View Full Version : Tournament Shakes

05-21-2002, 01:41 AM
I know this has probably been addressed in the past, but does anyone have any advice for the tournament jitters? I've only played in 5 including last night and played probably 20% of my ability. A few beers usually loosens me up, but I dont want to have to depend on that. Any suggestions?

05-21-2002, 03:31 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: SteveNY:</font><hr> I know this has probably been addressed in the past, but does anyone have any advice for the tournament jitters? I've only played in 5 including last night and played probably 20% of my ability. A few beers usually loosens me up, but I dont want to have to depend on that. Any suggestions? <hr></blockquote>

well, on the subject of beer, it's generally agreed that depending on it is the first step to hell so i'll only add that ####leonard, (big expert) has suggested that, for an average sized male, 6oz (half a beer) per hour is probably about the right rate.

beyond that, the tribal wisdom seems to be to shoot as many tourneys, large and small, as you can. nobody can stay that nervous about something forever.

works for me.


05-21-2002, 10:40 AM

05-21-2002, 10:49 AM
I used to think of tournaments as a money match I had already lost ( the entry fee). Then I just let my stroke out and relaxed. Didn't cure it immediately, but eventually I got the hang of it!

05-21-2002, 10:52 AM
It's been 20 years since I had a drink so I've HAD to learn other methods of settling down.

The best for me is to briefly close my eyes and take a deep breath and feel the tension going out of my body. If I can take time to take 3 or 4 of these deep breaths without interruption it makes a lasting difference....lasting about 5 minutes and then I do it again....and again and so on ad infinitum for as long as it takes.

It'll get better on it's own with experience but this "meditation" exercise helps most who use it and especially those who use it regularly. You get better at it with PRACTICE.

Fred Agnir
05-21-2002, 11:21 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: whitewolf:</font><hr>
Same thing happened to me when I quit drinking. If your heart can take it, see a doctor and get some Inderol (sp?). No side effects and not addicting, and it doesn't degrade your shooting ability. Really really really takes the edge off. <hr></blockquote>

This is a beta-blocker (propranolol). I'm not sure that taking one is a decent solution unless taking a beta-blocker is advisable for the other parts of one's life. IMHO. Like if you're prone to minor (or major) anxiety attacks. I would guess that it would be illegal if pool ever gained Olympic status.


05-21-2002, 11:24 AM

Fred Agnir
05-21-2002, 11:29 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: whitewolf:</font><hr> Don't know what a beta blocker is. Inderol if used for heart patients. It slows down the heart beat. BTW, why isn't pool in the olympics yet? <hr></blockquote>

I checked (and edited my response). It indeed is the beta-blocker propranolol. A beta-blocker blocks the body's response mechanisms of anxiety and fight-or-flight syndrome. It *does* keep the heart rate down. If athletes were to take this for the reason of keeping the "shakes" away in tournament situation, then it would be an unfair advantage. I know that beta-blockers have been deemed illegal substances for Olympic sports.


05-21-2002, 11:34 AM
Another tool along these lines is visualization. Close your eyes for a few moments and imagine stringing together shot after shot, rack after rack. See yourself shooting to the best of your ability in your mind. When I get out of stroke sometimes this helps me to find "the zone" again.


Scott Lee
05-21-2002, 11:53 AM
Good reply Mike! Visualization is the final step in the pre-shot routine, occuring at the pause on the CB, just before the start of the backswing of the commitment stroke, to then stroke through the CB. I teach to visualize the shot you are trying to make (and to see it happen perfectly, just as you are capable of doing). Visualizing success, as part of the set-up process (to pocket an OB) frequently results in a higher pocketing percentage, and often better position on the next shot.

Scott Lee

05-21-2002, 05:42 PM
Forgive me for stating the obvious: Nervousness and anxiety come from being in a situation and environment that is unfamiliar and outside your comfort zone. To perform well in tournaments; you need to play in ALOT of tournaments. The more tournaments you play in, the more comfortable and familiar they will become for you. Meditation, beer and breathing techniques are all well and good but they are no substitute for experience and seasoning. It's not a quick fix, but it is a REAL solution. Truth is, you have to accept the fact that your going to get beat up on for awhile until you become comfortable playing under those specific conditions. The nervousness WILL go away when you have developed confidence grounded in particular type of competitive experience.

05-21-2002, 07:06 PM
Excellent reply Dave. I am changing my former tongue in cheek response to something a little more practical. Go to your local bookstore and pick up "The pleasures of small motions" by Bob Fancher, PHD. This former Fran Crimi student has written an excellent oration on why we feel what we feel at the table, and how to enhance the positive and eliminate the negative. I promise it's the best fifteen bucks you'll spend this week.

