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nobcitypool
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12-07-2017, 04:46 PM

Psychologically, I think it is similar to courage. Courage isn't the lack of fear. Courage is the ability to act when afraid. Everyone has nerves, people just handle their nerves differently. I don't think anyone is invulnerable from nerves affecting performance. And it can pop up and affect the best occasionally.


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12-07-2017, 07:37 PM

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Originally Posted by nobcitypool View Post
Psychologically, I think it is similar to courage. Courage isn't the lack of fear. Courage is the ability to act when afraid. Everyone has nerves, people just handle their nerves differently. I don't think anyone is invulnerable from nerves affecting performance. And it can pop up and affect the best occasionally.
Yes sir. Spot on. The trick is to be able to juggle ability, nerves, and courage appropriately when called needed. That's where seasoning comes into play.


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12-08-2017, 06:18 AM

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Originally Posted by BasementDweller View Post
I just don't understand why anybody would want to pretend that something that matters to them doesn't matter.
* to have the thrill of overcoming nerves

* to play great IN competition

* to win


-- Matt Sherman

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12-08-2017, 07:29 AM

I think I originally wrote this back on RSB. In any case here it is.

#####
If it's one of the first times you're playing in a league, or a tournament, or for money, or maybe just playing someone you'd REALLY like to beat, chances are you're going to experience the pounding heart and sweaty shaking hands syndrome -- that's just normal. (You may also cease to mentally function and just experience brain lock :-)

The solution is really pretty simple: repeatedly put yourself in the same situation until the unusual becomes normal. Eventually, you'll walk up to the table to shoot the money ball just as relaxed as you would take a stroll through the park. A good thing to do is to understand the psychological side of playing pool and for this I recommend Dr. Faucher's "Pleasures of Small Motions."



The second part of what's going on revolves around unrealistic expectations. This boils down to simply believing that it is within your ability to make shots that you cannot. The problem for most of us is that we watch the pros in person, or on television, or perhaps on an Accu-Stats tape, and we see the good players at our local room and they make it look so easy. They make it look *so* easy we lose sight of how crushingly difficult the game actually is and we become disappointed in ourselves when we can't do this simple thing. I recall watching Willie Mosconi run a 100 and I literally rushed to my pool hall thinking, "Well, that's so easy -- anyone should be able to do that!" Of course when I got there and couldn't run more than 10 balls...



And then, during practice, in the absence of pressure or distractions, we set up our easiest and favoritest shots, on our preferred table, and fall into a selective memory trap, remembering the shots we whip in (with BIH) and forgetting how many times me missed it or blew the position. From this stems a totally unrealistic set of personal expectations. The next time you think you're "running racks," pay closer attention. Are you really breaking and running out? Or are you just spreading the balls around the table with no clusters, or balls on the rail? Are you starting with an easy BIH? Are you really doing it repeatedly. After all, think of all the shots you'd have to have mastered to do it repeatedly. It's one thing to break them, sinking a bunch of balls, having a wide open spread, and being perfect for your first shot. It's another for the balls to bunch up, with several on the rail, and a long thin cut to start off with...



A few days ago I gave a lesson to a guy who was beating himself up saying, "I can't make a ball today." I had been watching him play and told him that one thing every good pool player has is good probability and risk assessment skills. Setting up a moderately difficult cut shot he had missed in a match, I asked him if he thought he should be able to make it. He said, "Of course." I told him that I guessed he was actually something like one in five for the shot AND if he tried shooting it with the position that he had attempted during the match, he was more like one in 12. He looked at me like I was nuts and I told him to go ahead and shoot it without position -- to just cinch the ball. 

One in six.



The third part of the breakdown is getting into a pressure situation and just trying too hard -- unconsciously changing our pre-shot routine and stroke mechanics. In trying to be more careful and precise in our execution, we change the way we shoot -- often times, the changes are subtle, but significant enough to throw off our alignment and stroke. I believe everything from the pre-shot routine to finally pulling the trigger :-) is an organic whole. In other words, you can't just say I'm going to use a certain bridge, a certain grip, with a certain stance and head position. It's also the movements you employ to get into your stance and the motion you employ during your pre-shot routine that impact the final outcome.

When we slow down and try to be more careful, everything gets altered. The answer here is to pay attention to the motions and rhythms that work best for you in practice and try as best you can to stick with them in actual play.



