I received an email asking to explain what I meant, maybe give some examples if I had any.
Boy, do I!
I guess what I was trying to say was if we feel pressure when we are in a tight match or title tournament or against a tough player, try and remember other times in your life that were MUCH tougher and full of "deeper" pressure.
There is something to be said for comparing situations from our past. It can actually help you.
As you are in an important match and can feel your chest tighten, your adrenaline going crazy, your breathing is super fast, and you are missing some shots and feeling embarrassed, try and think to yourself: is this embarrassment or is this match really so tough that I'm letting pressure affect my play?
As we all know, when pressure affects us, we don't stay down as well, we tighten our grips, we shoot too fast, and we lose our control of our fundamentals which causes us to miss, which causes us to fret, and then get embarrassed, and then we just well, continue to go downhill.
I have written about many things that can help:
- Slow down your adrenaline with very deep breaths,
- Get mad at yourself for missing,
- Enjoy that you get to even play pool and have this opportunity,
- Focus on your fundamentals profoundly,
- Exaggerate your stroke,
- Try and turn any negatives into positives,
- Realize pressure just means you care,
But what I hadn't shared before is to compare the pressure to what you have already been through in your life. Some pressure times or scary times, or overwhelming times in your life that you made it through. Pressure from playing pool? pfffft. Try giving birth! Compare that - hey, if I can pop out two kids, this is easy! Or, for those of us who have witnessed a loved one take their final breath? I have, and I can tell you that is much more traumatic than any pool match. Or how about finding a loved one passed away? Yep, done that as well. That is very traumatic also and I don't wish it on anyone. Have you been through a really bad car accident - wonder how you even survived? What about a super bad divorce? Remember how painful it was yet here you are today just fine afterwards? Maybe you've been in jail - how scary! Well, all these things are situations you can try to "compare" the adrenaline of the pressure you are feeling in middle of a match. It will calm you down to realize/remember you have survived and been through SO much already. Pool? pfffft. This pressure you are feeling in a match is NO match to real life stuff.
So remember those tough times you survived while you can't breath in a pool match from all the pressure. It will ironically help you release some of the pressure you are feeling so you can play good pool!