The Art of the Choke

Written by David Sapolis

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Article Index
The Art of the Choke (page 1)
Satellite Interference (page 2)
Self-Communication (page 3)
Centering (page 4)
The Center of Mass (page 5)
Breathing (page 6)
Using Centering to Deal
      With Past Failures
(page 7)
What is the problem? (page 8)

Satellite Interference

Many of us become more focused on the outcome rather than the process. If we focus on the process of our pre-shot routine, chances are we will remain focused on the task at hand. If we eliminate our pre-shot routine, by either forgetting (due to the excitement of the situation) or by rushing into our stance, we run the risk of rushing the shot as well. This is due to a communication breakdown between your mind, and … your mind. Your mind becomes unable to effectively process the incoming information (images, emotions, feelings,) and it is also unable to effectively process the outgoing information to the shooting arm, your eyes, and your entire body. Your muscle- memory recall fails, as your body receives a distorted signal, or static. It loses the channel it was listening to because the Satellite that was sending the signals is being blocked by something larger, or it has had a system meltdown. Your choice is to either reestablish communication, or to panic. I compare this to driving a car with no windshield or windows. You don’t know where you are going, but you’re getting there fast; and sooner or later you’re going to crash into something, you just don’t know when or where. So what do we do? First of all, understand that our brain works as the antenna. It picks up signals, and we can point our antenna in any direction we want, and pick up signals. Not all signals provide us with positive thought. Sometimes all we hear is static.

Reestablishing Communication

Always remember that we need to focus on what we should be doing as opposed to focusing on what we shouldn’t be doing. This means that we have to find a way around the blockers (doubt, negative thought patterns) or find an alternate way of reception to the positive thoughts. Remember we only have one antenna, and it will receive and accept whatever you focus it on. If you focus on your last bad shot, it will remind you of it until you redirect your focus on something else. Ultimately, you have the power to filter what you let in, and what you do not allow in. You also have the power to direct your attention positively or negatively. You can direct your attention on damaging words in the could-a-would-a-should-a file; or you can direct your attention towards positive cues such as “follow through”, “Focus”, “Breathe”, and “Smooth.” These are what I call “soothing words”, as opposed to the words most of us mumble when everything is going wrong with the world. This process is called Self Communication.


Remember that every thought you think, and every word you say in the 5-10 minutes before competition can have a major effect upon the results. Your results will be based on the quality and contents of your thoughts. If you think negatively before your match, chances are that you will perform negatively. Think positively, and your chances of winning increase - ALWAYS!

You must develop positive interaction with your inner coach. You inner coach is that little voice that tells you what to do, how to do it, and he/she also evaluates and critiques your results. Right now, you are reading this, and your inner voice is reading the text out loud to you. This inner voice serves as coach, critic, motivator, and can provide you with encouragement or discouragement. Remember this movie line?

“Use the force, Luke. Use the force.”

That is a good example of inner coaching. Luke’s inner coach was a positive influence on his life. Many pool players hire the wrong kind of inner coach. How would Star Wars have ended if Luke Skywalker’s inner voice said, “No, no, no! Go to the left, you stupid idiot! Not that left! You’re other left!!!”

That might sound funny, but many of us have hired that type of inner coach, or one that sounds similar. Doubtful the movie would have ended the same way if Luke listened to that guy.

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About The Author: Blackjack David Sapolis played professional pool for 20 years in The United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

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