View Full Version : Dead Stroke, Zen, The Zone, Fleetwood Mac, ect....

03-05-2003, 01:41 PM
Inner game of tennis thread got into this abit but it deserves it's own thread. We have all at times jumped up at the table on a given night and found that everything felt right and that we could not miss. The pockets were huge, the aim needed for the pots was obvious and unmissable, and the cueball seemed that it was on a string and could be manuevered anywhere on the table with ease. For most players out there that is the exceptional night and it is very rare and can not be turned on and off when needed.

Larry got talking about Zen and the fact that a person can control when they get into that zone-like state. This greatly interested me. I have been playing this game alot in the past 10 years. My skills are at a point where I cannot see many more areas for improvement, on a given day when my mind is in the right state I can run multiple racks of nineball or 8-ball and put the pressure on anyone. The problem rises when I can not reach the right state of mind or when my opponent can do something to remove me from that state.

One thing that I learned a while ago that helps me reach a calm and zoned in state of pool was music. If music is being piped into the area I am playing I can hum to the beat, silently whisper the words, basically immerse myself in the music and let the game just flow. When I do this the shape comes natural, the pots split the pocket, very quickly the game becomes trivial and seems easy. I was recently at the Western Canadian 8-ball Championships and I saw a well known top player using a portable CD player before each of his games, I also saw one of the top women players using one as well on her way to winning the masters event. I wonder if any other players out there have used music to put you into a state of dead-stroke autopilot in a similar way.

One major problem with using the music is the fact that not always are you going to have music being piped into the place you are playing. Also while it works with almost any music for me there are afew songs that are less condusive then others at getting into the proper state, truely horrible songs with odd beats that lack a regular rythm can actually disturb the rythm of my game (though these songs are few and far between). It would be quite something to have a single wireless earpiece sending the perfect songs to a single ear, of course I am not sure some tournaments would allow this, I could see some people complaining that coaching could be done through such a system without the knowledge of the opponent.

Is the practice of using Zen very different then what is happening with the music? Are they similar in practice and putting a player into very similar states of mind? Could one use Zen in much the same way and avoid the problems that music faces. With music the state is sustainable to a point even without music if I can get a song into my head and then just silently hum or hear it from memory, but the effect is definately not as powerful or dependable as the real music. It is harder to get into the state and harder then to stay there.

Would be cool if anyone else has any tricks they use to get into certain states of mind, such as Zen, Music, or any other tricks you might have found to work. This area of the game strikes me at this point as being equally important as the physical aspects like the stroke.

03-05-2003, 03:44 PM
I agree with the music putting you in the state of mind. I have said this in a few threads previously, but I need some incentive to make me shoot good or get in a state of mind where I am doing what I need to do to win. Most of the time that incentive is to gamble. I'm a much better money player than tournament player. Tournaments just don't offer much of an incentive for me to take the game seriously. This is really because most of the tournaments around here are $5-10 entry fee. $100-200 for 1st place. Don't get me wrong, I need $100 as much as the next man, but my risk is only $5, my reward is $100. When I'm gambling, my risk might be $500, but the reward is also $500. That puts pressure on me to take the game seriously. I shoot better under pressure. I love being under pressure. It's a little sick, but it's like those people that love to get scared. It's a rush to shoot good when you have some cash on the line.

03-05-2003, 05:50 PM
Here is a good book on meditation. It looks at it a different way.

Journey of Awakening- a meditator's guidebook by ram dass

03-05-2003, 06:58 PM
Irish, on my desk right this minute is a copy of 'Pleasures of Small Motions' by Dr. Bob Fancher. It might be just the thing you are looking for. A lot of dead wood in it, but some real guidance on the psychological aspects of the game. Fancher assumes you already know how to play, so it's not pool instruction.

The public library got it for me - they had to borrow it from Mid-Continent Public Library, Antioch Branch, Gladstone, MO, and it will go back there when I turn it in. Couple of weeks from now.

Fancher is a psychotherapist and pool player and instructor. I recommend this book.

03-06-2003, 01:56 AM
Hi Irish:

Love the topic.

I'm no expert, this is just an opinion. --Lots has been written about drawing, playing sports like pool, golf and tennis -- all on the left side of the brain.

