Develop a Cue Word to Rely on During Tough Times

Quick – what did you have for lunch yesterday? If you are like most people you probably took a moment to answer that question, and for some of you reading this you still can’t remember!  That’s OK, I asked the question to prove a point: Our memory isn’t always as quick and accurate as we would like.

If we can quickly forget what we ate just a day ago, you can only imagine how difficult it is for a pool player during a tough game to remember how good he or she has played in the past.  Why is this important?  Because when we struggle in life, the fastest and most efficient way to rebound is to remember that we have succeeded in the past, and that we do have what it takes to overcome adversity.

How cue words help

A cue word is like a trigger word (or phrase), it is something that as soon as you view it you immediately turn your thinking toward the cue word and away from the things making you anxious in that moment. Because our minds cannot hold two different thoughts at the exact same time, one thought will always prevail — what this means is that you cannot think about how nervous you are about a shot while at the same time directing your5 attention toward your cue word. 

Cue words can be anything, but the key is to create a cue word that immediately makes you feel good, confident, and strong.  So let’s say you won a big tournament earlier this year, and the tournament was called the “American Open.”  Since you already feel great about that accomplishment, your mind is conditioned that as soon as you see “American Open” you quickly think back to the big shots you made, games you won, and ultimately the tournament championship.  You don’t have to try and have these feelings; they are already automatic in your hard drive.  You can now write that cue word in places you will see during a future match (or just write down the letters “AO” to represent “American Open”).  Since you can’t think of possibly missing a shot on the table and “American Open” at the same time, the idea is to think of your cue word in those moments of potential anxiety to re-direct your focus and attitude toward confidently making the next shot on the table.