Lastly, as we're mid-match and we realize "the wheels are coming off" and we watch them go spinning merrily down the road, we start to think negatively. The mind becomes filled with questions: "Man, why am I playing so bad?" "What am I doing wrong?!" "Why me?!" Of course every bad roll we get (and every good roll our opponent gets) contributes to the toxic sludge that starts coming out our ears. The real problem here is that in thinking about these things, we stop thinking about the shots and our execution. Instead of thinking, "I need to be careful about hitting this shot too hard and may have to apply a bit more english to compensate coming off the rail" we're still thinking about the last shot we blew. Think about the bad stuff after the match, not during.



So here's the thing: playing good pool is hard. Real hard. Playing good pool under pressure is even harder. To compete successfully in the arena you have to step into the arena as often as you can until it becomes your second home. And, you need to have a realistic set of expectations about yourself and your game. Playing good pool demands perfect, consistent precision -- not just once or twice, but on every shot. And to do that, you must have developed a body of knowledge and muscle memory that takes years of play to achieve. It's hard work, concentration, study, experimentation, and hitting thousands upon thousands of balls. And lastly, you have to have your head on straight and a clear thinking mind...
#####



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12-08-2017, 09:03 AM

Good stuff, Lou.

Pleasures of Small Motions is excellent.


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12-08-2017, 11:56 AM

Nice post Lou...very nice!
  
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12-08-2017, 11:57 AM

Sorry....double post

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12-09-2017, 08:22 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mkindsv View Post
Had a decent week this week in league...got some good practice in beforehand. Played my 9 ball match and won 5-3 in a 5-4 race. Lost 8 ball, couldn't make a shot again, this was about two hours after the nine ball match. I have come to a conclusion as to why I am having such difficulties, or at least a large part of the reason, and it is exhaustion.
I work nights 6 pm to 6 am, Wed-Sat and then Wed-Sun the following week. I signed up for a league on Mondays, since it is in the middle of my days off, problem is, if it is my day off my wife thinks its a good idea to have me run errands from 6 am to 5 pm pretty much every single day, which is fine, but playing pool til 2 am after doing that is getting difficult.
Anyway, I have taken most of the suggestions posted here to the table,thing is, when I practice it is at a reasonable hour and I literally have no issues...it is literally night and day.
My problem previously was PRESSURE, only for one tournament, that was the reason for the original post, pretty sure my problem now is that the hours aren't numerous enough in the day to get enough rest and still play pool on Monday Nights. I am going to do an experiment and go in the next three weeks with just a ton of rest and see how much that helps.
Thanks all for your suggestions, you are all truly appreciated!!!
Bert Kinister's 60 MINUTE WORKOUT FOR 9-BALL will do wonders for your game. Yes, yes, in the video he's on a bar table but that doesn't matter. The same drills are easily transferrable to a table of any size (they won't work very well in snooker). The practice procedures are different from most drills since the shots are numbered and it's the player's task to memorize the numbering and the relationship to the shot. These are shots and position procedures and minute variations from the main theme that come up over and over and over in real games.
These will help you with your nerves because in a game you will recognize a shot from your drills and you'll say to yourself mentally..."Oh this is just shot Number 5, I've made it many times, I know exactly what to do here"....or "this is just shot Number 8, I know how to handle this one, in fact this will lead me into throwing a lock down safety on my opponent..so easily"....and then the body executes the shot. By the way NEVER underestimate the deadliness/potency of Shot Number 1, which appears to be so simple and stupid. But that shot alone, done hundreds of times daily, will create a stroke where there is no stroke and in a shorter period of time than you think. (Niels Feijin is quoted as saying he's hit that Shot Number 1 thousands and thousands of times to develop his beautiful stroke.) It's not necessary to spend a quarter century "hitting a million balls"...IF you learn to hit them correctly in the first place instead of trial and error with a bunch of pool room bums who think they know everything but really just want to rob somebody.
Furthermore, "they" (the ubiquitous 'they') say it's impossible for the mind to concentrate on more than one thing at the same time, therefore if a player is concentrating on a familiar shot that he's executed many times and he knows it will take him to a high percentage location to continue the run, there are no thoughts of "what if I miss".."not too much english now" or any of that other junk that can creep into the mind.
The shots all apply to 8-Ball, 9-Ball, or Straights. Learn them, study and drill with the video for 30 days and watch the changes in your game. Most of the guys watching you play will contribute it to "you learning not to choke".....which will be their misfortune. Choking only happens when someone KNOWS deep down inside theyre not fully prepared to do the task at hand (a quote from Pepper Rodgers)...it has little to do with hitting a million balls or gambling the house rent.
Best wishes to you.

