Pool is a game of ups and downs. Most pool players experience a slump at some time or another. Slumps occur when you play below your expected ability for a prolonged period of time. Most pool players do not know why they are playing poorly, so they tend to look for solutions in all the wrong places. Sometimes this causes the player’s performance to drop even more. Often, the player falls deeper and deeper into despair. Pool players are often unable to break free from the chains of this performance inhibitor because they become tense, think negative thoughts, and develop a negative attitude. The primary key to overcoming a slump is to remain positive!
A player needs to begin by identifying the root cause to remedy the problem. The first step should be to determine the type of slump you are in. Slumps can be either physical or mental.
Physical slumps are often the result of some sort of change in a player’s fundamentals or mechanics. Slumps that fall into this category can be remedied quickly but require diligence to overcome. When dealing with this type of slump, I suggest videotaping yourself and watching your stroke in slow motion. Review the video with your pool coach or someone who is knowledgeable about stroke mechanics. You can even try to identify the problem yourself, but If you are unsure of what to look for, you can enroll at Virtual Billiard Academy and receive a complete video analysis for a nominal fee.
Mental slumps, on the other hand, can be much more difficult to come out of. The real problem seems to be figuring out what causes them. Mental slumps often originate from some sort of psychological problem. Psychological issues can create a prolonged decrease in performance and prolong the life of a slump that already exists. It is important to note that slumps can originate from numerous causes, and it is always important to identify anything that might be an underlying cause.
Some mental game challenges that can cause or prolong slumps include:
. Lack of confidence
. Inability to improve
. Being uncomfortable at the table
. Satisfaction with the current ability
. Lack of motivation
. Too much practice time
. Putting pressure on yourself to win
Here are some suggestions that will help free you from the bonds of performance slump:
Remain focused on the process. Stop worrying about the results. Do not think about how poorly you have been playing. Forget about the past. Do not look at league statistics or previous tournament performances. Instead, focus on shooting one shot at a time.
Do not worry about other players or how they perform. The only player you should worry about is yourself. Worrying about other players is often a distraction that can produce negativity, especially when you are in a slump. Remember to focus on your pre-shot process, and your performance will start to improve over a period of time.
Remember that it is essential to stay motivated and committed to the goals you set for yourself. When you are not playing well, it is easy to question your expectations. Stay patient and remind yourself why you love to play the game.
Anthony Beeler is the 2018 Pool Instructor of the Year and is a former BCAPL National 9-Ball Champion. He has numerous top 25 national finishes and is one of only 8 ACS Master Instructors in the world. He is the primary author of the National Billiards Instructors Manual and has also authored the book Unstoppable! Positive Thinking for Pool Players. Anthony currently has the highest established Fargo Rating of any Master Instructor. He has won over 300 tournaments and has defeated numerous professional players in tournament competition.