: Liz Ford
This one goes out to all those folks, myself included, who care so deeply about pool that it's corrupted their rational minds and made them resemble idol worshipers, shamans and those dupes from “The Village.” Trinkets, strange repetitive mannerisms, and unbroken game-day rituals are as rampant among those emotionally invested in pool as they are among closing pitchers in baseball. Let's face it, people are weird, but we really do have our reasons. It's a big scary world out there and we need the small things to rely on as we navigate it. The following are just a few of the many ways that being superstitious can help us play better pool.
1. Control the unknown.
So many factors are beyond our control when we compete that we set our minds at ease by trying to control the small, and sometimes inconsequential ones. You CAN'T control how your opponent plays but you CAN control the order in which you put on your socks and shoes.
2. Survive as a lone wolf.
When winning or losing comes down to your personal performance, it's reassuring to have the company of your routines and talismans. No one gets lonely out there if they've got their lucky teddy-bear with them.
3. Create team unity.
When you're playing as a team, magical pocket-markers, pre-game huddles and obsessive high-fiving can make all the difference in whether or not a team forms that special, winning bond.
4. Get into a winning mindset.
Eliciting a great sports performance is all about creating the right internal conditions. A ritual, like cleaning your cues before each match, can serve as a trigger to your brain that it's go time.
5. Show your own commitment to yourself and others.
When you work very hard in practice, you want it to reflect in your game. Good results are preferable but unreliable - regimented behaviors can be our way of signifying our seriousness about what we're doing.
6. Release some tension.
Competition engages our adrenal glands, which keep us on the lookout for threats in our environment - even creating perceived threats where none exist. You'll feel tense until you remove the chalk from your line of sight if you believe that it'll keep you from pocketing the nine-ball.
7. A Band-Aid brand bandage for self-confidence.
By moving focus, power and responsibility away from yourself and onto an outside object, you can sometimes take the self-pressure off and just perform.
8. A valuable tool in learning.
Clinging blindly to a superstitious ritual can actually be the first step in developing a legitimate pre-shot routine. We learn and become consistent by repeating those things that have worked for us in the past.
9. When to let go.
An over-reliance on ritual and the need for control can cause you to become rigid and inflexible as a player. There's a concrete confidence that comes with being able to compete and win under all kind of conditions, with or without Teddy.
10. Final thoughts.
If your brand of voodoo helps you have fun and present your best effort, go for it. Just remember, your most powerful amulet will always be hard-work and experience.