PDA

View Full Version : The Slump (of all Slumps)...



mrpool06
01-26-2006, 10:09 AM
Thought I'd share my Slump with everyone here, maybe pass some wisdom onto others who may experience one: Our team switched from an easier league (Tues nights) to the toughest league (Wed. nights) w/top players. I only won 1 game the 1st week, then went into a 1-15 slump. (Keep in mind I was the #6 ranked player in the previous league - a decent player).

I almost quit pool for good, this is how frustrated I was. Luckily, we had a bye week (Christmas break). The 2 weeks off was a nice break; I did some soul searching & decided I truly loved pool & would not quit. In fact, I've ordered myself a new Viking cue!!

My record since then has been 18-14 (19-29 overall), & have been shooting pretty damn good lately (lots of practice on my part). My goal is to at least get to .500, & next year hope to place in the top 10 players.

Regardless, if any of you experience such a slump, my advice is to take a break, then put in some serious practice....you'll eventually break out of it.

DSAPOLIS
01-26-2006, 12:41 PM
Here is an article I wrote several years ago regarding the issue of slumps. Feel free to get with me privately if you have any questions. - Blackjack

Hitting The Wall
By
Blackjack David Sapolis

Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.- Eli Joseph Cossman

Many of us find that we can only progress so far until we reach a plateau. I call this Hitting The Wall. Many players find that they hare unable to find the drive, or the motivation that once propelled them to play their very best. They lose the positive emotions as they spiral deeper into a pit of negativity. This is what causes slumps.

Slumps are caused by one of two things :

1) Overload
2) Laziness

More times than not, with pool players it is caused by overload. We tend to "overwork" ourselves and concentrate on quantity of practice, rather than quality. As a student of the game, your job is to improve, master, and remember what you've accomplished. And, as much as possible, to relax and enjoy the process. Slumps interfere with that.

Most players fail in one of two very basic ways:

1) They practice in a way that fails to produce improvement.

2) Although they practice carefully and produce improvements, but they fail to practice in a way that ensures a lasting memory what they've learned.

Even if you practice in a manner that fosters improvement, if your style of practice fails to create a strong, lasting memory, you'll gain very little progress. Also, each day it will feel like you're starting over. This will lead to frustration, which will combine itself with sensory overload during competition.

This causes some players to avoid practicing altogether. They get frustrated when their practice doesn't bring about instantaneous results, and they abandon practice altogether. They trade in practice for gambling, which can provide instant results with cash, or instant results by handing over your cash. Other players try to attain experience by playing players of greater skill, yet they completely avoid practice. Both of those avoidance techniques will only lead to further disappointments and ultimate frustration.


Laziness & Complacency
Laziness and complacency will kill your game quicker than anything else. Nobody has ever gotten good by accident. It takes hard work effort, and discipline. Some days will be harder than others, yet it is up to you to push yourself to new limits every day. So what if you play great one day, and then you play like crap the next? It's rare that you pick up right where you left off the day before. This is especially true for beginners. If we have not firmly established muscle memory recall with new skills, it may take a while to wake our brain up in order to work in unison with our body. It may take five to twenty minutes to get yourself warmed up and back in touch with yesterday's best. Donít give up on yourself!!! Remain patient and positive knowing that you will loosen up and relax.

Most laziness is caused by losing faith in your ability to overcome your weaknesses. Somewhere along the line, you convinced yourself that you were a slave to this flaw(s), and you decided to avoid dealing with it at all. This leads to developing possible bad habits to overcompensate for the initial weakness. How does this happen? It happens when you are faced with a decision. When faced with the decision to work through the weakness and overcome it, or to brush it aside as if it isnít there, you take the easier, softer way. Over time, this ends up being the tougher of the two roads. Your choppy stroke was one a small problem, now itís the root cause to everything that is wrong with your playing.

With other types of tasks, like building a stone path, you continue building Wednesday right where you finished on Tuesday. But not with pool. Sometimes we have to build the same path two or three times before we can effectively walk on it safely. Once again, donít give up on yourself. Hitting these walls is lifeís way of challenging you to raise yourself up to that next level.

There will come days when you're most diligent efforts will fail to elevate you to the level of yesterday's accomplishments. Or perhaps you'll reach yesterday's level, but not until your practice is nearly over. And it's OK. Don't let it get to you. Your achievements won't always follow a straight line. And you're improvements won't always come at a steady rate.

So simply strive to improve from your starting point ó from your baseline.

By this, I mean that you should compare yourself to YOU, not Efren Reyes or Earl Strickland, or Allison Fisher and Karen Corr. Your baseline is the least acceptable level of play. MAKE SURE THAT YOUR BASELINE EXPECTATIONS REMAIN REALISTIC.


Expecting to run 9 racks and out every time you come to the table is unrealistic, stupid, and a sure set up for failure and disappointment. Sometimes players disguise this as "setting high standards". This is one of the major stumbling blocks. Setting unrealistic expectations on yourself and your abilities will frustrate you quicker than anything else. This leads to avoidance, procrastination, laziness, and poor performance.

