I am often asked “How do I prevent myself from choking on shots in a match” or “How do I obtain a decrease of anxiety when confronting a crucial shot?” So this question of how to perform under pressure is a great one. First of all, each player does not experience the same situation with the exact same feeling of pressure, so a lot of it has to do with the “pressure” that you give to the situation or shot. How do you see yourself, what is your reality is an important answer to know, and more importantly to create anew if your current self image “reality” is not working for you.
Become the champion in your mind that you want to be first, so that it is easier to deliver winning shots when you need them to produce the win you want. This speaks to the daily way you speak to yourself and what you visualize yourself accomplishing. Without having the wins already to remember and give you confidence, you’ve got to believe they will come and even imagine that it has already happened.
Still, regardless of your self image, all pool players feel pressure. If you expect it not to be there and then it shows up, it will be much harder to deal with than if you actually expect it and are prepared to handle it. Nick Varner has said something like this… that he was waiting for the day when the pressure of pro matches would disappear but that day never came, and he realized he would just have to deal with the pressure and play through it.
Watch this video. Famous NBA coach Pat Riley talks about how to deal with expanding pressure in a game…
So the idea is to expect the pressure to increase and expand and therefore deal with it. Don’t become a balloon that explodes all over the pool table.
Increase your focus. Increase your intensity. Breath from your belly, at least while you are in your chair. When you practice, imagine you are in a high pressure situation and play as if it is real. Win some practice games with this imaginary pressure and your confidence in the real pressure will be better, and you will be less likely to be that poor exploding balloon.
Be that champion you envision yourself to be!
See you soon…