I play my best pool in two scenarios: when I'm practicing (and focused on improvement), and when I'm playing competitively in a league match or tournament (assuming I'm not overcome with nerves).
I play my absolute worst pool when I'm playing friendly matches.
I think the issue is twofold:
First, I'm an introvert, and while I don't seem particularly shy in person, conversations take a lot of focus and brain power for me. I have to force myself to engage with people to some degree, especially when I'm preoccupied with something else (in this case, playing pool). In league and tournament matches, people either don't talk much/at all, or if they do, I can ignore them mostly or completely and it's acceptable. But in friendly matches, there's always some degree of chatter, and it's kinda rude to just ignore your opponent.
Second, the chatter thing leads to feeling more judged than normal. If I miss or botch position in league or tournament play, I can shake it off more easily because the game moves right along. But in friendly matches, it often becomes a thing. My opponent may comment on it. Or he will comment on his own errors, which then often causes me to comment on my own. And suddenly I'm hyperaware of the mistakes both of us are making.
Then, inevitably a running commentary will start about mistakes and what we're going to attempt and how X shot didn't work out the way we planned and blah blah blah. It's incredibly distracting but it seems to always happen in friendly matches.
Any tips for this other than gambling every time I play to up the stakes for both of us? I've thought about asking for a "no talking" rule, but that would probably be perceived as even more rude than just ignoring my opponent. Most people view pool, especially friendly matches, as an opportunity to socialize, and I'm probably the odd duck who is fine with talking before and after a game, but wants total silence during it.
I know friendly matches don't mean much at the end of the day, but it bothers me when I play like crap because I feel like I was only able to devote a small percentage of brain power to the game due to also having to keep up with a non-stop conversation.