Every player who has played an important match knows that feeling of having nervous butterflies.
Your breathing becomes short and erratic, your muscles become tense and flinchy, your blood pressure rises, your pace of play is completely unsettled, your palms may sweat, and worst of all your ability to think clearly becomes clouded and replaced with multiple “what if” thoughts.
Your impending doom is predictable and more often than not, you do bomb out. But wait; did you ever wonder what was happening to the other player while you were in your own living nightmare?
Were they as calm as a cucumber and unnerved all that time too? It’s likely they were too, but you couldn’t tell in your condition and just maybe they couldn’t tell you were either. It’s more than likely they were nervous too.
So answer this question, if you had known that they too were a nervous wreck, would you have been more calm and ended up giving them the beating of their life? So then, what can you do to better prepare ahead of time to avoid becoming the bigger nervous wreck out of the two of you so you lose? The answer I’m about to give you should bless your heart for the rest of your playing career or at the very least, for each time you remember it when you find yourself going into, “the nervous zone” again.
See the Drill. That’s it! The answer is that: Seeing the Drill Relieves Nervous Competitive Pressure.
This month’s drill is called: The 15 Ball Master Run-Out.
It contains 80% of the shots that come up in almost every match or tournament event you’ll play in. When you can do this drill 7 out of 10 times without any missing, you’ll be good enough to beat 70% of the players you meet.
1. Set up the ball placement exactly as it is in the diagram.
2. Start with the cue ball two diamonds up and one diamond in from any side of the table.
3. Pocket the balls in order from 1 to 15.
4. Do not hit another ball during the run.
5. If you miss a shot, reset it and keep shooting it until you can make it twice in a row, then keep going.
6. Alternate the starting corner position of the cue ball, at the start of each new set up, until all four corners have been started from. This is what I call making a complete circuit, during your practice sessions. I advise doing your Pro Skill Drills warm-up drills first, before beginning this practice regimen.
During your next match, as you survey the table layout, take notice which of the Master Run Out shots is most like the shot you’re about to make and think about that shot and how you have already succeeded many times making it. Then, approach and make the shot as you did many times before. You will still miss from time to time as a result of a bad aim, but with your new focus on your experience with The 15 Ball Master Run-Out Drill, you won’t be thinking about being nervous and your out-of-control butterflies.
Finally, don’t be so naïve to think that one day you might get good enough so that the butterflies go away. Some of the world’s greatest champions and performers always get butterflies before an event. The difference is they don’t try to make them go away. They make them fly in formation.
Photo: Tim DeVore/846 Studios Editor: Dana Gornall