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View Full Version : Dead Stroke -or- In the Zone..... Intermittenly?



BigRigTom
05-06-2008, 11:30 AM
We played this seasons 1st play off match last night in APA 8 ball. Our team drew the wild card so we had to play the 1st place team. We took them 3 to 2 and I had the anchor spot where I managed to win the match with a score of 5 to 1 against a pretty tough skill level 5 ( I am a 6).

As mentioned in the previous threads I have been working on intentionally entering the "Dead Stroke" or "Zone" and I am now wondering if it is possible or feasible to go in and out of that "Zone" as the match progresses.

Our two teams last night were tied at 2 - 2 and so my match was a do or die. The SL5 I played was a really good shot maker but failed to clear his trouble spots and manage the table well. That gave me the opportunity to play defensively until I had the right shots to get out on.

Long story short.
When I felt it was time to go for the run out, I tried to shoot fast and loose but when I needed to play safe I tried to play methodically and cautiously.
It worked for the most part. Playing fast and loose, I made some really tough shots that surprised me, I got excellent leaves that were way better than I expected and it all worked out good most of the time.

My biggest problem was in those short periods of transition from the "fast and loose" to the "methodical and cautious" one or two times those transitions came at bad times...like on the 8 for instance.

I missed a fairly routine shot on the 8 because I was in that transition when I pulled the trigger, I realized after I shot that I was indecisive as to whether I should just take the shot or should I consider where the cue ball would be in relation to his only ball left on the table.

Anyone else experimenting with this kind of thing?

Bambu
05-06-2008, 11:52 AM
Youre not the only one, tom. I have been working on the same(think before you shoot). And, at times I still catch myself changing my mind as I am about to shoot. I am usually stuck between 2 options, and just cant make up my mind on which to try. Instead of getting back up to re-think things, I take a shot that is literally half way between the 2 options. The good part is that I have cut down on that, because after the miss, I can detect my mental mistake. Its also fun calling myself a dumbass, beats gettin pissed off.
I also dont know about this zone stuff. I'm not saying it doesnt exist, but to me it just means youre "hot." Everyone has their ups and downs, so being in the zone just means youre on an upswing(to me anyway). At times I think I am in the zone, but then realize the last few racks were just on the easy side. Are pros really in the zone all the time? Nah. They just run out consistently. When they dont, its usually a series of tough racks and safety battles.

cjt08046
05-07-2008, 08:28 AM
I haven't experimented with the intermittent zone, but I wanted to say that you raise some interesting points:
• Does being in the zone always mean being great offensively, or can you be in a "defensive" zone too? I.e., in basketball, players are almost always called "in the zone" when they're sinking almost every jumper they take, not because they're playing good defense. Maybe making shots is more "zone-like" than playing safeties, because pocketing balls is offensive? Maybe the zone doesn't really work when you're playing cautiously (I don't mean this to be the same as taking your time on a shot, I mean stopping to second-guess your options and weigh safety vs. offense).
• How much does conscious thought/deliberation (type involved with second-guessing a shot as you mention) actually "breaks the spell" of the zone? In athletics/sports psychology, the Zone is almost always synonymous with unconscious effort where things just seem to flow naturally without a lot of conscious thought. It sounds as if you are shattering your Zone by stopping the flow, almost like putting the brakes on your Formula-1 car to wonder if you're on the right "racing line" as you're zooming down the last straightaway to the finish line.
Anyway, these are just some thoughts that occurred to me while reading the description of your games. I'm not an expert in pool or sports psychology, though I have entered the zone while playing basketball and tennis (and occasionally in pool), so I do know something about it (it does wonders for my backhand). I think your goal of being able to will yourself to go into the zone during a match is probably the Holy Grail in all of sports, so you'll be hard-pressed to find an easy answer on how to do it. If you do, drop everything and write a book immediately ($$$).
Good luck on "zoning out!"

wolfdancer
05-07-2008, 09:14 AM
Tom, I read this some time ago...that the 8 is often missed because
shooting it takes us out of the routine of playing both the ball and position.
I think though that it's missed more due to the fact that it's the "game" ball, puts a little more pressure on the player, and we may tend to rush the shot to end the game.
I'd guess that just doing one's usual pre-shot routine would help, but I'll never know, because I shoot the 8 as fast as possible...before that little guy on my shoulder tells me I'm going to miss. My Mama didn't raise no smart pool players

Bambu
05-07-2008, 09:31 AM
Sometimes I trick myself into thinking there is an extra ball somewhere on the table. I imagine a last ball thats easy to get to, or even a hangar. Use english you feel is easy to execute, like follow, outside, or a stop shot. Somehow, getting position for that fake ball seems to work. It makes the shot feel more like just another shot, rather than the game ball.

BigRigTom
05-07-2008, 09:36 AM
Thanks everyone for the insights!
Just seeing that my thoughts are not unique helps a great deal. I don't know why but I guess no one like going into the dark unknown all alone.

