion. Thnx EZMark

05-16-2002, 08:31 AM
Good morning:

This is exactly what my coach, Gerda Hofstatter, has taught me to do. Additionally, when Gerda arranged for me to spend some time with Allison during one of our lessons, the pause was emphasized to be a very important component.

Dr. D.

05-16-2002, 09:36 AM
That's a great post Gayle!

Thanks to all for the great advice. Some of these responses really helped me concentrate better last night.

I hope Krusty the Clown is not offended by my polite thanks to "the clique" /ccboard/images/icons/smile.gif

Gayle in MD
05-16-2002, 11:36 PM
Thanks Wally, and Dianna,... and Stickman, I too am using that method presently. I know most people don't think that you should look at the cueball last, and I understand that Allison teaches OB last, and who knows where I will finally settle, I am so green, I am slowly feeling my way along. It does make sense to me though, when you consider that hitting the cueball just a hair off from the center can so drastically affect its path, why look at the OB last? It would seem to me that if you see the line of aim correctly, the critical moment happens when the tip of the cue hits the cueball. If that aim is not performed correctly, certainly, nothing else that follows can be on target. Scott Lee teaches cueball last, and as I listen to his philosophy on the subject, it certainly makes sense to me. Now that I have begun to observe others as they shoot, from this perspective, the shots that I see them miss, fail at that critical point of contact with the cueball. While we must think of aim, how hard to shoot, where is the CB going to rest, where do we want the tip to contact the CB, we are also trying to stand correctly, hold the stick correctly, stay down, stay level with the cue, draw the cue back fully, (Most of the time) and follow through with our stroke. Whew, that is a lot to think about for sure, but the interesting thing is that if you break all these things down, think of the ones that will most often be the same, ... your stance, the way you hold the cue, the follow through aspect of your stroke, the habit of keeping your shoulder from dropping, keeping your head down, maintaining a solid bridge for the cue, all these may be locked in through that wonderful miracle of muscular memorization, so that you will not have to think of them each time. Once you can do that, all that is left is the calculation of aim, and speed, or power, and they are the variables involved, which must certainly become easier to calculate through experience, atleast I hope so, LOL. I truly believe that it is worthwhile to experiment with cueball last, and I must say, my game has improved through this method. So Stickman, I don't think you are crazy at all, and please keep me posted as to your cueball last approach to your game.
Gayle in Md.

05-17-2002, 01:25 AM
Gayle, your right that is a lot to think about. You are also correct in your assessment in time with correct habits, such as stance, alignment, basic fundamentals, etc, with the addition of muscle memory, will make the learning process much easier. Once you have learned that you can start counting on what the c/b reaction will be to any given shot with practice. You fine tune it with speed of stroke and how full or thin you hit the o/b. You have a good understanding so whatever method you use, Good Luck!

BTW you don't or won't have to think about all of the little details in time. They will just come natural, if you do your homework now.

Gayle in MD
05-20-2002, 07:50 AM
Thanks Rod, I hope you are right about that, LOL. One thing I observed when Scott was here teaching, the longer the student had been playing pool, the more trouble they had learning to do things correctly. I really think that my husband, Jim, and I, had the easiest time of it, since we haven't played long enough to have bad habits firmly set into our muscle memory. I wonder what other teachers notice, ie teaching new students VS. long term players?

Rich R.
05-20-2002, 08:51 AM
Gayle, if you have learned and practiced a bad habit for the last thirty five years, you are not going to break them over night.
If you want proof, just ask me, I'll tell you. LOL.
Rich R.~~~trying to break bad habits after Scott's instruction.

Gayle in MD
05-20-2002, 09:16 AM
Rich, LOL, You weren't one of the ones I had in mind when I wrote that, after watching all the lessons, I would say you picked things up very well, but some of my friends who have played since childhood, and after practicing quite a lot since, are still now following through, and still shooting too fast, just out of habit. I would say that overall, Jim has shown the most remarkable improvement in his game, and he has played the least of any beforehand. However, I would have to add, that I don't think the others are practicing!!! I just wonder what instructors notice in general, regarding new players vs. long term players? Guess I am just trying to find some edge I might have by being green, LOL.
BTW, we have to get together again soon Rich!
Gayle in Md.

Rich R.
05-20-2002, 09:24 AM
Gayle, when you are learning something, it is always better to start with a clean slate. Learning something for the first time is much easier than trying to change something you have been doing wrong for many years. You and Jim have a huge advantage by not having any bad habits to break.
Keep practicing. You will be rewarded.
Rich R.

Fred Agnir
05-20-2002, 12:19 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: stickman:</font><hr> ... Excellence can only be achieved through rigerous practice. Those unwilling or unable to commit to a rigerous practice schedule must accept the fact that excellence will not be an attainable goal... <hr></blockquote>
This reminds me of several players along the way asking how to improve their consistency. I ask them how often they play or practice. Usually, the answer is that they never practice, and they play once a week during league night. And so it goes. If you don't put the necessary effort into practice and playing, then you can't expect miracle consistency.

