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sixpack
07-04-2006, 09:01 PM
Okay, Here's the scenario: I used to play pretty good on a barbox and even on a bigbox. I snapped off some big tournaments and players that were pretty impressive. It was not unusual for me to string racks. I played many, many tournaments and gambled many, many times. Basically every day for years. I won a lot more than I lost. I was a AAA player on barbox in CO last time I played there. (around 120 USPPA I think, if I can gauge the speed right)

Fast forward to today. I moved out here, took about two years off and then started playing again. I'm married and my finances are different (shared) and so I don't really have the freedom to gamble like I used to or play in tourneys. There is no organized bar table leagues or tournaments near where I live. It's pretty much either complete bangers or big table action....so I took my game to the big table.

After about a year, I'm starting to get pretty comfortable on the big box. Starting to string racks occassionally and the other day, before leagues, I was warming up with my friend and B&R three straight 8-ball tables, then because we were warming up, I just walked away and let someone else play. The zone I was in, no telling how many more I had in me. Recently I beat the 9B ghost 2 of 3 races to 5 with a sixpack and a fourpack. (with BIH after break)

Well, I've noticed that for the first time in my life, I'm a better practice player than pressure player. So I decide to start gambling some cheap just to get the competetive juices flowing. FWIW I feel like I play about 100 USPPA, at least I usually beat people under 100 that I gamble with and lose to those over.

So last night I gamble with a guy who is about 150 USPPA speed. First set I break dry and he runs that and B&R two more. We're playing races to 4. He breaks dry and I run out and miss the 8...not a hard shot...definitely a choke.

Next set we are trading games and I lose 4-3 or 4-2...don't remember. Had some good runouts and missed some that I should make.

I quit so he offers to play me some lefty. I don't think he can beat me that way but he says he'll play me 8-ball that way, not 9. We come out even after I missed an easy 8 in one set and hook myself on 8 other set. The other two sets I didn't make many errors. My game was runout, runout, choke...all night. The chokes weren't just missing shots, but playing poor position usually because of lack of focus. He plays about 100 (usppa) lefty and sure enough, we ended up in a draw.

Anyway, what's missing in my game is the total confidence and killer instinct that I had and still have on bar tables. I feel like I CAN'T lose.

That confidence is what I'm really struggling with on big table. Last night, after thinking through the night and re-hashing, I feel like I KNEW I couldn't win before I started. When you start in that frame of mind, a miracle has to happen for you to win, no matter how well you play.

I posted a thread on here a while back looking for a 'swing coach' but it didn't have any responses.

So here are my questions:
* Do you think I should keep playing stronger players so I have to keep the pressure on, or should I play some weaker players to build confidence?
* How could an instructor help me get my game where I want it?
* Do you think a "swing coach" or cornerman who knows my game well and can coach me as well as instruct is a viable option?

I'm willing to hire an instructor, but I want to know what I'm looking for.

I'm in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Thanks!
RC

Colin Colenso
07-04-2006, 10:52 PM
Nice post sixpack,
A think a lot of us players have found themselves in this situation after a layoff.

The choke on the 8-ball, or just running out of position as you get toward the 8-ball seems to always happen when coming back. It's like there is a doubt in your mind, needing to prove that you can still do it under pressure.

Best cure I think is to play regular tough and not so tough matches. The more times you finish the easier it will get. There's even some pressure against the lesser players, so long as you're strict on yourself about not being satisfied with anything but your best performance.

I think that you can put pressure on yourself even during self-practice and this will prepare you for the big games. Of course you're gonna mess up a few, but soon enough you'll relax and start making them in the big matches more often.

It's so common in tournies to see good players choking a bit in the early rounds and after a few wins they start to finish everything.

You've just got to relax, focus, be patient and have faith that your game can pick up when you need it. It's very hard to train that, it tends to be a part of one's character, but it can grow with a lot of hard work and gradual success.

Good luck,
Colin

StormHotRod300
07-05-2006, 02:36 AM
It sounds like, your probably in the A to AA range of player.

And yes getting a coach would probably be your best choice. Expecially if your playing him/her while during your lessions.

The other thing you can do is when playing the Ghost is to not take BIH after the break and see what happens.

Or, talk to the guy you gambled with about being a practice partner/ gambling partner. And tell him that you want to improve your game.

Either way you I doubt you could go wrong.

Snapshot9
07-05-2006, 06:47 AM
You can't gamble or play in tournaments because of shared finances, but you can hire a swing coach or instructor? That one has me puzzled, because a coach or instructor would run more than a tournament would?

I understand completely the benefit on good instruction by a qualified instructor (having instructed myself), but I was one that learned entirely on my own initiative and drive.

