He doesn't know 8-ball well, he didn't prepare for the event, and playing in it was a last minute decision. And yet he finished 4th!
So, what does this prove?
It proves that feeling no pressure can do wonders for our game.
Danielson had a lot of things going for him this tournament.
- Since it was a last minute decision, he didn't have time to over-think about the tournament and the "what ifs."
- It was also an open event, and he feels less pressure in open events. He has said, "Maybe handicaps put a weird pressure on some of of us. If you think you're the best or the worst at a particular ranking maybe it affects your pure game and ability. One handicap tournament I dogged my brains out cause I thought I was stealing. And not just playing pool." While funny, it's very true! We are too worried about what our ranking means in matches instead of playing pool.
- He felt no pressure playing 8 ball because he doesn't know the game well. While knowing 8 ball well is obviously an advantage, it can also make one (like me) over confident.
- And he didn't practice: "I put zero preparation into that tournament. I didn't play the day before and haven't played 8 ball in forever. "
Sometimes we can practice too much. Sometimes we can prepare too much. If you think about it, if you do all these things you are suppose to do to prepare for an upcoming tournament, then when we get there we find ourselves under this invisible pressure of "I should do good, I prepared so much." But, that mentality is actually not good. It adds pressure to us.
I am not saying not to prepare. But I am saying that if you put too much preparation into a big tournament, it can have reverse effects because you feel like you must do well, right? You took all this time to prepare right before the event, so you must do well!
What I have found is the times I finish best is when I reviewed my checklists, reviewed my tabbed pages of Play Your Best Pool and Winning Ugly. We already have our fundamentals down. We have already been playing a lot - either in leagues or sparring. But to over-prepare right before a tournament is not helpful.
If you are running a marathon or playing football, preparing for those physical sports is different. Being mentally prepared for our sport is key. Sure, playing pool keeps us consistent, but too much playing pool right before a tournament makes one think, "Well, I should do great!"
Even if you look at the preparations of the Mosconi Cup teams - you didn't see them playing pool hour after hour days on end, instead we saw them participating in team-building exercises. Things that help their mental side. They already know how to play pool. And so do you! So, don't over-prepare.
If Danielson had played 2-weeks straight of 8 ball before the tournament, I would bet money he wouldn't have placed so high. His head would be full of options of what to do, lol, and he would be over confident.
Instead, as Danielson said after that great finish, "I never really felt any pressures yesterday. Which seems odd considering it's a game I never play and know very little about. lol."