As an aside back to the original question, if you find yourself thinking about concentration, then you're concentrating on something other than the game.

Fred &lt;~~~ no answers

05-20-2002, 12:31 PM
Good afternoon:

Concentration is making certain that you are NOT distracted by issues and items which are outside the current task at hand. Focus is making certain that you zero in on exactly what needs to be done at this exact moment.

Dr. D.

05-20-2002, 04:31 PM
That's why so many businesses like to hire right out of college. It is easier to train than to untrain &amp; retrain.
Did you catch that train of thought?

Tha Cuemage

05-20-2002, 04:40 PM
Good evening:

Caught a good glimpse of it. However, like the Amtrak Acela express train, it was just too damn fast for this ole girl...


Dr. D.

06-12-2002, 07:23 AM
There's not much u can do when that happens uhh!!!!!!! best regards to wally in cincy'''

Chris Cass
06-12-2002, 10:33 AM
Hey wait Gayle,

When Scott and I met. The only thing he told me was, "The yellow one goes in front Chris, No, the other one with the number 1 on it. lol

Scott is sure fun and is truely dedicated to the students progress. I've been playing for quite sometime now and can tell you. The only thing that stops a new training or shooting concept is someone that has a closed mind, or the unwillingness to move on.

I don't believe in the saying. You can't teach an old dog a new trick. As long as there's that willingness to improve. You'll never be held back and unteachable. You might have to work harder at retraining the mind into habit. Once your done, it's worth it. The open mind is the key here.

Now, the subject matter. IMO to heighten your concentration level is to practice shooting with, only one ob on the table. This is what really matters. One ball is all you need. Place the cb where you want and making that one ball in different pockets.

Make it straight-in, cuts, or banks doesn't matter. Just maintaining your focus on that one ball is the key in developing a consistant concentration level. Forget the cb path after the shot. That's not important, in this exercise. It's training the brain to focus. JMHO

I also wouldn't tell you something I don't do myself. Most players that miss shots in the upper levels, are not missing do to lack of concentration. It's trying to do too much with the cb. Some due to bad cueing and some to the amount of attention they address to making the shot itself. More concerned in the cb's path for positioning.

Sometimes, the balls just go. You get in the zone. When your not? It's more important to make sure, that ball is in. You only shoot one ball at a time, anyway. I don't let that puppy loose till, I know it's in. If it doesn't? Me and the South West have a talk. Sometimes, I'll make her sleep on the couch. If she's really bad? I won't clean her up. Just let her sit in her own stink. LOL It's all her fault, if I miss.


C.C.~~Time for my medication now. This always happens, when the board goes down. LOL

06-13-2002, 02:01 AM
Wally if they are pure potting errors that you keep making with your mental lapses... try and aim to a specific spot inside the pocket....if you are going to be soft cutting a ball aim it to over cut it to that edge of the pocket..... I think alot of pure pots are missed because people like to rely more on memory of shots and are satisfied with a general direction shot... aiming to a specific part of the pocket really forces your mind to get into the shot as you are constantly reaffirming it.see where im getting at??

06-13-2002, 02:07 AM
i truly believe that mental stamina with regards to pool comes to you in stages just as your physical learning curve does.... but people think that after they have mastered the physical part that they should be better than they are...often giving up on any really serious aspirations they may have had in pool.. tough it out.. now that you know you have a hard time concentrating make a concerted effort to increase your stamina...even if its only one shot at a timeI used to quite often crumble in the finals of tournies because I was mentally spent by the time I got there just trying to get there... im better at staying in it a bit longer now but it still hits me every now and then

06-13-2002, 02:57 AM
First make sure it was lack of concentration, and not that you maybe shot too fast, and lost your rhythm, got overconfident, or displaced the importance of the shot(S).

When I practice now, and this has helped me tremendously, I spread out all the balls, and only take shots that are difficult (not just bank shots) but 90 degree cut shots, long cut shuts all the way up the table, etc, etc.. this has helped my concentration because I have to concentrate on EVERY shot, and don't get sloppy. I think you'll learn more in 15 minutes of this than years of shooting strait in shots.

Also, I think it's detrimental to practice ONE certain shot for a long time, trying to get good at it.. there are soooooo many shots in pool, to be a good player, you IMO should be able to shoot 80% of them easily.

06-13-2002, 06:26 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: d0wnt0wn:</font><hr> Wally if they are pure potting errors that you keep making with your mental lapses... try and aim to a specific spot inside the pocket....if you are going to be soft cutting a ball aim it to over cut it to that edge of the pocket..... I think alot of pure pots are missed because people like to rely more on memory of shots and are satisfied with a general direction shot... aiming to a specific part of the pocket really forces your mind to get into the shot as you are constantly reaffirming it.

see where im getting at?? <hr></blockquote>

Yes I do. That's good advice. Thanks.