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DSAPOLIS
11-05-2002, 05:31 PM
The Keys to Achieving Dead Stroke
by
Blackjack David Sapolis

What is "Dead Stroke"?


Dead Stroke is characterized by several different occurrences within your
mind and your surroundings. You feel as though you can beat anyone. You
feel as though you are capable of doing anything at the table, engrossed
in your task and oblivious to your surroundings. The cue IS an extension
of your arm and you perform flawlessly as you maintain complete control
over your emotions and your actions. Throughout your performance, you
maintain high self-confidence, strong focus on the task at hand, a
fearless attitude, and self composure. Quite simply, your mind and body
are working in complete harmony to create the phenomenon of "Dead Stroke".


But how do we get there?

The first step to answering that question is to let you know how you will
not get there. You can't "force" yourself into playing in the zone, It
just doesn't work. What usually happens, is that you frustrate yourself
more by believing that your game will get better by you getting angry at
it. This is counter-productive, and you will play worse. Though you can't
"force" your way into the zone, there are 5 keys to "entering" the zone.

The password is C-I-L-A-S.


C- Confidence in your ability
I- Immersion into the task
L- Letting go of mistakes
A- Autopilot
S- Stay in control

Confidence in your ability


It is impossible to enter the zone when you are not confident in your
abilities. If YOU are not confident in your abilities, who will be? What
is self confidence? Self confidence is the strength of your belief in how
well you can play. You can tell yourself over and over that you are the
best, but if you don't believe it deep down inside you gut, it doesn't
mean a thing. The key to this is being realistic in your evaluation of
your true abilities. Knowing your limitations is just as important as
knowing your strengths. Telling yourself you can win a match doesn't help
much if you don't have the physical abilities to back it up. Confidence
can be worked with, though. Identify the things that boost your confidence
as well as the things that drag it down. Don't just identify the key
factors, identify everything down to the smallest detail, including the
way you interpret the general atmosphere of the room when you are slipping
and rising. By identifying these key cues, you begin to see exactly where
"the line" exists between the two. You will recognize the signs of
slipping confidence earlier in competition and be able to treat the
symptoms more effectively. Getting to know your game and how you react to
it (positively and negatively) is extremely important, but often neglected
by scores of frustrated pool players.

Immersion: Can you become immersed in the task?

Most of know how to concentrate, but do we know how to immerse ourselves
in the task we are faced with? This relies on focus. We are what we focus
on. We focus with our eyes, and our attitudes. If we focus our eyes within
the six rails and the playing surface of the table, we can remain focused,
but what if it is negative focus? What if we don't like what's going on
there? Nobody feels good when the other guy is rattling off rack after
rack and we sit in the electric chair awaiting our next chance at the
table. Later on, I will discuss momentum, but for now let's look at
ourselves as we sit helpless in the chair. Identify your emotions and your
thoughts while this is occurring. It is quite normal to have negative
thoughts and feelings, but that can be turned around. It will be
impossible to go to the table and expect "Dead Stroke" after you just sat
in a chair for 5-10 minutes telling yourself how bad the entire situation
is. Adjust your attitude while sitting in the chair. Remain focused on the
table while the other guy is shooting, reading the rack, seeing patterns,
etc. Concentrate on your breathing and remain "centered". This way you
remain at the table, even though the other guy is shooting. Mentally, you
avoid getting "cold" and you will keep a good attitude. This can be
practiced by watching others play.
While you are at the table, you can remain immersed by concentrating on
the playing surface of the table. This is harder than it sounds, but
recognize and identify the things that pull your eyes from the table. By
doing so, you can see where your focus is being detracted. Every time you
lose focus, focus need to be reapplied. Set up a routine that gets you
back into focus, and add it to your pre-shot routine.

Letting go of Mistakes

It's not so much the fact that you blew the last shot, it's how you
process the information from that experience into your subconscious. When
you make a bad shot, or miss position, can you put it all behind you and
move forward? It's bad enough that you missed the shot, but don't make the
situation worse by attacking yourself. Most of us defeat ourselves by
dwelling on the negative occurrences that occur during competition. We
don't need that baggage hitting us in the butt as we're bending down to
run the next rack. Prepare a plan to deal with mistakes and errors
immediately. Understand that mistakes, errors and bad luck happen to the
other guy too. We want to be a step ahead of the game and deal with our
mistakes positively so that the missed shot doesn't effect our next shot.
Errors and mistakes show us what to work on in practice. They are not
designed to drag us down, they are designed to show us how and where we
need improvement.

Autopilot - Can you make it feel automatic?

