Article By: Barbara Lee
I’m sure most everyone has sat in the chair watching their opponent at the table running balls and thinking “I would have shot that ‘this way’…
. . .now look, they are in trouble”. The fact is we can ALWAYS win from the chair! Easily!
In fact, you see EVERY shot, make the right decision each and every time and of course the ball ALWAYS goes in the pocket and you draw perfect shape on the next shot. What’s the big deal about this game? It’s a no brainer!
Ha! So as easy as it seems from the “chair”, it most certainly is NOT when you are at the table yourself! There’s your next ball, you look at see a couple of different ways to approach the shot based on the layout. Hmmmmmm. You calculate the odds. How are you shooting today? Confident? Loose? Or are you a bit hesitant from a previously missed shot? Got a back end a little tight? Maybe you’ve played this opponent before and have had “issues” with them? The point is, any number of things can affect not only your decision making, but your actual stroke and pocketing ability.
Most of you who shoot regularly know how “mental gyrations” can booger up your game faster than lightening. That is why it is so very important to “clear” your mind before the match begins and AGAIN, with each and every shot. Easy to say, but not so easy to do of course. And how many of you have gotten down on the ball and even though it just “didn’t feel quite right”, have let loose the stroke instead of getting up and starting your approach anew? Plenty I’m sure. We all do it occasionally and it usually results in “I knew that wasn’t going to go in”. Or you are down on your shot executing some practice strokes before letting go and someone comes into your field of vision, walking by or some such thing and you notice this. Instead of stopping, getting up and collecting yourself, you shoot and miss. So what is it that makes us shoot it anyway?
Various reasons! One that stands out is: The longer I “sit” over this shot and think about it, the worse it’s going to be – I should shoot it NOW before I talk myself out of it”. And even though that does sometimes work, more often than not, it backfires. Another is “I’m not going to let someone in my vision get to me, I’ll just block it out because I’m not supposed to be noticing anyway”. Rubbish! If you noticed, you are already “cooked”.
Now if you were watching all these same things go on from “the chair”, you would most certainly say “well, they didn’t get up and collect themselves when that guy walked across their shot – that’s why they missed! Humph!” or “wow, this guy usually shoots pretty quickly and he’s really been down over that shot taking a LOT of practice strokes – he must be pretty spooked about the shot” You get this? The “chair” never makes these mistakes.
A very good pool player friend of mine the other day gave me some great advice. She had been watching my play and knew I wasn’t playing to my ability and certainly that I was not making correct decisions regarding shots and safety play and so forth. So she pulls me aside and says “you should just play like you commentate on the stream!” OMG! What a concept. I ALWAYS win from the chair, commentating. So sure enough, I started to look at each shot and mentally “commentate” what I should do as if I was in the “chair”. This made an immediate positive change to my game. And although I didn’t win that particular match since I had already messed it up so badly, I DID however manage to come back to bring it hill hill! I made sure to go thank her after the match. Pearls of wisdom!
So think about it next time you are in a match. Clear the cobwebs BEFORE, clear them before each shot, and think “if I was in the chair, what would I predict the player should do from here?” and then DO IT! You might just elevate your game to the next level.