Expectations has been my Achilles heel for sure!
When you play someone you've beat 10 times the last 10 times you played, then you let your guard down and don't play your best when you play them again, right? Then what happens? They beat you! All because you expected to win.
And that really stings.
Or, how about when you are still in the winner's side on Saturday night going into the tournament on Sunday? The expectations you have for yourself of doing well (or scared you wont do well) affect you. Or, how about the thoughts you have of others and their expectations of you? OMG why do we put ourselves through this trauma!? lol
These thoughts get in the way of us performing our best pool.
I wrote about this before, but when I was going to be playing for the hot seat the next day of a National 8-ball tournament for ACS in Vegas, I freaked myself out. When I got to my hotel room, it hit me - "omg, tomorrow I will play for the hot seat and I could be a national champion!" I immediately started to shake and got nervous - and I wasn't even going to play until 24 hours later!
Golf and pool truly are mental sports. We can let our thoughts get away from us and then that ruins any semblance of a stroke, or we can try to tame our thoughts.
As I wrote about the other day, being mentally strong takes experience and takes putting yourself in numerous situations that make your mental toughness strong.
Just a mere two years after that debacle of not even being able to make three balls in a row because I was so nervous of the possibility of becoming a national champion and not staying in the moment, I would find myself in the finals of ACS 9-ball Nationals in Vegas.
My mental game was pretty extraordinary at that time (in my opinion) and I had no worries, concerns, or expectations. I was thinking only in the moment completely and I simply played pool and double dipped my opponent in the finals to become a national champion!
I share that story to show you that any and all invisible expectations CAN be overcome with time, practice and experience. I even wrote after that win, "I know in my heart that that experience two years ago of me falling apart helped me WIN the 2014 ACS Nationals Women's 9-Ball Singles event this year."
This blog post is suppose to be about Katniss, not me, so let me get on topic here, lol. :)
Katniss played in a tournament a couple weekends ago. She shared with me about her two losses, "In my defensive they are both great players...but I have beat them both before. So I guess I EXPECTED to beat them again."
So, she wasn't playing as tough because she expected to win again. Doesn't this resonate with you all?! Damn expectations lol. She didn't have the attitude to beat her opponent 7-0 or to squeeze them like a boa constrictor (btw, this is a reference from the book Winning Ugly that I highly and always recommend), instead she played both girls on expectations instead of focusing on the game in front of her.
I'm going to sound like a broken record, but if you focus on your pre-shot routine, three balls ahead, and you stay down and follow through - there's no room in your brain to be thinking of expectations or worries or distractions. (btw, this is one of the most helpful tips I ever received in my pool journey!) It doesn't mean you're always going to win, but you're going to give yourself the best chance to win.
I've been in Katniss's situation a thousand times it seems like, and it's so frustrating to accept that the reason why you lost a match was because of the way you were thinking - not because of the way you were playing.
I appreciate her opening up to me about this, as it gives me a chance to remind folks to stay in the moment and don't think ahead and don't have any expectations (good or bad). Remember, if you are thinking, you aren't playing pool.