To me, the use of music makes sense as an aid to undistracted, natural play. Musicality is a left brain function. It's non-verbal. It's rhythmic. It stimulates the body and when the music is right -- it soothes and is pleasurable too. So it's not creating worrisome emotions. And that's the real benefit. It creates mental busywork that ties up our normal thought process. And it produces a calming barrier of ease which allows our senses to relax from their usual search for danger.

These are all plusses when you're playing pool. Zone players often speak of dulled senses of hearing, or sight beyond the tablespace. Peaceful feelings, calm thoughts,--No danger. No need for danger checks by the senses. Concentration increases on the focal point -- the game and the muscle memory to manage play. Voila! You be in the zone, dude.

Can people do it at will? Nobody is 100% on and in the zone EVERY time they play pool or golf or tennis, etc. Or there would be mega stars everywhere, I think.

Again, I'm no expert. But it seems there are ways to help enter the experience. IMO "thinking" (words in your head that create a negative or worrisome emotional response in us) KEEPS us out of the zone, keeps us from using muscle memory, --makes us miss.

--Thanks for the post. --Ted from Phoenix

03-06-2003, 10:43 AM
Very interesting topic, I have come to the conclusion that stress is what holds many of us back in our game. IMO the ability to overcome lies in the exorcise of the mental demons that scurry around in our heads.
For those who prefer music to shoot by, be careful what you ask for. An 8-ball team tourney I attended a month ago found our team seated in front of a very large pedestal speaker blaring hard-rock & rap. We complained to no avail & then someone actually unplugged it but then you couldnt hear any anouncements. I'm not kidding when I say it was loud-----you could feel it in your chest & when placing your hand on the table you could feel the vibration. How much Zen would it take to smooth this out? I have just finished reading Capelle's "play your best pool" & the section on the mental game was very good. I hope some of it sticks!
Best of luck! Dewey

03-06-2003, 12:07 PM
Yes you can use music to induce a state of calm & relaxation & focus, and it can also lead you to the door of the Zone & open it for you. The only way to go in & out at will, which takes a lot of time & training to acquire, is with self Hypnosis, then you can simply hum a tune in your head to begin the process. Yes I use the walkman music a lot & have for 10 years. The song I use is the soundtrack from the movie, Somewhere in time, or rachmaninov,rapsody on a theme from Paganini.

The biggest problem is what do you do when you are in the zone & fall out of it, or somebody pulls you out. You are in this warm protected wonderful place, and bang, it's like being born & being blown out into the bright lights & noise, it's awful. I had several people I could not beat. I would see them go in, their eyes would glaze over & they would get real quiet, then run 3 racks in a row. I would begin to ask them simple questions, they would give the right answer, then I would argue with them, saying that is not so, of which I knew better. It would bust them up, and that shark worked. I dont shark now, but there was a time that I did, and sharking will never go away, so you must have a defense for it. If you are playing, and you are asked a question, ignore it, when you finish your run & he is at the table, then say, oh by the way, the question you asked, then answer it for him while he is trying to play.
Some gamblers will cause a heated argument, in order to bust your calm up & get you up set. You must not allow anything to affect your wa when you are in competition.

If you do not have a technique to get into the zone, when you are pulled out, you are toast, you cant get back. I have a course using audio tapes that teaches you how to accomplish this.

Do not be discouraged, there will be some who will scoff at this or even make fun of your post. These are ignorant people who think great play means you have to get plastered on beer, or stoned on some illegal drug. These people just have not figured out why drugs are called dope, because only Dopes do them.

This is a path that few will walk, and fewer still will master & obtain it's secrets and it's benefits.

I have always felt that being in the zone was sort of like being under water. I am a scuba diver, and under water, things seem to slow down, vision sort of blurs, your focus becomes only on the table, you go into a state of grace, you dont hear the music any more, the waitress walks by with a platter of beers over her head, you do not see her, everything now is so clear & simple to you. When you begin to have these feelings, you are in, no question about this. Two of the greatest sports performances of the century occured in l906, pool, & in l912, track. Let me tell the pool story, perhaps I can tell the track story at another time.

