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View Full Version : Choking-Missing-Mental Game. . . Here's the Answer



Bassn7
02-17-2005, 11:15 PM
After working with an outstanding instructor for the past two years . . . here's the magical answer: using the EXACT same number of practice strokes on EVERY shot. Find out what's confortable for you and stick to it. This is hard work and it pays off. Here's why - The mechanics of EVERY shot are now the "same". Your body shoots the hard shots and the easy ones with EXACTLY the same motion. Since your ONLY goal for every shot is to repeat your motion, who you are playing or the score of the match become meaningless . . . you just take your practice strokes and shoot. This may sound simplistic, but this takes a great deal of effort when the shot is tough or real easy. When you shoot a jacked-up masse with the same stokes as a hanging straight in 9-ball . . . the "master" in you will show himself.

CarolNYC
02-18-2005, 12:53 AM
Hi there, So in other words, would it be fair to say-"have a routine and stick to it?"
addressing each shot "hello ball" the same way-have you everseen someone get down on the simplest shot and miss because they didnt do their "routine"-it is so essential to get down on EVERY shot the same way,whether easy or hard and fire that friggin ball in!
Now, as far as mental,theres alot of factors here-you must have the ability to think of :NOTHING:and maintain that-dont think of the ball you just missed, the man whispering in the crowd,frustration,anger,etc, and so on-there lies the true master of mentality-
Also, there are what I call astronomers and astronauts:
Astronomers are the ones looking through the telescope,always saying "oh, I would've,should;ve,could've-to me useless-then you have the astronaut-who actually is up in the shuttle-the doer-
Unless, the astronomer is an instructor=then they can be called an astronomical astronaut /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif
Take care and good luck working with your instructor!
Carol
/ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif

ChuckR
02-18-2005, 06:31 AM
I've always found that eliminating ANY negativity in your thinking works wonders. How many times have you approached a shot thinking " I hope I don't miss this" only to see the miss become reality. You have allowed your mind to conjure up the image of the ball not going in the pocket, and even that is not the result you want, it is the one your mind sees and the body delivers. Your subconscious cannot distinguish between good and bad results, only the image that you create. If you are thinking of the negative, that is what you will get.

"It's not where you're at, it's where you"re headed".

JimS
02-18-2005, 06:48 AM
"Coach" drilled the shot routine into my head and I practiced it to the tune of approximately 30,000 practice shots potted. But....

I had the sneaky persistantly invasive thought that I was frequently missing because I was shooting before I was really focused in on the shot...wasn't quite through aiming. I HAD to shoot because I'd made my prescribed number of warm-up/pracitce/aim strokes.

I began to break the routine sometimes and found that I was right. I found that if I allow myself time to get 100% focused on the shot ... 100% sure that my aim was "on", even if this process creates the need for a few more practice strokes, long strokes or ittty-bitty short aiming strokes, if I let myself get thouroughly settled into the shot, my chances of potting the ball increase significantly.

When I would allow my self this freedom to lengthen the process until I "felt ON" (it's a "feeling" that the shot is ON!) I felt guilty as if I was betraying what Coach had so sincerely taught me. I felt like I was doing something WRONG! Then I read a column by Nick Varner and he suggested that folks do exactly what I sometimes do. That is to take a couple extra moments and/or practice strokes if that's what it takes to be "ON" and truly "READY" to fire at the target.

So, now I no longer believe that the process has to be 100% the same on every shot. I do my best to do all my aiming while I'm standing but if I"m down on the shot and it doesn't feel "right" after the prescribed correct number of practice strokes then I'm gong to take a couple or three or four more moments and strokes until my gut says "THERE IT IS!! DO IT!!!"

