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major slump - 08-24-2017, 10:34 PM

Can't make a ball to save my life playing 14.1. I've been playing LOUSY straight pool for weeks. I have no idea what I'm doing wrong but it feels like it's in my head. I can actually visualize myself missing simple shots, and sure enough I miss them.

I don't think I ran more than 5 or 10 balls the entire night.

What do you guys do to get out of a major slump? Do you find that some sort of drill helps?
  
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08-25-2017, 09:20 AM

An AzB search on the word "slump" produced a long, long list of threads on the topic, with all sorts of advice. Something there might even be helpful!

http://forums.azbilliards.com/thread...=slump&tab=540
  
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08-25-2017, 09:40 AM

Play something else for a while
  
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Visualize away from negative
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Visualize away from negative - 09-25-2017, 12:37 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by john coloccia View Post
Can't make a ball to save my life playing 14.1. I've been playing LOUSY straight pool for weeks. I have no idea what I'm doing wrong but it feels like it's in my head. I can actually visualize myself missing simple shots, and sure enough I miss them.

I don't think I ran more than 5 or 10 balls the entire night.

What do you guys do to get out of a major slump? Do you find that some sort of drill helps?
As long as your visualizing negativity - that's what you will get. I can visualize myself pocketing tough shots and easy. I can actually say your using visualization the wrong way.
  
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09-25-2017, 04:33 PM

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Originally Posted by Danny Harriman View Post
As long as your visualizing negativity - that's what you will get. I can visualize myself pocketing tough shots and easy. I can actually say your using visualization the wrong way.
Of course, you're right. I guess that's the real problem. I've completely lost confidence in my stroke, and I'm struggling to get it back. I know what it feels like to be very, very good at something, and to be confident and just work through setbacks without much trouble. I don't have that with pool, and I'm having trouble getting my head straight.

Things are getting a little better over the last couple of weeks, though.
  
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09-25-2017, 04:54 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by john coloccia View Post
Can't make a ball to save my life playing 14.1. I've been playing LOUSY straight pool for weeks. I have no idea what I'm doing wrong but it feels like it's in my head. I can actually visualize myself missing simple shots, and sure enough I miss them.

I don't think I ran more than 5 or 10 balls the entire night.

What do you guys do to get out of a major slump? Do you find that some sort of drill helps?
I think there are two schools of thought on this matter. One is to persevere through it, and eventually you'll find the solution. The other is to change what you are doing immidiately and try to actively search for what is holding you back.

I am in the second camp. While you will probably come out of the slump sooner or later, I'd much rather take an analytical approach and attack the problem head on.

First determine your problem. Make a plan to address that problem. Then follow through on that plan and eventually evaulate your results to determine if you should change plans.

Currently you are feeling a bit negative about your game and you are not getting your results. Specifically your runs are shorter than you expect them to be. So you need to adress the cause of these problems.


Phase 1, analysis, and a bit of fun:
Personally I'd go with Bowilliards as a training tool. It's similar enough to straight pool, while still being an open game (without many clusters or random variables in layouts that straight pool seems to present you with). There really are no excuses in Bowilliards. I don't have the detailed rules, and you don't really need them, anyway. Just rack up 10 balls, blast them open. Try to pocket them all in 1 inning or if you miss, 2 innings. Score like bowling. 10 frames, max score 300. All balls in first inning is a strike, second inning is a spare. Note if you miss balls or position and specifically what shots give you trouble. Try your best to have fun doing it. Not many people have played this game, so it takes the pressure and expectations off you a little bit. Easier to just enjoy pocketing balls this way.

Phase 2, what did you note in phase one? Set up these shots and shoot them a few times to see if you really have problems with these shots, or something else may be the cause.

Phase 3: Make an exercise or adapt an existing one, using these shots. Try to get as many shots in as possible without boring yourself. Only you can determine the best way to do that. Personally I like to go for a high run, you know 10 in a row or 20 in a row etc...Keeps me motivated.

Phase 4. Play bowilliards again.

Phase 5: Evaluate.

