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)

What is the problem?

Identifying what the problem is EXACTLY is very important. Saying there is something wrong with the table, when it is possible that you are experiencing problems with your stroke, can be devastatingly frustrating when your remedy solves nothing. This question is easily answered when you are familiar with your game. Many players are unfamiliar with their game because they neglect to take proper inventory of weaknesses and strengths. In the training section of this book, I give an inventory sheet, along with examples of training cycles that are designed to familiarize you with your strengths and weaknesses. When you know these things about your game (as well as your tendencies), this question becomes easier to answer.

What is causing the problem?

This needs to be known so that we can plan our attack against the problem. If there is something that is wrong with our stroke, we need to identify what it is and correct the problem immediately. If the problem is with the equipment, or the table speed, we need to identify what changes need to be made, and evaluate the results of our adjustment. We must learn to attack the symptoms of the problems. An erratic stroke can be the end result of a poor technique in breathing. Adjusting our follow through or our back-swing does nothing to remedy the case of the problem. All problems are cause and effect, and should be dealt with as such.

What is making it worse?

Almost always, little problems breed other small problems. After a while these little problems become bigger problems. Many situations have sub-factors that make the situation worse. It could be another physical flaw besides your stroke (head popping up) or it could be your attitude. Whatever it is, find a solution to the problem and put the solution to work immediately. Impatience is the number one reason players fail to deal with problems effectively during competition. Impatience usually leads to frustration, which is the end result of your abilities not meeting your expectations. Find out what areas of your game are costing you matches. Find out why. Try to find a pattern in your thinking that might be making the situation worse, not better.

What can I do to make this work for me?

There are many “problems” that are like this. A fast, unpredictable table cloth is just as much a hindrance to my opponent as it is to me. Getting angry with the table solves absolutely nothing. The table is not doing it to you on purpose, the table just is. Also, the table will not adapt to you, you must adapt to the table. You must be able to master the speed of the cloth and rails, and judge pocket speed. You must also adapt to your surroundings. Perhaps you are playing in unfamiliar surroundings. Perhaps the stares of the railbirds are making you nervous. Find out what makes you comfortable. For me, I keep my eyes focused with the six rails of the table. I try to become consumed by the playing surface of the table. That may or may not work for you. For me, that is how I have developed my focus and concentration. I keep my eyes focused on the playing surface of the table when I am at the table and when I am in the chair. I concentrate on my breathing exercises and attempt to stay centered. This keeps me fresh mentally.

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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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