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12-09-2017, 02:44 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Low500 View Post
.......Choking only happens when someone KNOWS deep down inside theyre not fully prepared to do the task at hand (a quote from Pepper Rodgers)...it has little to do with hitting a million balls or gambling the house rent.
.......
The notion that choking can be blamed solely on unpreparedness is simply not true. It might be a fine excuse for a football team that fumbles the ball or fails to get the winning touchdown in the last few seconds, but it's only an excuse to make the team feel like they need to practice more in order to keep it from happening again. Unless they plan on practicing in front of a few thousand screaming fans everytime, stress-related errors remain likely as each team member steps into the light of public performance and skill-dampening anxiety.

Choking happens when your nerves become more of a determining factor than your skills. You can have superb skills and exceptional knowledge of what you are doing, but when you are faced with anxiety, resulting from the pressure of being publicly scrutinized or judged, your body counters the anxiety by releasing stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which affects how your muscles function. Feeling the stress, your brain begins second guessing everything, psychologically undermining your fundamentally solid thought process, making it very difficult to execute what you KNOW is the right thing to do.

Lou and Spider both nailed the solution. The more often you can put yourself into stressful situations, the better you'll become at coping with the effects of increased anxiety. So hitting a million balls won't fix it. Gambling the house rent won't fix it. But hitting a few thousand balls under stressful conditions, whether gambling or playing tournaments or leagues, will eventually train your brain to handle stress that would otherwise displace your skills.


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12-09-2017, 03:55 PM

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The notion that choking can be blamed solely on unpreparedness is simply not true. It might be a fine excuse for a football team that fumbles the ball or fails to get the winning touchdown in the last few seconds, but it's only an excuse to make the team feel like they need to practice more in order to keep it from happening again. Unless they plan on practicing in front of a few thousand screaming fans everytime, stress-related errors remain likely as each team member steps into the light of public performance and skill-dampening anxiety.

Choking happens when your nerves become more of a determining factor than your skills. You can have superb skills and exceptional knowledge of what you are doing, but when you are faced with anxiety, resulting from the pressure of being publicly scrutinized or judged, your body counters the anxiety by releasing stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which affects how your muscles function. Feeling the stress, your brain begins second guessing everything, psychologically undermining your fundamentally solid thought process, making it very difficult to execute what you KNOW is the right thing to do.
Lou and Spider both nailed the solution. The more often you can put yourself into stressful situations, the better you'll become at coping with the effects of increased anxiety. So hitting a million balls won't fix it. Gambling the house rent won't fix it. But hitting a few thousand balls under stressful conditions, whether gambling or playing tournaments or leagues, will eventually train your brain to handle stress that would otherwise displace your skills.
As usual, you don't know what you're preaching about.
And the worst part is you don't even know that you don't know.
  
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12-09-2017, 04:55 PM

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As usual, you don't know what you're preaching about.
And the worst part is you don't even know that you don't know.
Just stating the facts. Situational pressure, like playing in the finals of a tournament, facing an opportunity to win the big prize, can be very stressful. It doesn't matter how good you are, how solid your fundamentals are, or how prepared you were going into the match. Stress can still creep in, sabotaging your physical and mental skills, along with any preparations you may have had. if you aren't seasoned to deal with it, the stress causes anxiety, and you find yourself worrying about making a mistake, afraid you're gonna miss or get hooked or do something stupid that will make you look like an idiot to your opponent and to anyone else that's watching. A seasoned player doesn't care if anyone is watching, doesn't care what the opponent is thinking.

Stress hormones affect us physically and mentally. This is the body's automatic reaction to pressure-related stress. Reducing or channeling the effects of stress, our emotional and physical responses, is what determines whether or not we allow anxiety to come strolling in to wreck our game. This is the essence of sports psychology, to control the emotional and physical responses brought about by stress/pressure. If we can do this, we can remain calm and in control, executing our skills free of any fear-driven anxiety.

Or....you can just fall apart under pressure (choke) and simply tell yourself you weren't prepared to win. Then you can practice harder, longer, and try again. But the pressure will be there again, and that good ol stress will step in and nothing will be any different than the time before, unless you learn how to cope with it.


