Being in 'The Zone'


Thank You first to Deno for moderating this forum. I have played 3C for 35+ years, first on an old 1941 Victor for 25 years - old and slow but it taught me the basics & forced me to develop skills I never would have acquired on a better table. Then came a Brunswick with Simonis, and a few months ago a Soren Soogard. I played sparingly thru-out the years, and got more serious in the last 10 or so. I was playing at a .6 on the Brunswick & I'm about the same on the newer Euro-table (altho it's an older model before the Kleban cushions), but I feel I can get much better as I get used to controlling my speed & spin and perfecting all the newer shots this table offers. This leads to my question & discussion on concentration & getting in 'the zone'. Some days you end up playing at a level half of what you are capable. You just dont see the angles, dont feel the kisses, and make bad decisions no matter how hard you try. It can be very frustrating.

Yet, there are days when you see & feel everything automatically, score at will & everything seems right with the world - as if the planets are all lined up correctly. Instead of scoring ones, two, & threes on openings.... you now score fours, fives, & sixes. Most of the higher runs I have had thru the years (the highest being eleven) have occurred when I was very relaxed and totally undistracted to the point where I never really know what the run was, since I am not even keeping count. On the runs of seven or more I can honestly say that my playing partner could have told me any count & I would have never
really known the difference. Thank goodness 3C players are almost all honest gentlemen and are genuinely happy for you.

My question to the board is: have you ever developed a theory about the zone. Is it a concentration level? is it a timing or shot routine thing? What do you do to give yourself the best chance of 'zoning'? Other players who have watched me when this has occurred have told me that my preparation, approach, shot decision, aiming routine, etc almost always happen on an exact timing on each shot.... as if a stopwatch would clik off the same time for each shot. I would like to hear some other theories on this subject.


New member
Get your MoJo workin'

Maybe you have to recalibrate your MoJo? Or you have to sit a black crow on your sholder? ... No, just kidding.

I think that's the sort of luck or fortune you can't force to happen. If you watch the pros playing, it seems that they can produce the 'rush' whenever they need it. But in my opinion, it's the magic of 3p (practise, practise and even more practise), which makes it look so effortless.

Amateurs like us depend more on a friendly pattern on the table. A ball which rolls an inch more or less than it should, changes an easy following situation to a nightmare. It also depends a lot on the opponent, does (s)he often leave you an open table or is the defense hard as concrete?

My theory: the more you practice and the less you try to force the 'flow', the more often it will happen.


In The Twilight Zone

Thanks Frank. I agree that practice plays a part in the equation, but I have never seen a correlation between practice & 'the zone'. There have been years where , due to work & family commitments, that I have played just a few times per year and still would show up & play at a 1.5 or even a 2 for periods of time. I had a chance to play just about daily for a few hours for almost 3 years and did not notice a higher percentage of the 'flow', as you put it, other than that it happened more because I played more.

I have noticed on the 3C tapes of the pros that they seem to have the same phenomenon bursts as well. Semiy has played spectacularly at times & tanked at others, at both ends of matches. The same for SangLee.

I dont know if it's a Euro thing or not, but they seem to be more mechanical, methodical, almost mathmatical in their approach - and evidently practice their methods to refinement. I tried this style for a while, but it seems that I play much better by feel; so I have settled on a compromise style using a mechanical approach to my game when warranted, but relying more on feel. However, when the 'flow' is there, I will rely almost totally on feel and just let it happen.

Deno J. Andrews

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member

Great question. In my experience, I have found the zone to be a period of time of uniterrupted highly focused concentration without the negativity of the conscious mind. I think the conscious mind is a natural skeptic, and if you play billiards at any average or above average level, focused concentration will certainly improve your game. Most people have poor concentration at the table and let all sorts of things bother them. Those who notice nothing outside the playing area will be in the zone more often than those who find every little distraction.

Of course it helps to work on mechanics so that your conscious has less reason to interfere with your natural process. Of course, the conscious mind is at work when you are in the zone, you are just less aware of it because you are more focused on the task at hand. This answer is very short but it is my basic feeling on the subject. I could write volumes on the specifics but will save that for my book :) that is of course if I ever get around to writing one.

Deno Andrews


AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
The Age Old Zone Issue


I agree 100% with your description of when you're in the zone (all's right with the world) and when your not (struggling). This is the age old problem that both pool and 3C players struggle with their whole playing lives. The better players struggle less because they're so damn great to begin with and they practice constantly. Practicing in game situations for hours on end helps dramatically because your mind gets used to performing under pressure so it's nothing new when faced with that situation - just as Deno mentioned. It is much more difficult for a casual player to be consistant with their concentration.

The good news is that it's easier to fight through those tough times in 3C because of the use of systems and the fact you don't have to be quite as accurate with the first object ball hit as you do in pool. After all, you don't have to make a ball to keep shooting, just complete the carom.

So with that said here's my humble suggestion to help overcome your problem (it works for me): When your struggling and not "seeing" where you want to hit the ball clearly, TRUST YOUR SYSTEMS TO GUIDE YOU. Even if it doesn't look right, if your math is right you will be close. Note: if you don't know at least the standard diamond system...learn it! The second part to that equation is to hit the shots with a little more speed than you think you need and be sure to also follow through a little further than you think you need to. With the exaggerated follow through, a little more speed, and use of systems, you'll find that you will get back in the flow of the game much quicker and perhaps get back in the "zone". At the very least you will enjoy the game much more and have better results than if you get lost in your "misery".

Let me know if this helps.

Last edited: