When people first start seriously playing pool it's usually because it's such a fun activity. There are no expectations, so winning and losing don't really matter much. As people start getting better and playing in competitive leagues, the dynamic quickly changes. Anger and frustration begin to bubble up as expectations on how you are supposed to play emerge. Pool suddenly isn't fun anymore, it's serious business, and losing cuts you to the core. So how do you stop the pain?

The answer is, you don't. Although it may not feel like it at the time, losing is probably the most important step to winning. The best advice I ever got when I started playing pool was from the Black Widow herself. She told me, "Champions aren't the one's who always win, they're just the one's that keep getting back up". And she's right. I've seen it so many times over the years. People either quit playing or quit trying because they hate losing more than they love winning. Her advice didn't make me feel any better when I was stinging from a loss, but over the years I've learned how to use that pain to make me a stronger player.

The main thing that I've learned is that pretending it doesn't hurt not only doesn't work, but it makes you weak as a player. You start to pretend you don't care, and when you don't care you don't have the desire it takes to win. When I have a particularly tough loss I let myself feel it. I go to a quiet place and either vent or cry or just let out whatever I feel. Then I replay what I could have done differently and remind myself that I don't ever want to feel like that again. I allow myself a 20 minute pity party, and then it's time to move on. Indulging yourself too much will only kill your confidence.

When you really allow yourself to grieve your losses you will remember that feeling the next time you are in a pressure situation. You will remind yourself that the last time you played the shot wrong you wanted to hang yourself from the shower curtain rod in your hotel room. You'll do everything in your power to avoid ever feeling that way again, and if you're on the road to becoming a champion, you will most likely succeed.