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Restoring lost focus - 04-27-2013, 09:00 PM

Just wondering, what techniques do good players use to restore their focus when they "lose it" and suddenly can't hit the side of a barn to save their lives? It happens to everybody, in every sport.

I used to be heavily into tennis, which is another mind-intensive game, and a common approach in tennis when your game goes down the toilet is to focus visually on the ball - like, burn holes in it with your eyeballs. This is what a lot of top tennis pros do when they're suddenly falling apart under pressure.

So I'm curious what top pool players do when they're in the middle of a critical match and suddenly their shooting goes south.


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04-29-2013, 03:03 AM

bump.


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04-29-2013, 07:12 AM

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Originally Posted by Ruark View Post
Just wondering, what techniques do good players use to restore their focus when they "lose it" and suddenly can't hit the side of a barn to save their lives? It happens to everybody, in every sport.

I used to be heavily into tennis, which is another mind-intensive game, and a common approach in tennis when your game goes down the toilet is to focus visually on the ball - like, burn holes in it with your eyeballs. This is what a lot of top tennis pros do when they're suddenly falling apart under pressure.

So I'm curious what top pool players do when they're in the middle of a critical match and suddenly their shooting goes south.
I am afraid many top players employ a similar technique-main diff is they
go outside and burn one

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04-29-2013, 07:34 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruark View Post
Just wondering, what techniques do good players use to restore their focus when they "lose it" and suddenly can't hit the side of a barn to save their lives? It happens to everybody, in every sport.

I used to be heavily into tennis, which is another mind-intensive game, and a common approach in tennis when your game goes down the toilet is to focus visually on the ball - like, burn holes in it with your eyeballs. This is what a lot of top tennis pros do when they're suddenly falling apart under pressure.

So I'm curious what top pool players do when they're in the middle of a critical match and suddenly their shooting goes south.
Lots of people compare tennis to pool, the two are completely different games, tennis requires you to be in sharp quick focus all the time, pool on the other hand, allows you to have more time to develop focus.

We do not loose the ability to focus, what we loose is the speed of which focus is captured, and add to that we "forget" one of the check list items-most of the time-follow through. When sharp and fresh, focus is almost instant and accurate and also allows room for stroke errors, when tired it takes time to find it, and if not accurate, add stroke error on top and you will miss. A lot of players and instructors say you have to play the same way always, i agree when you are in focus and rhythm, but when you seem to loose it, spend more time while down to find exact aim especially key shots and hard shots and ensure follow through, at times we go down wrong and cannot seem to find focus.
The other issue is when we play bad, your opponent seem to play superb it never fails, obviously, you leave him easy shots, and he/she leaves all hard low % shots for you and makes you think you are out of focus, and end up missing and hand in the game for him.
Practice makes you remember all check list items and seem to make you go down correct, enough sleep, and balanced body fluid chemistry makes you find focus.
  
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04-29-2013, 08:01 AM

In my estimation, focus was more than difficult to realize as a functional process. It seemed to have variety built into its nature of understanding. My mental assessments of focus seemed to change with the weather so I began searching for definitions and advice to better grasp the concept. I remember one story from an expert rifleman relating the vision of the sight blade through the aperture needing to be perfectly clear with no other thought but the target in mind being his interpretation. At the time it seemed to be the most related to my situation, but sure as anything my way of focusing became more and more difficult. There did however come a time when I became aware of a book on sports psychology, which constructed a concrete method for one’s ability to focus. The Inner Game of Tennis was touted as systematic approach for applying this concept. To transfer these ideas to our sport seemed doable, yet as before the ideas became muddled and obscure. Finally after a post, here on AZ, authored by sfeinen, http://forums.azbilliards.com/showthread.php?t=216564 , I was able to put together a plan that remains stable and has produced results that give me the confidence I needed to better enjoy the social interaction and competition, which were the most important to me. Used as a directive, the “let go” method, as described , has been a helpful tool for many who have sought to better their pool game. Players who have used this method first realized that errors in shot execution were not merely physical, but were products of mental error in preparation. This fact is most obvious when a decent player misses a short straight-in shot. The “let go” method attempts to prevent such mental errors by having the player “let go” of all thought concerning the shot during execution. The simplest way to describe this is for the player to let his mind go blank once he has addressed the cue ball. This works in part because it directs the body to depend on “muscle memory” rather than on commands from the player’s conscious mind, which is fallible, especially under stress. It may help some who desire to mentally improve their game to better understand what actually happens when they “let go.”
Functional separation is the process of separating the conscious and subconscious activity of the mind. For persuasion that this is of great value, functional separation is the subject of study, and intended goal for many sports psychologist. It is first necessary to understand that what separates decent players from consistently good players is the amount of experience and the use thereof. All useful experience is stored in the subconscious. Consequently, any excess activity in the conscious mind is a hindrance to the subconscious mind’s control over the body. This is because the human was designed such that the subconscious rules the body in the absence of conscious commands, but is always overruled by the conscious in the event of commands (consider blinking). Development of skills that lead to transition from conscious to subconscious is the foundation of shot preparation with silencing of the conscious mind being the chief cornerstone.
After planning shot execution by conscious assessment, a transition to the subconscious for the duration of that execution enables the vast storehouse of useful experience therein to have exclusive influence during the execution. This alone eliminates any and all external factors that could detrimentally influence the shot execution. External factors are not limited to only those outside of the body (such as loud music in the room, etc.), but are defined as anything that is recognized only by the conscious mind. This includes all thought. Such common thoughts as excitement over possibly winning, fear over possibly losing, and despair over recent failure, are all present only in the conscious mind and can be entirely eliminated by a transition to the subconscious.
Venues obviously contribute to ones’ ability to concentrate without distraction. Type of music playing, volume, karaoke night, “party” environments, can be factors. Some atmospheres are relaxed, some contentious. Common are failures belied to circumstance. On the other hand a remarkable shot made in the Masters final, at a state tournament, became memorable due to an unexpected shoving match occurring close by. Loud yelling began just as the contestant was about to shoot. In this situation the shooter didn’t seem to notice the disturbance at all. Not only did he make the shot but he continued as if nothing was going on around him. Comments made during league play about a variety of visual and audible distractions are commonplace. Be it a waitress walking by as a shot is being made, annoying noise levels, players’ antics, etcetera, we have all experienced “breaks” in our focus at one time or another. Internal thoughts can be compelling as we recognize moments of pressure to win. It’s easy to relate to personal expectations as well the fear of losing. Some strive valiantly to better their abilities through diligent practice while others feel experience is the best teacher and time should increase performance. Regardless, neither of these two guidelines for improvement addresses the necessity for functional separation.
  
