View Full Version : Article on choking under pressure

02-03-2010, 01:05 PM
I mentioned this in a previous post, and now the text has been released, so I thought I would post it for all to read.
The article uses golf as an example but of course it can apply to pool also. Brad


02-03-2010, 07:14 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: bradb</div><div class="ubbcode-body">http://hpl.uchicago.edu/Popular%20Press/Pop%20PDFs/How%20to%20Avoid%20Choking%20under%20...pdf </div></div>Thanks, Bradley.
Need this badly.

02-04-2010, 08:22 AM
Hi Bradb,

very interesting pdf file. It reminds me of Chris coaching Peter Ebdon to become world champion in snooker. He gave Peter this one word mantra 'smooth' ... this because Peter's technique was and is not the straightest of the pro's ... so he had to cue very smooth. It worked eventually.



02-04-2010, 09:45 AM
I saw Peter in the 80,s and he was awesome.


02-04-2010, 12:05 PM
Its amazing how much sports like pool, golf or other precision games require a sort of instictive approach. You have to disconnect your mind in a way and then trust your body to perform as practiced.

Peter was a great player, he was the epitome of precision, I can see why his coach tried to get him to relax a bit and smooth out his stroke. I'm sure he was going thru everythinhg in his mind on every shot, thats a lot of pressure in a big match.

02-05-2010, 06:32 AM
Peter was very intense ... too intense in fact. We spent quite a bit of time together and he's a very relaxed enjoyable guy. He's still a great player, but competition is very hard a the top now.



02-05-2010, 12:46 PM
Thanks for the link Brad, this should be good information to me. I'm currently studying a series of articles - maybe known by some people here already - by Joe Waldron, PhD. psycholigist (retired), on Pocket Billiards Review website (http://www.sunburstselect.com/PBReview/). This series deals with many aspects of psychology used for pool playing (mental control, concentration, self-hypnosis principles etc). I've printed them and put them in my pool training classbook. They are very interesting, and J. Waldron sometimes say that these topics can deal with most of individual sports such as golf by the way.

Here are the direct links to each article dealing with pool pshycology :


02-05-2010, 01:06 PM
Joe is a frequent poster here on the forum, his studies are well respected.

02-05-2010, 01:20 PM
I had some lessons similar to the topics in Joe's articles when I was learning teaching techniques. For instance, for concentration before shooting balls, what he says reminds me of what I actually do (almost unconsciously now as I've been teaching for about 2 years and a half) each time just before opening my class door. Teaching English (or any other foreign language) isn't like teaching maths, you have to entertain your students to make them speak and the course 'alive'. This isn't very easy when you begin teaching and requires more than knowledge about grammar, vocabulary and so on.

I was surprised to see similar methods for concentration at pool because anxiety and mental are some of my weak points at pool, especially when playing for competition. Pool and billiards are definately great games to me : it requires so much more than just knowing how to sink balls - more than just knowing grammar and vocabulary... /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/wink.gif

02-07-2010, 02:12 PM
I had to go back and read some more on choking because yesterday I completely lost my stroke in a 9ball tournament.

I had practiced for hours the day before and felt I was playing solid and game ready. When I got to the club there were some new players there and they were near pro class, so I was a bit nervous. When I started warming up on a practice table I could'nt make a ball, so I was getting a bit irritated with myself.

The first game was against a player I had beaten easily in the past but now I barely squeaked out a hill hill for a win.

In the second match my stroke completly deserted me and I was slashing away like a beginner. I can only describe it as a sort of a pool twilight zone where I was a sad, desperate figure showing moments of hope followed by comical displays of misguided circus shots flying around the table to disaster.

I left thinking seriously of giving it up for a while, but this morning I went to my own table my stroke was back?

This game is a love hate thing for me sometimes. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/cry.gif

-brad (With a small b)

02-08-2010, 07:12 AM
The same choking issue as the one you've mentioned has been happening to me in competition. I've had quite exactly similar symptoms. When I play an official match, I don't mind losing provided that I lost because my opponent was better than me, which is fair. But losing because I played crap pool whereas I have trained alot and seriously, played good pool (for my level) when practicing, then this is quite unfair and furstrating.

I've stopped local competition now, since the last regional tornament, for some reasons. So, now I obviously keep on training, but with less pressure because I don't think about what I would do on next tournament's day. Now I have plenty of time ahead to organize my practice sessions, and work more on mental by reading articles and practicing it as well.

