View Full Version : The mental game

11-03-2009, 07:53 PM
I just published an article about the mental game. It includes a discussion of concentration, subconscious control and a little about the unconscious. It is too long to publish here so here is a link.

Learning Mental Control (http://www.sunburstselect.com/PBReview/LearningMentalControl.htm)

In conjuction with members of AZB we have written An American Pool Player's Dictionary that has a about 200 terms for those who might be interested. It is located at the URL shown below.

Pool Player's Dictionary (http://www.sunburstselect.com/PBReview/PlayersDictionary.dwt)

As always comments are appreciated.

11-03-2009, 08:48 PM
Joe, the mental game sounds like it will be interesting. I've bought every known book, tape on Golf's Mental Game, and they all helped...Thanks for the link.!!!

Ok, just read the opening paragraph, and skimmed through the rest, I'll read it through at least twice tomorrow....but I've already picked up a good tip...on verbalization.... sometimes...often, I know I'm going to miss before I "pull the trigger" I wonder then, Is my subconscious informing me that my aim/setup is wrong? or am I giving myself, unintentionally, a directive to miss?
Most of the terms that I would have contributed to your pool lexicon, could not be printed......

11-03-2009, 09:12 PM
verbalizations come from consciousness. But the stimulus for the verbalization may come from the subconscious. So the answer is a definite maybe!

I would first suspect that your consciousness is interrupting the subconscious process. You don't think you can make it and set up a self fufilling prophecy.

The ability to learn to watch our subconscious operate is often a difficult task because we (men especially) have this need to control things.

PS Next time it happens try to become aware of nerves or jittery feelings. If you feel that shakey feeling it is probably the subconscious trying to do something that it does not think it can do.

11-03-2009, 09:57 PM
Thanks Joe, I really appreciate that answer, as I'll be "in stroke", playing good, and just one miss like that,where I am "predicting" my miss, kind of ruins the flow of that game, maybe even the match.
I once read about a famous golf pro that when his concentration was interrupted....he began his pre shot routine from the start....putting his club back into the bag beforehand. I ain't that smart, but maybe since this is the first time I have talked about it....I might find a way to deal with it... thanks again....
By the way, two of my golf mental tapes were "Nice Shot" by Chuck Hogan, with Eva's husband Mitch doing the narration, and an even older Cybervision tape that featured Al Geiberger.
No words, just Al swinging the clubs at imperceptibly different swing speeds...a little more detailed then that, each club swing sequence started out with a black screen and they had small lights attached to him that gave the illusion of a stick figure
Hard to describe....but recently after exchanging emails with a noted pool player who has taken up the game, I found that the tape is still available on the cybervision site, and used on ebay, and I am going to order it.
I also recommended the book "Extraordinary Golf" by Fred Shoemaker, on teaching the game....I've always thought his concepts could be rewritten and adapted well for pool.He bought the book and is pleased with it.
That book sells for just $10 at Amazon....

11-04-2009, 03:31 AM
We old shooters allow ghosts to play into our heads. What I mean is that junior players many times tromp on us, because they don't conceive missing, and if you really think about it, that's what us old F-kers relate to as finding our zone when we do find it, not thinking. We are screwed "by time", face it, unless we have so much more added intelligence acquired over time, to be able to bury the best with massive safeties, chess plays and smarts, that's it! Realistically, we can't out play the young players with their relentless confidence. Just a fact too many times. Zones are intricately very rare for mid life players, and almost NEVER for seniors. You need to find your second childhood to get back there, or else take some serious drugs, which seldom lasts long for an aged body and mind. sid

11-04-2009, 09:13 AM
I am 57, wear glasses because my eyes are weak, my hands shake, and I have arthritus. I have beat many younger players who were better shot makers than I. I can't out-shoot them, but often I can out-play them.
The ghosts you have should be the ones from those successful shots, not the ones that tell you how to miss. I know it sounds pretty lame, but the power of positive thinking is pretty incredible.
Approach your shot using all the knowledge you have gained over the years, make your decisions, and then let all that experience take over when you drop down to shoot.

11-04-2009, 11:50 AM
Well I am 66 Sid and have taken up serious play in the last five years or so. Before that it was more about relaxing with friends and simply kicking in what psychology has to say on the suject.