If you are the level of player I think you to be, your knowledge should be good, and you just need to 'tune up' your game. Sounds like your position
play still needs worked on since it is fairly easy to get shape on a big table
if you have a good working knowledge of english. You should know that you have to have successful little steps before you can put the 'whole' thing together, so I would say to work on the smaller steps giving you problems (3 rail positon play, etc.), so that your accuracy of those steps
improve. Any overall plan has to be broken down into small steps, and mastered, before the overall can be successful. As you are aware of, 1 mistake can mean the difference between success and failure on a Pool table. Tune up the small steps, and you will be on your way to building your overall game back up to the level you enjoyed before. Doubts on a small step (making a shot and getting position) will plague you during pressure situations, getting the confidence back in those 'gray' areas is the fastest way to restore your game.

StevenPWaldon
07-05-2006, 07:00 AM
I think one of your own suggestions is best -- playing weaker players to win and get confidence. This whole issue is about confidence.

It seems to me that the reason you had that killer instinct and that unabashed confidence on a bar box is because that's where you did so well for so many years. I think that if you're choking on 9-footers, it's simply because they're new to you and not an arena where you automatically think you're going to runout any open table. And quite honestly, if you think you're around a 100 speed, you *should* be running out any open table.

The whole thing here is a mental issue, and I don't know if an instructor will be that good at curing it. Maybe a sports psychologist? If you were already a 150 in your career at some point, then most of your learning is done (Tony Chohan and 'cousin' Amar Kang are both around 150s). You just have to find a way to get comfortable --cock, even-- on a larger table.

So start gambling with guys that can string a rack or two together (maybe 80+ speeds). They'll be enough to keep the pressure on you, but in the end you should come out ahead. This will give you the pressure to get your head in the game, and if you can start running out like you used to then the second-guessing and the fear of choking won't be an issue like it seems to be now. Once you feel comfortable in your own skin on a 9-footer, then you'll have the confidence you need.

sixpack
07-05-2006, 07:37 AM
Thanks for the suggestions guys! Good stuff.

Snapshot,
Thanks for the input. The position and pocketing is primarily what I've been working on the last year and I guess I'm a little frustrated at my progress.

The position errors I make usually seem like lack of focus more than not knowing how to get the CB somewhere. I'll play perfect speed most of the time and then inexplicably run the CB two feet past where I want it. You're right, going back and building the foundation is probably what I still need to do. It has to be automatic under pressure.

The reason I can't really play tournaments is not because of the finances, it's because of the time. Married life has different time requirements that single life just to meet your responsibilities :)

I can afford some money for instruction or cheap sets, but can't go off more than $100 at any given time.

SPWaldon -
I think you're right. about the sports psychologist. FTR - I dont' think I ever played 150 speed, maybe my tops was around 120 on barbox. As for running out every open table, I run out most. My experience from gambling against 100 speed players is that they run out about half the open tables. There is usually a safety resulting from a poor position play or something in there.

Your post also makes me think of something. There definitely is a glass ceiling, because when I gamble with guys around 60-80 speed, I feel like they have no chance to win. They usually get really pissed off and frustrated. Which I don't enjoy.

Thanks!
RC

sixpack
07-05-2006, 07:44 AM
Nice post sixpack,
A think a lot of us players have found themselves in this situation after a layoff.

The choke on the 8-ball, or just running out of position as you get toward the 8-ball seems to always happen when coming back. It's like there is a doubt in your mind, needing to prove that you can still do it under pressure.

Best cure I think is to play regular tough and not so tough matches. The more times you finish the easier it will get. There's even some pressure against the lesser players, so long as you're strict on yourself about not being satisfied with anything but your best performance.

I think that you can put pressure on yourself even during self-practice and this will prepare you for the big games. Of course you're gonna mess up a few, but soon enough you'll relax and start making them in the big matches more often.

It's so common in tournies to see good players choking a bit in the early rounds and after a few wins they start to finish everything.

You've just got to relax, focus, be patient and have faith that your game can pick up when you need it. It's very hard to train that, it tends to be a part of one's character, but it can grow with a lot of hard work and gradual success.

Good luck,
Colin

Thanks for the input. I like what you said about big players choking early, I hadn't really thought of it, but there has been a niggle in the back of my mind about 'miles'. When I was ski racing once, my coach told me all I needed was the miles. I just had to ski for miles and miles. That analogy has popped in my head a few times now that I think about it when I've missed...I haven't had the marathon gambling sessions or tournaments that can really help me get in stroke. At most I have a few hours here and there.

StorminHotRod - I mentioned that to the guy I was playing last night and he seems like he could give a flying you-know-what. As for the ghost, if I'm breaking well, I don't really need BIH, but not breaking that good that often.

