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bradb
01-21-2010, 12:47 PM
This subject has been discussed many times on this forum (Joe posted some very good refrences) but I thought I would mention the Feb article on this subject from Scientific American Mind... "The big Choke."

They have'nt posted the Feb issue on their web site yet (Subscribers get it early,) but when they do it makes for some interesting reading on why we crumble sometimes when we have to perform.

Basically it explains what experienced athletes have always known and that is we should rely on our our engrained training, not our thinking capabilities to perform under pressure.

That's because as a skill is learned it's controlled by our cerebral cortex. Once its mastered, its stored into our cerebellium which then takes control. The wrinkle in this system is that the cerebellum, unlike the Cortex is not consciously accessible. As a result, when we try to thinkout our progress as we perform we run into trouble.

We sometimes mention muscle memory when stroking but what that really is, is our cerebellum telling our body what to do from its training. If we let the cortex try and interfere it can't funtion properly. So when you are down on a shot and you try to run all the things you need to do while doing it... you choke and screw up. Your brain is overloaded in a sense.

Thats not to say you are completely brain dead when performing, you need to focus, but too much information induced by striving to perform well is counter productive.

There was a very wise motto posted here a few years ago and that is...

"Think before you shoot... then shoot without thinking!

-brad

Pask
01-21-2010, 01:07 PM
I've been playing guitar for a bit more than 20 years - and I'm better at guitar than at pool by the way! I take guitar as example, but I guess it goes the same for other musical instruments. In guitar techniques, there's something that is commonly called 'fingers memory' : as you practice over and over, through many exercices, in order to acquire a particular technique, you are bound to play notes, scales, chords and any kind of pattern without thinking about it. Your fingers know how to proceed and run by themselves on the finger board for one hand, and pick strings for the other hand. This is the same brains process here that you've exlpain Brad. The more you train, the more your brains can record technique and enable you to perform it without thinking. Therefore, you gain time, you perform better and you improve faster as you learn new techniques. If you train well, you will then gain further more reflexes. And regarding guitar as at pool, if you start thinking about what you're doing, provided it's a thing printed in your brain, you're bound to fail for sure.

So I totally agree with you Brad. It's the same thing for foreign language learning : I personnally don't think in French and then translate to English before posting a message here for instance, I directly think and write in English.

Anyway, tranforming what you learn into automatic reflex requires a lot of time and practice. That's why, regarding pool, playing lots of games isn't enough : training on drills, fundamentals etc is essential.

pooltchr
01-21-2010, 01:11 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: bradb</div><div class="ubbcode-body">
There was a very wise motto posted here a few years ago and that is...

"Think before you shoot... then shoot without thinking!

-brad




</div></div>

I don't know as it was "very wise", but thank you for the compliment.

In our expert class, we have a workshop that deals with the "choke syndrome", and we go over many frequent situations where choking occurs. More often than not, it comes down to a break-down in our pre-shot or shooting routines.

Steve

bradb
01-21-2010, 01:25 PM
Note to Pascal.

The article also mentioned music which is an engrained ability stored up over a long period of time and requires the complete activity of the Cerebellum, If we only had our cortex for playing we would'nt be able to enjoy the music as we played.

The article also mentions practicing under pressure as the best way to avoid choking because pressure is part of the learning experience. I like to break the rack then give myself only one miss per game (safetys excluded.) The pressure is as more like a real game that way. Needless to say I am racking a lot. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/blush.gif

Pask
01-21-2010, 02:38 PM
Yes pressure - or stress, whatever it's called - is important. If someone has no pressure, thinks too comfortable, then there's a risk of failure or panic when something unexpected occurs. This is good pressure, related to attention in a way. As I'm an instructor in the Air Force, I've met many pilots in my classes - transport or fighter pilots - telling me about that kind of pressure, that makes them take the right decision regarding problems, and keep them alive as well. These guys are used to intensive training, combining intellectual and physical parameters. This training plus good pressure make them succeed. Some even talk about fear feeling (like many experienced paratroopers when the cargo door opens). Without that feeling there is the danger for sure.