I think that we are all like flowers; we are growing or dying. In that context I took up pool when I retired from public life as a way to grow through integrating my prior experiences and my preferences for physical and social activity. It is a real good fit.

In the last six years my game keeps getting better and I have this dream about winning a tournament or two just to show myself that we old folks are as young as we feel.

While concentration was a very real part of the work I did when developing software for health providers I never used it like it is needed for playing pool. I find that it too is a new and interesting adventure that just keeps getting better in many ways.

Sure I'll never be a world beater but that is not what its about. It is about growing in new ways.

11-04-2009, 02:25 PM
Great reading here Joe both in your article and in the posts.

I have'nt read your complete article yet but plan to print it out and study it away from this damn computer screen.

I understand what Wolf means by ghosts as they tend to haunt my stroke from time to time, but somehow I'm playing almost as well now at age 65 than I was at 25 because I know some things now I did'nt know back then. That did'nt happen over night, it was a long slow process of learning and the difference is the mental part of the game.

Somewhere around my 40's or 50's I began to lose my playing ability, I no longer had the stamina to compete... I could'nt live up to my expectations and my confidence went down along with my skill, so I gave it up.

As I reached my 60's and had more free time I thought I might take pool up again, so I bought a table and started practicing, but the memory of once losing it was a ghost that was scary... would I fold up again, could I compete?

Not wanting to look like a complete ass at my age which is unforgiveable, I thought I would just go out with the attitude of making new friends and having a good time...nothing to prove... no expectations!

It all seems so easy now, but that transition takes a real mental workover. The verbalization zone mentioned is a key part of it. To NOT run over the consequences of a shot in your mind when down. To just focus without thinking of outside distractions such as "Damn, I missed this exact shot 2 games ago!... will I miss it again? When in that mindset best to get back up, shake it off and get back down. if anything creeps in other than "theres my set point, theres the aim spot"... get back up.

The other part is attitude, to always stay positive no matter the circumstances. Last night I had a break and run out in 8balI. My opponent (a younger man) stormed off. His team mate (my age) came over and congratulated me... I thought "what a classy guy." I also wondered about the other kid... how could he possibly play well now with that baggage? I also thought... God! did that used to be me?


11-04-2009, 04:01 PM
I hear what you are saying about positive thinking.I can be in a dull mood, playing so-so or worse, then hop up purely optimistic and say, "I can make this", or "Let's have fun" and more times than not, good stuff happens. Those nerves at the end of a nice run are what kills me. I more times than not will enact a good safety somewhere late in the run just to get the nuts, instead of completing the runout. I know...it's a band aid but it wards off the negatives and a loss many times. sid

11-04-2009, 04:48 PM
Joe, we have a now, 73 yr old player up here, Don Wirteman (hope I spelled it right) that plays great pool, and wins his share of the area's "big" tournaments. There is also a 70 yr old, that won both the open 8 and 9 ball at last year's western area BCA regionals ,,,about 500 entries in each, then a week later, won either the 8 or 9 in the ACS...250 players, and believe he came in second in the other one. I may have the events and the # of entries backwards...but still a remarkable performance. And if you saw his stroke, you wouldn't make him a favorite to run 3 balls.
I was on a "mini-roll" about a year ago at age 70, but while I haven't made it to the winners circle for awhile now, I'm still competitive, and manage to at least cash in.
We're talking just 8 ft'rs though....
I credit the half ball or center to edge aiming system, for my better play now then 25 years ago, when I thought I was a hot shot bar pool player.
I'm pretty sure it was Jack Nicklaus that said he always visualized the shot before he made his swing, And, while I'm sure that you are aware of this....I read where the subconscious cannot distinguish between a positive and a negative thought, so to speak. If one has an approach shot to the green and has to carry the pond of water in front of it.....If one thinks, don't go in the water....the subconscious interprets that as go into the water? Knowing that helped my game. I've also been in the last, and sometimes the only group on the course, and it's too dark to see the the green or the trouble...and it was sometimes amazing how good the shot came off without a target or the trouble in view....Now I can't see the green in daylight, but it ain't helping none.