The book is by the Greatest player & cueist, the greatest star & showman of all time. In his time he was equal in status to Dempsey & Ruth & Bobby Jones. The book is thirty years of billiards, by Willie Hoppe, l925. "quote, lesson No. 1 in the book is concentrate, mastery of the game of billiards is largely a state of mind. Ask Mike Siegel what is the most important thing in pool, that you can do to play great, he will answer you, concentrate, he knows. Tell me he was not deep in the zone when he went l50 & out on Zuglan.

In 1895 Hoppe was 7 years old, he went out on the road to tour & did not stop until the l950's. At 7 yrs old, he was doing exhibitions & supporting his family with his cue. His father printed up some hand bills, and he said "they fared forth to astonish the world" No brag, just fact, for that is what he did do.

You have seen me post what Lee Trevino of Golf says, a hungry dog hunts best. The scene is Paris, Jan l5, l906, the match is in the Grandball room of the Grand Hotel against the long time world champion, Maurice Vignaux, at l8.1 balkline for 500 points & a $1,000 purse, probably 30 grand in todays money, a diamond trophy & a champions cue that would be worth a fortune today. A young kid of only 18 takes on the greatest player in the world. It became a USA against Europe thing, each backed & placed hugh bets on their national hero. The kid is of course the under dog & is not supposed to win, l8 yr old kids dont win matches like this at that age.

Any thought of the kid taking out the old lion was just obsurd to the French. The day of the match his father let him sleep late & get plenty of rest. His father refused to let him touch his cue or practice. Instead of his normal 2 hr warm up session, he father took him for a long walk down the beautiful Champs Elysees. His father said to win, you need fresh air, exercise, then you will have a clear head and keen eyes for the match that night. His father kept up an incessant conversation to prevent him from brooding over the impending events. After the long walk, he was taken to a match at noon to see other contestants play. Hoppe begged to play some, his father resused. He tried to file his tip, his father would not allow him to touch his cue.

In the middle of the afternoon they finally went to eat something. His father ordered himself a nice meal, & Willie was ordered nothing but mutton broth & crackers. His father reminded him that he strickly controled his diet as carefull as he watched his billiards stroke. He said, Billiards players, like fine athletes in every other branch of any other sport, all eat sparingly before competition. His father wanted him to play that night untroubled by an overworked digestion. After the meal his father gave him his final directions on how to play the match to win. He covered diagram after diagram, each one getting more involved than the previous one. Keep the balls away from the corners, watch for a change to get the line, never take any chances in driving them out of balk, play safety if nothing better is offered.

Hoppe nodded, having heard the same speech over & over for the last 11 years. His game plan he intended to use was this time much simpler & more effective, just get on a run & keep the old lion sitting in his chair. 40 years later, that same concept would make another Willie, the greatest pool player of all time, Mosconi left more people sitting in their chairs than anyone else ever before him or after him in the pool game. At 5pm it was back to the room, for a nap, the kid was relaxed & in focus, and the long walk had brought a slight fatigue & he fell asleep like a baby. At 7 he father woke him up, he dressed and was quite calm & cool, the nerve strain had gone. His father then gave him his cue & Ivories for a 20 minute warm up. All of the great broadway stars came over for the match, Eddie Foy, the Frank Sinatra of his time, bet the ranch on the kid, as did the other Americans. Everyone arrived for the match dressed in splendid soup-and-fish, today that is called tux & tails. The comte de Dree arrives & makes a speech in French. They bank for the break & the game is on.

At half time the old Lion was leading the kid 266 to 228, the French figured the kid would now fold under the pressure, the odds swung nicely, and the Americans made new & larger bets covering the new & better line. The New York times asked the reporter on the scene to immediately send a report of a thousand words & 12 diagrams. This was becoming the mother of all billiard matches. The kid resumes the match, runs 2 & misses, the French are going wild, this kid is going to choke now. Hoppe slowly closes the gap, it is now Hoppe 28l, Vignaux 279, for the first time, he pulls ahead. Allow me now at this point of the match to let you hear what Hoppe wrote that occured to him at this place in the match, Quote" the rows and faces of the people are now faint & blured and far away like strange fish seen throught the greenish waters of an aquarium. In the stillness I am lost, sunk, abandoned at the bottom of the sea with this abstract problem in shifting Ivories. The voice of the Comte de Dree, the referee, is counting the points as I run them off. The click of the whirr of the balls are all that I hear, the noises of Paris are hushed and the world has paused on it's axis. 93 is the call, he finally misses & goes to his seat with a in a storm of American pride & applause. The French are looking a little pale, fortunes are bet on this match, some are going to be very rich, others are going to be very poor.