On the other hand, there's also bad pressure, that keeps you nervous and makes you do wrong things, or play the worst whereas you've trained alot before a competition. I guess it is important to know how to tame mental in order to manage pressure and put bad one on standby before or while playing a match. I'm not a high-level player - I rack alot too! - and when I was at the Open de Paris last weekend, I played terrible pool, whereas I had trained seriously for weeks before. I had done many drills and games for sure, improved alot as well. But I hadn't really got my mental ready for such an event. I had too much bad pressure I guess, I felt very nervous, as everyone was watching me play you know. It was my first 'big show'. Then I missed too many shots I normally make, without thinking about them for some. I was simply thinking too much maybe. So it is a concrete example of what you've said : "shoot without thinking!" /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/wink.gif

I wish I could play more tournaments, and I'm looking forward to it in the long run - pool isn't very popular in France, except in Paris area. Tournaments, whatever the level or the prize to win, are to my mind a good thing to gain experience, deal with pressure, and think about it and your weak/good points in your play when it's over. Then you return to your pool room and make a better training. It's kinda loop in a way. - am I clear?... I guess I'm starting thinking in French here! /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/laugh.gif

cushioncrawler
01-22-2010, 04:26 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Pask</div><div class="ubbcode-body">.....So I totally agree with you Brad. It's the same thing for foreign language learning : I personnally don't think in French and then translate to English before posting a message here for instance, I directly think and write in English.....</div></div>This reminds me that hav allways wondered -- "how did humans think before language woz invented ???"
Language must hav made thinking a bit eezyr and better.
Me, myself, i think some things out by imagining the problem in writing -- or better still i actually write it down, and then think it out while looking at the words, ie i think with my eyes mainly (sort of).
So, i reckon that writing and language hav helped our thinking.
madMac haz three different parts of hiz brain working on the problem at the same time.
But this iz probly not 100% korrekt -- i suppoze that the (thinking bit of the) brain kan only think one thing at a time anyhow.
madMac.

1Time
02-22-2010, 10:23 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: bradb</div><div class="ubbcode-body">"Think before you shoot... then shoot without thinking!</div></div>
This quote is too simplistic to be useful.

Here's what to do.

Training:
Train at some length as if you are in competition - simulate. Meaning, train in a similar format etc. and as if in your mind and on paper (keep track) you are playing for the reward / loss of winning / loosing.

Establish and execute real rewards / losses for winning / loosing while in training. These would be less than the actual reward / loss. For example, a loss will cost you something you value like a loss of spending power from your discretionary money, and a win will give you spending power over more of your discretionary money.

This type of training will condition you to play better and increase your chances of winning in a "real" competition.

Choking:
Choking starts with a perception of change in the conditions of the shot. For example, you think about how much loss or reward is on the line, instead of focusing on the shot as you have in training. Another example, you get to the last ball and shoot to make it, but don't give enough consideration to positioning the CB as you have with previous shots perhaps in part because there's no "next" ball for which to position the CB.

You simply carry your rhythm / thinking / shooting forward another shot. Use on your game winning shot whatever you used in practice that led you to believe you could succeed in a competition. As with previous shots, I focus on making the shot, pocketing the OB and CB positioning. And I pretty much block out all non-essential input. Another thing that helps me and likely would help others is to shoot the last ball as if positioning the CB for shape on an imaginary next ball. Of course this should be done in training before competition.

pooltchr
02-22-2010, 01:12 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: 1Time</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: bradb</div><div class="ubbcode-body">"Think before you shoot... then shoot without thinking!</div></div>
This quote is too simplistic to be useful.

Here's what to do.

Training:
Train at some length as if you are in competition - simulate. Meaning, train in a similar format etc. and as if in your mind and on paper (keep track) you are playing for the reward / loss of winning / loosing.

Establish and execute real rewards / losses for winning / loosing while in training. These would be less than the actual reward / loss. For example, a loss will cost you something you value like a loss of spending power from your discretionary money, and a win will give you spending power over more of your discretionary money.

This type of training will condition you to play better and increase your chances of winning in a "real" competition.

<span style="color: #FF0000">I don't know as that is actually necessary. If choking is a problem, the first step is to determine what is causing it. The two primary causes are an rush of adreneline that causes physical changes, or a disruption of your routines, which creates mental stress. Once you identify the sourse of the problem, you can take the proper steps to address it.

Yes, you do need to train, but you need to train yourself to execute every time, using the same routines, mental checklists, and mechanics. Proper training will create habits that will be very natural, and will happen automatically, even when under pressure </span>

Choking:
Choking starts with a perception of change in the conditions of the shot. For example, you think about how much loss or reward is on the line, instead of focusing on the shot as you have in training. Another example, you get to the last ball and shoot to make it, but don't give enough consideration to positioning the CB as you have with previous shots perhaps in part because there's no "next" ball for which to position the CB.