Now I've decided to stop for this season, I've also realized one of the reasons for my choking may be due to somewhat excessive training. Before the last 2 tournaments, I went to the pool room almost everyday, for between 2 and 4 hours of training. I practiced very seriously, and improved for sure. But I guess this rhythm wasn't ideal because now I guess it has also brought up more pressure. And it also brought some fatigue in a way, even if I didn't feel tired. Now I think it's better to be cool at training, and practice seriously but during short sessions each time. I also realized that even if I enjoy playing pool, this intense training couldn't be efficient after working all day.

There's one article by Joe Waldron dealing with practice rhythm, and I'm looking forward to following his advice about that. Now I prefer improving slowly but surely - and efficiently. Looking back at what happened to me, I think that I expected a bit too much in official matches compared to good results during (too intense) practice. This was not well-balanced.

Of course this isn't the only reason of my choking, but I feel like changing my practice rhythm should be a good start to work on better mental control in order to avoid choking in the log run.

02-08-2010, 10:26 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> When I got to the club there were some new players there and <span style='font-size: 20pt'>they were near pro class, so I was a bit nervous.</span></div></div>

There you lost it.

If you really think these guys are better than you then why bother playing!

OTOH, if you expect to lose, you can play free! Where is the pressure?

Your aim is to play your game and go for your shots 100% , irrespective of who your opponent is, you might surprise yourself..

If every player had your attitude the champ today would stay the champ till he dropped dead just because at one time he was better than the rest!

When you play pool, you play have an opponent, not a personality. You do what you have to to to win.......end of story.

Never bow down.


02-08-2010, 12:21 PM
Thanks for the chewing out Qtec, in a way I needed that.

But I don't think it was the new players that bothered me as much as the expectations I had on my level of play. I have won this tournament in the past, so I think I had put to much pressure on myself to do so again.

As Pask mentioned above its not about losing to better players... its about playing below your ability that is so devastating!! I had several opportunities to beat my opponents in situations that I would normally run out on, but I lost my confidence some how.

I beleive Pask is right when he mentioned the training regimen he had. I do the same on my home table with 5 or 6 hrs of hard practice a day, Then I play in an 8ball league every week. Maybe its to much pool. To much to think about.


02-08-2010, 02:36 PM
Maybe so many hours of practice a day is fine, provided that you have time for that. In my case, I went out to practice pool just after getting back from work : my membership at the pool hall allows me to play for free until 9.00 PM. So during that intensive training period, I used to go to work from 8 AM to 5 PM, arrived at about 5.15 PM at home, take a shower, change my uniform for civies, have a quick dinner around 6 PM and then take my car downtown to the pool room. Then I trained as much as I could with just very small breaks (5-10 minutes), in order to take maximum advantage of free playing. Now, looking back at it, I think this wasn't that great, even if I did improve - at training at least, not in real matches.

If you have plenty of time during the day for practice, then maybe you could try to keep the same total practice time length (5-6 hours), but with big breaks. For example, an hour working on that and that, then a break, have fun with a game or two, break again, then go back to another series of drills on another topic etc. The body needs some rest to avoid fatigue later - like in my case - but while you're having a rest, the brain can then take time to analyse and save up what you've learned. I guess I forgot that as well during my too intensive training. Maybe you should then keep the same training time but organize it differently.

02-08-2010, 06:11 PM
I agree, break the routine, maybe go to the club and play for practice instead of playing at home where there is no pressure. Vary the times. I know that when I came back from vacation a year ago I was able to get right back up to game level without practice, so maybe I can cut down on it a bit.

Incidently I had a bit of bad luck in my second match which I just could'nt recover from....

I had won my first game and was getting my confidence back. I ran the next game to the 5Ball. I had no shot on it so I hit it down over a pocket leaving opponent in an impossible snooker. The 5Ball sat on the edge of the pocket while my opponent studied the situation for at least half a minute. Suddenly the 5ball dropped!!!!... now I was snookered! I called over the ref and asked for a ruling, he said the only possible way to be fair was to re rack and start over.

I lost that next game and it just took the wind out of my sails.

