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)

#3: Tools to Tighten the Mind

Progressive Drills and repetitions can’t break the block alone. Dealing with the problem directly will help the block break easier and faster. The best way to break the block cycle is combining progressive drills, repetitions, and tight mind tools. Here are the three most effective mental tools to break the block.

Mental Choreography (MC)

Never underestimate the importance of mental choreography (MC) or "key thoughts" . MC more than any other tool helps to tighten the mind. Think of MC as blinders for the mind. MC keeps your mind "locked down" so that distraction or doubt can not interfere with your focus. Create key thoughts that you say to yourself for any skill you feel blocked on. Say those thoughts in your head whenever you are down in your stance taking the shot. That is the most important part. As you take each shot, be sure to say your mental choreography words. Your key thoughts will help your body and mind to work together to complete the task automatically.


What you think is what you do. Imagine yourself taking and making the shot in your mind to break the block cycle. Practice imagining yourself making the shot while your eyes are open, looking at the shot. If you are blocked on a particular bank shot, stand at the table facing that shot and visualize yourself making the shot perfectly. Be sure to do your mental choreography words every time you imagine yourself doing the skill. This pairs the words you say with completing the task. In addition to visualizing, walk through the shot you are blocked on. Pay attention to each and every one of your stroke movements while saying mental choreography. Feel yourself taking the shot as much as possible. Slowly perform each practice stroke and the final stroke from start to finish.


It’s important to be aware when your mind is loose and off track. Then, you must have enough determination to pull it back on course. The turbulent thoughts of your mind can pull your sailboat way off track. At times, pulling it into the dangerous whirlpools of the Bermuda Triangle! Your mind must be anchored strong and steady to stay on course in the storm of negative thinking. Just as you pull your stroke back to proper position to make a technical correction, you can pull your mind back the same way by using an anchor.

Your anchor is a series of thoughts or actions that will pull your mind back to focus and doubtlessness. Your anchor will be strong "come-backs" to negative thoughts. Helping your mind 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. Your anchor should break the downward spiral of frustration, fear, or nervousness, and get your mind back on course. Whenever you feel a block coming on, use your anchor to move you to a positive place.

Remember to keep it cool.

Breaking the block is something all players can do. It’s important to keep a positive attitude. Stress feeds the Block Beast. The more you tell yourself, "I’m getting over this", "I know I can get this back", "It’s getting better every day", the quicker you will break the block. Don’t let negative thinking defeat you. Stay positive, stay totally doubtless, knowing you will get the consistency back. Sometimes the more pressure you put on yourself the worse the block. Keep it cool. Let go and trust you’ll be back in the winner’s circle in no time!

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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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