One of the most common questions asked of professional pool players is “how do you prepare for competition?” Well, because of the APA Nationals coming up, I thought we would go over a few of the ways I like to prepare for a big match or an upcoming tournament.
Weather it’s a big challenge match, an important tournament or just weekly league play, it is always important to be prepared.
Dress the part
It might sound a little silly, but let’s face it, we all feel better and more confident in ourselves when our outer appearance is stylish and well groomed. Just think of it this way, we all take a little pride in our appearance whatever style we choose. I’m not saying show up to league in a three piece suit or your Sunday go to meeting clothes. All I am saying is when we feel good about our appearance we also exuded confidence, and confidence is the key to a great mental game in pool. Whatever you choose to wear when you compete, make sure it is comfortable and not constricting, or even so far out of the realm of what you normally wear that you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.
Practice what you play
Before a big competition I like to devote most of my practice time working on the game that I will be competing in, if it is 9-ball I might work on my position play, my break and my shot making skills. If it is 8-ball I might spend more time on strategy and pattern play. The point is whatever discipline you are about to compete in make sure you temper your practice sessions leading up to the event so that you get yourself in the proper mind set to compete at the highest level possible. After all, if you were going to be running a marathon you wouldn’t practice by working on sprinting ability.
When I arrive on the day of the competition I like to take some time to warm up. Now warming up is completely different than practicing. In practice we work on things that we are not good at in order to improve them. During your warm up session our main goal is to get our stroke moving nice and straight, get loosened up and boost your confidence. I like to start by shooting some short soft straight in shots, slowly I get a little more distance between the cue ball and object ball and then begin to add a little more power. This will slowly loosen up your stroke without chipping away at your confidence with a lot of missed balls. I also recommend using this time to get to know the table. Shoot a few kick shots and bank shots to see how the rails are playing. Slow roll a few balls to make sure the table doesn’t have any funny rolls you should be aware of, and I also like to see how forgiving the pockets are just in case I have to try and “cheat the pocket” during a match.
Sometimes if you are very nervous you should not feel silly giving yourself a little pep talk in private before a competition. Simple things like this can make a big difference in your performance.
These are just a few of the things I do before I compete. None of this is set in stone, just several of many options. Don’t be afraid to come up with your own routine for preparation to compete. You have to find what works best for you.
Until Next Time!