We’ve all been there. Whether you’ve been playing this game for 2 months or 20 years we all know what it’s like to be in the Electric Chair. You’re playing bad, and you’re opponent is channeling his inner Shane Van Boening. Death seems imminent, and you’ve already given up any hope of a pardon. How did this happen? During the course of the match you may have noticed the following dialogue going on inside your head. It’s what we used to call in grade school, a pity party, and if you spend enough time around pool players you’ll start to think it’s standard operating procedure. I’m going to tell you that it’s a trap, a self fulfilling prophecy that will land you on the green mile in a pool match. If you’re looking to take your game to the next level, continually monitor yourself and eliminate the following thoughts:

1. “I’m so stupid. I can’t do anything right.”  Imagine your boss said this to you, or worse, your parent. How would it make you feel? You are the parent of the little pool player inside yourself. Instead of hurling useless insults at yourself, why don’t you do what a good parent would do? Analyze the mistake, and give suggestions for a better alternative.
2. “I should never miss that ball.” I have seen elite pro’s miss ‘easy’ shots, and even ball in hand. Believe it or not, no one has a 100% success rate with any shot. At some point in your life you will miss it. Just be glad you got it out of the way.
3. “Why can’t he just miss?” This is nothing more than a waste of precious energy. If he does miss you need to be in the game and ready to go. When my opponent is running out, I’m not looking around the room wishing I drew the fish on table 6, or hoping the cute waitress with the low cut top will walk in his line of sight, I’m playing the game along with him. Choosing the shot I would take and comparing it to the shot he took. If, by some random act of God, he does miss, I’m ready for action.
4. “He got so lucky!” Maybe he did, but thinking this way is a waste of time and energy. If you got to the table with the same shot, but he played it that way, you would just do whatever it took to make the shot. Instead of focusing on the negative, just use all of your knowledge to complete the task at hand. If it doesn’t work out, at least you know you gave it your best.
It takes a lot of mental retraining to think this way, but it may be the single thing that separates the champions from the shortstops. Things don’t always work out, and you may still lose, but if the Governor does happen to call one minute before midnight, you’ll be ready to go.