Cheers,
RC

bigg7
07-05-2006, 07:46 AM
The problem with instruction is that you have to actually absorb the lessons and the longer you play the harder it is to listen to someone critic your came.I think if your serious you should find an instructor that is also a top player so it might be easier to accept his suggestion.I took a lesson from a bca instructor in 95 but I blew him off because I thought he couldn't play 6 years later I took the same lesson from Mark Wilson and I gave it all of my attention because I know he plays jam up. P.S. make sure he's bca certified IMO

3kushn
07-05-2006, 08:01 AM
IMO as long as you keep your head together about losing vs. winning, you should always play better players. There are so many situations in this game that effect or change how you play. One of these is playing people that present minimal challenge. For me I'll just tell myself "I'm was supposed to win this game" so doesn't show me where I'm at. I also have a hard time playing hard against a guy I'm supposed to beat. Can't improve without streching the limits. Some folks use gambling to add the pressure. I add pressure playing against my average.

I have a guy I play who has been on average 50% better than I am, so he's a good guage when we play. Now I'm averaging 18 or better and sometimes winning to a game of 25 points. Based on this I know I'm getting my game back again too. Of course my averages tell me this as well.

Most ceilings are reached because of fundamental flaws. In time some people can break through even with the flaws. How much time do you want to spend to reach the next level? A "qualified" coach can speed up the process.

scottycoyote
07-05-2006, 09:03 AM
one thing i think has helped my game, i have a buddy i play with whos about my speed, i may play a lil better.......but we will meet one night a week and play some super cheap sets, like race to 5 for 5 or 10, basically it covers table time. We both want to win, but theres no pressure there like gambling with strangers, and we will mix it up, 9ball, straightpool, 1 pocket.....it gives you a chance to try things and you dont get hurt, but also you have to play good pool cuz if you lose youre gonna hear alot of crap......and it beats hours of practicing alone. If you dont have someone like that, maybe see if someone on this forum lives close by, you need someone whos into pool and is looking to get better and is serious about it like you are.

sixpack
07-05-2006, 09:43 AM
The problem with instruction is that you have to actually absorb the lessons and the longer you play the harder it is to listen to someone critic your came.I think if your serious you should find an instructor that is also a top player so it might be easier to accept his suggestion.I took a lesson from a bca instructor in 95 but I blew him off because I thought he couldn't play 6 years later I took the same lesson from Mark Wilson and I gave it all of my attention because I know he plays jam up. P.S. make sure he's bca certified IMO

Yep. That is so true. Just posting this and asking for help is difficult. I can listen to them if we start with the assumption that I can play a little. If they think there's a problem in my fundamentals, I don't mind taking a look at it, but I don't want to go through the 'new player program'...lol. Last year I had a lesson with a pro because I was missing every long shot the same way. He showed me a problem in my fundamentals that was causing it and I did what he recommended to change it and it worked.

3kushn - Your note about instruction reminds me of a Harvey Penick quote about golf that I could stand to remember more often.

"Don't kid yourself. You can work through the problem you have with your swing, but what might take you 6 months to sort out on your own can probably be fixed in 5 minutes by a good instructor."

I find myself letting up so much against lesser competition that I think it hurts my game in the long run. Then when you bear down people get angry because they've already made up their mind that they can beat you.

Scotty - That would be great to have someone like that here. I had someone like that back in CO. Most of the guys in my PH play one pocket and are serious about making money at it. Long workout sessions are not something most of them are interested in. Anybody out there?

Thanks for the suggestions guys! This thread is really helping.
RC

sixpack
07-05-2006, 09:51 AM
I think one of your own suggestions is best -- playing weaker players to win and get confidence. This whole issue is about confidence.

Great stuff deleted...

The whole thing here is a mental issue, and I don't know if an instructor will be that good at curing it. Maybe a sports psychologist? If you were already a 150 in your career at some point, then most of your learning is done (Tony Chohan and 'cousin' Amar Kang are both around 150s). You just have to find a way to get comfortable --cock, even-- on a larger table.

Great stuff deleted...


Steve,

Good suggestion, have you ever gone to a sports psychologist?

For that matter, has anyone here gone to a sports psychologist? I have been thinking about NLP (neuro linguistic programming) coaching.

Thanks!
RC

JoeyA
07-05-2006, 11:53 AM
Steve,

Good suggestion, have you ever gone to a sports psychologist?

For that matter, has anyone here gone to a sports psychologist? I have been thinking about NLP (neuro linguistic programming) coaching.

Thanks!
RC

Six Pack, you could try Dr. Gary Beale, www.drrelax.com
JoeyA

JoeyA
07-05-2006, 12:00 PM
Steve,

Good suggestion, have you ever gone to a sports psychologist?

For that matter, has anyone here gone to a sports psychologist? I have been thinking about NLP (neuro linguistic programming) coaching.