I know that this is not good advice but I'm going to stay with it for a while because I'm sick to death of missing shots just because I had to shoot after the prescribed correct number of warm up strokes whether I was really ready to shoot or not. This may not be the "right" way to do things but what the hell. /ccboard/images/graemlins/shocked.gif

Terry
02-18-2005, 06:53 AM
Hi Bassn,

I was helping my daughter with her practice last night and she was shooting long straight in stop shots to work on her stroke as well as focus and on one of her shots she missed and I told her "you had thought in the middle of your shot" she asked how I knew and I told her that she added strokes to her routine as well as her rhythm changed.I say take as many strokes as you want until you feel you've got the line, once your sure,do your ( two sets of two with pauses or whatever it might be ) routine and rhythm to the letter. Terry

Keith Talent
02-18-2005, 09:06 AM
Jim,

I've been working on this, too, and have run into the same thing. Forcing myself to shoot before I'm ready because I've taken the prescribed number of strokes. That has got to be crazy, I agree.

What I'm trying to do now, -- instead of going for an exact total number, 6 or 7, whatever -- is to finish the same way. What I like at the end is two short strokes, one longer one with a little bit of a pause, then let it go. I've decided I'm not going to count what comes before those last 3, but just to make sure I finish that way.

Think I'm going to edit the early part of the routine, even ... maybe just a stroke or two, first, then the final 3. I had been repeating the process twice, but that's 7 strokes minimum on every shot, and if you're not ready, 10 or more! So maybe I'm still balled up!

In fact, there's one 9 I missed last night, after an otherwise perfect out that I'm still agonizing over (an amazing one, eh, naz?)... and some extra strokes, along with an errant thought or two, creeped in there, for sure. Fortunately, that lesson was a freebie, as it turned out. /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Duckie
02-18-2005, 10:35 AM
OK, I'm confused(more than normal). I always thought that you had your aim before you ever even got into your stance not that once you got in your stance, you aim.

Before I ever get into my stance, I sight on the object ball to get the target spot. While looking at that spot, I move to the cue ball until the line of aim will put the cue ball at the target spot. Then I consider if and what english I will use and where I need the cue ball to go. Then I get into my stance. Depending on the shot, I may stroke 2 to 4 times, but I never think about it, I just do it.

If I feel my aim is wrong after in the stance, I get up and start over.

As for the mental game.......it'll drive ya insane if you think about it. There's alot of Zen in playing pool. There have been times I was in a zone, I could do no wrong. May shape and shot making was incredible. At those times, there is nothing in my head. There was no thought, only action. I saw what was needed to be done and just did it. Those times are very rare, and this is my main quest, to achieve this state of nothingness, of no thinking and just let it flow.

Terry
02-18-2005, 12:22 PM
I find even though I walk in on the line, sometimes I need to make a small adjustment when i'm down and I make that during my first strokes which could be any number of strokes, but when I feel that i've got it then I go to the finish part of my routine which has the same sequence of strokes & pauses as well as the rhythm. This is what works for me. Terry

JimS
02-18-2005, 04:25 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Duckie:</font><hr> OK, I'm confused(more than normal). I always thought that you had your aim before you ever even got into your stance not that once you got in your stance, you aim.

Before I ever get into my stance, I sight on the object ball to get the target spot. While looking at that spot, I move to the cue ball until the line of aim will put the cue ball at the target spot. Then I consider if and what english I will use and where I need the cue ball to go. Then I get into my stance. Depending on the shot, I may stroke 2 to 4 times, but I never think about it, I just do it.

If I feel my aim is wrong after in the stance, I get up and start over.

As for the mental game.......it'll drive ya insane if you think about it. There's alot of Zen in playing pool. There have been times I was in a zone, I could do no wrong. May shape and shot making was incredible. At those times, there is nothing in my head. There was no thought, only action. I saw what was needed to be done and just did it. Those times are very rare, and this is my main quest, to achieve this state of nothingness, of no thinking and just let it flow.
<hr /></blockquote>

I think you are absolutely right. The aiming should be done while standing......but....

When I get down on the shot I then have to aim the cb at the point I saw while standing and sometimes, maybe often, I see the shot very differently and more accurately when I get down. I don't want it to be that way but that's the way it is. The line or aiming point I see when standing varies from the one I see when I get down and I have to make small changes in the aim that I invisioned. These changes are just small changes that don't call for a change in stance/body position but do call for fine tuning the aim.