Damn right you can! Through repetition, any task can be made to feel
automatic and second nature. It's the same thing with focus and
concentration. The more it is practiced and applied, the more familiar you
become with the task. This takes time, it won't happen overnight. After
applying what I call "super focus" you will begin to see a change in your
approach to the table.

Control: How to maintain it

To be in control of what is happening on the table, you must first be in
control of what is happening inside of your head. Our emotions are fueled
by our reactions to situations. Our reactions are filtered through our
attitudes. In pool, remember that there is a fine line between being
"overly excited" and being "pumped". Crossing that line can lead us into
anxiety, fear and a myriad of other negative emotions. We need to achieve
focus, but when there we must maintain it by keeping our goals directly in
front of us. Never push your ultimate goal to the side, or move past it in
haste. Remain focused on achieving your goals during competition.

Momentum: Where to get it!

So you're sitting in the chair helplessly watching the other guy dissect
rack after rack. You've got callouses on your butt, but all the while you
try to remain calm, self coaching yourself, and reassuring yourself that
you'll soon enough reclaim your table.
In cases such as this, remember the pendulum theory: Momentum swings both
ways. Also, if an object has momentum and it goes far enough in one
direction, it's bound to crash into something sooner or later.

So how do you create momentum when you don't have it?

Follow this 4 step plan!
1) Always remember that when wanting the momentum to swing your way, you
must start somewhere!!!! Mulling over the situation helps nothing but to
drag your confidence and motivation down further. Keep your focus applied
at the table, and when it is your turn to shoot, make it count!

2)View each shot and every opportunity at the table as a chance to turn it
all around!!!!!!! Going to the table with a poor attitude will bring about
poor results. Maintain an attitude geared towards positivity rather than
negativity.

3) Don't wait for momentum to happen by chance!!! Momentum is closely
related to your confidence level. Momentum does not swing towards the side
that believes he is doomed. Believe in yourself and your abilities and
CREATE momentum by boosting your confidence.

4)Believe that every single shot is a spark that lights your flame of
confidence. Every shot made should add to your flame of confidence. The
more the flames grows, the bigger the fire becomes. It can blaze, or it
can smolder. This depends on many factors, but it is an excellent example
of imagery.

stickman
11-05-2002, 09:06 PM
Autopilot pretty much sums it up for me. On the rare occassions that I feel in the "Zone", everything just seems to click without me thinking too much about it. It is a lack of confidence that usually causes me to begin over-thinking my play.

Chris Cass
11-05-2002, 11:40 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: stickman:</font><hr> It is a lack of confidence that usually causes me to begin over-thinking my play.<hr></blockquote>

Hi Jim,

For me this is a rare occassion. The over-thinking comes in when the cb controls me instead of me controlling it. I found out what was going on with my game. I saw it in tape and also found out after putting the readers on that my ferrule was cracked in 6 spots. Don't know if I'd ever find out if it wasn't for the post on looking at the tip through a microscope. LOL Thank God, I have another ivory blank. Always keep one for a spare.

It seems it was in my stance. Seems my stance was too straight forward. This caused my aim to be off slightly but enough to rocket everything into ablivion(sp). Even, my grip was twisting. LOL Don't ask me how? I have no clue. Hope I can straighten it out by Sat.'s tourney in Burlington, Ia. /ccboard/images/icons/smile.gif

Regards,

C.C.~~thanks to Sid's post, I found my ferrule problem.

Scott Lee
11-05-2002, 11:59 PM
Jim...and the confidence begins with fine-tuning the stroke! Did you see the many similarities in what David says here, and what we shared in our lesson? I think this has the beginnings of another thread on the 'mechanical' vs 'feel' styles of play. Virtually ALL pros play by 'feel'
and sometimes incorporate the mechanical side into it. Conversely, virtually ALL pros had to learn the mechanical side to get where they could utilize the 'feel'! Like I have always said, "knowledge, without execution, is of very limited use." Without a precise, smooth stroke, you'll spend YEARS longer trying to get to the level that Mike and Cheesemouth are talking about. Even when you GET to that level, if things don't seem to be going right...most smart players go right back to the basics, and smooth it out.

Scott Lee

Chris Cass
11-06-2002, 12:41 AM
Scott,

You are soooooo right. Have you've gotten your Master yet? When are you coming to town? Well, if you do please Email me.

Regards,

C.C.~~he just ain't whistling Dixie.