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12-09-2017, 06:13 PM

I have no knowledge issues, or stroke issues, or vision issues. I will shoot lights out for months at a time, then one day, all of a sudden I will go a few weeks without being able to make four consecutive balls. This last time it was two weeks of trying to figure it out. I like Bert Kinnister's material and have watched his videos many times, but for God's sake...listening to that man talk is like having a phone call with my ex wife (praying for it to end from the time it starts).

For example, last few weeks, couldn't make two consecutive shots six trips to the pool hall. Went today and had four consecutive 8 ball break and runs, then switched to 9 ball, after about 20 minutes had 3 consecutive break and runs. Yesterday I beat a regular at the hall that makes pretty good money gambling one pocket four straight sets (best of 3 for 25$ a set). But tomorrow, who knows...

I know a lot of my issues stem from lack of sleep, since I work nights, and some from concentration issues or getting in a hurry. I am working on all of these issues.

I appreciate your post and will revisit the Kinnister video...with the sound way down of course...ding dong daddy.
  
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12-09-2017, 08:49 PM

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Originally Posted by Mkindsv View Post
I have no knowledge issues, or stroke issues, or vision issues. I will shoot lights out for months at a time, then one day, all of a sudden I will go a few weeks without being able to make four consecutive balls. This last time it was two weeks of trying to figure it out. I like Bert Kinnister's material and have watched his videos many times, but for God's sake...listening to that man talk is like having a phone call with my ex wife (praying for it to end from the time it starts).
For example, last few weeks, couldn't make two consecutive shots six trips to the pool hall. Went today and had four consecutive 8 ball break and runs, then switched to 9 ball, after about 20 minutes had 3 consecutive break and runs. Yesterday I beat a regular at the hall that makes pretty good money gambling one pocket four straight sets (best of 3 for 25$ a set). But tomorrow, who knows...
I know a lot of my issues stem from lack of sleep, since I work nights, and some from concentration issues or getting in a hurry. I am working on all of these issues.
I appreciate your post and will revisit the Kinnister video...with the sound way down of course...ding dong daddy.
It sounds to me like you don't really have any issues with 'pressure'.....you only think that's a reason for going into the swamp.
You won against a good player, gambling, and took home the gelt. That doesn't sound like dogging it in the clutch to me.
Maybe if you could recall precisely what you did in the past to get back in the groove, you could use that as an anchor for future use if it happens again. My own personal "anchor" is that Shot #1 from old "ding dong daddy"...and slowing down my backstroke as per Mizerak.
I will shoot that shot #1 exclusively 200-300 times a day for a week (no other shots) and lo and behold....my game gets right back in gear. I don't know why and don't really give a flip about the "why"....it just works for me.
You'll find your own personal anchor soon enough. You're a hitter, I can tell, and not one of these know-it-all blowholes like you find around this place.
As for me, I sort of like Kinister's Midwestern accent...or whatever it is. "Dese are da' tools".....that sounds so cool to me.
I hope you crack this. My money is on your lack of sleep......which leads to all the other things you mentioned. The body has ways of telling us when everything is going to hell in a handbasket. I'm guessing it's that lack of sleep thing because of your job...but making a living comes first. You'll work it out. FIND THAT ANCHOR.....(Jimmy Reid coached me about that decades ago.)
Best wishes to you.
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12-09-2017, 10:21 PM

I do believe Lowenstein is on to something about the sleep and your work schedule. I'm on call every night, and if I go out to play having only 3 or 4 hours of sleep the night before, I don't play very well. It'll be an inconsistent night. When I was young it seemed like no problem to play all day, all night, then all day again, grabbing a bite to eat a couple of times between sets and not even thinking about sleep. My feet and back are too old for sleepless nights. But my heart isn't, so I grab my cue and go, ignoring any lack of sleep.

Family illness or other personal stresses make for bad nights also. Last Saturday I hit em great, won a lot of cash. Then bad news followed me into Thursday night league and I lost 3 out of 5 games. The harder I tried to keep my head in the game the more mistakes I made. I missed 4 shots in 5 games, which is a lot for me, and I don't know how I missed them, I just did. The misses were as automatic as the balls I didn't miss. We can pretend to have control of our emotional and physical well being, but our performance reveals the truth.


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12-10-2017, 05:13 AM

A lot of good reading in this thread.

Thanks

John


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I don't play One Pocket as much as I use to, but when I do, I play at Cue & Cushion - Overland, MO.

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