The old lion, far out of his prime, is very stiff at sitting for so long, & now shocked at the brilliant play of the kid, he is at bay now, and he can feel his mantle slipping from his shoulders, he walks to the table & misses his first shot. The French have their heads in their hands, the score is Hoppe 417, Vignaux, 295, he is letting the kid run away from him & mounting no charge or counter attack.

After a few exchanges between them, Hoppe comes to the table with a 83 points needed for victory, and he runs 57, 26 more to go & the balls roll bad in the middle of the table, a straight rail billiard players worst nightmare.
No shot, too wide for Le Masse, a kiss shot is out of the question. He remembers his fathers advise to play safe in this situation, he remembers his own personal game plan, to run out on the other guy & keep him in his seat. With no pause to study, he hits a very difficult 4 rail shot to make the carom & point, and of course, the place goes nuts.

Hoppe said, there is no stopping me now, I have the bit between my teeth & I am coming home, he faintly hears the referee counting the points now, et pour trois, he is now very tired, his cue now feels strangely heavy. It is now swinging mechnically & the ball counts et pur deux.

there have been a lot of great l4.l players put great runs together & get to l48, 2 to go, & choke & miss, and the opponent puts on a charge to run out on them. As any athlete & champion knows, getting there is easy, but putting it away, going over the finish line first, seperates the men from the boys.

Hoppe hears et pour en, and then et gagner.....He is violently grabbed by the Americans & being tossed into the air & carried around the room. Expensive top hats all went sailing into the air & are now being trampled under foot.
He feels his Fathers embrace, and then the madness stops suddenly, Eddie Foy begins to sing, the star spangled banner and all the Americans begin to sing with him. Hoppe said, so this is what it is like to be a champion. The old lion sits in a corner in defeat rolling a cigarette. There was no income tax on Hoppes winnings, and it has been rumored that Foy & other big gamblers won so much money, they gave the kid $l00,000 as a reward. When he came home, he was no longer a kid, and in today's money was a millionaire at 18, and champion of the world.

93 years ago, Willie Hoppe knew what the zone was, and how to get into it. For those of you who think you cant learn anything from older players or from those of the past, may I present to you peoples exhibit one, here is your blueprint on how to prepare for, & win a match. What Hoppe did was shoot straight, he innovated when in trouble, he never gave up when he was far behind & hit crunch time in the match, and he came, he saw, he conquered.
www.fastlarrypool.com (http://www.fastlarrypool.com) Best Wishes, Fast Larry Guninger

03-06-2003, 01:24 PM
Dear Mr. Dewey, I too try to compete or perform very difficult exhibitions in a place that sounds like Studio 54. In a disco, where your only objectives are to get stoned or drunk & laid, & everyone around you is in that same state, it does not take a lot of Zen or athletic proweress to get drunk or to stagger out of the door with a drunk chick in your arms.

Playing pool is 10 times mentally more difficult to play than golf. We have to perform hundreds of shots, the Golfer 68. He can miss 10 times and win, if we miss twice on the pro level, you generally lose.
We are playing constantly, the golfer hits a shot, then stands around for 5 minutes waiting to hit another one.
Let's examine Golf, they play in total silence which is only broken by the light applause of a nice shot, or a occasional roar of a Palmer hitting a frozen rope 3 wood stiff on a par 5, there was never any cheer like when AP hit one pure. You could be a mile away, and know it was him.

Golfers play in silence, you can have l0,000 line the fairway when Tiger Woods is about to hit, and you can hear a pin drop. On several occasions someone has taken a picture of him during his practice swings, they here the clic of the camera, and his caddy runs over saying who & where, the point to the offender, he grabs the camera & runs over & throws it into the lake next to the tee. Golfers take this concentration thing very seriously, they know in order to play great, they must be able to have a clear head.

