The classic story of David and Goliath goes a little something like this: A cock diesel Philistine named Goliath, takes on anyone willing to fight him in a one on one throw down. The Israelite king named Saul decides to put money on a little dude with a big attitude named David. The little dude steps to Goliath and says, "You want some of this?." Saul says, "Yo, little dude, wear this body armor so you don't get laid out" but David refuses and instead gathers up some stones and a slingshot. The two men square up, and with one well placed stone between the eyes, the giant falls, and David cuts off his head as a little souvenir.

The thing I find interesting about the story is David's seeming lack of fear in the face of a giant Philistine who clearly took pleasure in bashing people's skulls. How did he keep his composure facing off against such a strong and seasoned opponent? I would love to know David's secret, but I can only relate my own David and Goliath stories. In some of them I was the one parading around the town square holding my opponents severed head proudly above me, and in others I got the business end of a steel scimitar. I'm now going to share how to be on head hoisting end of your own epic battles.

The first time I ever played a top player I was helpless. I was a good player, but I looked like I never picked up a pool cue before. My thought pattern went something like this: They are watching me play and thinking how bad I am. They are thinking that I'm taking the wrong shot. They think I suck. I just want to get tis over with and slink back to my hotel room. Did I say hotel room? I meant the bar...You get the idea. My thoughts were so consumed by what they thought, I didn't have any brain power left to focus on playing pool.

As time went on, and I kept getting stomped on by great players, I noticed many other feelings. Sometimes I had feelings of inadequacy. A feeling that I'm not supposed to win, so I would just roll over and accept my fate. Sometimes I would be afraid of the notoriety and expectations that come with beating a great player, and I would get so nervous that I would make myself miss. Sometimes I would think, 'I can't win anyway', so I would barely try. These are things that all players struggle with while establishing themselves in the hierarchy of the game. The important thing to remember is that no one just walks in and starts beating great players. Even champions took their lumps until they established their role at the top of the food chain.

Unfortunately there is no easy solution, but I do have some good news. If you keep playing great players, you will eventually beat one. After you beat one it becomes easier to beat the next one. After you beat a few of them, the fear and inadequacy will start to melt away, and you will be eager to play them. When you're eager to play them, you play with a lot of determination and focus, and that increases your chance to win. When word gets around that you're a giant killer, suddenly the great players are uncomfortable playing you, and you get a lot more chances. This leads to more wins, and the next thing you know you're the one on the tournament chart that everyone wants to avoid.

And just to close the thought, David's story didn't end with him slaying Goliath. In the end David went on to command armies and eventually become a king who was beloved by his followers and his eight wives. But just like you in your pool career, it all started with him taking down his first big opponent. Word.