There is a part of your brain that quietly sits back and monitors what you are doing, constantly on the lookout for trouble. Not physically dangerous trouble. I’m talking about the one that protects you from SOCIAL DANGER. This is the thing that stops you when you are about to say something embarrassing. It makes it hard for some people to sing karaoke, or dance in public. Let’s be clear. The thing I’m talking about is fear – fear of judgment and being embarrassed.
There are two main techniques that are particularly difficult for pool players to learn as a direct result of this fear: thin cut-shot making and producing effective draw. Let’s start by looking at thin cut shots.
We have all been there, attempting a thin cut shot while playing pool with our friends. You take your time to aim carefully, pull the trigger and then… OUCH, you’ve missed the object ball altogether. Reading this you can probably remember that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. Maybe you remember the feeling of blood rushing into your cheeks. It’s a brief feeling, but it’s a bad feeling.
Right then and there that overprotective part of your brain jumped up and took notice. That’s its job. It remembers what you did to cause that embarrassment and it will try hard to keep you from ever doing it again. The problem is, the way it does this is subconscious and since you are not aware of it, it can make it very hard to practice and learn techniques that risk embarrassing you again.
Thin Cut Shots
Thin cut shots require that you do almost exactly that. To make them consistently you have to aim RIGHT NEXT to the line that misses the entire ball and causes embarrassment. When attempting to stroke on the correct line, many people’s subconscious will make them steer the final stroke away from the dangerous line, toward the object ball. This brings me to my first suggestion for overcoming this fear in your quest for a better pool game.
Practice this skill in a place where you won’t care if you miss the whole ball and people see you do it. Go to a pool hall and get a table to yourself back in the corner. It helps to remind yourself that the correct aim involves taking on that risk and accepting that risk before pulling the trigger. Just knowing it and being prepared for it can go a long way toward stopping the part of your brain that wants to mess with your aim. Don’t let it win.
When you do get a table to yourself, practice some straight shots! Shooting straight shots is great practice for thin cuts because thin cuts require a lot of accuracy. Even without fear they are hard to make from any kind of distance unless your mechanics and alignment are sound.