11-04-2009, 06:32 PM
Joe -- Thanx for that stuff.
Mention of the mental game reminds me that every loony'bin in ozz had a 12' table.
Mention of the loony'bin reminds me that coming home late last nite i hadta stop and ring an ambulance koz some young guy threw himself in front of the car in front -- kood hav been me -- i mean my car.
I got my new glasses -- rimless titanium -- nice.
After i get my stroke straight i will then read that stuff properly and get my thinking straight.

11-06-2009, 01:12 PM
I haven't read the linked piece yet, but I will.

At the US Open, I collected a half dozen publications, all containing a half dozen instructional articles each.

One piece discussed a bit of the mental side for HOF golfers Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.

Nicklaus was quoted to say about half his greatness involved 'going to the movies,' and 'it's like Hollywood out there.' He was referring to always using strong visual imagery concerning his execution and results (he described imaging the results in reverse order, with the final landing of the shot first, the travel of the ball next, and his physical form performing the shot last-- complete with a "director's" discussion of 'dissolves' providing the transitions).

Watson was quoted to say that he simply couldn't win nearly close to the level he was supposed to win until he learned how to control his breathing at critical times in the match (!?!).

11-06-2009, 02:50 PM
Personally, I am a very strong believer in visualization. It seems that whenever I can “see” the lines and imagine the CB rolling down the line, contacting the ob and then visualizing the ob travel to the pocket, I make the shot. When I cannot see these visual images it is iffy with regard to shot making.

However, many others do not think that visualization is something of use. I think it is a matter of personal preference and training but most do not agree. While I have known about the use of visualization in sports for some time, it was Jack Nicklaus who persuaded me to spend some time and effort on the use of visualization. I think that it is one of the most important elements of consistent shot making.

For me it is one of the important elements of learning intense concentration. I have suggested that people begin to learn to visualize with the use of trying to see a candle flame as discussed in the article. When the individual is capable of seeing the flame they will come to realize that this ability can also be use to see the balls move.

Visualization is one of the next articles I will be writing about but I think I need to have many refernces from other highly accomplished professionals before it will be persuasive.

11-06-2009, 07:30 PM
A friend who is a very good player at banks and kicks tells me he uses the diamonds only for his shot making. but lately we played on a Brunswick table with no spots or diamonds and he still shot with the same accuracy?

When I pointed that out he had to admit that he just had a feel for where the shot was going. I suggested that its a feel created by visualizing the line. The argument is still in debate. Brad

11-06-2009, 07:59 PM
Having read the piece now, here's a small direct comment and a side comment.

There's an Australian player nicknamed the Oyster or something. He advocates the use of the chalk to trigger the player into execution mode, transitioning from thinking mode after having chalked the tip (setting the chalk down is his suggested trigger).

Joe, you mention that some people use that trigger, while instead advocating for the signal to be the 'stepping into the shot.' I suggest a merger of these two signals as the trigger, because if chalking the tip and putting it down is considered part of the step-in trigger (one following closely on the other), then the player would have certainly chalked up before any shot attempt! (Yes, players should do that, apart from using it as a trigger each time, but do they?)

I use this so much that if I stand up again because I have a second thought or a vague unease with the shot, I grab the chalk and reapply it to the tip a second time.

Just as a side mention, periodically I find this scenario playing out: I see a shot with some detail that I think I want to play, decide at some point before shooting that I'm going to shoot a different shot, and then, to my considerable surprise, end up shooting the first shot despite what I thought I was attempting. AND IT GOES IN!

I interpret this as showing the power of imaging in instructing the body mechanism's execution. My first shot selection was well-imaged, but the second shot, more intellectually determined as a decision rather than as well imaged as the first shot had been. Accordingly, the body seems to 'take' the first instruction 'more seriously' or perhaps as the ONLY shot instructed in the way the body system/unconsciousness/subconsciousness understands.

Actually MAKING the first shot is quite remarkable (completely ridiculous is more like it!) since I had aimed the changed shot, but delivered the first one.

11-06-2009, 08:31 PM
Fish -- I think that u are developing a split personality. U are going to need two different ratings one day.

My execution starts when i put the stubby of beer down -- this iz so ingrained that if i hav second thorts i havta moov away from the table and hav another sip of beer.

11-06-2009, 09:37 PM
I see your point and as we all know "chalk is good." The problem I have with the chalk trigger goes something like this.

