One of the most important things you can do to improve your game is visualization. There are many books written on the subject, and most of the top athletes in the world use different forms of it to improve their performance. There are a few ways that pool players can use visualization to improve performance at the table, and achieve greater success. Here they are, in a nutshell:

1. Visualize every shot. This should be an essential part of any preshot routine. After deciding which shot to play it's best to stand back from the table and try to imagine the clearest picture of the cueball's path to the object ball, and the object ball's path to the pocket. Then imagine a clear line that the cueball will take and where it will come to rest. There are other important steps in a preshot routine, but this one is essential.

2. Visualize as training. The best thing about this type of visualization is that you don't need to be near a pool table, and there is compelling evidence that this type of mental practice is at least as good as physical practice, because your brain can't tell the difference. The same neural pathways that are formed through repetition and physical practice are formed by just thinking about it.

In one legendary Russian study, Olympic athletes were separated into four groups and their success was measured:

Group 1 received 100% physical training
Group 2 received 75% physical training with 25% mental training
Group 3 received 50% mental training with 50% physical training
Group 4 received 75% mental training with 25% physical training

Group number 4 was the most successful.

In another study done on basketball players, the players free throw percentages were measured, and then they were split into three groups.

Group 1 was the control group and didn't practice physically or mentally.
Group 2 physically shot free throws for 100% of their training Group 3 visualized shooting free throws for 100% of their training

The results? Group 1 showed no difference. Group 2 showed a 24% improvement, while group 3, the group that never set foot on a basketball court, improved by 23%.

Keep this in mind the next time you are sitting at your desk wishing you were in the pool hall.

3. Visualize for success. This has also been called the Law of Attraction. The idea is that you imagine yourself getting exactly what you want, right down to the way it feels and the sights and smells around you. Along with feelings of positivity, one should also have feelings of gratitude as if what you want has already been received. Some feel this sends a clear message to the universe, opens the mind and allows everything to fall in place.

While 1 and 2 have ample science behind them, number 3 may have you wondering, does my subconscious mind have the power to bring me everything I've ever wanted? I don't have the slightest idea, but imagining yourself winning the US Open with confetti raining down from the rafters has to be a whole lot more fun than sitting in a cubicle doing excel spreadsheets, regardless.