Our 9 ball team has its 1st playoff game tomorrow and I will get to try all this again (I think) and we will again see if it helps.
My friend just sent me this picture...it definitely applies to us pool players!
http://hardingersystems.com/BAT-forum/memberuploads/seeyourself.jpg

JoeW
05-07-2008, 10:11 AM
I play th last ball with position to the middle of the table where possible. When it is not possible I play the CB to some specific position. The 8-Ball and the 6-ball are the most difficult to sight becasue of their dark colors. It takes more effort to get it right.

I think that going in and out of the zone at will takes some prior training and preparation. Two of the more important things are not to think in words and to sit quietly when not at the table. Watch Corey Duel and Efren Reyes in a match and you will see that loose calm almost disinterested look. They are on the edge of the zone thoughout the match.

BigRigTom
05-07-2008, 10:28 AM
Very good point Joe.
Look at Efrin in this picture while he waits for his turn against Austin Murphy in the recent IPT match.
http://hardingersystems.com/BAT-Forum/images/EfrenReyes3.jpg

eb_in_nc
05-07-2008, 01:23 PM
I don't want come off sounding ethnic here, but you have to consider the Asian mind versus the western mind. I've lived in Asia for over 8 years, and have been traveling there for over 25 years. I can tell you that the average Asian person can easily shut themselves off from their surroundings much better than their western counterpart. Go ride on any public transportation in Hong Kong or Bangkok and you will see people who literally can turn themselves "on and off" on demand by sleeping at will.

I've always envied that characteristic that alludes me, and often have wondered if this is some connection to finding the zone by entering through some other realm bordering on sleep. Definitely Efin is somewhere else between shots.

Eric B

Bambu
05-07-2008, 01:44 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: eb_in_nc</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I don't want come off sounding ethnic here, but you have to consider the Asian mind versus the western mind. I've lived in Asia for over 8 years, and have been traveling there for over 25 years. I can tell you that the average Asian person can easily shut themselves off from their surroundings much better than their western counterpart. Go ride on any public transportation in Hong Kong or Bangkok and you will see people who literally can turn themselves "on and off" on demand by sleeping at will.

I've always envied that characteristic that alludes me, and often have wondered if this is some connection to finding the zone by entering through some other realm bordering on sleep. Definitely Efin is somewhere else between shots.

Eric B</div></div>

I dont think the sleeping thing is ethnic. Ride any NYC subway and you will see people of every shade under the sun, sleeping on the subway(subway skills).
I'm no expert, but I happen to have lived around asians all my life. In my opinion, they are in better control of their emotions. Alot of it is in the culture, where education is stressed over sporting events. Many of our heros are the guys who do flashy touch down dances and kick dirt on umpires. Alot of us americans get our hard nose, in your face mentality from baseball or other sporting events. We use adrenaline to pump up our emotions. In many sports, that can be effective to a degree. But in pool its just the opposite, you need to remain calm, but still confident.

eb_in_nc
05-07-2008, 02:43 PM
You're right Bambu, it's not just a sleeping thing. It's the ability to better control the emotions which is culturally driven as you indicate. When have we ever seen a riot break out in a stadium in China over a soccer match?

Anyhow, the key is keeping our emotions in check even though we need to be pumped up. I know every time I get worked up in a match it starts to work against me, so I do all I can to avoid emotionally investing myself in the match at all costs.

Fran Crimi
05-07-2008, 02:59 PM
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Bambu
05-07-2008, 11:11 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: eb_in_nc</div><div class="ubbcode-body">You're right Bambu, it's not just a sleeping thing. It's the ability to better control the emotions which is culturally driven as you indicate. When have we ever seen a riot break out in a stadium in China over a soccer match?

Anyhow, the key is keeping our emotions in check even though we need to be pumped up. I know every time I get worked up in a match it starts to work against me, so I do all I can to avoid emotionally investing myself in the match at all costs.</div></div>

Lol thats true eb, nobody getting trampled at any concerts over there!

Bambu
05-07-2008, 11:12 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: eb_in_nc</div><div class="ubbcode-body">You're right Bambu, it's not just a sleeping thing. It's the ability to better control the emotions which is culturally driven as you indicate. When have we ever seen a riot break out in a stadium in China over a soccer match?

Anyhow, the key is keeping our emotions in check even though we need to be pumped up. I know every time I get worked up in a match it starts to work against me, so I do all I can to avoid emotionally investing myself in the match at all costs.</div></div>

Lol thats true eb. Nobody getting trampled at any concerts over there either(only tanks, sadly).

Soflasnapper
05-08-2008, 01:46 AM
Dead stroke or the zone isn't always playing fast and loose.

Or else Corey, Efren, Allison, Karen, Niels, Ralf, or any deliberate style player could never get in dead stroke or the zone. (??) That cannot be true.

