Reaching the top of your game

ShootingArts

Smorg is giving St Peter the 7!
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I turn my brain off by focusing on some thing that reminds me what need to do. For example, when i am down, preshot routine and stroking i count my practice swings. Nothing matters at that moment but those numbers. And when i hit 5 i stroke through.

I force myself to repeat an action by reinforcing it with words. I always did this. In baseball i would count to time my swing. Because i counted how long it took the ball to get to the plate. Basketball free throw i reminded myself with a mantra of "knees, fingertips, up". Each step of my throw.

Saying it out loud really helps me avoid distractions, forces me to follow through.
People might think you are goody for talking to yourself ;)


You are tying up your brain to keep other thoughts out but that isn't the same as having the conscious mind at rest. The goal is to have no thoughts in words, even worse from the standpoint of shutting down conscious thought is speaking the words aloud.

Road hypnosis might be a cousin of where you are trying to get, I don't know. Some of the conditions reached through martial arts or meditation again might be close. Never been there through these means or worse than any other method, medication of any kind, or perhaps I did as a two or three year old, I had an odd dream under ether.

We don't really have the answers yet but what you are talking about is what J Michael Plaxco calls the level two zone in his book. Level three is where things really get good.

Hu
 

MmmSharp

Nudge is as good as a wink to a blind bat.
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You are tying up your brain to keep other thoughts out but that isn't the same as having the conscious mind at rest. The goal is to have no thoughts in words, even worse from the standpoint of shutting down conscious thought is speaking the words aloud.

Road hypnosis might be a cousin of where you are trying to get, I don't know. Some of the conditions reached through martial arts or meditation again might be close. Never been there through these means or worse than any other method, medication of any kind, or perhaps I did as a two or three year old, I had an odd dream under ether.

We don't really have the answers yet but what you are talking about is what J Michael Plaxco calls the level two zone in his book. Level three is where things really get good.

Hu
I will look michael plaxco and see what he says. The idea for me is to associate something i do that reminds of what i need to do. Similar to muscle memory, when i say it out loud it reminds me of what i want to accomplish.
 

ShootingArts

Smorg is giving St Peter the 7!
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I will look michael plaxco and see what he says. The idea for me is to associate something i do that reminds of what i need to do. Similar to muscle memory, when i say it out loud it reminds me of what i want to accomplish.


The last I knew Plaxco's book was out of print and ridiculously overpriced, particularly for anyone but a pistol competitor. I bought a half dozen or so copies wholesale besides my own to give to friends at fifteen dollars a paperback. Now that it is out of print I see people asking $150! A quick look shows it available for around $50-$75, still pretty steep for someone who will have trouble rooting out the kernels of gold found all through the book if they aren't interested in pistol competition. There is one large section on the mental game but there is more all through the book too.

One path to the level three zone is the narrow focus you are using now then turning loose of that focus. When I was entering the level three zone regularly I found that it could be entered directly. Sometimes we snap into it instantly no choice. As already mentioned, I am not particularly an athlete and did most of my training twelve to eighteen ounces at a time. My newborn niece was falling towards a concrete floor covered with linoleum many years ago and I was able to spring into a rolling dive from about twenty feet away and get under her while catching her. I would have zero chance of catching a ball or a glass jar in the same situation. With a baby's life at risk, like many another person, I did the impossible. A circus acrobat would have had problems with that maneuver!

You might remember the Sargent at Arms of the Canadian Parliament a few years back. An aging overweight fellow in a ceremonial position but when a shooter was in the building he managed a flying twisting dive past a corner while shooting the bad guy, something normally seen only in action movies! Under enough pressure we can go into the zone in an instant, unfortunately not always though. Great when it works out!

Hu
 

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Top result for Michael Plaxco on Amazon (UK):

If this is what it takes to play pro-level pool, I'll do it, dammit.

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Hu, in your perfect score night, when you took yourself away between rounds, was there any other pep-talk or planning, or was it just the quiet and visualization, then back to shooting in the way you normally do?
 

ShootingArts

Smorg is giving St Peter the 7!
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Hu, in your perfect score night, when you took yourself away between rounds, was there any other pep-talk or planning, or was it just the quiet and visualization, then back to shooting in the way you normally do?

The book is "Shooting From Within" by J. Michael Plaxco. The duck might be just the ticket for marking a pocket on APA night though!

No pep talk, I knew the stages were within my limitations. I just went down there and worked on visualization. At first it was pretty crude, I just tried to see the stage. Then I kept expanding that. See it, feel the recoil, hear the shots, smell the primer and powder, I made the visualization as real as possible. Of course you never miss visualizing either so I shot each stage perfectly dozens of times!

