Dealing with Pressure Once and for All!

CJ Wiley

ESPN WORLD OPEN CHAMPION
Gold Member
Silver Member
When I'm way down in a match my strategy was to give up - there's nothing to lose, so I just give it up to my total subconscious, or a part of me that loves "nothing to lose scenarios".

In this state of mind many times I came back and effectively snatched victory out of the jaws of certain defeat.
After learning this about myself I started doing it before my matches, I'd imagine in vivid detail that I'd already lost and process the emotions connected to losing.,....sounds negative at first doesn't it?

The opposite is actually true, when I accept that I already didn't win the upcoming match what happens to most of the self imposed pressure I feel in the actual match?

That's right, the pressure is drastically reduced because I've lowered my expectations substantially and could free wheel like I had nothing to lose.....because I didn't!

When I was the captain of the Mosconi Cup in 2012 Johnny Archer and I were up late one night talking about the next day's competition.
I took this opportunity to ask him "Johnny, you were the Player of the 90s, what do you believe the key to your success was?"

Johnny didn't hesitate "I made my expectations to win as low as possible!"

I smiled, because that's exactly what I did to win gambling matches against some of history's greatest players

This is my secret, "to truly win against the very best players, I must accept and be okay with losing first.....only then, after fear and anxiety vanish can I perform my absolute best!"

'The Game is the Teacher'
 

Imac007

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
When I'm way down in a match my strategy was to give up - there's nothing to lose, so I just give it up to my total subconscious, or a part of me that loves "nothing to lose scenarios".

In this state of mind many times I came back and effectively snatched victory out of the jaws of certain defeat.
After learning this about myself I started doing it before my matches, I'd imagine in vivid detail that I'd already lost and process the emotions connected to losing.,....sounds negative at first doesn't it?

The opposite is actually true, when I accept that I already didn't win the upcoming match what happens to most of the self imposed pressure I feel in the actual match?

That's right, the pressure is drastically reduced because I've lowered my expectations substantially and could free wheel like I had nothing to lose.....because I didn't!

When I was the captain of the Mosconi Cup in 2012 Johnny Archer and I were up late one night talking about the next day's competition.
I took this opportunity to ask him "Johnny, you were the Player of the 90s, what do you believe the key to your success was?"

Johnny didn't hesitate "I made my expectations to win as low as possible!"

I smiled, because that's exactly what I did to win gambling matches against some of history's greatest players

This is my secret, "to truly win against the very best players, I must accept and be okay with losing first.....only then, after fear and anxiety vanish can I perform my absolute best!"

'The Game is the Teacher'
Giving yourself permission to fail, allows creativity and commitment to emerge.
Great post.
 

buckshotshoey

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
You said it all on your last sentence....
Fear. Fear of what has happened to you in the past. Fear of the future.... in which a shot comes up that you dogged in the past.

You must play in the present. One trick I use is to slide my bridge hand on the cloth into position. I think to myself, "How does the cloth feel". Of course I know the feel from the billion times before. But you have to think about how it feels right now. It helps to put you mind in the present. It helps.
 

rexus31

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I received perhaps the single most important advice pertaining to performance from my high school baseball pitching coach that served me well through my college baseball career as well as my pool game. I was in the bullpen with the pitching coach warming up before a game against the reigning state champs. He assessed, "You look nervous." Well, I was. Even though I had supreme confidence in my ability, the pressure of the moment crept in. I'll never forget what he told me, "When nerves start to creep in, turn that energy into focus and concentration; drowning out everything that is around you. Focus on the task at hand and concentrate on your execution. The nerves will disappear." It worked and continues to work. I pitched a great game. When I am facing a stronger opponent at the table and nerves begin to creep in, I heed his advice and I am able to execute shots to the best of my ability, not hindered by nerves.
 

Black-Balled

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Somewat interesting position, to visualize being a loser.

It's a dilemma, as there are many citations indicating visualization of positive outcome is a key element in determining performance by high-end sportsmen.

It's not VERY interesting, coz IMO, what you think isn't the primary factor as to what happens.
 

gregcantrall

Center Ball
Silver Member
Somewat interesting position, to visualize being a loser.
For me it is more about accepting that losing is not the end of the world. I try to maintain the joy of competition over the expectation of a result.
When having the talk with self, I can point out that in spite of previous loses, I am still playing and I play to have fun.(Even if it is easier to have fun when winning.😉)
 
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mikemosconi

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
The idea that you accept the fact that you may lose is a good starting point to calm nerves. However, that idea does not deal with how one manages to control emotions during the match itself. The only "thoughts' during competitive pool need to be the strategic thoughts of shot selection, and CB landing points, as well as OB contact points.

The only other goal in mind is to make each stroke as perfect as possible - that is it!

