The Art of the Choke

Written by David Sapolis

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Centering will help you in reestablishing communication with that satellite (your focus) and your techniques will assist you in removing whatever was blocking or interfering with the satellite’s communication. Centering techniques are simple, easily affordable, and yet priceless in competition. Remaining calm is of the utmost importance. Many players get angry, upset, and disappointed when they lose communication between the mind and body. This is evident in facial expressions, body language, and the overall balance of the player when he or she is in their stance. The first thing to change is the breathing. The second thing that goes is balance (or stature; sulking shoulders, head drooping forward, looking down to the floor). These things “lead” to a loss of focus or concentration, they are not the result. The results are the emotions, the missed shot, coming up short or long on position, losing the game or match, etc. Understanding this is very important. Many players try to reapply their focus towards the results, and not what caused the results. It reminds me of the story of the old cowboy that shot a hole in his water bucket. The water is coming out of the hole, and the cowboy turns to his buddy and says, “What am I going to do about this?”

To which the other cowboy responds “Stick a bullet in the hole. That’ll keep the water from pouring out.”

The cowboy’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. “You’re right! I’ll try that.”

The other cowboy says, “Here, want one of my bullets?”

“No, I have my own.” He thanks his buddy, places the bucket of water on the ground, draws his gun, and shoots another bullet into the bucket.

This might seem silly, but we have all done this while playing pool. We have the right idea, the right tools, but lack the good sense to get the job done right.

Your center of mass exists about an inch or two below and behind your navel. There are several different ways to locate it, but the following is the easiest. You can find your Center of Mass by imagining two lines being drawn through your body; one vertical and one horizontal. The lines intersect at your midpoint, or your Center of Mass.

Your weight is being pulled (or pressing downward) towards the floor. Shift yourself slightly in the chair and you will feel your Center of Mass shift as well. With your feet still flat on the floor, slowly rotate your torso in a circular motion. Slowly inch forward to remove your back from the chair. You will feel the point of center mass keeping your torso upright. Remember what this feels like, and where it is located as we will work with this location from here on forward. This is the point in your body that will work directly with your equilibrium. Any off shift of weight, poor balance, or inattention to your center of mass will be translated in your actions at the table. The Center of Mass is the point that you momentarily and consciously attend to in order to ***CENTER*** yourself. When you are ***CENTERED*** it is much easier to achieve "Dead Stroke", and here’s why:

Sit in a chair and with your back straight, and your feet placed shoulder width apart and flat upon the floor. As you are sitting in the chair, you should feel most of your weight when you are CENTERED, your muscles will loosen up and breathing will be steady and slightly deeper and slower than usual. This will bring about a feeling of relaxation and balance. Any negative change in your Center of Mass will result in a loss of that feeling (remember that) and you lose your ability to move equally in any direction, while at the same time being balanced.

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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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