The Last Ball Jitters
Got the last ball jitters? No, it’s not an old school dance. It’s an unfortunate but common error that happens when we get down to the final ball of a run out. We have all experienced it at some point for one reason or another. Remember that time you were about to win the match and got straight in on the 8 ball, only to have the thoughts of winning or losing cross your mind? You made all the tough shots leading up to that and once you realized this was the game-winning ball, the self-inflicted pressure set in and so did the yips.
You missed the shot to win the match not because it was a tough one but because your mind convinced you it was different so you changed what you were doing. The key to playing your best pool is consistency. You don’t have to be the best player to win the match. What wins more games is your ability to maintain a consistent level of performance within your capabilities.
Without consistency, the last ball jitters are inevitable. The good news, however, is that this can be prevented with some hard work and conscious effort on your part. Once you’ve identified or created a pressure situation in your mind, the first thing to break down is always your mechanics. Without a solid foundation how can you expect to consistently pocket every ball, especially the winning one?
Don’t let your opponent win because you beat yourself. Take these steps to preventing the last ball jitters:
Instruction – Take measures toward improving your game whether it’s through private lessons, reading books, or watching videos. The more you learn, the more confident you’ll feel and the better you will perform under pressure.
Practice – Only positive things can come from practice. Practicing the shots that you have difficulty with will only increase your comfort level when they come up in a match. Practice also reinforces muscle memory thus builds consistent mechanics.
Put on the Brakes – Enjoy the final shot. You’ve worked your way through the rack and earned the coming win. Why not reap the fruits of your labor? Don’t take the shot for granted. Take a deep breath, have a sip of water, and calm your nerves before getting down over the ball.
Remember Your Routine – There is no better time than now to remind yourself of your mental checklist or pre-shot routine. Again, it all boils down to creating more consistency and one of the best ways to do that is by not skipping any steps when it comes to getting the job done.
The next time you feel your nerves kick in on the final shot of the game, slow down. Take the necessary actions and prevent the last ball jitters.
When you’re in the mile high area and looking for a Denver billiard instructor, please look me up.