The score, the opponent, the surroundings, the stakes, etc. have no purpose during a match, just the pre shot decisions on each shot and then the un- emotional attempt to make the stroke as pure and correct as possible. One shot at a time, until your day or night has come to an end as winner or loser.
 
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boogieman

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that ping.
I often find it isn't necessarily fear, but overthinking. The mind is running wild and off the rails. This video gives a little perspective, watch up until 2:42, after that it doesn't really pertain to pool.

Hear that bell sound?

If my mind is racing, I end the standing part of my PSR by loudly clicking my chalk on the table. Think of the old director's clapper things they used before scenes on a movie. That snap sound is the trigger to go into performance mode and let the subconscious take over. I know it sounds odd, but I've trained myself to associate the clicking sound of the chalk with my head going entirely clear. I don't do it all the time, but I practiced it enough during practice that it can get me out of a bind. Even doing it a couple times will get my head right and not make everyone in the hall wonder what the hell this guy keeps clicking his chalk for. 😅

51ar+ICRLVL._SL1001_.jpg
It's showtime. Lights, camera, action. Clack!
 

ChrisinNC

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
When I'm way down in a match my strategy was to give up - there's nothing to lose, so I just give it up to my total subconscious, or a part of me that loves "nothing to lose scenarios".

In this state of mind many times I came back and effectively snatched victory out of the jaws of certain defeat.
After learning this about myself I started doing it before my matches, I'd imagine in vivid detail that I'd already lost and process the emotions connected to losing.,....sounds negative at first doesn't it?

The opposite is actually true, when I accept that I already didn't win the upcoming match what happens to most of the self imposed pressure I feel in the actual match?

That's right, the pressure is drastically reduced because I've lowered my expectations substantially and could free wheel like I had nothing to lose.....because I didn't!

When I was the captain of the Mosconi Cup in 2012 Johnny Archer and I were up late one night talking about the next day's competition.
I took this opportunity to ask him "Johnny, you were the Player of the 90s, what do you believe the key to your success was?"

Johnny didn't hesitate "I made my expectations to win as low as possible!"

I smiled, because that's exactly what I did to win gambling matches against some of history's greatest players

This is my secret, "to truly win against the very best players, I must accept and be okay with losing first.....only then, after fear and anxiety vanish can I perform my absolute best!"

'The Game is the Teacher'
CJ, this is an almost identical message to a sermon preached by my dad 40 years ago - only when we have come to fully accept our own inevitable death as well as the inevitable deaths of our loved ones, can we truly be released to live our lives to the fullest.
 
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jay helfert

Shoot Pool, not people
Gold Member
Silver Member
This may be helpful in overcoming a case of "nerves." It has worked for me and many others that I'm aware of. Mike Sigel used this method as well.
When you talk about your nervousness you let it go. It can actually disappear just like that. Let's say you have to make a talk in front of a large crowd and you are nervous about it. The first thing you should do at the start is to tell the people how nervous you are. Miraculously it will all go away and you will be more relaxed after you say that. And you will now be free to talk about whatever you want. If you're nervous about playing a match, just say so before you start.

When Sigel had a tough shot or was in a bad spot, he would talk about his predicament out loud, usually addressing someone in the audience but loud enough for everyone else to hear. That seemed to relax him and he would then get down and execute the shot, usually with perfection.

If you're afraid, don't be afraid to say so. That will help. Giving vent to how you feel is an avenue to release it's hold on you. I could give you a lot of examples of how telling the truth about how I was feeling at the moment got me out of more than few jams, but that will have to wait. I did share a few of them in my book.
 
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jay helfert

Shoot Pool, not people
Gold Member
Silver Member
One other thing pertaining to pool. We've all seen players take a deep breath before shooting a hard shot. The input of oxygen is relaxing to our entire body and sends extra oxygen to our brain so we can think a little more clearly. It helps us to focus on the task at hand and remove extraneous thoughts. We've all seen Nick Varner chomping on his gum throughout a match as well. Exercising our jaw muscles also has a relaxing affect on our entire body. Nick knows!
 

Welder84

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
When I'm way down in a match my strategy was to give up - there's nothing to lose, so I just give it up to my total subconscious, or a part of me that loves "nothing to lose scenarios".

In this state of mind many times I came back and effectively snatched victory out of the jaws of certain defeat.
After learning this about myself I started doing it before my matches, I'd imagine in vivid detail that I'd already lost and process the emotions connected to losing.,....sounds negative at first doesn't it?

The opposite is actually true, when I accept that I already didn't win the upcoming match what happens to most of the self imposed pressure I feel in the actual match?

That's right, the pressure is drastically reduced because I've lowered my expectations substantially and could free wheel like I had nothing to lose.....because I didn't!

When I was the captain of the Mosconi Cup in 2012 Johnny Archer and I were up late one night talking about the next day's competition.
I took this opportunity to ask him "Johnny, you were the Player of the 90s, what do you believe the key to your success was?"