You simply carry your rhythm / thinking / shooting forward another shot. Use on your game winning shot whatever you used in practice that led you to believe you could succeed in a competition. As with previous shots, I focus on making the shot, pocketing the OB and CB positioning. And I pretty much block out all non-essential input. Another thing that helps me and likely would help others is to shoot the last ball as if positioning the CB for shape on an imaginary next ball. Of course this should be done in training before competition. </div></div>

<span style="color: #FF0000"> If you are thinking about winning, the outcome of the shot, the people watching the match, or anything else when you are shooting, you are subjecting yourself to possible choking. That is the reasoning behind the "think before shooting" statement. You make all the shot decisions as far as angle, speed, spin before you ever get down on the shot. When you are down on the shot, you just clear your mind, and execute the shot. If you have practiced the right things the right way, you don't need to be thinking about anything at that point. You allow yourself to naturally do what you have trained yourself to do.

Steve</span>

bradb
02-22-2010, 01:12 PM
All very good. But after you've done all that.... think before you shoot then shoot without thinking.

1time, you obviously did'nt read the article I posted. Brad

PlayersChoiceSTL
02-23-2010, 12:03 AM
It must be the month for articles on pressure!

There is an excerpt from Dr. Chris Stankovich's "Mind of Steel: Mental Toughness for Success in Pool" in the February issue of Inside English.

As Pask mentions above, Dr. Stankovich maintains that the way you think about a difficult situation affects the outcome. If you consider the situation as a challenge, your mind provides you ideas on what to do next. When you perceive the situation as a threat of losing the game, however, your anxiety level increases and the thought process stops sometimes causing a choke.

"Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose." ~ Yoda to Annakin Skywalker

Let the force be with you. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

1Time
03-03-2010, 12:42 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: bradb</div><div class="ubbcode-body">All very good. But after you've done all that.... think before you shoot then shoot without thinking.</div></div>No, it remains too simplistic to be useful. If wanting something useful, read my previous post.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: bradb</div><div class="ubbcode-body">1time, you obviously did'nt read the article I posted. Brad </div></div>Right, and instead I posted something useful.

1Time
03-03-2010, 12:47 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: pooltchr</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> <span style="color: #FF0000">I don't know as that is actually necessary. If choking is a problem, the first step is to determine what is causing it. The two primary causes are an rush of adreneline that causes physical changes, or a disruption of your routines, which creates mental stress. Once you identify the sourse of the problem, you can take the proper steps to address it.

Yes, you do need to train, but you need to train yourself to execute every time, using the same routines, mental checklists, and mechanics. Proper training will create habits that will be very natural, and will happen automatically, even when under pressure </span>

<span style="color: #FF0000"> If you are thinking about winning, the outcome of the shot, the people watching the match, or anything else when you are shooting, you are subjecting yourself to possible choking. That is the reasoning behind the "think before shooting" statement. You make all the shot decisions as far as angle, speed, spin before you ever get down on the shot. When you are down on the shot, you just clear your mind, and execute the shot. If you have practiced the right things the right way, you don't need to be thinking about anything at that point. You allow yourself to naturally do what you have trained yourself to do.

Steve</span> </div></div>
<span style="color: #00ffff">Try learning the proper use of the quote function. Until you practice that simple function, I won't consider your input worth my time to read.</span>

pooltchr
03-03-2010, 08:07 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: 1Time</div><div class="ubbcode-body">[]Try learning the proper use of the quote function. Until you practice that simple function, I won't consider your input worth my time to read </div></div>

That is certainly your option.
Have a nice day.

Steve

Bambu
03-03-2010, 10:44 AM
Originally Posted By: bradb"

Think before you shoot... then shoot without thinking!

If I had to pick one tip as the best I ever heard, that would be it.

1Time
03-03-2010, 12:10 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: pooltchr</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: 1Time</div><div class="ubbcode-body">[]Try learning the proper use of the quote function. Until you practice that simple function, I won't consider your input worth my time to read </div></div>

That is certainly your option.
Have a nice day.

Steve </div></div>
That's very gracious of you to acknowledge. Imagine that, properly using the quote function. So, what the hell were you saying?

1Time
03-03-2010, 12:14 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Bambu</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Originally Posted By: bradb"

Think before you shoot... then shoot without thinking!

If I had to pick one tip as the best I ever heard, that would be it. </div></div>
Many wouldn't recognize a good tip if it were attached to the end of their cue.

