Looking at Fear

Written by David Sapolis

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Article Index
Looking at Fear (page 1)
Anchors for loose minds (page 2)
The Confidence Bank (page 3)
Where do Blocks come from? (page 4)
Visualization (page 5)

Anchors for loose minds

Mental Choreography

The mind is simply another part of the body. In sport, you spend countless hours training your body for proper position, alignment, and technique. The mind must also remain in proper alignment in order to achieve success. One of the most important skills for any pool player is the ability to pull one’s mind back into proper position when it goes off course. Mental choreography is the blinders for the mind. It keeps the mind tight and provides a resting place when it goes off course. We know that the biggest cause of poor performance is out of control thinking. Keeping the monkey-mind occupied and "out of trouble" is key. Using mental choreography enables the mind to stay focused, centered, and on track.

Mental Choreography words are verbal cues words used to keep the mind tight during performance. These words are used before, during, and after performance, not only during difficult points in the match. When these words are done during every shot, or stroke, your words serve as a resting place for your mind. This is the secret gift of mental choreography. Once it becomes second nature and automatic, it will carry you through during the difficult or trying times. The words will allow the mind to become "non-thinking", thus in the zone. The zone is ultimate "tight mind".

There are three types of Mental Choreography thoughts to utilize as mental cues when you’re afraid:

Technical Statements: Statements or corrections ("lift", "tight", "shoulders square")

Energy Statements: Statements that bring energy up or down ("go!", "push here!", and "relax" "breathe")

Confidence Statements: Statements that encourage and build trust (i.e. "I can do it", "I've done it before")

Focus on these cue words to lock down your mind and keep it tight.

Anchor phrases

Anchor phrases are any phrase or series of actions that help tighten your mind. The mind must be anchored strong and steady in order to stay on course in the turbulence of negative thinking. Just as you pull your cue back to perform your stroke, you can pull your mind back the same way by using an anchor.

An anchor is a series of thoughts or actions that will pull your mind back to perfect mental position. An anchor is a series of strong "come-backs" to those negative thoughts keeping you in fear and doubt. Anchors help you return to focus, fearlessness, and doubtlessness. Examples of strong anchors include: "breathe, stay on course, I can do this", "breathe, tight mind, don’t go there", or "relax, keep it cool, it’s no big deal." Each anchor statement should include breathing and positive self-talk. The anchor should break the downward spiral of frustration, fear, or nervousness, and get your mind back on course. Whenever you notice loose mind, pull it back by telling yourself to "go get a drink, and use my anchor", or "do some drills and use your mental anchor", or simply, "anchor my mind".

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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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