14.1 & One Pocket Addict
Thanks Brian! To be honest, I think this type of mistake hurts MORE when you're deeper into a long run. When I run 20 balls and miss, or 16 and miss, or even 5 and miss, I wasn't that emotionally invested into the run. I hadn't had a chance to "bond into" the run, if that makes sense. When you get into a deep run, you tend to "bond" with it, and you become it / it becomes you. You lose all sense of your surroundings, and you're shooting purely from instinct. And that is the trick to get into these deep runs -- to block everything out and not let outside influences affect you. "Shoot from the subconscious," so-to-speak. Too often, people try to keep their conscious/analytical mind engaged into every detail, checking their fundamentals (grip/bridge/stance/head-eye-position/etc.), end-running their shot-making computer, the subconscious.
What you can't let happen, however -- as I made the mistake last night -- is to not respect every shot, that just because you're in the full rhythm of running balls, that if you just throw your stick at a ball, that the expectation will be "that it goes into the pocket like magic." B-i-i-i-g mistake. And one that I make far too often, because of my quick pace at the table. Probably one that is keeping me from joining Steve L.'s esteemed 200-club. I'd recently dusted-off my well-worn copy of Bob Fancher's Pleasures of Small Motions, and I'm going to reacquaint myself with the chapters on focus maintenance.
Thanks Joe! Actually, it's in us to hit numbers like that regularly, assuming the required solid fundamentals and practice time is in place. The question is, can you pull it out of you? The difference in excellence at our game (14.1) over other games is consistency -- over the long haul. Consistently pocketing balls, in a rhythm, without over-analyzing things.
Those that are good at rotation games can get away with keeping the conscious/analytical mind engaged all the time, because that is for a short haul -- 10 balls or less. Your mind "resets" after pocketing each rack-winning ball (i.e. the 9-/10-ball). And, if you miss, chances are that you'll get to the table again, especially in alternate-break situations. Not so in 14.1, because each rack "links into" the next. You have to carefully plan for and execute that linkage. One false move, and you can be 1 point away from match-winning point; it doesn't matter -- your opponent is liable to make you sit and watch you LOSE the match, just because you had a lapse of concentration, but he/she won't.
Once you are fundamentally sound enough to "link" two and three racks together, there's really nothing stopping you from going further. It's all in the head. For many folks, it's the problem of staying focused for that long. (When I say "focused," I'm not talking about the conscious/analytical mind. Rather, I'm talking about blocking everything out, focus on the task at hand -- pocket that ball in front of you, get shape for the next, and the next... ad-infinitum until the break ball.) And it's my problem, too. I tend to make some really BONEHEADED mistakes right after I break 100. I think it might be that I somehow "relax" a bit and think I'm over a hurdle, when in actuality, I'm not. Obviously, I need to work on a few things "upstairs," "between the ears."
Hope this is helpful!
I'd gotten a couple PMs about the information above, and each person recommended that I take this info and make a separate thread out of it. (And I thank those folks, because I agree that it might be a good idea.)
Those of you that know me, know I'm a big advocate of leveraging your built-in shot-making / pattern-fulfilling supercomputer, your subconscious mind. I firmly believe that most otherwise-good pool players "analyze" their way out of longer/deeper runs, and are shortchanging themselves by end-running that massive storehouse of shot-making experience we all have, the subconscious. All too often, we're told to "mind" our fundamentals, "watch" our stroke / foot placement / head-eye alignment, "look" for this, "be mindful" of that, etc. While in our initial pool-learning stages (or in the post-instructional-lesson bad-habit-breakage phase) this is a good thing, once we've established our fundamentals and more or less have them committed to muscle memory, there comes a time when we need to "stop doing that."
Continuing to engage your conscious mind 100% of the time is short-circuiting / end-running that part of your brain that was specifically designed and intended to store that information -- the subconscious mind. What we should be doing is let our muscle memories and the subconscious take over. Many folks don't realize it, but after a couple thousand hours of playing pool, we've built-up a pretty considerable storehouse of information to tap from. Every "made" shot, every "missed" shot, every perfect position, every missed position, etc. -- like the famous spaghetti sauce, "it's in there!" We just need to know how to tap into it.
The secret? LET GO. Stop letting your conscious mind get in your way. Stop analyzing and scrutinizing every shot on the table. Just let go. Shoot the shot in front of you. Without talking to yourself (this is key, for when you "talk" to yourself, you're engaging your conscious mind!), just shoot the shot. Let it happen. If you miss, stay down, let your mind absorb what you did wrong (i.e. overcut it? undercut it?). Then, get up, pick out your next shot, and shoot it. Same thing -- stay down, and "absorb" the experience. DON'T TALK TO YOURSELF. And, don't engage your emotions, either. Don't curse yourself because you missed. Just notice what went wrong, and DISCONNECT. Move on to the next shot. Trust me on this, when you're doing this correctly, you're storing information that you will use IMMEDIATELY. If you play like this for about an hour, you'll notice an amazing thing start to happen -- you're making every shot on the table, and you're not even thinking about it. After you practice like this for a couple days, you'll notice that you're also making every shot on the table and you're getting position as well!
Why does this happen? Simple. The human, like every halfway ascensional / intelligent being, learns from experiences without effort. You don't have to "think" about remembering you missed a shot and why; you just do. It's a form of pain/pleasure remembrance. If it feels good, you remember what you did so that you can recreate the experience in a similar situation later. Likewise for pain -- but this time you remember it because you want to recognize what went wrong and how to avoid it.
If you *think* about these things with your conscious mind, then only your conscious mind will remember them. And for how long can we engage our conscious mind? I don't know about you, but my attention span -- where I'm paying conscious attention to every detail -- is not long at all. I drift off / space out after a while. But when I play pool and use the steps I outline above to *experience* pool with my subconscious mind, and not consciously think about it, I find that my energy reserves and staying power to get and stay into the longer runs seems almost endless. I end up enjoying the experience a whole lot more. When I finally do miss, or hook myself / glue the cue ball inside the pack where I don't have a shot (i.e. run comes to an end), I don't go, "phew! boy, that took a lot out of me, I'm tired!" Nope, I don't feel drained or tired at all. In fact, other than "waking up" my conscious mind (which then starts cursing because I missed / goofed -- "hey conscious mind, where were you all this time, and you have such nerve to start cursing now?" ), I'm ready to "sink into" the next run. I can play for hours and hours and hours like this, and not be tired.
We all can learn this skill, and use it in competitive situations. First, in practice -- so there's no pressure -- and then later, we learn how to tap into it / leverage it in competition. (This latter form takes a bit of experience, and quite a lot of trust / faith in yourself. But as Yoda says, "do it, you must, and succeed, you will!")
<as Sean realizes he just went into his subconscious when writing this very post -- a "stream of subconsciousness" post, if you will>
Apologies for the long-ish post, but I hope there's some useful information here, and I'm eager to hear everyone's opinion -- good or bad -- about it!
Thoughts? (Conscious mind or otherwise )