Here's a tip many fail to recognize: take pool lessons.

Pask
03-03-2010, 01:14 PM
I tell you what, I've recently noticed some improvement in my 'mental play'. Of course, as I've stopped competition for the current season for some reason (I should post a thread about that because I think it'd be worth a discussion), so I haven't palyed official matches since then. But what I mean here is that I've noticed some improvement in practice, and when I play games with other players around or alone.

I think Brad's saying should be the right summary of what has happened to me these days. I've noticed that now I feel better at ease with focusing on the table, without thinking of my stroke, my shot, things around me or whatever. OK, that doesn't mean I leave my brain on the chair! I keep thinking of my plan of attack, of shot making etc. But when I'm down on the table to prepare my shot, I switch to autopilot. And it works : now I run out more tables, when I get ball in hand I generally finish. And I also think positive : as I've got this automatic shot routine (pardon my French here, hope you see what I mean) I know that I can make it each time I get in stance. No reason for missing. And after, if I ever miss, it's not because I didn't train enough, not because I'm bad or low level player etc, it's just because I didn't calculate the right thing to make the shot. But if I miss I know that my stroke was good, my fundamentals right etc. And most of the time now, even if I miss a shot it is rewarding : I've noticed that most the time I've just missed by a slight margin, I'm not off the shot too much (re-pardon my French!). And it does help me to think positive! Before, when I missed I used to think : "arrrgh! that's awful, I'm so bad!". Now I think : "well, not that bad, just a half millimeter off, I'll make it better next time!".

Why such a step forward? Thanks of a lot of pratice, and because I've organized my drills in a way that enable me to work on my weaknesses, my fundamentals, different types of strokes regarding the game, and also my preshot routine. It isn't fun sometimes, but so much rewarding eventually.

I guess this kind of automatic stuff is what refers to subconcious as I've read on Pocket Billiard Review articles on mental for pool. As long as you train, your brain stocks successful routines and they become like reflexes, so you can execute them without thinking (and you mustn't think at that moment!). The preshot routine is very important because you have your own gestures that will define the several steps of the preshots (chalking, stepping around, aiming etc). Among these steps are triggers for your brain that will put you on autopilot mode for each phases of the shot making. Fargo's (I think it's Mike Page) videos about preshot routines are very interesting as well.

So, I don't mean I'm the best, kinda pool robot, and I haven't played matches since I stopped official season. But I've been feeling so much better at practice, and now I've got kinda good comfortable rhythm when I'm on the table. I think that finding a rhythm when you run a table is also important to feel comfortable and trust your game.

I hope this little experience of mine, at my modest level, will help.

pooltchr
03-03-2010, 01:15 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: 1Time</div><div class="ubbcode-body">[. So, what the hell were you saying? </div></div>

I wrote exactly what I was saying, and you quoted it. Did you read it?

I don't know what I said that set you off, but whatever it was, if you want to ignore my posts, as I said, you are welcome to do so. I've been teaching pool for 10 years, and playing for nearly 50. There are a few people who might appreciate learning some of what I have learned over the years. But I'm not going to force it on anyone. Ignore it if you like, but don't go getting all wound up about it. Just bypass my posts if they are a waste of your time.
Thanks

Steve

1Time
03-03-2010, 02:01 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: pooltchr</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: 1Time</div><div class="ubbcode-body">[. So, what the hell were you saying? </div></div>
</div></div>

Properly using the quote function - excellent. But won't answer my question. So I guess what you had to say to me wasn't that important. No problem.

pooltchr
03-03-2010, 02:06 PM
Obviously, I have nothing to say that you consider important.
That's fine. Just skip over my posts.
Thanks

Steve

1Time
03-03-2010, 03:18 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: pooltchr</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Obviously, I have nothing to say that you consider important.
That's fine. Just skip over my posts.
Thanks

Steve </div></div>
Seems like a reading comprehension problem. Again, and for your benefit, if you insist on not properly quoting my reply, I will not bother reading such posts. But if you properly quote my post, I will read and reply. And of course I look forward to reading your other posts as well.

wolfdancer
03-03-2010, 03:23 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">1time, you obviously didn't read the article I posted. </div></div>....ya think?
Thanks for the link, Brad....I used to be a subscriber, and kind of forgot about the site.

PlayersChoiceSTL
03-03-2010, 03:30 PM
Can we get back on topic please, and take the verbal banter outside? Thanks!