: Jennifer Barretta
Keeping it Real
Nothing is more frustrating than playing someone who does not have a sense of reality at the table. When they win, even if you miss every 9 ball, they are happy as a clam, secure in the fact that they are significantly superior to you. When they lose, even if you ran every rack and they never got to the table, it's because they played so incredibly bad. People like this usually run out of practice partners because friendly games are overly stressful and a win is frequently met with anger, sulking or a lecture about how lucky you got. Not only is this behavior not fun to be around, but I believe it doesn't allow the player to recognize important opportunities to improve their game. If some of this sounds vaguely familiar to you, or if it seems like your supply of sparring partners is slowly dwindling, perhaps you should read this.
By not accurately assessing matches players are missing valuable information about their games. If someone loses by giving up too many ball in hands on defense, maybe it's time to work on kicking. If someone loses control of the table by not pocketing balls on the break, then it's time to work on the break. If all a player feels after a loss is rage, they are doing themselves and their opponent a great disservice. Losses are valuable lessons in an ugly little disguise.
When players fail to see the reality of a match, sometimes it can erode confidence. It is possible to play well, and still be outplayed by an opponent. Thinking that you played horribly when you didn't can never be helpful. Drop the ego and realize someone just played better for one set, and it doesn't mean you're a horrible player. Sometimes it can falsely boost confidence. It is possible for great players to have a very bad day. If you think you ran out like tap water against your opponent, but you really just made the last 2 balls every time you are going to be in for a rude awakening, and a never ending cycle of dissatisfaction.
Accurately assessing matches allows a player to come up with a better understanding of their every day game. Without this understanding it is nearly impossible for a player to switch gears on an off day. If you think you are never supposed to miss, you will never play safe. This creates a player which is highly susceptible to wild swings in gameplay, and frequent upsets by weaker players. A sense of reality about what your every day game is, not just your best day, is the single most important thing for tempering anger and frustration. Pool can be a very disappointing and emotional experience, and letting those emotions cloud reason not only hurts your game, but can also turn you into the pool hall pariah. And nobody wants to be that guy.