It's not about speeding up your normal stroke or pre-shot routine, necessarily, although that may happen as a side effect of confidence.

It's more like using your normal stroke but far closer to perfection, with little thought, with such perfect touch for the right speed and/or spin that everything works out.

If you enter the zone with your standard routines in place, you'd never have to change up or down to a different gear. And if you were truly in the zone, why would you want to change gears, especially on the critical ball?

I think what the original post described was more confident free-wheeling than what is meant by the zone. They are not the same, although either could result in the other.

Consider Earl as an example. If he's just free-wheeling, and not in the zone, he might make everything with one-stroke shooting to get out, but leave himself hard shape sometimes and be forced to make one or more great shots to do it. While in the zone, he'd always stay in line with shape and shoot nothing but easy shots.

Bambu
05-08-2008, 08:45 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Soflasnapper</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Dead stroke or the zone isn't always playing fast and loose.

Or else Corey, Efren, Allison, Karen, Niels, Ralf, or any deliberate style player could never get in dead stroke or the zone. (??) That cannot be true.

It's not about speeding up your normal stroke or pre-shot routine, necessarily, although that may happen as a side effect of confidence.

It's more like using your normal stroke but far closer to perfection, with little thought, with such perfect touch for the right speed and/or spin that everything works out.

If you enter the zone with your standard routines in place, you'd never have to change up or down to a different gear. And if you were truly in the zone, why would you want to change gears, especially on the critical ball?

I think what the original post described was more confident free-wheeling than what is meant by the zone. They are not the same, although either could result in the other.

Consider Earl as an example. If he's just free-wheeling, and not in the zone, he might make everything with one-stroke shooting to get out, but leave himself hard shape sometimes and be forced to make one or more great shots to do it. While in the zone, he'd always stay in line with shape and shoot nothing but easy shots.

</div></div>


Good points sofla, but I didnt say the zone meant playing fast and loose. Also didnt say to do anything different if you feel youre in the zone, especially on the last ball. That strategy would be for times you dont feel as confident.

DickLeonard
05-08-2008, 09:21 AM
BigRigTom that mirror reminded me of a episode in my past history. I played in a tournament at the Holiday Bowl in Syracuse NY. Babe Cranfields home room and in my mind the most beautiful poolroom I ever played in.

I had went to the tournament with Dick McConnell of Adams Mass. He lost his first two games and was a spectator in one of my games I went to the bathroom and a couple of minutes later Dick came in to find me staring into the mirror. He asked me what I was doing and I told him I was giving myself a pep talk. He said all the players think when you go to the bathroom your taking drugs because when you come you always runout. Well now you know my secret and of course when I came out I ran 70+ and out.####

wolfdancer
05-08-2008, 09:38 AM
great story, Dick !!!
You're lucky though....when you look into the mirror, you see a guy that can run 100+....when I look in there...i see a high run of 14

JJFSTAR
05-08-2008, 10:21 AM
Tom I highly recommend that you contact Dave Sapolis and ask him for the material he has written on the subject of dead stroke. If you haven’t read it it will change your life.

BigRigTom
05-08-2008, 11:14 AM
That is a great story Dick!
I sometimes go to the wash room and wash my face and hands in cold water and it does make me feel like I can tackle just about any situation....It also reminds me of that scene in the movie where Jackie Gleason goes in the restroom and cleans up then comes out all relaxed and refreshed and ready to play again.
Those pep talks in the mirror do work!

BigRigTom
05-08-2008, 11:15 AM
Thanks JJFStar, I have read a lot of David's stuff.
Don't remember that specifically but I will look into it.
I love that stuff and David's is among the best.

BigRigTom
05-09-2008, 03:00 PM
All this talk and thought went for naught ....last night our 9 ball team played pretty much like a bunch of zombies.
By the time my match started we were down 39 to 11 in a race to 51 points.
I played great against one of my arch rivals ( an APA skill level 8) but before I could beat him the match on the other table ended in us losing 14 to 6 and the other team was declared the winner....my match was no longer relevant so we just folded up and went home...
Now I have to wait til Monday night and try again to find that elusive butterfly called "The Zone" but in 8 ball this time.

cjt08046
05-09-2008, 09:01 PM
I forgot to mention the Zone only works in 8-ball. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/wink.gif

BigRigTom
05-13-2008, 11:40 AM
I guess the thread needs to die a natural death!
We played the final play off match last night in 8 ball. Our team got off the line with a bang. We were 2 wins to nothing needing only one more to close out the night....then....we dropped 3 straight!
Mine was the last one, I lost to a 2! MAN!
I have to plead guilty to NOT being mentally ready to play an endurance match like that at midnight. After we had those 1st 2 I counted the chickens before the eggs were hatched. Another tough lesson learned.
I am going back to my cave and lick my wounds, take my two week off of league and try to regenerate for the summer session.
Good luck to the rest of you pool-a-holics. Keep shooting straight.