WEBSTER’S DICTIONARY DEFINES COMPOSURE as “calmness; self-possession.” (Webster’s New World Dictionary, 2nd ed., Simon & Shuster, 1979, p. 101)
Composure is remaining calm and focused enough to perform up to your capabilities.
Composure is consistently responding to stressful situations with empowering thoughts, feelings and actions.
Composure is letting go of past mistakes and breathing out anxieties about the future.
Composure is laughing in the face of seemingly gargantuan pressure and concentrating on the task at hand.
Why would you want to have composure? Maybe you want to make great comebacks; or just play your game against a top player; or be a champion; or impress a potential significant other (show off). Whatever your reason, composure is a good place to start when you are striving for positive results.
It is similar to approaching life from a well-balanced center. If you do your best to keep balanced, you will have a better chance at staying afloat if something rocks your boat.
Gaining composure could mean changing the way you think about certain aspects of the game. I am sure you know a few players who go berserk every time their opponent gets a good roll. The more bad rolls they get, the more they freak out and start announcing to the world that you are lucky. Meanwhile, they are stuck in the past with a dark storm cloud growing over their head.
Granted, there is too much luck in nine-ball, but until the rules are changed to call all shots and safeties, it is necessary to understand that rolls happen and you should be happy to be at the table. If you find yourself on the short end of the rolls during a match, just think to yourself “things will turn my way,” and do the best with what you have.
For example, what if you were on the hill with a seven game lead and your opponent comes back to tie the match? You could be in shell shock and flub a possible chance at a win, or you could understand that many matches are close anyway, and all you have to do is concentrate on each shot in this final game.
When you have a big lead it is especially important to bear down even more, and realize that if you go to sleep you have no chance at winning. No lead is a safe lead.
The same thing applies when you are coming from behind. No lead is insurmountable. Just think “I’ll hold him there and then pass him.” It is amazing to see what happens when you are unflappable. The more you understand match dynamics, the less likely you will be taken by surprise, and the more you will be giving the surprise.
Composure has a lot to do with knowing and remembering the truth about yourself and any given situation. Whether the heat is on or off, it is good to remember what you are capable of (physically, mentally, and spiritually) and let this give you confidence. Letting go of fears and doubts is one of the main challenges every pool player or and person in life for that matter must face.
The illusions of fear and doubt have no power unless you have allowed them the power. Once you learn to recognize illusions, it will be easier to get rid of them.
If the truth is that you play at a certain level, then you want to do your best to prevent anything from interfering. Often, blockages are very subtle and it would be wise to take a deep honest look into the causes. Once you have targeted any interference, it is necessary to actively and willfully diminish it by turning its positive counterpart into a habit. Sometimes habits die hard, but in the business of uncovering the truth it will be worth it.
If you are often too tense, learn to relax. If you are doubtful, learn to generate feelings of courage and confidence. If you have trouble concentrating, turn pool into a study on concentrating. Whatever the malady, there is a remedy, and a little discipline can go a long way.
Not enough can be said about the benefits of preparation. Before a big match, tell yourself that this will take everything you have, and that you must go deep to your basic core where your strength lies. If perhaps you have never beaten this player, tell yourself “that was then; this is now,” or “I am due for a win.”
Michael Jordan says that before he shoots a big foul shot, instead of thinking about the millions of people watching and everything at stake, he puts himself in a familiar place like his old high school gym where he feels comfortable.
Being physically and spiritually fit are also great bonuses. The link between your body language and your mental/emotional states is amazingly close. It is good to work just as hard on your composure (mental game) as you do on your physical skills.
Talk to experienced players and champions about this and read plenty of books like Pleasures of Small Motions by Bob Fancher, Phd., Golf is not a Game of Perfect by Bob Rotella, The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallway, and Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsh.