Have you lost the match before hitting the ball?
I sure have! Tourney director calls your name, your head spins around. Who is your opponent? High Level Player X. Oh no! You drop your head, close your eyes and the “I’m Doomed” aura spreads over you. You drag yourself to the called table. Player X arrives smiling. You put on the bravest face you can muster or you start making jokes about how you might as well forfeit while quivering inside.
Player X, seeing your fear and sense of surrender, pumps him or herself up even more.
Ever happen to you? If you have played tournament pool at all, then yes, it probably has, and the match plays out exactly as you predicted. Player X playing flawlessly, you not even playing your own speed, with no rolls, and Player X getting it all.
Now, understand this:
It is your responsibility as a player to believe in yourself no matter what, to put your best foot forward, to play to the best level you are capable of, and to park all that other non-productive junk at the front door when you enter the room.
Player X brushes his teeth just like you, uses the bathroom, eats, sleeps, has bad pool days and, most importantly, been in your shoes at some time in his or her career. And of course, this all leads back to pool basics as it always does: Play the table, not the player.
Stand tall, play your best, learn from your mistakes, make it tough on your opponent, relax and have some fun.
Photo: Jack Mallon/Flickr Editor: Marcee Murray King