The longest I dropped into the zone shooting pool was one weird night. I was a long haired bearded stranger but my partner was known and willing to fight or cut as required. Bobby isn't big but I have seen him step in between guys with knives out and open in the same place! The place was a country honky-tonk that had a band on the weekends and really thumped with guys and gals coming out of the piney woods from many a mile around. On a weeknight there were two females in the place and the pool table, an old nine foot junker, was the only thing going. We went inside in bright sunlight. To stir up action if needed Bobby went in and then I came in five minutes or so behind.

Bobby was on the table at five a game, as good as it usually got in these places and most of these guys were working for forty to sixty a week, some as little as twenty and a room on a farm. I wandered over to offer the ladies a drink and await happenings. "Little Miller please." Cool, cheap dates! After about an hour I recalled that Bobby didn't always remember the split and I put my fifty cents up, quarter stacked on quarter as was the norm. I beat Bobby and he sat with the ladies. Eventually they moved to the rail along with everyone in the place including the bartender.

The guys were pissed to lose to a stranger but by now I was tossing the occasional five to Bobby to buy the four of us a round of beer so it was obvious we were together. A stranger in there cleaning house would have probably meant a fight at least, very possibly a cutting, but Bobby was no stranger and held them in check! There might have been fifteen or twenty people with money on the table at most but after a few hours they knew there were only maybe three or four guys that stood a chance of beating me, the others just wanted to be the one on the table when I pocketed an eight ball early or scratched on the eight. Some were putting up five or ten dollars in challenges at a time and at the busiest not counting pocket irons there were quarters the length of one long rail and three-quarters of the way up the other. Not counting the waxing and waning as the night went on that was about 120 challenges on the table at one time. I was out of work and each of those challenges represented five bucks, the slaughter was on!

Most of these guys were awful and I had the few that could run out on that old bucket pocketed table spotted. They got a different game than the others although I often ran out because it was just so easy playing eight ball on that table. Eventually things started slowing down with the final players breaking off to go straight to work the next morning. Bobby and I escorted the ladies to my truck in bright sunlight and the last few guys in the place that had quit on the pool table or went broke followed us all out to my truck. They weren't happy but nobody wanted to be the one to start the show.

Funny thing, although I had played all night and had won over eight hundred dollars five dollars at a time without a loss, it felt like I had played for maybe three hours at most! I was good for another twelve or so. With other people doing all of the racking I had sank deep into the zone and was just breaking and running balls, resting a little sometimes when a real banger was on the table. Might have drank a dozen cans of beer too, I was just drinking to alloy thirst!

This place was only about an hour from my home but it was in a generally dry direction so I seldom went that way. I tried it about a month later. Won two or three games and everybody took their money off the table. Tried again in about another month, I put my money up and everyone else took their money down! I had killed the cow that first night when I could have milked it for months or years. A dummy move on my part but I had my net assets of forty to sixty dollars in my pocket when I walked in that place and the twenty or more challenges on the table when I started play looked big. When challenges went past the side pocket on one side of the table I cranked things up to just get the money as fast as I could. Instead of scaring off the bangers they just kept getting madder and madder and putting up more money.

Very difficult to maintain the zone playing pool because of all of the starting and stopping as the balls have to be racked. Other than that night I think 20-30 minutes might have been the maximum I ever stayed in the zone shooting pool. That was a magic night for a lot of reasons, never to be repeated!

Edit: One thing about visualization, it tends to run through your mind very fast. While it didn't seem to hurt to have it a little faster than real time, having the visualization run close to the same time as real time is better than flying through it as happened when I didn't deliberately slow it down.

Hu
 
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RacerX750

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There are many pieces of the puzzle in acquiring pool excellence. After years of struggling to find out one or two of your flaws in pool, what are your main flaws that you discovered and then corrected to get you on the road to where you wanted to go?
I've had too many flaws to list, but they all had to do with stroke. The most difficult to correct were tightening the grip hand prior to impact and the gentle but firm acceleration at the end of the stroke. The thing I never seem to get is consistency with both of the above. I have a good pre-shot routine but I either get lazy and don't strictly follow it or my confidence drops and everything becomes difficult.
 

tableroll

Rolling Thunder
Silver Member
I've had too many flaws to list, but they all had to do with stroke. The most difficult to correct were tightening the grip hand prior to impact and the gentle but firm acceleration at the end of the stroke. The thing I never seem to get is consistency with both of the above. I have a good pre-shot routine but I either get lazy and don't strictly follow it or my confidence drops and everything becomes difficul
 