Johnny didn't hesitate "I made my expectations to win as low as possible!"

I smiled, because that's exactly what I did to win gambling matches against some of history's greatest players

This is my secret, "to truly win against the very best players, I must accept and be okay with losing first.....only then, after fear and anxiety vanish can I perform my absolute best!"

'The Game is the Teacher'

This may be helpful in overcoming a case of "nerves." It has worked for me and many others that I'm aware of. Mike Sigel used this method as well.
When you talk about your nervousness you let it go. It can actually disappear just like that. Let's say you have to make a talk in front of a large crowd and you are nervous about it. The first thing you should do at the start is to tell the people how nervous you are. Miraculously it will all go away and you will be more relaxed after you say that. And you will now be free to talk about whatever you want. If you're nervous about playing a match, just say so before you start.

When Sigel had a tough shot or was in a bad spot, he would talk about his predicament out loud, usually addressing someone in the audience but loud enough for everyone else to hear. That seemed to relax him and he would then get down and execute the shot, usually with perfection.

If you're afraid, don't be afraid to say so. That will help. Giving vent to how you feel is an avenue to release it's hold on you. I could give you a lot of examples of how telling the truth about how I was feeling at the moment got me out of more than few jams, but that will have to wait. I did share a few of them in my book.
So as great a player as Mike was he is an example of what not to do. Talking your opponent into submission is a poor strategy!!! I get your message, but other examples would be better.
 

gregcantrall

Center Ball
Silver Member
One other thing pertaining to pool. We've all seen players take a deep breath before shooting a hard shot. The input of oxygen is relaxing to our entire body and sends extra oxygen to our brain so we can think a little more clearly. It helps us to focus on the task at hand and remove extraneous thoughts. We've all seen Nick Varner chomping on his gum throughout a match as well. Exercising our jaw muscles also has a relaxing affect on our entire body. Nick knows!
Pure GOLD.
Lots of snooker players tap the middle finger of the bridge hand.
 

arnaldo

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I'll never forget what he told me, "When nerves start to creep in, turn that energy into focus and concentration; drowning out everything that is around you. Focus on the task at hand and concentrate on your execution. The nerves will disappear." When I am facing a stronger opponent at the table and nerves begin to creep in, I heed his advice and I am able to execute shots to the best of my ability, not hindered by nerves.
Great performers in any field know (or eventually learn that purposeful solution/transmigration of nerves): actors, singers, painters, athletes of all types, public speakers.

Arnaldo
 

buckshotshoey

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
This may be helpful in overcoming a case of "nerves." It has worked for me and many others that I'm aware of. Mike Sigel used this method as well.
When you talk about your nervousness you let it go. It can actually disappear just like that. Let's say you have to make a talk in front of a large crowd and you are nervous about it. The first thing you should do at the start is to tell the people how nervous you are. Miraculously it will all go away and you will be more relaxed after you say that. And you will now be free to talk about whatever you want. If you're nervous about playing a match, just say so before you start.

When Sigel had a tough shot or was in a bad spot, he would talk about his predicament out loud, usually addressing someone in the audience but loud enough for everyone else to hear. That seemed to relax him and he would then get down and execute the shot, usually with perfection.

If you're afraid, don't be afraid to say so. That will help. Giving vent to how you feel is an avenue to release it's hold on you. I could give you a lot of examples of how telling the truth about how I was feeling at the moment got me out of more than few jams, but that will have to wait. I did share a few of them in my book.
Nervousness, or the feeling in the pit of the stomach, is nothing but a chemical reaction. It's part of the"fight or flight" response your brain produces in a pressure situation. Once you realize its chemicals that are causing that response, it is easier to make them disappear.

Best way I have found is to completely immerse myself in my pre shot routine. As mentioned above, no thinking after you set the chalk on the rail. Feel the glide of the shaft, feel the cloth. Put yourself in the present. Not the past.... not the future.
 

arnaldo

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
The opposite is actually true, when I accept that I already didn't win the upcoming match what happens to most of the self imposed pressure I feel in the actual match?

That's right, the pressure is drastically reduced because I've lowered my expectations substantially and could free wheel like I had nothing to lose.....because I didn't!
Great post, CJ and all readily applicable to pool, most other sports, and many life situations. Among the sports exceptions would be boxing -- freewheeling without conscious hyper-focus there, will get you permanently brain-scrambled or literally dead in a millisecond. In other words -- unlike pool . . . lots to lose -- and fast -- in that particular sport.

Arnaldo
 

Poolplaya9

Tellin' it like it is...
Silver Member
Lots of snooker players tap the middle finger of the bridge hand.
The majority or vast majority of good pool players do the same with the middle or ring finger. It is just a matter of how often, and exactly why it is done (which I think would make for a good discussion for another thread).
 
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