I think that when we aim standing up and one step back we have used the quiet eye and have roughly chosen the contact point on the OB. Setting the chalk down takes my eyes off the shot line as I reach to the table. I have to bring my eyes back to the shot line. When using "stepping into the shot" my eyes stay on the target as I change modes and it is only a matter of holding the shot line as I bend over.

I think that establishing the shot line while standing is a good thing to do as it allows for a better (?) perspective on the shot before one bends over. When stepping into the shot the subconscious has been engaged and uses all available information from both perspectives as it bends to the shot.

I think that some people immediately switch to the subconscious mode when they set the chalk down and allow the eyes and stance to adjust as needed. If that is what one has learned I suppose it works for that player.

BTW I watched a match between Johnny Archer and Mika Immomen tonight(2003 US Open) and noted that Archer seems to use stepping into the shot on a consistent basis. Of course I do not know if he realizes or recognizes what he is doing but he did seem to step into most of his shots.

If the use of a trigger is a new part of one's routine I think that "stepping into the shot" keeps your eye on the ball so to speak.

I am not tied to stepping into the shot as a trigger I merely think it is one of the better approaches. In reality the player should use whatever feels right.

BTW I too have noted the phenomena you discussed, Changing my mind does not always change the shot. In a few instances when I was not sure what to do my subconscious has played position that I never would have thought of. It has happened enough times that I do not think it is a coincidence.

11-07-2009, 01:16 AM
The "Australian", nicknamed the Oyster, is the "Australian Oyster", Tim White who lives in Vermont, but who visited Australia, and maybe "fell in love with it" as I did on my two trips there. I think Tim is a little controversial maybe
"Blackjack" David Sapolis has a 4 part video on the mental game, on youtube, and disabled the "add commentary" due to a conflict with Tim
Blackjack (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dj1DQu1p6XI)
I've always liked David's input on the game and believe I'll enjoy watching the videos.
You can find more info on Tim, using a Google search
When Tim and Stan Shuffett were speaking, they made a video with Stan's pool prodigy son Landon. I notice that the chalk is part of his pre-shot routine. wish I could remember to chalk up first...I sometimes shoot till I miscue

11-07-2009, 01:22 AM
Joe, I now remember something that I once read, and used for awhile as a trigger. It involved touching your thumb and little finger together to begin your pre-shot routine. It was for pool, I believe, or maybe Golf, or maybe something else , like a reminder to wipe, then flush afterwards....

11-07-2009, 01:33 AM
That reminds me of playing once in a pool bar where you held the table until you missed. I wasn't a good player but by comparison to many of the ones that signed up...I was a "pro". So I played this young guy who wasn't a favorite to run 3 balls with ball in hand, and heard him comment after "I can't believe I lost to that old guy"
But you are right....they have the confidence because the haven't missed yet, the million balls that we have in our pool playing lifetime, and haven't seen the million bad rolls that lead to them misses....and they still think and believe pool is a fair game, and that the pool gods look down favorably on both players.

11-12-2009, 03:17 AM
and now I remember that I was incorrect...the correct trigger is to touch the thumb and middle finger together

11-12-2009, 03:58 AM
Touching the thumb and middle finger is a technique that is often used by hypnotherapists to trigger a hypnotic state. I suspect that it was learned from a hypnotist and it would work as a trigger for playing pool as well.

Hypnosis is nothing more than a word we use for an altered state of consciousness. In that sense The triggers I sugested are quite similar. Turning control over to the subconscious (rather than the unconscious)is a very mild form of hypnotic induction with out all the usual words.

It has been noted by several others that everything one can do with hypnosis can be done usng other techniques. Stepping into a shot to trigger the subconscious is a simple way to quiet the internal verbal dialog without getting too esoteric about what is going on.

11-12-2009, 01:16 PM
I believe I have read something re: "the quiet mind" ..technique? for either pool, or golf and I did have an old Golf book about playing in the zone...but wasn't that taken with it's author.
Googling "playing in the zone" brings up lots of interesting links.
I remember years back ,,,the old "Inner Game of Tennis" (later on Golf....) used the simple mind quieting trick of saying to yourself
"back" as the ball approached, and "hit" as you made your forward swing.