Thanks!
RC

RC, let me know how you make out with NLP if you go that route. It seems pretty "weighty".
THANKS!
JoeyA

StevenPWaldon
07-05-2006, 12:11 PM
No, but I've looked into the topic a lot.

In fact, the best book I ever read that gave me an insight into the psychology of winning was.... The Hustler. I'm not kidding here, either. Burt has a few pages of dialogue with Eddie before he takes him on as his horse.

Hope this doesn't get me in trouble, but I'll post the dialoge in a new post when I get it typed up. Look for it in about 10 minutes.

Steve,

Good suggestion, have you ever gone to a sports psychologist?

For that matter, has anyone here gone to a sports psychologist? I have been thinking about NLP (neuro linguistic programming) coaching.

Thanks!
RC

Bob Jewett
07-05-2006, 02:07 PM
... That confidence is what I'm really struggling with on big table. ... I posted a thread on here a while back looking for a 'swing coach' but it didn't have any responses.... I'm in the San Francisco Bay Area....
For books on pool psychology, I think Fancher's is among the best. "Inner Tennis" may also help.

A large part of confidence is missing less often. That comes with more practice hours. There are lots of practice drills around, some in books and some for free. I think it's better to recognize which shots you are having trouble with and practice those.

If you think you have a problem with fundamentals, find an instructor who will video tape you. There are several in your area. He should also be able to help you plan drills for your specific problems.

sixpack
07-05-2006, 04:49 PM
RC, let me know how you make out with NLP if you go that route. It seems pretty "weighty".
THANKS!
JoeyA

After learning more about NLP in the last two years, I realized that some of the things I do while playing pool to get myself "in the zone" are really NLP tricks. For example, if I jump up and move to the table the exact way as when I am playing great and my opponent leaves me a shot, it triggers me to play great.

Tony Robbins has a saying "the motion triggers the emotion" - What he means is that if you make the same motions, posture, tone of voice etc...that you use when you are 'in the zone' your mind will follow suit and put you in the zone.

Generally, IF I am able to catch myself when I start getting 'loser posture' or whatever other things go into losing and turn it around, it helps. But I'm out of practice at this as well.

If you see a match from across the room, you usually don't need to see the score to tell who's winning. If you mimic the movements, posture, actions and pre-shot routine of the winners, it might help you get a better attitude. At least it has in my case on occasion. Also, if you're in a match, and you act like you're winning with those same physical keys, that can help you turn it around as well as send the message to your opponent that you're winning....which might trigger them to go into a loser mindframe.

I have an NLP practitioner/coach who lives in Sacramento right by Hard Times, so I think I might see if she'd be interested in taking a gander. She does some sports psychology, but has not ever worked with a pool player before or play pool.

Cheers,
RC

sixpack
07-05-2006, 04:57 PM
For books on pool psychology, I think Fancher's is among the best. "Inner Tennis" may also help.

A large part of confidence is missing less often. That comes with more practice hours. There are lots of practice drills around, some in books and some for free. I think it's better to recognize which shots you are having trouble with and practice those.

If you think you have a problem with fundamentals, find an instructor who will video tape you. There are several in your area. He should also be able to help you plan drills for your specific problems.

I agree with you about that. I've always thought that one of the prime functions of practice is to build confidence for competition. Well-grounded confidence can only come through solid history of high performance.

Currently the only shot I'm not seeing right is a slight backward cut into the corner. I practiced today and made almost every one I shot, which was about 50. My banks are poor lately because I haven't been giving them any attention, but I know I can spend a half hour on them and they'll be right back in form. It just hasn't been a very high priority lately.

Cheers,
RC

Cameron Smith
07-05-2006, 06:25 PM
If there is one in your area start playing snooker. Big pool tables all of the sudden aren't so big anymore.

Secondly I would play anyone who is willing. Just keep on playing and soon that confidence will come. Confidence has to be based on experience and it sounds like something you may need to build up again.

Generally what I do is practice as much as I can, and play whoever I can find. It has worked for me. I was playing a guy some 14.1 last friday and I was trailing 85-10. Up till that point I played a very bad match. But even at 85-10 I still was confident I was going to win, I just thought to myself "I have used up all of my alloted unforced errors, so its time to kick some ass". I won 100-85.

stroke
07-05-2006, 08:42 PM
Okay, Here's the scenario: I used to play pretty good on a barbox and even on a bigbox. I snapped off some big tournaments and players that were pretty impressive. It was not unusual for me to string racks. I played many, many tournaments and gambled many, many times. Basically every day for years. I won a lot more than I lost. I was a AAA player on barbox in CO last time I played there. (around 120 USPPA I think, if I can gauge the speed right)
RC

This is the same issue with which all pool player deal: CONSISTENCY. Dick Lane told me long ago, "practice your weaknesses." That's what he does and that's why he's so darned good.