Approach Every Shot with the Same Importance

Quick – what’s the most important shot in pool? The answer to this question might not be what you expect, as many players answer by saying the final ball to win a game.

In fact, the most important shot on the table is the next shot, for if you don’t execute what is right in front of you it won’t matter that you are setting up a run for later in the game.

Staying in the moment
While it might sound easy, focusing on what is important at any given moment can be a tricky proposition. For pool players it’s real easy to get caught up thinking about the past – especially true after missing an easy bunny. Similarly, pool players are also prone to getting excited and looking too far ahead to a potential run, leaving them vulnerable to miss a shot they otherwise wouldn’t. When I work with players I remind them of these things, and suggest they train their minds to sharpen their focus to each upcoming shot, similar to how they chalk the cue before each shot. Sounds basic, yes, but it is often these seemingly simple, basic ideas that separate good players from average, and great players from good.

Confidence development
Confidence is king when it comes to pool success, and confidence develops fastest when you make balls and win games. One way to ensure this is to bear down and focus on every shot – even the easy ones. Often when players struggle with confidence it’s because they either can’t let go of bad shots, or too regularly look several shots ahead and miss the shot right in front of them. Does this happen to you?

Tips to help
In order to stay in the moment and direct your entire focus on the next shot consider the following ideas:

  • Keep a steady, controlled pace. Try not to change gears and instead keep a healthy flow to your game.
  • Follow your pre-shot routine for every shot. Not only will this help with pace, but it also will prevent unwanted thoughts to enter your mind.
  • Develop a bounce-back. What this means is to try and come up with a mechanism that allows you to quickly let go of negative thoughts. Ideas include changing out your cue or chalk, or snapping a rubber band on your wrist to symbolize “snapping out” of negative thinking.