Gman***

Member
There are many pieces of the puzzle in acquiring pool excellence. After years of struggling to find out one or two of your flaws in pool, what are your main flaws that you discovered and then corrected to get you on the road to where you wanted to go?
Personally for my own game .. the discovery and use of the stun shot is by far the one of the best ways for me to control the cb simply because you can do so much with it during a game . I am no expert by far , and don’t play competitively ... but I have stayed at a Holiday inn express ! Ha
 

boogieman

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that ping.
I've been in a horrible slump, every time playing just kept getting worse than the last. Every time I subbed at league I'd play good but every shot was harder than the last. I can shoot almost any shot, but it sure is tough with the leaves I kept giving myself.

I figured it out and boy do I feel dumb. Use follow. Before taking 10 years off of pool I used follow a lot. Getting back I stopped using follow to get shape and was using mostly stun or draw shots. When I got back into pool I played a lot of straight pool and read the books. I just kept getting in positions that needed draw or stun. I knew in the past that follow produced better results, but somehow it just never clicked when I got back into pool. I could just never figure out 2 and 3 rail shape as the ball never went. Short shape or speed control shape I could nail. Shape involving rails was a mystery and it's so clear now I don't know how I ever forgot. I guess I never fully learned position routes, just did what worked before. I got damn good at draw/stun but just could never get stuff to go my way at the table consistently. Playing 8 and 9 ball with only hold up shape or 1 rail shape is TOUGH! I just figured I was rusty and practiced like hell, but was missing a key concept. Yeah, I'm an idiot. 😬

I was watching a game between buddies and one asked the other what spin to use on the tangent line and watching it somehow it just clicked. So yeah, if you're having problems make sure you've not somehow forgot that follow into the rail was a thing. I feel like I'm playing like my old self again!
 

ShootingArts

Smorg is giving St Peter the 7!
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Silver Member
I've been in a horrible slump, every time playing just kept getting worse than the last. Every time I subbed at league I'd play good but every shot was harder than the last. I can shoot almost any shot, but it sure is tough with the leaves I kept giving myself.

I figured it out and boy do I feel dumb. Use follow. Before taking 10 years off of pool I used follow a lot. Getting back I stopped using follow to get shape and was using mostly stun or draw shots. When I got back into pool I played a lot of straight pool and read the books. I just kept getting in positions that needed draw or stun. I knew in the past that follow produced better results, but somehow it just never clicked when I got back into pool. I could just never figure out 2 and 3 rail shape as the ball never went. Short shape or speed control shape I could nail. Shape involving rails was a mystery and it's so clear now I don't know how I ever forgot. I guess I never fully learned position routes, just did what worked before. I got damn good at draw/stun but just could never get stuff to go my way at the table consistently. Playing 8 and 9 ball with only hold up shape or 1 rail shape is TOUGH! I just figured I was rusty and practiced like hell, but was missing a key concept. Yeah, I'm an idiot. 😬

I was watching a game between buddies and one asked the other what spin to use on the tangent line and watching it somehow it just clicked. So yeah, if you're having problems make sure you've not somehow forgot that follow into the rail was a thing. I feel like I'm playing like my old self again!


I was watching a video of a match awhile back. Some of the very best. The same man lost two games by drawing the ball through traffic and getting tangled up in that traffic when one rail follow, which he would have been near 100% on, would have easily put the cue ball in the same place he was trying to get with three or four rails. I have to believe that he never even considered follow, too focused on the shot he used almost all of the time.

Follow, particularly coupled with inside spin, is so uncommon now that I have had opponents jump out of their chair to ask me what I did. Having a few more shots in our arsenal like follow and back cuts can win games because the other player doesn't consider that we might use them when considering what we will do if they give up the table. I had a chuckle when an author and local pool detective put the cue ball on the foot rail. Each leg of the shot was a little over a foot and the angle was more than eighty-five degrees to back cut the ball into my pocket playing one pocket. I had two or three degrees to play with so I fired it in. He was astounded. "You would have sold out everything if you missed!" I just told him I didn't plan on missing. It really wasn't that hard of a shot when you forgot about selling out and I think it was worth three or four balls.

Whatever stick gives you the best cue ball control is the right one. With cue ball control the object ball must fall, it is almost always the easier part of the shot. Joe Villalpando of Pool IQ fame is another old school player that believes in cue ball control. We talk now and then, always enjoy it. I need to catch him now, been too long. Aside from a font of knowledge, he is a good guy.

Hu
 
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