11-12-2009, 02:27 PM
Funny, but I once had a good friend that was agoraphibic and about the only thing that calmed him during an episode was to rub his fingers together of rub his hands on his pants, "grounding" him in a way.

11-12-2009, 02:36 PM
true story..... I once knew someone who was so agoraphobic that he received and lived on, some disability income from Ca. State. The only times that he was able to leave the house, was to cash his check, or to play league pool.
I am now developing agoraphobia myself....as in the classical
Greek meaning...."fear of the marketplace" another down day for my
"so you want to be a millionaire" er, portfolio.

11-20-2009, 10:14 PM
I am enjoying the dictionary, thanks Joe. Very interesting, many of these I havent heard. But, I think the 7 and out definition needs clarification. It looks like just a regular 7 ball spot. Where I come from, if you get the 7 and out its really a 2 ball spot(7 and 8).

I also think the called 5 should be more clearly defined as being a win if you make the called 5 ball shot.

Lastly,I see the wild balls as counting as a win on the break. Not arguing, but I have never seen that before. Any spot ball that drops on the break gets spotted.

PS- Wtf is rolling the pineapple? rolling da cheese or rolling da money ball? Probably just me, but I still dont get that one.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: JoeW</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I just published an article about the mental game. It includes a discussion of concentration, subconscious control and a little about the unconscious. It is too long to publish here so here is a link.

Learning Mental Control (http://www.sunburstselect.com/PBReview/LearningMentalControl.htm)

In conjuction with members of AZB we have written An American Pool Player's Dictionary that has a about 200 terms for those who might be interested. It is located at the URL shown below.

Pool Player's Dictionary (http://www.sunburstselect.com/PBReview/PlayersDictionary.dwt)

As always comments are appreciated.


11-20-2009, 10:45 PM
The definitions came from guys from all over the country Tried for consensus by publishing several times and asking for corrections. This is about the fifth revision.

The pinapple etc is rolling (shooting at) the money ball. I will check for clairification on the other terms.


11-21-2009, 12:08 AM
Ah, that makes sense now. Thanks Joe.

11-21-2009, 01:35 AM
Everyone visualizes and uses their imagination when playing pool. Those who don't think so, simply have not recognized what they are doing.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: JoeW</div><div class="ubbcode-body">However, many others do not think that visualization is something of use. </div></div>

11-21-2009, 01:45 AM
These are names for the game winning ball. In 9ball, this would be the 9ball, the ball of most value because it wins the game. These items are of value, just like the game winning ball. For example, if you were a mouse, cheese would be valuable. The money ball also refers to the game winning ball, a ball that wins the game and whatever money that's associated with winning that game. Same goes for pineapple, or any other name of something of value.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Bambu</div><div class="ubbcode-body">PS- Wtf is rolling the pineapple? rolling da cheese or rolling da money ball? Probably just me, but I still dont get that one. </div></div>

11-21-2009, 09:47 AM
I know what a money ball is, just that I never considered anything as being "rolled" besides the cueball or my cash. I thought it might be letting a bet roll over. I dont think I ever heard the word pineapple in a pool room, unless someone was selling them around the 4th of july.

11-21-2009, 10:54 AM
So now if you are in Backwater USA and they say "roll the pineapple," you know what they are talking about /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/crazy.gif /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/wink.gif

11-21-2009, 10:56 AM
Same here, never heard it called a pineapple. But it's called whatever, euphemisms like the big enchilada.

Rolling it simply means your shot got the game winning ball rolling or pocketed. People who talk in such terms during the shooter's inning are sharking, friendly, unintentional, or otherwise. They're trying to alter the shooter's attention / focus and decrease their effectiveness at the table.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Bambu</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I know what a money ball is, just that I never considered anything as being "rolled" besides the cueball or my cash. I thought it might be letting a bet roll over. I dont think I ever heard the word pineapple in a pool room, unless someone was selling them around the 4th of july. </div></div>

11-21-2009, 11:25 AM
Absolutely Joe, always good to learn new things. I'm still a bit confused though. The definition still needs something more. Even if you know what a pineapple is, the way it reads it could be considered a positive thing because you are shooting at the winning ball. Or a negative thing, because you have been accused of being a slow rolling chump.

11-21-2009, 12:14 PM
OK, I will fix that