Preparing for Competition

Written by David Sapolis

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Article Index
Preparing for Competition (page 1)
Physical Preparation (page 2)
Having a Game Plan (page 3)

Having a Game Plan

Understand that most pool players don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. It’s not so much about having a game plan, but executing it effectively. Having a strategy and executing a strategy are two completely different things. When it is you turn at the table, understand that it is just you, the cue ball, and the object balls. The cue ball doesn’t move until you move it. The table doesn’t move, and contrary to popular belief, The pockets don’t move either. That little voice inside your head that tells you what and what not to do - needs to know what he’s talking about. How many times have we argued with that voice? That voice is our inner coach. It can either love us or hate us, but it is all we have. Make that voice your friend. If we teach that voice to say destructive things about our game, it will become our enemy. If that voice tells us that we’re not good enough to beat (insert name), we will start to believe it as true. This is what makes mental preparation just as important as physical preparation.

Visualization is a subject I have talked about before. Mental rehearsal does not have to take place while laying on a couch with your eyes closed. You can do it before each shot. See the ball going into the pocket. See yourself winning the game or match, then get out there and make it an accomplished fact. It will be fuzzy at first, but as time goes by, the images get clearer and the process will be easier. Make every victory and accomplished fact before the match starts. Most players have more mental deficiencies with their game than physical ones. The mental affects the physical and vice versa. Prepare yourself mentally every day as well as physically and you will see a definite change in your win/loss ratio.

Prepare for Success As well As Failure

It is one thing to prepare for the pitfalls, but prepare for the successes as well. The more you move up the ladder in a tournament, the more your preparation comes into play. Winning the match in the first round leads you to round two, round three and so on. Many players get nervous playing in the finals of the tournament, or are scared of the moment. This is a very natural thing. Just tell yourself that this is what you have prepared for all along. If you’ve done your homework and practiced hard and diligently, then you BELONG there. Act like it. don’t enter the match with that deer in the headlights look on your face. If your opponent is worth his weight in BS he’ll pick up on it and use your fear against you. Fear, anxiety and guilt have no place inside your head during competition. Win and win quickly. Leave nothing behind, and give it your all. Leave the mistakes and bad shots at the table. Mentally rehearse what you are going to do when you get back at the table. If the other guys runs the rack, learn from what you just witnessed, which was obviously good shooting.

What I Have learned

Having a pool table in your home can turn you into a hermit if you are not careful. What happens is that you never get out anymore. You need competition and opposition so that you can get to that next level. If you have the luxury of a home table, do not underestimate the importance of getting out of the house every so often. All tables play and react differently. Get to know as many tables as you can. Take notes on tables as well as you opponents. Playing well on your home table under no pressure is different than going into a pool hall and playing on a commercial table under pressure. Learn how the pockets react, learn the speed, and know how the rails react on different tables.

Play everybody and anybody. Familiarize yourself with different players and their styles. Educate yourself on the do’s and don’ts with different opponents. Learn how to identify when you are out of your league. Know that in pool, anything can happen. You can squeak out victories from people that should beat you. I know, I’ve done it and you probably have too. The one thing predictable about pool, is that it is unpredictable.

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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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