Have you ever kept track of what you say to yourself when you play pool? I’ve heard things like stupid, idiot, terrible, and other words I’d rather not write down. How many of you have said I’m an idiot for missing that easy shot?
Well. let’s think about that for a second. First off, there is no easy shot! Every shot can be missed and has been missed countless times by some pretty sporty players. Secondly, why are you an idiot if you miss a shot? Does missing that shot mean you can’t read any more? I doubt it.
What happens over time with you constantly telling yourselves these negative things is that you start to tense up and believe these ideas. That doesn’t help your pool game one bit.
What I’d like you to do is keep track of what you say to yourself for a week when you are playing pool. Seriously, write down in a little notebook, or on your phone of all the things you say to and about yourself as a pool player.
You will probably stop after about 2 days because of all the negative things that you say.
Once you realize how many things you say to yourself that are negative, you can start the road to being more positive. Now I’m not talking about making things up about your pool game, but rather having you be realistic.
Let’s do a little experiment. Set up the balls as shown here:
The drill is to pocket 12 balls in a row. You have ball in hand on each shot, and the cue ball is to be two diamonds away from the object ball. This looks pretty easy, but you will soon find out that making 12 shots in a row is a real challenge.
As you do this, I want you to keep track of what you are saying to yourself. As you keep at this drill, you will find yourself getting more and more frustrated if you are saying bad things about yourself.
Once you get tired of beating yourself up, try this. Every time you miss, say to yourself, “Pool is hard, keep focused” take a breath and start over. I think what you will find is that this drill gets considerably easier if you adopt the second approach.
As a bonus let’s look at breathing. The Army Special Forces use a 4 second in 4 second out for 4 minutes breathing sequence to focus before missions. Robert Nideffer, a famous sports psychologist, recommends 4 seconds to breath in, hold for 6 seconds and breathe out for 8. Try both to see which works for you.
Saying positive things to yourself and breathing will help control your mind when you play and make you a better pool player.
See you on the road.