How can I Play Better Pool under Pressure?
The purpose of this post is to expose you to the many kinds of pool pressures that we all have to overcome when we want to achieve 8-Ball Mastery. Knowledge and technique are of equal importance when mastering any sport, and 8-Ball Pool is no different.
Are 8-Ball Knowledge and a Strong Technique enough?
Combining those two qualities together will often forge a very well-rounded eightball player. However, if you want to blow up and take your game to the next level, to:
- Qualify for your County Pool team
- Succeed at Regional level
- Play International standard
- Compete on the Pro Tour or,
- Be successful on the Money Match scene
First of all you will need to master your mind! It may sound a little extreme but stick with me..
If you walk into any pub, you will see players potting balls off the lampshades, cueing like a dream and making the game look easy. This experience can be deceptive. The reason being that the majority of these players will begin to struggle the moment the stakes are raised. What was so very simple a few minutes earlier, suddenly becomes more and more difficult. Unease begins to show in the player’s facial expressions😟. The uncomfortable nerves begin to appear in the way they move and the cue arm starts to look tense. Nerves are always a game-changer.
Types of Pressure in 8-Ball Pool:
Pressure comes in all different forms and at varied levels. Football, Rugby, Netball, Boxing, MMA, Darts, F1, Bodybuilding, Snooker along with any other sport(s) are competitive. Competition breeds pressure and expectation. This post is written with English Pool in mind. However, here is an inconclusive list of the types of pressure you will find within any sports:
- Pressure from the viewing audience. As briefly mentioned above, some players just aren’t used to having their every move observed by a small crowd of people, let alone a room full of riotous spectators.
- Weight of expectation from team mates. As a member of a team, you’re playing for each other, as one. You’ve likely formed strong bonds with your teammates and don’t want to let them down as they eagerly anticipate your every shot. As a result, your own players can often add pressure by questioning your shot selections or bemoaning your missed shots.
- Pressure from the realisation of winning or losing money or a prestigious title/tournament. When it comes down to it, these are the big occasions most of us thrive off. These are the moments that I like to call “Thrive or Dive”. Consequently, they can prove to be the most daunting situations for beginners, youngsters or inexperienced players competing at a higher level for the first time. A higher level can be any step up in competition. An example of this would be the transition from having a game with your mates at the weekend, to then signing up for the local pub team.
- Pressure of not making a mistake in front of opponents or spectators. As noted in the ‘Be Like Ronnie‘ post, we are all conditioned to not make mistakes. For instance, mistakes are bad and they make us look stupid… which usually leads to more pressure and you guessed it; more mistakes! 🤦🏼
- Volume of your own personal goals and expectations – We all want to be the best we can be at the things we do. My Dad always used to say “If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well!”. Consequently, our own aims and goals are to improve upon our abilities and achieve forward progress. So much so, that we can challenge and beat better players in formidable leagues, in front of the bigger crowds and under the higher pressures.
There isn’t one standalone secret tip that will completely erase the pool pressures of 8-Ball. There are however, certain qualities that will lessen and help to overcome the various pressure situations and most of these are primarily mental attributes.
Composure, Consistency, Self-belief and Confidence are the all important characteristics you will need to develop in order to become the best you can be by remaining calm and producing your best play in high-pressure environments.
The posts linked above on Composure, Consistency, Self-Belief and Confidence will give you the foundations you need to help you on your journey to dealing with the pressures of being a top pool player.
It’s important to note that there is no substitute for experience to give you a clear focus when faced with pool pressure. In other words, the more you do something the more it starts to become second nature to you. You should aim to put yourself into more pressure situations. So for example, when you get the opportunity to test yourself in a new tournament – GO FOR IT!
Hope this helps to Raise your game,
THE POOL COACH 🎱