Develop Routines To Play Your Best

Playing pool is a game that requires finesse, as there are countless times at the table where it is essential to have your mind and body working in synchrony so that you can make that difficult cut, bank, or combination shot.  In order to achieve the needed confidence and muscle-memory that good pool playing requires, it is imperative that you develop unique, personalized routines that help you prepare for battle.


As humans, we are creatures of habit and perform our best when we feel comfortable in our surroundings.  When we experience new situations in life, we run the risk of over-reacting and allowing our nervous system to create a high level of anxiety to help ward off the stress.  Unfortunately, while we are actively focusing to minimize nerves, we often get “out of sorts” and away from the rituals we usually do that allow us to play our best.  For example, if you are fixated on looking at the bracket for the tournament you might forget about the importance of taking a few minutes to yourself to breathe, use imagery to see success, and review your personal goals before putting together your stick.


The good news is that we can ward off much of the negative anxiety we experience in life by developing routines that help us feel comfortable.  In essence, the better we feel in our surroundings, the better the chances we will play our best pool.  Some ideas to consider when developing your routines include:


  • Be prepared.  The night before a big tournament be sure to take care of all the small details, including preparing your cue, getting enough rest, and plotting out directions to the tournament so that you’ll have enough time to get there without being rushed.
  • Develop a mental pre-game mindset.  Don’t leave things to chance, but instead make sure you know the basics when it comes to imagery, cue words, self-talk, and bounce-back tips (check the video link at the end of this column for more help).
  • Go through a structured pre-game practice routine.  The more you are in control, the less stress you will experience.  What this means is that having a specific pre-shooting routine will help you feel comfortable in your surroundings and leave you less time to look around and become nervous noticing other ringers signing up for the tournament. 
  • Walk through resiliency strategies.  While we never want to think we’ll ever miss another shot, the reality is that we will (in fact, we’ll miss lots of them in our lifetime!).  The key is to think ahead of time how you will respond and regroup the first time you miss a shot that you shouldn’t, thereby preventing “mental meltdowns” that result in you missing more than a shot (in most cases that kills it for the entire tournament).  By having a comfortable routine that allows you to step away, breathe, and normalize the situation you will be far more likely to make the next shot and start a new run, compared to allowing the emotions of the situation take you away from your game.


Develop your mental toughness and your game will go to levels previously not witnessed!  Learn more by checking out our #1 best selling video Mind of Steel for Pool Success, now streaming at