So, Santa didn't bring you a better pool game for Christmas, even though you sat on his lap at the mall and asked very nicely. Take charge of your own billiards destiny this year with some positive affirmations designed to guide you toward a rock solid, consistent game.
New Year's resolutions can be tricky – all hyped up and then discarded after the first time they're broken because we're an all or nothing, grip it and rip it society. You WILL fail at keeping the following resolutions, probably even within the first hour of playing. The real resolution is to let go of your mistakes and re-commit to your goals again and again.
1. I will always stay down over the ball.
Moving during your shot or popping up as you follow-through are common mistakes. Teach yourself to stay down by not getting up until all the balls have stopped moving.
2. I will always put my best stroke on every shot.
You can't control the outcome of the game but, you can control the effort you put in. Commit to your best fundamentals on everything from the most hanging of hangers to the most difficult situations. Using a short, choppy stroke won't sink difficult shots yet this is often what we provide when our confidence fails us.
3. I will always get up and start over if something distracts me or the shot doesn't feel right.
Nine times out of ten your brain will tell you when you're going to make a mistake. Please listen to it.
4. I will always return to center ball when my game falls apart.
If things have been bleak, return to basics by using only the vertical axis (no side spin). Reducing hard-to-control variables, like english, will allow you to focus on aim, alignment and help rebuild your confidence.
5. I will always keep my cue as level as I can.
So basic, so important. Masses, jumps and cueing low on a ball near the rail require elevation. For everything else it's a liability preventing both accuracy and effective spin.
6. I will always make a plan before I shoot.
Choosing position routes, aiming and cueing should all take place while standing up and considering the shot. Always make a concrete decision before getting down over the ball to give your brain an unambiguous message and allow it to focus on coordination and feel.
7. I will always keep my grip and wrist loose and relaxed.
Alas, one of the toughest things to commit to, especially under pressure – but it's the good habit with the largest payoff. Twisting, death-gripping and wrist-flicking are all bona fide game killers. Focus on making your grip uniform throughout the entire shot; the loose wrist you begin with mirrors the loose wrist that completes your follow-through.
8. I will always be an observer of my own game.
Channel the negative and positive energy you reserve for judging your efforts into becoming more aware of what's going on in your game. A mistake that's judged becomes a negative experience, a mistake that's truly observed becomes something correctable.
9. I will always smile when I miss.
Pool superhuman Efren Reyes rarely misses, but when he does he reacts with a smirk instead of a scowl. If he can let it go, you can let it go.
10. I will always have fun while playing.
Always try your best and let the results take care of themselves. Surround yourself with good people and enjoy pool for the lovely distraction it provides from your day-to-day cares without making it one of them.