Nothing I hate worse is to be playing in a joint & they are playing the local rock station. You get more commericals than music, and the commercials are designed to be obnoxious to grab your attention. How in the world can I concentrate when this jerk is screaming at me on the radio this is the car sellathon of the century, we are giving them away, come on down. They could bring in satellite music that has no commercials, and select a channel that is mid ground for most. I dont like music with lyrics to play by, I like it soft, low where I can hear it, but not loud enough where I am paying attention to it. When I play I listen to a lot of instrumentals, the worlds most beautiful music played by orchestras, Librace, James Galway, Yani, Symphonic LLoyd Weber, 101 instruments, The Boston Pops, none of what I listen to have any vocals, nobody sings any lyrics, it just lulls me into this soft mood. The only time I listen to elevator music is when I shoot pool. I love to go into a C&W bar & hear loud music, I dance a mean two step & Cotton Eyed Joe. I like hard rock, unless it is a blast & blare of nothing but noise, it has to be actual music for me to like it. I performed in a symphonic orchestra when I was a teenager & I have a love for all types of music, sorry Rap is not music, it is vulgar trash that makes me want to puke. Stop now, cut & paste bozo's.

Let's say you own a golf course, and want to put out some cool Rap for your younger golfers to play by, so you put a speaker on every tee, and when he begins to tee off, the rap is played with a db level equal to that of the space shuttle launch, the ground is shaking on a rictor scale of 7.5 & you cant hear your caddy say the big dog don't hunt on this hole, hit the 2 iron, play safe, Well you drill the big dog right into the lake, and go over & stomp the speaker to death. Yes, at the end of the day, all 18 speakers would be doa. Silence is golden on a golf course.

The owner puts new speakers in concrete bunkers so they cant run over them in their golf carts. They will show up with their deer rifles in their bags & blow them up with their 7.55 armour piercing rounds. Again not a speaker will work at the end of the day. If you put the speakers in a place where they could not be had, then the golfers would speak with their feet, they would walk off & not come back, then the owner would get the message.

The owner of the place you talked about only caters to the young kids who want their brains fried & scrambled by noise so loud, you could could call OSHA out & get the joint closed down. Ear plugs really dont work, and my only solution is to put on my walkman & turn up my volumn so loud is cancels out the rap crap.

The old big time pool rooms I came up in & played at in the midwest, were like libraries, you could hear your self think. It was quiet, like a church, because it was the church of the good hustler, they were not trying to be a bar or a damn disco, they sold pool.

No bar,No pin ball, no juke box, no bowling alley, just pool, this is Ames mister. Fast Eddy smiles at Charlie
Burns & says, this is Ames mister.

If I ran a place, I would try to have a corner where the older players, or the very serious players could go, where there would be no damn video game machines talking to them, no damn juke box close to them, and I would unplug every speaker in that area. That is what I did when I taught down at GA Tech University, one night after it closed, I got a ladder & went into the ceiling speakers & undid the wires to every speaker in my area, problem solved. They never did figure that one out.

A place can cater to both wants, a quiet corner for the old farts, and let it rip by the front door for the kiddies. I am telling you guys, your are destroying your hearing, when you all get to be 40, you are going to be wearing hearing aids, now go rap that one. Now this is going to bring down the wrath & attack of all these rap heads, I hope so, and it gets the one pocket guys off of my butt.

To answer your situation, if the noise was that loud at a competition, and it bothered me so much I knew it would affect my play, I would find the owner, tell him why I was leaving & never coming back, dont tell the counter guy, he don't give a flip, tell the owner, speak with your feet, that is your only solution to catch their attention. Where I teach I have a private room with 2 gold crowns in it, I have a dial where I can turn the music up, down or off. The music is pop, stuff everyone likes generally. When I teach or play in there, it is quiet, like a church. I found a place that does not drive me nuts, so can you, just look around & tell the owners what you want. Rap destroyed pool, killed it dead, and has been responsible for so much grief when owners wanted to get a license to open one up & people on the board all know a pool hall is a den of trouble. It was the world's first rap song, it appeared on broadway in the late 50's, when pool actually died. In l96l they made a movie which starred Robert Preston called the Music Man, you see ya got trouble my son, yes sir, right here in River City, this game is the devil's tool. It's a damn rap song, and I like it, so cut & paste this one also, Fast does like one rap song, so don't misquote me here. You got one, two, three, four, five, six pockets on a table, I mean any fool can shove a ball in a pocket, it takes brains and skill to score in a balk line game, the difference between the two, is one is a gentleman, billiards, and the other is a bum...
This bad image, was imprinted into a zillion heads, which came back to haunt & plague pool for the next 40 years. Shoot straight, innovate, no fear, and never give up, just run out on the other guy. VENI, VIDI, VICI. www.fastlarrypool.com (http://www.fastlarrypool.com) Best Wishes, Fast Larry Guninger