Divide & Conquer
While practicing, remember to Divide & Conquer!!! This means that you should break tasks and obstacles into small manageable pieces. It's much like eating a meal. If you take it one bite at a time, you have no problems. If I told you to shove the entire plate of food into your mouth at one time, you'll have major problems. It's the same thing with pool. You can only chew so much at one time, you can only swallow so much at one time, and you can only digest so much at one time. Be careful not to trick yourself into over-practicing or turning your practice sessions into marathons. Small deliberate steps will get you to the same destination. Remember what happens when youíve eaten and your full. You hit a point where if you take one more bite, youíll puke. Donít hit this point with your practice sessions.

Work on any part of your game that needs improvement (such as you break, bank shots, position patterns, drills), but make sure that you make some chart-able progress, and that you do so quickly. If you don't see yourself making progress, divide the task or skill in half, and work on the smaller parts of it. Continue dividing the task until you reach a size where you can progress quickly. By breaking the task down into sections, you can also more clearly see where you are making your mistakes. This can be the most intelligent and effective way to organize and chart your progress.

Don't obsess on trying to "force" improvement. If you practice your break for 2 hours straight and see nothing positive coming of it, STOP. If you continue, you will only overload your subconscious with seeing the negative results. Shift away from that part of your practice for about 20-30 minutes, and once you have calmed down, return. You can even stop until the next day. Move on to something that will generate more positive results. Return to practicing the break and once you see a positive result, STOP again. This is very important. You will leave practice on a positive note. This approach helps keep confusion and frustration at bay. And it allows your memory to absorb the positive experience subconsciously. This is how you can learn more without additional work ó much like studying and "sleeping on it."

Also, alternate between learning and reviewing. Start your practice with something familiar, or something you can accomplish easily. Then try something new and more challenging. Continue alternating between learning new skills and reviewing. In other words, rest one part of your brain while a different part works.

Always end your practices with a quick review over everything you have worked on for that day. Remember that every player is different, so it is up to you to find practice secrets of your own, and find out what works best for you. By following the examples set down in this part of the book, you will avoid hitting the wall, getting into a lump, resting on a plateau, or falling into a rut.

Mental Discipline - The Formula to Overcome Your Limitations
Mental discipline is the ability to keep your thoughts focused on goal-directed activity to the exclusion of all else. With high levels of mental discipline, you will reach your goals faster, experience more joy, and become a lot more fun to be around. Virtually any meaningful goal is within reach when you become mentally disciplined. Without mental discipline, even relatively easy goals become a strain. With weak mental muscles, your emotional life is unpredictable. Mental laziness slowly dissolves your potential for greatness---first privately, and then publicly. By deliberately working to improve your mental game, you will upgrade every area of your life. You will hit your business goals faster. Your family life will be more peaceful. With strong, toned mental muscles, you'll be more fit spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

The Formula: NT + ASK X MD = PPP

Natural Talent + Acquired Skills & Knowledge X Mental Discipline = Peak Performance Potential


Here's the formula for unlocking your potential. Your natural talent plus your acquired skills and knowledge times mental discipline equals your personal performance potential. The great equalizer, as you can see from this formula, is your degree of mental discipline. We can't alter your genetics or natural talent so we will not squander effort in that area. We can improve your skills and knowledge through study, repetition, sheer will, and a strong work ethic. This can add tremendously to your potential. Mental discipline, though, can multiply your personal effectiveness in any area in which you wish to apply it.
Goodness or Greatness?
The first step in awakening your potential for high performance in pool is to strategically pick an area of the game in which you are naturally gifted. It's possible to achieve goals outside your innate talent bank, but it takes extra effort and is far less satisfying in the long run. You can become really good at lots of things, but greatness is only possible when you identify your unique strengths, fortify them with practice, infuse them with wise counsel and then multiply them with mental discipline.

Clarity
You are not born with mental discipline. Mental discipline is a skill that can and must be learned and then mastered. There are four components to mental discipline, all of which can be intentionally cultivated. The first is clarity about what is to be accomplished, both in the immediate moment as well as long term. Without a precise target to shoot for, your thought life will bounce back and forth between competing objectives or non-objectives. How could you experience mental discipline if your goals are fuzzy or ambiguous? It's critical to know both what needs to be accomplished right now such as with a business proposal or your stroke, as well as longer-term goals such as annual revenue or defeating a specific player or winning a particular tournament. When your "now goals" are in alignment with your "then goals" you are ready for mental discipline. You must see yourself making a ball on the break, making the shot, winning the game, and winning the match. Once you have "seen" this, then it is up to you to make it an accomplished fact.

Concentration
The next component is concentration, referring to how well you stay engaged in the current moment and fixed on What's Important Now (WIN) or the "how in the now". Anything less than 100% concentration reveals divided attention and double-mindedness. Remember, distractions are simply misplaced attractions that downgrade your potential. Multi-tasking is the nastiest villain when it comes to interrupting pure concentration while you are at the table. Other common traps include physically being at home, but mentally being at the pool hall, or vice versa. Or, it is double mindedness that may be caused by either away from the table distractions or from a dysfunctional preoccupation with your last mistake, last missed shot, or the last match you lost. Often distractions arise from "losing the moment" by dwelling on an unchangeable past moment or worrying about a future situation instead of transforming the present to your advantage. Missed shots, missed position, and errors need to stay in their time context. If your playing a race to 7, and you missed an easy shot in game 2, you should not be dwelling on it in game 5. It should not be affecting your performance in game 6 either.

