Sam first played pool five years ago at the age of twelve. She fell in love with the game for many reasons but her natural ability allowed her to improve at an alarming rate. Very soon she was the center of attention. One of the local coaches heard about her progress and observed her obvious talent. He was so impressed; he offered his coaching services for free. This was an incredible opportunity; the coach was responsible for a number of young players who had risen from club amateur to the professional ranks. Sam quickly built a strong partnership with her mentor and appreciated his depth of knowledge and experience. It was soon apparent that Sam was becoming one of the best players in the county and her mentor decided it was time for her to compete at a higher level. This was extremely exciting and Sam relished the thought of playing and beating some very well-established players. As the day of the competition grew closer Sam’s form became inconsistent. This was a concern for her coach but he kept his emotions under control.
Sam’s first match was against a very experienced player who was approaching his sixties. Although he wasn’t seen as a danger or potential winner, he was still a formidable opponent. The match was a race to nine. Sam began well and lead 7-3. It was at this point her opponent suddenly found his form. He quickly won the next five games to lead for the first time. Game sixteen was a must win for Sam and knew her coach was suffering as much as she was. She started well and gave herself an opportunity clear the table. As she played the nine ball her nerves suddenly kicked in and her mind filled with the real possibility that she could miss it, leave it over the pocket and suffer an unexpected defeat. It was as if she had predicted the future as she watched in horror and the ball wobbled in the jaws of the pocket and sat waiting for her opponent to claim victory. As she placed her cue back in her case, her coached marched up to her with a look of anger. He looked her straight in the eye and said “That was awful, what do you think you are playing at? That performance was pathetic, any more like that and I’m out”! He then walked out of the club and made his way home. This was a huge shock to Sam. She had never experienced anything like this before. She made her own way home, went straight upstairs and then did something that we have all done without knowing how damaging it is. She went over the scenario in her mind over and over. She even highlighted the most distressing parts which were, that was awful, pathetic and I’m out. In fact, she continued to repeat this to herself with the look of total anger on her coach’s face. As she plays this movie constantly in her mind this becomes a belief. Without any help this can and often has prevented players from progressing as fast as they should and in some cases, progressing at all. So, what can be done about it? How can we over write this belief and produce one of certainty and confidence after such a tough experience? Firstly, it’s important to accept that although the coach’s outburst was completely over the top, but he did it for a good reason. His purpose was to motivate or inspire Sam to create greater focus and confidence during match play. Although his strategy was entirely wrong it’s his intention that we must focus on. Sam needed to think how her coach should have acted in order to achieve his intention of motivating her. She decided that he should have walked up to her and said “Today was a huge learning curve for you, let’s take this and move forward. You are a class act with huge potential and one match doesn’t change that”. Sam created a new movie in her mind which included all of the words that he should have said. Although the reality is that he didn’t say this, it’s his intention that is important. Sam simply used the words he should have said so the coach’s intention is fulfilled and everyone gets what they want. She rehearsed this in her mind along with a look of empathy on his face as he approached her. After a few days she was changing her self-belief in her ability to perform during match play.
Our brains cannot differentiate between something that physically happens and something that is vividly imagined. So, we can use this to our advantage. The more detailed the story in your mind coupled with the number of times you mentally rehearse it,the greater the belief becomes. Have fun with this.
Simon Capon, NLP Master Practitioner, NLP Trainer, Hypnotherapist
Editor- Chris Freeman Author- Simon Capon
It’s time to start winning. Available on Amazon.