#### leonard
03-06-2003, 01:42 PM
I have to say that running 150 balls or better is the ultimate high. In my day I would always say if I had the choice of making love to the most beautiful women on this earth or running 150 I would take the 150. Sorry girls. Of course as I get older that memory is fading fast.####

03-06-2003, 04:49 PM
I believe that zone or no zone,it is not magic. A person does not play above the skills they have acquired.

I do know how to do this to a degree (certainly not perfectly)but My zone is based on my beginner skills just like another's zone is based on expert's skills.

But I do not think that this is taught. I do not think that this is easy at all. It took me many hours and years to be able to meditate well, but to go into and out of that state at will and to be able to block everything out except for the quiet is a master level skill. I at one time was able to block reasonably well for karate but was certainly no master and I am practicing this again so that I can become better. I think that it IS possible to be in the zone at will but I also think it takes a lot of dedication, practice and discipline to be able to do that just like it takes hours and years of practice to be an excellent pool player.

I am not so sure that one can teach this to another. I think that one can point out a path and that is why I gave a name of a book that was beneficial to me. I think that if people think that there is some kind of cookbook quick way to be able to do this, they will be disappointed. Really I think it comes from within the person seeking this, not something that can be taught.

just my .02


03-06-2003, 04:50 PM
Thanks alot for the responses everyone. Especially you Larry, the paragraph on falling out of the zone or being sharked out of the zone might be the most important thing I read all year, I must find a way to stop that from happening. Too bad ya live so bloody far away from me or else I might have actually popped by for a lesson on the mental side of the game.

03-06-2003, 05:02 PM
Dear Irish stranger, I am half irish & half austrian, so I give all Irish men who drink and all Krauts a big discount, these people need all the help they can get, beside we must stick together. If you are an engineer, I charge you double, you make me work twice as hard, I have to teach you every mechanical thing there is, then I have to begin all over & erase that & teach you now how to play by feel. Engineers think on the opposite side of their heads than other people do and are a severe challenge. If you are left handed you make me think backwards & I charge you double, if you are a lefthanded engineer I charge you quadrupple.
Ok, I am pulling your leg here a little. On my calling card it says, have cue, have dog, have passport, will travel. Send me a email & your address & phone number, I may get in your area some day soon & we can bang a few around. Best Wishes, Fast Larry Guninger
www.fastlarrypool.com (http://www.fastlarrypool.com)

03-06-2003, 05:32 PM
Dear Lenord, what a cool test, the chick or the run, we can find out real fast who is dedicated to pool & who is not.
I challenge you sir to make this a new post & topic, I would love to read what others put in, I bet this one will be a riot. Let me weigh in on this first, I have had a l4.l run over l50, but it was in practice & he haw means nothing, say 150 & out in the world's championship against Mike Sigel for the title. Or you can choose one night alone with the world's most beautiful woman, your choice.
Ok, I've had the 150, and I've know a few very beautiful women, been there & done that on both. The problem I have now is I have been there & done everything, but now I have CRS, cant remember S***, so what good did it do to have done it. You know they say when you are really over the hill, a beautiful sexy young blond walks into the room & if you no longer suck in your gut & smile, it's all over for you. What I am saying is when I was young & in me prime, chicks were not a problem, so I then would have taken the 150 & out. Now, give me the chick every time, even if she is a beast of burden, well it's almost that bad. So make the rules, you are in your prime, and can only choose one, the 150 & out, or the babe. Great idea, Fast Larry