As I noted in my twitter feed the other day, I was loaned a copy of the 8-Ball Bible and only started reading it Monday evening. My 8-ball league is Tuesday night and the last few hours of the day, I watched some online pool matches. During the drive home and for a while after, I tried to focus on the tips I read the previous evening. Most notably is the small section about mental preparedness and interuption. Without exactly duplicating the section, I’ll just say that I can’t believe I never put 2 and 2 together to realize the reasons WHY it’s important to visualize the shot. Everyone says you should visualize the shot, but they never explain why it’s important. Once I was smacked in the brain with the information I made it a strict point to visualize my shots, purposefully and exactly. That one act alone was a huge benefit to my game in just the first time at the table. The other thing that was of great help was that I combined the information from my previous post (The Science of Choking) with the other brain-related tip from the book involving verbal checklists for phyiscal movements, thoughts etc. Essentially, whenever I felt myself trying to talk my way through the shot – while down on the shot – I’d stand up and just say “Shut Up!”. The analytical part of the brain can not communicate with the performance part of the brain, so trying to use your brain to talk yourself through your stroke is actually doing a huge disservice to your game. When I’m looking at the table, that’s the ONLY time to be calculating… position, routes, etc. As soon as I bend over for the shot, the left side of the brain needs to shut up and just let the right side of the brain perform the actions I’ve sent to it while I was standing up.
I only got to play 1 league match, but that’s where I normally get pretty nervous; especially when there’s a bit of a battle on the table. Without going into a long description of the game, I’ll summarize by saying that it was one of the best games I’ve played yet. I made only one position error and I missed only one shot due to hitting an extremely thin slice too softly. The object ball hung dead center in the jaws, but I got my exact desired position. *sigh* At the end of the game, I sank the 8, and as I walked away, I realized that I was calm. I wasn’t anxious, I wasn’t adrenaline-pumped, I was for the most part, pretty darn relaxed! That was a huge realization for me as whenever I get down on the 8 I can feel myself usually getting tight, nervous. It wasn’t like that last night at all.
I got another chance to try out my new mental game with a short scotch doubles 8-ball match with 2 people from our opposing team and my teammate. The strange and annoying lead-up to the match isn’t really worth mentioning. What is worth it, is that our opponents are rated a 7 and a 6, while my partner is rated a 5 and I’m a 4 (non-rated 4, to be exact since this is my first time). Now, honestly, my partner will be moved to a 6 for next session most likely and I’ll probably finish out the season as a 4 or 5, depending on the last few games’ outcomes. The other team wanted us to give them a game on the wire in a race to 4. Seriously?! Yeah. That didn’t happen. We ended up playing them even at $5/rack/person. Mike and I took some time to get a feel for how each other places, since we’ve never done a scotch doubles match together before, so we started off down a bit, but a few games later, we made a strong comeback to pull within 1 game. Well, the bar closed and we can had call it a night. We left down only $5 each, so it wasn’t a total disaster, but I learned a number of things. 1) I spotted 2 new hustling moves (one that cost us a game actually) 2) The shots I missed, or left my partner in poor position were always the shots I failed to be precise with my visualization of the shot thinking “I know this one, just shoot it.”
Overall, it was an extremely valuable night and I was pretty damn happy with my performance. I found some new aspects of my pre-shot routine that have proven absolutely necessary. I’ve ironed out a new stance/grip that both gets me lower and provides a consistently straighter stroke. I’ve found/tested several new mental aspects that worked in my favor. And lastly, I think I have finally found a good way to get my cue-ball speed under control. Nights like last night make me love pool and learning!