Confidence
Confidence is your belief in your capability to reach a particular goal or bundle of goals. While genuine confidence is rooted in actual accomplishment, past performance alone does not ensure confidence will be developed or maintained. Sustainable self-confidence grows from exhaustive preparation, winning moments, positive memories and a focus on incremental progress instead of perfection.

Challenge
By challenge, I mean the degree of demand that you willingly place upon yourself. Your mental discipline will rise to meet the level of goal that you set for yourself. Small goals will extract only surface potential. Huge goals release untapped reserves and trigger surprising breakthroughs. The masses want things easy. They think in terms of minimums or "good enoughs." They use their energy to evade the pressure moments and escape the spotlight situations that introduce champions to the world. This is not for you! Ironically, your best playing is revealed when the stakes are high, when the deadline is looming, and when the game is on the line. Seek opportunities that require loads of mental discipline and you'll be surprised at the treasure you find.

A Higher Standard
Anyone can occasionally experience peak performance. We can all have a great day now and then. But that is not enough. Your standard is much higher. Like a world-class athlete, when you master mental discipline and apply it to your game, you will find yourself replicating your best performance at will. When you do, you will have what it takes to become a world-class player!

More Articles (http://www.geocities.com/theblackjacktable_nl/Article_Index.html)

Bassn7
01-26-2006, 01:22 PM
Although I agree with both your reasons for slumps, 'overload and laziness', you are missing one that people seem to dismiss . . . mathematical probability. Example: Continuous winning is just not going to happen. It can't. The game of pool has a certain randomness that often causes fluke losses that were never expected, but explained as 'slumps' when this is not true. Slumps can normally be distinguished by bad misses and poor position. But some losses happen when a person is still playing great. It may seem like rationalizing, but some streaks of losses are just "math and statistics".

SpiderMan
01-26-2006, 02:15 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Bassn7:</font><hr> Although I agree with both your reasons for slumps, 'overload and laziness', you are missing one that people seem to dismiss . . . mathematical probability. Example: Continuous winning is just not going to happen. It can't. The game of pool has a certain randomness that often causes fluke losses that were never expected, but explained as 'slumps' when this is not true. Slumps can normally be distinguished by bad misses and poor position. But some losses happen when a person is still playing great. It may seem like rationalizing, but some streaks of losses are just "math and statistics". <hr /></blockquote>

I was about to reply to David's post, then decided to read yours and saw that you had the same idea.

For most people, what they may call a "slump" or a "streak" is nothing more than normal variance observed over too short a period.

Most players would begin to feel in a slump if they lost three separate (but consecutive) matches to someone they felt was their equal.

Now consider flipping a coin. Call heads a win and tails a loss. Flip three times, to represent three separate matches with an equally-talented opponent. If you flip a coin only three times, there is a 12.5% chance you'll get all three tails.

If you flip four times, there is an 18.75% chance of having at least one three-tail series included. Five flips yields a 25% likelihood of at least one three-tail series.

When this happens, is the coin in a "slump", somehow more likely to hit tails? No - the chances of a tail are still 50-50.

Now apply this to pool. Suppose I play an absolutely equal opponent every Saturday for five weeks. Further suppose that neither of us is "really" experiencing any change in our play, ie we each still have a 50-50 chance of winning a given match. With no slump, I still have a 25% chance of encountering three consecutive losses. And, by the way, a 9.4% chance of a slumpless four-loss string.

No doubt, slumps can be real, and related to a real decline in performance. But the win/loss outcome from normal performance will also sometimes be the same as if a slump existed.

SpiderMan

mrpool06
01-26-2006, 02:22 PM
I would say that my slump was primarily mental. I lost confidence, &amp; questioned every shot I attempted.
Although....one night, I went to league night with a positive attitude, had practiced quite a bit the week before........still went 0-4, although it was against a top team. This slump was an utter nightmare, but in perspective maybe it was a good thing. Well, that wouldn't be the case if I had quit pool (which I seriously considered doing).

SpiderMan
01-26-2006, 02:29 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote mrpool06:</font><hr> I would say that my slump was primarily mental. I lost confidence, &amp; questioned every shot I attempted.
Although....one night, I went to league night with a positive attitude, had practiced quite a bit the week before........still went 0-4, although it was against a top team. This slump was an utter nightmare, but in perspective maybe it was a good thing. Well, that wouldn't be the case if I had quit pool (which I seriously considered doing).
<hr /></blockquote>

Sometimes I'll jokingly refer to myself as "in a slump" if I finish out of the money several times in a row, but unless I have a concrete, known problem I'm really still telling myself that it's just normal variance in outcome. This helps me maintain a positive mental image of my own ability, and prevents the random alignment of losses from spawning a genuine performance issue.

SpiderMan