05-21-2002, 09:20 PM
I have to disagree with you on this. I am always nervous in front of a crowd. Always have been. The more familiar I am with the audience the more nervous I get. BUT, I am still nervous even if they are all strangers.

Nerves will always be present with me.. Its how I use this situation to my advantage. This is what I learned.

Nerves are normal reactions for everyone in any situation. Just some people block them better than others. I need to be nervous because it helps me focus. Its difficult to explain. But, nervers keep me from thinking about a lot of other distractions, while I am playing.

I know a lot of players (while in a tournament) that are always nervous, and they all have one thing in common. When they win or when they lose, they still show very little emotion.

Ralph S.
05-21-2002, 09:20 PM
I sometimes encounter this same situation you are. What everyone has said so far about shooting as many tourneys as possible is true. The catch for me was that if I shot in a higher-profile tourney, then I would feel more comfortable in ones of less profile, but would feel more comfortable once I played in the higher-profile tourneys the next time around. I hope what I tried to convey makes some sense to you.
Ralph S.

05-22-2002, 01:12 AM
That makes sense, except this tournament which I placed third in last time in a small field, turned out to be a 64 field event which is probably nothing for alot of you guys, but I guess was a little overwhelming, even if I didnt realize it at the time. I never played along side "name" players before. I know, play the table. I'm definitely gonna try. Oh well, there's always next Monday. Appreciate all the advice.

05-22-2002, 01:45 AM

05-22-2002, 04:22 AM
Hi there,
I dont know what caliber of players are in the tournaments you are playing, but maybe you are thinking of the OPPONENT rather than just playing the table!Be confident within yourself and think what a great feeling it is to control that cueball! Good luck!

05-22-2002, 04:46 AM
Good morning:

Albeit redundent, I would recommend that you compete in as many high level tournaments as possible. Nothing will hone your skills and your competitive ability faster and more effectively then heavy duty competition. I started playing pool in January of 2001 and then, knowing that competition would work to improve my abilities as well as my learning curve, I entered my first WPBA regional tour tournament in April of 2001. No handicap, just awesome competition and one hell of a learning environment.

Dr. D.

05-22-2002, 07:16 AM
You bring up an interesting point. Is it possible to totally eliminate nerves? I don't think so. There will always be some situation that causes nerves regardless of how experienced you are, even if you're a professional. What I have tried to learn to do is play DESPITE (or with) the nerves). By having solid fundamentals and focusing on those mechanics during play, I feel you can still execute well. Part of the experience I am talking about includes this principle of playing well regardless of your emotional or psychological state. I was wrong to imply that nerves could be totally eliminated. I agree with your approach, where you try to use the nerves to your advantage to increase your focus and attention.

05-22-2002, 07:30 AM
Tom, I am extremely green when it comes to tournaments and also get nervous in front of crowds. But, how's this for an absolute solution to getting rid of crowd anxiety. I'm currently enrolled in Dale Carnegie's public speaking course and for the bargain rate of 1500 bucks you can control crowd anxiety and certain stress situations.

This is supposed to be a business class but 90% of it can relate to pool in some way. I think this is one.

Kato~~~getting better in front of strangers.

05-22-2002, 07:39 AM
Familiarity promotes comfort, or at least, coping skills. How many times have you heard about the good gambler that could'nt play well in tournaments (or vice versa). When I first played for money, I got nervous; but as I repeated the activity the nervousness diminished. When I first began league play; I was nervous, but it diminished. When I first started playing in tournaments, I was nervous, but after hundreds; they have become a comfortable and enjoyable experience. With repetition of an activity, your perception and response to that activity changes. We have the ability to adapt to terrible events and situations in our lives and still go on; one step at a time and NEVER give up. Remember, ITS JUST A GAME, a microcosm of life that you can use to develop and refine your skills; but still a game, none the less.

dave ````needs to learn correct punctuation ``````

#### leonard
05-22-2002, 07:40 AM
I have posted this before but the board is always changing so I will repeat. Ralph Greenleaf played an exhibition in Troy,Ny at a poolroom owned by Matt Ratigan in the late 20s. He came in drunk ran 125 and out while holding on to the table to keep his balance put on trick shots and was gone in less than an hour. This story was told to me by Matt who would play me pool in the late 50s. Then he was running a bowling alley/nite club. Hal Houle said Ralph never played drunk but I know Matt could tell if someone was under the weather.
I have a medical condition that causes my hand to shake, it was either caused by pitching hardball or fast pitch softball so what I would do is never take a practice stroke just line up the shot and shoot. It worked well for me but it also stop me from ever winning a Worlds Championship.####