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04-29-2013, 10:24 AM

What works pretty good for me is a combination of seething and crying.

OK more seriously, I have aways just done the same thing: burned eyes in the ball.
Triple checked my line of aim, go through every step of my process,
hit at least the first ball like I really care about making it.
Don't shoot it until I like my line of aim and feel confident I'll make it.
Stand up if I have to and reset, until I like the shot.

In a nutshell, I slow down.

For me personally, speeding up is almost synonymous with playing halfassed
(though you see guys get into a good rhythm sometimes, and speed up... like shane last night).
Slowing down = adding focus, for me. The extra time is spent on the shot, not on anything else.
  
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It's all about the position of the eyes......
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It's all about the position of the eyes...... - 04-29-2013, 02:55 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruark View Post
Just wondering, what techniques do good players use to restore their focus when they "lose it" and suddenly can't hit the side of a barn to save their lives? It happens to everybody, in every sport.

I used to be heavily into tennis, which is another mind-intensive game, and a common approach in tennis when your game goes down the toilet is to focus visually on the ball - like, burn holes in it with your eyeballs. This is what a lot of top tennis pros do when they're suddenly falling apart under pressure.

So I'm curious what top pool players do when they're in the middle of a critical match and suddenly their shooting goes south.
We need to know where the natural sight is so we can get there at will.

The non dominant eye will try to work like the dominant eye if you let it and if you don't know how to stop this from happening it will happen when you least want it to.

In a pressure situation.

And you can't tell but you know the shot just doesn't look quite right.......

You need to know exactly what you need to focus on.

Last edited by genomachino; 06-13-2013 at 01:29 PM.
  
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04-29-2013, 03:12 PM

There are a couple of tricks that can help restore personal confidence in pocketing balls.

One trick is to adjust your feet position. I have noticed that most people start missing shots when they have shifted their feet. Usually, it is the front foot moved in towards the cue (apex of the bridge, front foot, back foot triangle). Shift the front foot away from the cue about an inch and give that a 10 minute test.
You can also check your back foot placement and make sure that the cue (top down view) goes across your toes.
These shifts adjust your head position over the stick.

The second trick is to set up straight on shots. Shoot five or six and determine which side the CB is hitting off. When you know this, every time you get down on a shot, set up as normal - then manually shift the aim of the stick to compensate. This will immediately recover your accuracy.

Monitor your accuracy over the match and make adjustments when you notice the accuracy dropping off.


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04-29-2013, 04:47 PM

Focus is another word for concentration. Playing pool requires intense concentration (margins or error are small). There is a need relax and turn the shot making over to the subconscious mind. This is a complex process that requires much attention to detail by the conscious (shot selection) and subconscious mind (execution).

Going into a match you have the expectation that you are going to win or at least have the ability to win against a worthy opponent. Things can go wrong in any of several ways. Perhaps your opponent’s skill combined with a few bad rolls that you get lead to the loss of ability to concentrate (focus if you prefer).
A this point while you have not consciously accepted defeat and may even make a shot or two that looks like you are coming back, underneath it all you have lost the desire to win. Perhaps you think that you can’t win this game and, “what the hell, I’ll get him next time.” This leads to sloppy play, poor choices and a spiraling defeatist attitude.

