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The Checklist (rated PG-13)
If there is one thing that every pool player should have, it's a checklist. The checklist is basically a crib note for when something in your game is going awry. It's a list of all of the steps that go into your preshot routine and any additional things that you commonly do to make yourself miss. Usually the list will be quite long when you first start playing, but as you get to the higher level of the game it whittles down to 5 or 6 key concepts. So what should your checklist entail? I wish I could tell you, but only you know your own weaknesses. What I can do is reveal my own secret desires, and tell you what goes on in my corrupted little mind.
1. Did I visualize the shot? I stand in front of every shot and create a little fantasy of all my longings. I see the cue ball rolling down the soft green cloth, hit the object ball on the sweet spot, and watch the object ball roll slowly down the center of the pocket. Then I imagine the cue ball rolling perfectly to the exact spot on the table that I need it to stop. It's like making a mental video of the hottest pool I've ever played.
2. Did I step into the shot? Once I'm done watching my pool porno, I step into the shot, which puts my cue in the proper place to execute my little fantasy.
3. Did I stay relaxed? As much as your body wants to tighten up, you have to force yourself to relax. Don't hold your breath, just let go of your inhibitions and let it happen.
4. Did I use a confident stroke? Nobody likes a wimp. Especially the cue ball. She needs to be told what to do. She needs someone to put her in her place. If not, she will run around all over you.
5. Did I rush it? I like a nice pause in my stroke with a long follow through. A long, smooth follow through not only eliminates poking, it looks good, and feels better.
6. Was I focused? You have to narrow your focus and eliminate all distraction. If you can do that, you will definitely reach pool nirvana.
Hopefully this gives you some insight into what you should be thinking about at the table, especially when things aren't going your way. Wait, is it hot in here? I think I'm going to go play some pool.