I was wondering if anybody else has ever had a situatiuon like that? brad


02-13-2010, 08:22 AM
Thanks for the comments fellas. It is nice to hear that the time and effort were of use. I have a recent article on how to change bad habits that some folks might find useful. See
Changing bad habits (http://www.sunburstselect.com/PBReview/ChangingBadHabits.htm).

Currently I am working on updating and integrating all of these articles and some other stuff into an ebook. I could use a few good reviewers if anyone is interested. The ebook is about 70% completed but I am also in the middle of moving to Florida and it may be a few more months depending on the time I have to work on the illustrated text.

If you are interested in reviewing and commenting on the new text PM me and I will write back to your email address. I am looking for a breadth of reader / reviewers, some with little expereince and some with extensive experience playing and teaching pool playing.

02-13-2010, 09:06 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> But I don't think it was the new players that bothered me <u>as much as the expectations I had on my level of play.</u></div></div>


<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I do the same on my home table with 5 or 6 hrs of hard practice a day, </div></div>

Wow! That's a lot. Just one Q, when you do a drill or play the ghost, what is your mindset? Do you ever think about 'winning'?

One defining feature, IMO, of 'being in the zone' is that time stops. All that exists is now. This table, these balls and this shot. Thinking about winning should never come into it.

Anyway, sometimes you play bad and win, sometimes its the opposite. Your aim is to play as well as you can, that's all.

Play more people and practice less.



02-14-2010, 05:09 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: JoeW</div><div class="ubbcode-body">.....The ebook is about 70% completed but I am also in the middle of moving to Florida and it may be a few more months depending on the time I have to work on the illustrated text...</div></div>Joe -- good luck with your moov.
Me and madSherie are staying put on our cold hill in southern Ozz -- and we are installing a radiating cast iron wood heater in the billiard room -- a Morso 3610 -- this will allso help us to get on top of the damned trees taking over our big bush block -- ie more grass for our horses.
And i wont havta wear a skarff and beany and two track suites and two pairs of socks when praktising.
But, Florda aint got the weather for pool i think -- too hot.

02-14-2010, 09:29 AM
We go through about five cords of wood a winter in our part of NE Ohio. Been doing it for several years. I actually like cutting and splitting wood, cleaning up the land, keeping expenses down and all. I will not miss the below freezing temperatures. My daughter and her husband are also country people and love the woods so I know it will all be in good hands and we will be back here often with so many of our family and friends in the area. It is more like we are going on a permenent vacation.

Where we are moving to in Florida it is a moderate climate. We will be moving about 40 miles NW of Orlando to a place named Hawthorne at Leesburg. They have four Gold Crown IIIs in the club house and a daily 16 man tournament. With summer air conditioning the weather is good for the pool player.

Here in the US we have what are called "Active Retirement Communities." You have to be at least 55 years old, no pets, and a golf club style of living. In the place we chose there is a pretty good year round pool league from what I am told. So I will be playing every day and will not have to maintain the table, among other things.

BTW several years ago one of the local real experts on wood burners advised me to place an oscilating fan behind the wood burner. Seems that this type of system spreads the heat around much better though it is far cheaper than many other systems. If you do the math (air flow, high ceilings, ceiling fans and all) you will see that an oscilating fan is one of the best heat dispersal systems with a wood burner. We heat about 1,500 square feet including a 40 foot window wall with 14 foot ceilings (yeah I live in a barn)with a 24K btu burner (non catalytic too). At times it is 84 degrees in here and we have to open the doors in the dead of winter!

02-14-2010, 03:26 PM
Joe -- Hawthorne sounds very good -- especially az regards pool.
I agree that in the modern era a cool pool hall can aktually be a mecca in a hot climate.
Our home haznt any heating or cooling -- and no fans -- but we uze the cast iron kitchen wood stove (Stanley) for heating (and cooking) -- but half the house inklooding the billiard room iz closed off and freezing in winter.
Morso rate the 3610 at 6kW to 14kW -- 20486 to 47802 BTU/hr.
The internet sez that radiating stoves are better with high ceilings (like ours and yours) -- and say that ceiling fans are good -- but we dont need ceiling fans for cooling, so we wont be putting them in for heating neither -- and probly wont need oscillating neither.
And, "radiating" should be especially good -- koz the 3610 will be up against a 6ton concrete block wall.
But we are hoping that with the 3610 going 24/7, plus the Stanley part time, we will be very very cozy.
And we hav 100's of nice log'sized trees that need to be cut down -- to give the older trees space.