Your Own Worst Enemy

Have you ever gone out to play pool and found the conditions to be less than adequate in your estimation? Maybe the music was too loud or the lighting above the table was too dull or uneven. In fact there are probably dozens of different situations or conditions that you may not like.
How many times can you remember complaining that if something or other didn’t happen or had been different you would have won the game or played better?
If you are like anyone I’ve ever known this has happened to you at least once, probably often. We tend to focus on the things that bother us and use that as an excuse for bad performance. Letting these undesirable things affect your performance stifles your ability to improve.

The only way to overcome this problem is to gain control over it. There are two ways of being in control. The first way is to recognize the things that bother you, or negatively affect your play, and do everything you can to stay away from them.
“Example: If you don’t like loud music, have it turned down or play somewhere else. If you dislike slow tables, find a table with fast cloth or play somewhere that has faster tables.”

However once you’ve tried this method of control a few times, you’ll notice that it still doesn’t solve all the problems. You may find a table with fast cloth, but it probably has other things that you dislike. Maybe it has bad lighting, or a concrete floor, etc. In fact you’ll quickly realize that the perfect situation hardly ever exists. Even on the Pro Tour we sometimes are forced to deal with situations or conditions we don’t like, and we certainly can’t go elsewhere. Yet we must find a way to be in control over these undesirable situations or continue to be frustrated.

The second method to control is adapting to the situation. I don’t mean to merely give in to it, but to actually accept it as a challenge.
Include adapting as one of the important skills to practice. The best way to adapt to anything is to first accept the fact that you can’t change it.
Next, consider it a great and welcome challenge to find the best way to perform well, despite the problem.
Example #1:

You are used to playing in a cool room with no humidity and today’s match is in a hot room with high humidity. Your cue will undoubtedly feel sticky and you will feel hot and easily aggravated.

Solution: “Keep cleaning your cue throughout the match or wear a glove. Also, have a dry towel at hand to keep yourself as cool and dry as possible.”
Example #2:

You are playing in a tournament and there are more distractions then you are used to. People are walking by your table or talking loudly and you notice them and hear them. You are quickly losing your focus and making mistakes.

Solution: “Accept that the situation is something you cannot change but how you react to it is in your control. Keep your eyes on the table and your
focus on the game. If you are already getting a little upset or losing confidence try controlling your breathing and doing anything you can to cool down your
body and become more patient and calm. While you are in your chair focus all your thoughts on perfection of stance, stroke, cue ball control, etc.
Fill your head with thoughts of things in your control and rid your head of thoughts of things that you have no control over.

There are many other examples that I could give you, but this should suffice for now. Hopefully this article will help you in your never ending search for excellence.

Keep smiling!
Paul Potier