As pool players we have all been guilty of blaming a loss on bad rolls or the luck going against us. I’m sure you know a player who blames every loss on bad luck and every win on their skill. Let’s be real, this type of player is annoying! If you have never analyzed your dialogue after your matches I highly suggest it and try to be honest with yourself. Being more aware of your outlook can only help you improve.

Whether you win or lose try to be as neutral as possible so you can learn from your performance. This will also help you keep your emotions in check after a win or a loss, which is important so you can stay focused on your next match. If you are willing to admit your opponent played more consistently in some way to beat you, you will earn more respect from others and demonstrate your level of maturity as a competitor. Then your next decision should be to become more proficient in the area that just lost you the match.

Most importantly you need to control your perception of luck during your match. If you believe you are getting bad rolls and that’s where you focus your attention, then your brain will trick you into reading every less than ideal situation as bad luck. Instead be happy that you are getting another chance to shoot and commit to making the best decision that you can. The terms law of attraction and self-fulfilling prophecies come to mind!

Truth be told that every now and then a match seems to be a bit more one sided in the luck department which affects the outcome, especially when playing 9-ball or giving up a handicap. In general though I believe most matches are decided by skill.

During the last few years I have seen significant improvement in all areas of my game through coaching and practice. I feel like this increase in performance has helped to open my eyes regarding the role lady luck truly plays while shooting pool. After paying attention during World Championship level play I realize at that level many matches are decided by who was kicking better, who was playing better defense, and who could adjust to foreign equipment more quickly. Don’t worry even the top players in the world occasionally lose touch with reality and blame luck, and the tune usually sounds similar to that of an average player.

Let’s discuss the different reasons why a certain player might win a match. I hope this list can teach you what to look for in your next competitive situation or when watching your favorite pros battle it out.

The winner could have done one of the following:

1. Maintained better cue ball control and position play.
2. Chose better patterns with a higher chance of successful execution.
3. Executed a higher % of offensive shots.
4. Executed a higher % of defensive shots.
5. Maintained a more solid rhythm.
6. Had more confidence and focused on the positive.
7. Capitalized on the errors made the other player.
8. Made less unforced errors than the other player.
9. Broke more effectively. Some examples would be: made more balls, controlled the cue ball, scratched less, etc.
10. Came with a kick or kick safe during a crucial safety battle.
11. Broke & ran more often leaving fewer chances for their opponent.
12. Maintained control of the match after winning the lag with smart choices.
13. Overall made better choices at key moments.
14. Played more two way shots with the correct speed.
15. Played excessively slow or fast which disrupted the other opponents rhythm.
16. Adjusted to new cloth, new rails or equipment conditions more effectively therefore having better cue ball control.
17. Maintained better concentration.
18. Controlled defeatist emotions after making mistakes and kept from getting too excited after making low percentage shots.
19. Kept a more solid pre-shot routine during pressure.
20. Kept a realistic attitude about performance and luck.

Remember that more honesty and less pride will help you play better pool. It will also help you make more friends!