You may or may not consciously accept the fact that the game (or match) is lost but your subconscious knows that you don’t care and so you encourage yourself to take shots with a low probability of success. In addition, because you have “lost focus,” you do not have that intense concentration that is needed to play well.

The underlying problem here is your own acceptance of defeat that may be worded to yourself as, “I don’t care about this game.”

With the realization that a loss of focus is really due to something going on in the game that leads you to an “I don’t care” attitude the way to regain your focus is fairly straight forward.

Call it heart, call it a re-evaluation of your situation, call it what you will. What you need is a change of attitude that will let you bring back that intense concentration on every shot.

If we so desire, we can change our attitude in a matter of minutes when we realize that a change is needed. When you lose focus evaluate "why" you have lost focus and then do something about it. I think you will find it is often your own bad attitude.
  
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04-29-2013, 04:50 PM

Send wife back to her mothers house to live! watch how much your game picks up!

Last edited by The One; 04-29-2013 at 04:57 PM.
  
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04-29-2013, 05:03 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruark View Post
Just wondering, what techniques do good players use to restore their focus when they "lose it" and suddenly can't hit the side of a barn to save their lives? It happens to everybody, in every sport.

I used to be heavily into tennis, which is another mind-intensive game, and a common approach in tennis when your game goes down the toilet is to focus visually on the ball - like, burn holes in it with your eyeballs. This is what a lot of top tennis pros do when they're suddenly falling apart under pressure.

So I'm curious what top pool players do when they're in the middle of a critical match and suddenly their shooting goes south.
Stick to your PSRs. Take your cue back slowly on the final back-swing. Make sure you use the correct eye pattern and give yourself time to lock on your target and keep your grip from becoming too tight.


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04-29-2013, 06:39 PM

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Originally Posted by dr9ball View Post
Stick to your PSRs. Take your cue back slowly on the final back-swing. Make sure you use the correct eye pattern and give yourself time to lock on your target and keep your grip from becoming too tight.
Dog gone it Rufus .... had you told me that last nite I wouldn't have missed so many shots!!
  
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04-29-2013, 06:44 PM

Best answer....no surprise!

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeW View Post
Focus is another word for concentration. Playing pool requires intense concentration (margins or error are small). There is a need relax and turn the shot making over to the subconscious mind. This is a complex process that requires much attention to detail by the conscious (shot selection) and subconscious mind (execution).

Going into a match you have the expectation that you are going to win or at least have the ability to win against a worthy opponent. Things can go wrong in any of several ways. Perhaps your opponent’s skill combined with a few bad rolls that you get lead to the loss of ability to concentrate (focus if you prefer).
A this point while you have not consciously accepted defeat and may even make a shot or two that looks like you are coming back, underneath it all you have lost the desire to win. Perhaps you think that you can’t win this game and, “what the hell, I’ll get him next time.” This leads to sloppy play, poor choices and a spiraling defeatist attitude.

You may or may not consciously accept the fact that the game (or match) is lost but your subconscious knows that you don’t care and so you encourage yourself to take shots with a low probability of success. In addition, because you have “lost focus,” you do not have that intense concentration that is needed to play well.

The underlying problem here is your own acceptance of defeat that may be worded to yourself as, “I don’t care about this game.”

With the realization that a loss of focus is really due to something going on in the game that leads you to an “I don’t care” attitude the way to regain your focus is fairly straight forward.

Call it heart, call it a re-evaluation of your situation, call it what you will. What you need is a change of attitude that will let you bring back that intense concentration on every shot.

If we so desire, we can change our attitude in a matter of minutes when we realize that a change is needed. When you lose focus evaluate "why" you have lost focus and then do something about it. I think you will find it is often your own bad attitude.


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04-29-2013, 07:07 PM

Just like to add...PSR"S like another poster above added. Also I would like to add a few George Fels tricks.

First one is to tune into your other senses. Listen intently to the sound the balls make. The feel of the cloth beneath your finger tips till the object ball falls. These are the primal reasons for many of us that first attracted us to the game.

The second one is to chalk with your opposite hand. This seems to open up the other hemisphere of your brain.

Think of it this way. When we regularly chalk up our cue this action is hardwired in our brain and automatic for us. With our opposite hand it actually takes quite a bit of concentration. Just like the time we first picked up a cue we are very acutely aware of the feedback our body sends us. This simple trick has a way of starting us from square one in letting our subconscious do its thing...


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04-29-2013, 08:56 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruark View Post
Just wondering, what techniques do good players use to restore their focus when they "lose it" and suddenly can't hit the side of a barn to save their lives? It happens to everybody, in every sport.

I used to be heavily into tennis, which is another mind-intensive game, and a common approach in tennis when your game goes down the toilet is to focus visually on the ball - like, burn holes in it with your eyeballs. This is what a lot of top tennis pros do when they're suddenly falling apart under pressure.

So I'm curious what top pool players do when they're in the middle of a critical match and suddenly their shooting goes south.
I look for my reflection in the cue ball on my practice strokes.
  
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