I have always been of the opinion to practice like you're in a tournament.
What do I mean by that exactly?
For me, what that was if you have a pool table at home, don't play in your pajamas or slippers. Instead, wear the same clothes that you would wear if you were competing.
I didn't like a pool table at home because I didn't have the same atmosphere or feeling as during a pool tournament. You can turn off the TV, put the dogs in the bedroom, you can shut out any distractions. But is that the same atmosphere as a pool tournament?
I've written a lot about how I love practicing in pool rooms because things will be distracting, just like during a tournament. The music may be too loud, someone might try to talk to me while I'm playing, these are all the same things we have to deal with when we are in a tournament.
So again, you should play pool in the same settings as if you were competing in the tournament.
But The Cueist actually goes further. And I'm so excited to share this all with you today!
He says one of his preparations to get ready for tournament is to spar with a friend. But instead of just sparring, he is instead thinking of his opponent as a nemesis.
No, no, not me.
I'm not his nemesis. (wait, I hope not!)
But pretending you are playing your nemesis makes you bare down more!
He isn't just really sparring with a friend, he actually has the feelings during a tournament against the guy that is always tough for him to beat.
I think this is a very important learning experience for you all to try to incorporate!
He describes it much better:
Since I don't get to practice as much as I used to, I tried doing something else at the start of this year. A few years back, I talked to Rodney Morris about a few different things in pool. But one thing he mentioned about practice is this:The Cueist went on:
"When I was young, trying to learn the mental game, my mentor told me, 'you need to learn to play within yourself.' For me, that means practicing exactly like you play for real. When I'm practicing, I try to convince myself that I'm in the finals against whomever is my toughest opponent. I try to create that pressure situation. Because if you just practice like you're practicing, when you're playing for real, it will be different and you won't know how to react. People say practice makes perfect, but that's not true. It's perfect practice that makes perfect. So train correctly and imagine yourself in the toughest situation every shot and you'll be able to emulate that and stay within yourself no matter what is at stake:)"
I just happened to see Rodney's message at the start of this year, and what I started doing is picturing my friend that I spar with as my nemesis. That made me bare down a lot more, and I got to the point where I am beating my friend in a race to 18, and he's now not even getting into double digits!
Aside from mentally picturing my nemesis, I also changed things up a little when practicing certain shots, or playing the ghost. I started picturing that I was back in the finals. By just picturing the lights, etc, it helps me bare down, even when doing something as mundane as practicing the same shot over and over.
Obviously, everyone is different. And this is just what's been working for me. I'm sure I'll be changing my nemesis as needed during my next practice sessions. :)
Learn from The Cueist, folks!
Next time you spar with a friend, pretend they are your toughest pool enemy. And/or visualize your surrounds from a previous tough match, and incorporate that when practicing.