Most importantly: Have fun! Enjoy striking the cueball, try to get a pure strike. I don't know about you, but to me it's one of life's best feelings when you are hitting the cueball purely and with good timing. Listening for that sweet ping from my Mezz or my other playing cue and enjoying myself, I sometimes completely forget to count the balls. I'm in the moment like few other times in life. To me it's what the game is all about, to others it may be winning money and trophies, and that is of course part of it, but to me the pure enjoyment of the game is what I seek. If you don't laugh or smile ever while playing this game, you're not doing it right.
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09-25-2017, 05:10 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by john coloccia View Post
Can't make a ball to save my life playing 14.1. I've been playing LOUSY straight pool for weeks. I have no idea what I'm doing wrong but it feels like it's in my head. I can actually visualize myself missing simple shots, and sure enough I miss them.

I don't think I ran more than 5 or 10 balls the entire night.

What do you guys do to get out of a major slump? Do you find that some sort of drill helps?

You have altered you PSR. Perhaps almost imperceptibly, perhaps unconsciously, but you have.

Lou Figueroa

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09-26-2017, 07:06 AM

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Originally Posted by lfigueroa View Post
You have altered you PSR. Perhaps almost imperceptibly, perhaps unconsciously, but you have.

Lou Figueroa
Agreed.

Here's what I do to figure out what's wrong:

Set up a simple shot and mark the starting cue ball and object ball positions, and precisely where you want the cue ball to end up. I use donut holes for the cue ball and object ball positions and a business card for the position target. Visualize the shot and position play as best you can. See the ball splitting the pocket and the cue ball traveling precisely to its intended position.

With that mental image in mind, shoot the shot.

Then run through a checklist of fundamental best practices (Dr Dave's is comprehensive: http://billiards.colostate.edu/bd_ar...eChecklist.pdf or http://billiards.colostate.edu/resou...check_list.pdf).

Re-set the shot and shoot it again, and pay close attention to each step in the checklist. You will certainly find one, or usually several, areas where flaws have crept in. That's what you work on.

To clarify, for slump-busting don't use these checklists to *change* your fundamentals. Just use them to find what you are doing differently than your usual self. For example, if you are an elbow-dropper and the checklist says use a pendulum stroke, don't try to create a new habit. Instead just be conscious of that part of your stroke -- maybe you are dropping your elbow before contact and that is causing your slump.


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09-26-2017, 03:52 PM

I tend to start with, head movement, tension and follow through.

Those are three things that can start to cause problems without you noticing the cause or without any noticeable changes to your set up.

With head movement, I find that it's usually flinching and slight movements that are hurting my accuracy. That can often be tied to increased tension in my hand or arm. To work on that, I'll start knocking balls directly into the pocket as though I were a beginner (no object ball). I'll focus on a relaxed grip and a proper backswing. When I get tense, my backswing gets shorter.

Jeremy Jones talks about some of this in the Dechaine/Van Boening TAR match. He mentions that it's easy to start jabbing at the ball and not get through it enough when you are tense and playing badly. This is made worse by, as he calls it, shouldering the ball. By that, I think he means starting the elbow drop near the beginning of the forward swing.

These days, if I'm playing poorly it's one of those things causing it. If I need to look further, then I'll make sure that stand still behind the shotline before walking straight in and not across it as I set up my stance.


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09-26-2017, 07:54 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by lfigueroa View Post
You have altered you PSR. Perhaps almost imperceptibly, perhaps unconsciously, but you have.

Lou Figueroa
You're the second one to tell me this. Mark Kulungian up at Pool Table Magic told me the same thing a few weeks ago. I will say that what's changed in the last couple of weeks is that I feel like I'm getting back into my normal rhythm.

I get the feeling you've been through this yourself. Shooting ball after ball hasn't really helped. Next time I'm out I'm really going to make an effort to concentrate on nothing but my "normal" PSR, and everything else is going to just have to take care of itself....win/lose/whatever. I even put a sticky in my case so I'll see it and remember the next time I open it.
  
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09-27-2017, 06:18 AM

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Originally Posted by TSW View Post
Agreed.

Here's what I do to figure out what's wrong:

Set up a simple shot and mark the starting cue ball and object ball positions, and precisely where you want the cue ball to end up. I use donut holes for the cue ball and object ball positions and a business card for the position target. Visualize the shot and position play as best you can. See the ball splitting the pocket and the cue ball traveling precisely to its intended position.