Sometimes I see/feel the correct line/point quickly and easily when I'm down on the shot and sometimes it takes a while but if I wait the feeling that the shot is "ON" will almost always come. If it doesn't come then I get back up and start over. If my skills ever improve to those of an A player maybe I wont' have this problem but that's the way it is now and now is what I have to deal with now.

It can be argued that my skills won't improve to those of an A player until I stick with a shot routine but a set routine is the cause of many missed shots for me and missed shots don't an A player make.

JimS
02-18-2005, 07:30 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Terry:</font><hr> I find even though I walk in on the line, sometimes I need to make a small adjustment when i'm down and I make that during my first strokes which could be any number of strokes, but when I feel that i've got it then I go to the finish part of my routine which has the same sequence of strokes &amp; pauses as well as the rhythm. This is what works for me. Terry <hr /></blockquote>

You said it much more succinctly than I. Thanks.

Popcorn
02-18-2005, 09:07 PM
I can't believe I am making almost the same post I made earlier in another thread but. What you are describing works for a weaker player trying to develop consistence. As you become a better player it is the subtle nuance that takes you to the next level. The variations of stroke and speed of stroke you begin to develop and you are now doing things at a higher level beyond having found a way to cinch every shot as you are describing.

Rod
02-18-2005, 10:16 PM
There is no set pattern for everyone as the original suggested. I tend to agree with popcorn, that would be more like establishing a routine for a beginner. However on most shots the routine will be the same. If you need more time, then you need more time.

I three stroke most shots but I sure as hell ain't going to three stroke a long cut with inside english. Does't make sense. However I wish everyone I played would. LOL

Rod

recoveryjones
02-18-2005, 11:40 PM
I have an instructional accu-stats (Reyes vs. Archer) match by Phil Capelle. After the complete(excellent) match, Phil Capelle reviews 25 shots earlier excuted by Reyes and Archer.

He has an accompanying booklet which offers some stats including the pace of the players shots and other statistical particuliars.Here's a quote from the booklet under the heading of"The Pace Of The Stroke"

Here's what Phil writes:
Archer took between 16/30 of a second and 18/30 of a second to complete59% of his final strokes. Reyes,whose pace is slightly quicker consumed between 15/30 and 17/30 of a second on 54% of his posistion plays.The remainder of each players times were spread across the spectrum of 10-20 30ths of a second as shown. (He then diagrams all their shots on a chart)

He also comments on "Power Draws"

Quote:
Archers stroke is 9% faster for power draw shots than for all other shots. His forward stroke for power shots is about 25% faster. Reyes overall stroke is 17% faster for power draw shots while his forward stroke is a whopping 37% quicker than it is on average for all other shots.

During the match Archer had a very difficult shot to shoot which was a long shot ( 3/4 table length) carom off of the one ball into the nine to win the game. To make things more complicated he had to cue over a corner pocket to do so.He succeeded in making this long shot and here how Phil Capelle said he accomplished it, followed by his advice for his students.

Quote:
"Archer beared down on this shot as evidenced by his EIGHT warm up strokes as compared to his AVERAGE 3.36. When you are faced with a tough shot, take a little more time setting up and add some warm up strokes to your routine."

In Summary

Archer is the player of the decade, Reyes the best of all time and Phil Capelle amongst the most knowledgable instructors of the game. They shoot by feel and don't pull the trigger until they've clearly see the green light.This may take two, three or four warm up strokes as evidenced by Archers 3.36 average.While there are some(good) mechanical players out there, I've observed that the very best play by feel.

Having said that, if a set number of strokes settles anyones game, by all means stick with it.Pool is a game where no one set of rules applies to everyone.RJ

Popcorn
02-19-2005, 09:49 AM
quote
"Now, as far as mental,theres alot of factors here-you must have the ability to think of :NOTHING:and maintain that-dont think of the ball you just missed, the man whispering in the crowd,frustration,anger,etc, and so on-there lies the true master of mentality-".