Rod
11-06-2002, 12:51 AM
Hi Chris,
Well I'm begining to see we really have some things in common. As far as the ferrule or business end, I had a cracked one myself. That was a while back and more recent was a chunk out of one tip, and Later comes a somewhat mushroomed tip that went flat and fuzzy. I found them all by putting on the readers. I guess were taking that end for granted. Need to do a visual with readers at home once in a while. I'm not sure it really hurt my game but there is always a question.

My stance can get a little to sideways then my left eye gets to far over the cue. The only other problem is I may get over the c/b or crowd the c/b, that makes me feel a little cramped so it's easy for me to detect.

Glad you found your problem/s. Somehow you've got into steering the cue instead of letting it swing naturally. No doubt there must be a grip pressure change too. Be really aware of that when you practice. I'm sure you'll sort it out. One thing I would do is some shoulder stretching. Keep your right arm straight, then use your left arm underneath and pull your right arm across your chest and vise versa. A golf exersize is hold a club or a broom in both hands with both arms straight past shoulder width then over your head behind you. It only takes a couple of minutes and will help you with tension in your upper body. The more stretched the muscles, the more relaxed they are. I do the last one at the pool room sometimes with my pool cue. Sometimes we just play and forget about unknown parts that can effect our game. Just a couple of suggestions that could help. It's either that or start mowing the lawn./ccboard/images/icons/smile.gif ha ha ha

bluewolf
11-06-2002, 04:34 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Scott Lee:</font><hr> Jim...and the confidence begins with fine-tuning the stroke! Did you see the many similarities in what David says here, and what we shared in our lesson? I think this has the beginnings of another thread on the 'mechanical' vs 'feel' styles of play. Virtually ALL pros play by 'feel'
and sometimes incorporate the mechanical side into it. Conversely, virtually ALL pros had to learn the mechanical side to get where they could utilize the 'feel'! Like I have always said, "knowledge, without execution, is of very limited use." Without a precise, smooth stroke, you'll spend YEARS longer trying to get to the level that Mike and Cheesemouth are talking about. Even when you GET to that level, if things don't seem to be going right...most smart players go right back to the basics, and smooth it out.

Scott Lee <hr></blockquote>

I have only been in the zone twice while playing pool. Each time it was a time of being sick of my left brain talking all this crap and just saying 'im not going to worry about all of that'.then i just hit balls, not even caring about anything except how my stroke felt perfect.

being a beginner,cant be eloquent on this and havent really analyzed it but it feels kind of like an active type of meditation to me.

bw

stickman
11-06-2002, 08:32 AM
Yes, Scott, I did notice the many similarities between what you teach and what Dave is saying. I feel like learning the proper mechanics and practicing them until they become a subconscious act is where feel is developed. Lack of practice is my biggest downfall at this time.

JayCee
11-07-2002, 05:02 PM
Stickman,

I agree with you 100% on learning the fundamental mechanics and practicing them until they have become so ingrained they are "automatic." I too feel lack of "practice" is another contributing factor to the stagnation of my progress.

JayCee

JayCee
11-07-2002, 05:05 PM
Scott,

I'm really looking forward to seeing you in 2 wks (11/17). Make sure you're well rested and I'll do the same b/c I have great expectations and need a lot of work!

JayCee

Scott Lee
11-11-2002, 07:09 PM
JC...I'll be there! See ya Sunday at noon!

Scott

preacherman
11-11-2002, 07:46 PM
He I'm looking for players for Barley's BCA 8-ball league starting on November 14th at 7:00 pm.

They have a great pool room at:
www.barleysatlanta.com/AboutLeagues.asp (http://www.barleysatlanta.com/AboutLeagues.asp)

My site is: www.geocities.com/pool4christ/ (http://www.geocities.com/pool4christ/)

If interested please contact Barley's for me at:
770-975-1350.

Either you could play on our team or another team.
I just would like to see you join the league.

Jim

bluewolf
11-11-2002, 09:02 PM
David,

I appreciate your thoughts on what dead stroke is and ways to achieve this state. When this first happened to me, I described it the best I could to ww for the experience transcended words. My experience was not exactly like what you describe.

I was feeling very crappy that night and did not think I could hold a cue much less make any balls because my hands were shaking that night. We had already payed to play so I just started hitting balls. I described what happened to me as being in a 'trance'. I had no thoughts of confidence or being able to beat anyone, I was just totally immersed in stroking the balls.It is true that I was making shots that I have never made. My body was stroking a ball in a way that I had never done before. At that time, I had not worked on position, yet was getting position on shots.

I think it was totally living in the moment like when I paint and everything else including distractions goes away.

I am wondering if this 'zone' or deadstroke can be different as a result of a person's makeup.

bw