Thursday, April 27, 2017

Links: Handling Pressure

A friend of mine confided that he doesn't understand how he can gamble and practice well, but can't seem to place high in the Omega tournaments.  Further, he's losing to people he should beat in the tourneys.

After discussion back and forth, and as I suspected, the issue was mental.  He was worried about so many things before and during tournaments, he couldn't play his best pool.

In practice there is no pressure.  If you miss the 9-ball, who sees that?  Who cares?  What effect does it really have?  What does it cost you?

It's all about perspective and not putting pressure on yourself in tournaments.

I do my ABSOLUTE best when I am not thinking ahead, have no expectations, and are "numb" about the tourney.  If I care too much, if I put too much invisible pressure on myself, then I falter.  

Overcoming nerves and playing in the moment are the best feelings in the world during competition!

Back to my friend:  

I gave him several links to read, and wanted to share them with you all today.  

Further, after one of the American Billiard Radio podcasts, we got a request!  It's right along this same topic and so sharing these links is timely.  The listener asked:

"Can a podcast be done on how to deal with the mental game during a tournament? I got done last week playing in my local tournament and I did well. However this week when I went to the same tournament I did horrible and feel that my mental game wasn't there and I also was overthinking and second-guessing most of my shots. It seemed like my nerves got the best of me and I wasn't able to properly focus on my game and play the way I should be."

I could restate what I wrote in these blogs, but instead, I suggest if you are frustrated with playing well during practice and then you're not performing well in tournaments, or you are not consistent during tournaments, that you find some time to read each one in a quiet place to reflect.... so you can help yourself:  

Here is my friends "report" after reading the blogs and then playing his next Omega tournament:

Thank you for your help.. I will continually read those articles. I really believe they helped!
I saved them for future reference :)
It helped me with the difference between goals and expectations.  Goals are good...  My goal is to be a better player and cash in tournaments... expectations usually set me up for a fall, tho. 
If I play well leading up to a tournament, I have the expectation of doing well in the tournament which normally goes badly.. 
So now my only expectation is to do my best with the opportunity that I'm presented..
And getting rid of those other expectations helped turn my brain off.

I was so happy for him!  And I noticed he defeated a few top players and his losses were all close that weekend, even before his "report."

I am hopeful after we talk about this topic on a future podcast that we will get a report back from the other player, too, who wrote in.  :)

I think as we play more tournaments, we figure a lot of things out about what the feelings of pressure do to us.  Why are arms get wobbly, why our pre-shot-routine goes out the window, why we can't think clearly, etc.

What we learn is:

  • Feeling nerves means we care!  
  • Taking deep breathes slows down your adrenaline.  
  • Staying in the present is your best friend.
  • Not looking around at the crowd is key.
  • Focusing on 3-ball shape helps your brain from being distracted.
  • Goals are good, make them reasonable.  For example, "stay down on all my shots," in lieu of "last until Sunday."
  • So what if I miss?  It wont be the end of the world and my friends will still care about me.
  • Winning or losing doesn't define me.
Enjoy reading the links!


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