That's like the elephant in the room or "What ever you do don't think of the color pink", you can't do it. You have to learn to deal with it. The lesson to be learned is it can't really effect your unless you let it. If someone is jumping around in front of you when you are shooting that is physical and may effect you trying to make a ball. Most other distractions can be just blended into the background and you just ignore them even though they are there. This is a true story about Louie Esposito the uncle of Gus Szamboti.

He was a pretty big gambler and was in the Congress billiards one night playing a guy who never stopped talking. At one point Louie said something about it. The guy stopped, in fact the guy never said another word even if you spoke to him. The whole room got unusually quiet. At one point Louie messed up something and looked right at the guy. The guy said, "what are you looking at I haven't said a word". Louie said, "Yea, but your doing it on purpose."

It goes to show you anything can bother you if you let it.

SpiderMan
02-21-2005, 08:31 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr> I can't believe I am making almost the same post I made earlier in another thread but. What you are describing works for a weaker player trying to develop consistence. As you become a better player it is the subtle nuance that takes you to the next level. The variations of stroke and speed of stroke you begin to develop and you are now doing things at a higher level beyond having found a way to cinch every shot as you are describing. <hr /></blockquote>

Popcorn,

I'm not sure I follow where you stand on this topic. Is this (equal number of strokes) something that a moderately experienced player should be working on, if he doesn't currently do it?

I tried the "always same number of warm-up strokes" philosophy, and could never get comfortable with shooting that way. Sometimes it seemed I would be shooting too soon, because it was "stroke #4", or I was ready to shoot but still had another practice stroke to do. This made my timing awkward.

If I don't think about the number of strokes, and just shoot when it feels right, I am much more consistent in my ability to control speed and other critical variables, and put the cueball where I want it.

Does it make sense to keep trying on the "equal number" idea, or is that idea being over-hyped? I'm neither a beginner nor an expert.


SpiderMan

silverbullet
02-22-2005, 03:23 PM
I see two ways of having a good mental game, but also think that a player should be able to play both ways, since the first is nearly a 'meditative' state, and hard to achieve with regularity. Nice when it happens,though.

1)The zen way-where the shot before does not exist, a missed position, games won or lost, etc. Only the present exists, which is the shot/shape/safe you are on, being bothered by nothing. This IMO is a very peaceful, enjoyable way to play pool.

2)The 'popcorn way'- the mistake bothers you, but you learn to live with it, put it out of your head and on to the next shot. I see here,with experience, being used to how things are. I also see in Popcorn's way, a person who is 'comfortable inside their own skin', without a bunch of issues sabotaging them.Bothered by mistakes a little,disappointed but not angry, able to put those aside for the next shot/game, able to refocus on what is in front of the player.

Anger at self, the table, etc, in pool just leads to 'choking'. Negative thinking/emotions breeds more of the same, creating more errors,and missing subtle table 'clues', due to anger clouding the mind. There is tension, stroke errors/raising head,since a good stroke requires lack of tension. It is sort of like 'you control your emotions/ thoughts or they control you'.


The rest of my life is so serious, but pool is my one fun hobby. OTOH, I have watched others, who play much better than I, get upset/livid even, when they have an 'off day'. That would make it not fun at all, but a chore, and a source of anguish, instead of pleasure, IMO.

BTW- Popcorn, if I did not get exactly what you were saying sorry, it is just how I interpreted it, filtered through my own experiences /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Laura

Popcorn
02-22-2005, 03:41 PM
I was responding to what sounded like he was saying that he will do it this way no matter what. I hate analogies but when you learn to bowl you start out throwing a straight ball and you can become pretty good with a straight ball. But as you get better you have to learn what it takes to go to the next levels. In pool I think a beginner relies on the basics to play but after a while they break out of the box and begin to develop a real game. Once you can play at a certain level you find you can really do a lot beyond the basics and in fact they may hold you back if you become so dependent on them. You have to develop the confidence to know what you can do and not panic and revert back to a robotic type of play every time you have a bad night. You will see players that just hit a wall and additional practice doesn't take them any farther, they need more tools.