With that mental image in mind, shoot the shot.

Then run through a checklist of fundamental best practices (Dr Dave's is comprehensive: http://billiards.colostate.edu/bd_ar...eChecklist.pdf or http://billiards.colostate.edu/resou...check_list.pdf).

Re-set the shot and shoot it again, and pay close attention to each step in the checklist. You will certainly find one, or usually several, areas where flaws have crept in. That's what you work on.

To clarify, for slump-busting don't use these checklists to *change* your fundamentals. Just use them to find what you are doing differently than your usual self. For example, if you are an elbow-dropper and the checklist says use a pendulum stroke, don't try to create a new habit. Instead just be conscious of that part of your stroke -- maybe you are dropping your elbow before contact and that is causing your slump.

This can certainly help.

Personally I prefer a shot that is a bit on the difficult side but one that I know I can execute consistently when I'm playing well. Using a diagnostic shot like this can often speed recovery.

Lou Figueroa
  
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09-27-2017, 06:21 AM

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Originally Posted by john coloccia View Post
You're the second one to tell me this. Mark Kulungian up at Pool Table Magic told me the same thing a few weeks ago. I will say that what's changed in the last couple of weeks is that I feel like I'm getting back into my normal rhythm.

I get the feeling you've been through this yourself. Shooting ball after ball hasn't really helped. Next time I'm out I'm really going to make an effort to concentrate on nothing but my "normal" PSR, and everything else is going to just have to take care of itself....win/lose/whatever. I even put a sticky in my case so I'll see it and remember the next time I open it.

oh yeah, lol. You have no idea.

One thing that can also help, when things inevitably swing back to normal, is to take a moment and make a few notes on what you're doing when playing well. Even better is to video yourself when you're striking them well. Then at least you can compare that to whatever you're doing when things are off.

Lou Figueroa
  
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09-27-2017, 12:10 PM

What I do when that happens is to concentrate on a single aspect of my game and nothing else, such as a slow backswing, or staying down after every shot until nothing moves (i.e. every ball on the table has come to a rest), or keeping my head still (seemingly the same thing, although not in terms of what goes through one's mind and when), or my pre-shot routine (chin lock, side step etc., as seen in e.g. Jerry Briesath's video).

I don't necessarily give myself permission to do all else wrong, nor try to get all else right on top of what I'm concentrating on. I literally say to myself that for the next [insert a sensible amount of time] I'll do that. It's important to choose something you know you can get right regardless of what else is happening.

I've won matches that way where I was both in a slump and way behind, "surprisingly" so because I literally didn't concentrate on anything other than that one aspect for the remainder of the match (i.e. I no longer "tried" to win the match, just get that one aspect perfectly right). Other times it's turned out the aspect I picked was not "the glue that holds everything together", so after that sensible amount of time of trying one thing, I'll usually swap and concentrate on something else - and only that!

It may occasionally be too late in terms of getting an immediate result (such as winning a match started out poorly, or running my training session minimum etc.), but it's mentally healthy - the very least it'll do is put me back on track doing something positive.

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09-29-2017, 07:44 PM

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Originally Posted by lfigueroa View Post
oh yeah, lol. You have no idea.

One thing that can also help, when things inevitably swing back to normal, is to take a moment and make a few notes on what you're doing when playing well. Even better is to video yourself when you're striking them well. Then at least you can compare that to whatever you're doing when things are off.

Lou Figueroa
Well, I don't think it accounts for everything, but concentrating on my pre-shot routine helped at a good bit. I was definitely leaving out a "step" before. I almost always used to get right behind object ball as part of my routine. For some reason, I stopped doing that. I had to think about it a bit before I figured it out.

Thanks a bunch, Lou. That was very perceptive of you and and excellent call.
  
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10-02-2017, 05:31 PM

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Originally Posted by john coloccia View Post
Well, I don't think it accounts for everything, but concentrating on my pre-shot routine helped at a good bit. I was definitely leaving out a "step" before. I almost always used to get right behind object ball as part of my routine. For some reason, I stopped doing that. I had to think about it a bit before I figured it out.

Thanks a bunch, Lou. That was very perceptive of you and and excellent call.

Thank you, John. Appreciate it.

Lou Figueroa
  
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