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)

Where do Blocks come from?

All fears and blocks come from out of control thinking. The mind controls the body. If you are not feeling confident or are thinking negative thoughts, the body responds with fear and balking. It’s strange, but sometimes you are totally unaware that this is happening. Many players say they are not afraid, but continue to balk on shots, or duck tough shots. If there is balking, there is some kind of fear. It may be a fear about something that has never happened. Or something that might happen. It might be a response to too much pressure. It might be that your stroke doesn’t feel natural. Whatever it is, the key is to change your thinking! What are you thinking as you’re practicing and playing?

We all know how powerful the mind is. Think of the mind like a sailboat on the ocean of life. As the boat sails, thoughts control the weather. Negative thought patterns create storms and blocks in our lives, while positive thought patterns create smooth sailing. The disciplined player has as much control of their thoughts as a musician has control of his instrument. It is essential to increase awareness of when your thoughts become out of control. A "tight mind" is one that is focused, effortless, confident, rational, and in control. A "loose mind" is negative, dramatic, irrational, over-thinking, doubtful and out of control. Most blocks come from having a loose mind. Too many times, the mind becomes loose, going off on it’s own "field trip" of negativity and doubt. These field trips may lead to losing a game, or even the entire match. Remember, out of control thinking leads to out of control performance.

Battling the Block: 3 Keys to Breakthrough

A pool player battling the block needs to bring out the entire army. There are three aspects of training that are especially helpful. Only utilizing one or two of these aspects is like fighting a battle with one hand tied behind your back. Two of these training interventions are physical one is mental. It’s very common for players (as well as instructors) to do the physical interventions without addressing the mental part. Since we know that blocks are mostly mental, it’s crucial that instructors and players address the mental side too! The two physical aspects are progressive drills and repetitions, the mental aspect is tightening the mind.

#1: Progressive Drills

First thing to do when you have a block is go back to the earliest progressive drill you can complete successfully. Progressive drills are drills that have advancing degrees of difficulty. Perhaps it is a long cut shot with the object ball on the top rail. Perform the shot over and over at various distances and angles until you become very successful at making the shot. Keep increasing difficulty until your feel confident doing the skill again. After you become very confident, try the shot one handed or opposite handed. Always raise the bar and challenge yourself. I don’t care of you have to close your eyes to enhance the difficulty, practice the shot every way imaginable.

#2: Repetitions

Along with the drills, you must take repetitive shots, like practicing your break shot. Break the balls over and over, trying to stick the cue ball, and control the one ball. Do it over and over until you get sick of it. Do the same thing with a shot that you missed in your last match. Keep doing it until you begin to say, "I can do this", rather than "I can’t do this". Make the successful completion of this repetitive shot second nature, so that when you are in competition your moves and mental state will be natural, not choppy or unfamiliar. You will be motivated by the confidence that you can successfully make the shot, rather than being controlled by the fear that says that you won’t.

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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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