Pool is one of those games that relies heavily on focus, spontaneous decision-making, fine motor skills, and perhaps most importantly the ability to minimize debilitating nerves. In fact, countless otherwise fantastic players have never reached their full potential — not because they couldn’t play, but because they could never control their nerves in big matches, and regularly “choked” as a result.
When it comes to precision sports like pool, it cannot be overstated the value of confidence and mental toughness. Pool players cannot simply bully their way to victory like a determined running back in football; instead, pool players have to regularly control their emotions, keep their focus on what they control on the table, and quickly bounce back from missed shots and losses. For pool players, even the slightest shift in emotion can lead to anxiety, which can in turn ever so subtly disrupt to mind-body synchrony needed to make razor-sharp cuts, precision draw and follow shots, and bank shots with little room for error.
When players disregard the mental game of pool, they will almost certainly never reach their full pool playing ability. Take your game to the next level by improving your mental game – below are a few tips to help you get started.
- Breathe. When we get nervous the first thing that happens is our bodies speed up — the heart races, breathing becomes rapid and shallow, and often players rush their shots as a result. Instead of allowing negative energy to cause you problems, pause for a moment, take a deep breath all the way into stomach and hold for 5 seconds. You will soon witness how fast and effective deep breathing really is, and how dramatic the results will be as you regain your confidence and drain difficult shots that would have otherwise been missed because of nerves.
- See each shot. Imagery is a powerful tool that pool players can use to help take their game to the next level. Before each shot take a moment to see yourself getting down on the ball, lining up the shot, and following through with a perfect stroke. This simple exercise will help pace your game, prime your mind for a successful shot, and ultimately allow you to make more shots.
- Challenges, not threats. Every time you step to the table view the layout as a challenge, not a threat. What this means is that you must tell yourself you have the tools to get out of anything, and even if you come up short you still know you can come back on your next shot and rebound. Every pool player can adopt this mindset, and by doing so you will see your confidence — and pool playing abilities — improve almost immediately.
So, what are you waiting for? 2017 is just around the corner, why not make it the year you take your game from good to GREAT?! Learn about how to develop confidence, minimize choking, develop a solid pre-shot routine, and galvanize your resiliency so that you immediately bounce back from missed shots, lost games, and bad days. Click here to download Mind of Steel for Pool Success to your phone, tablet, or computer today and learn the best that the field of sport psychology has to offer!