Embrace An Athletic Mindset

Despite what some people say about pool, I personally believe it is an athletic sport. However, many pool players still play the game like it isn’t and I believe this holds them from reaching their full potential.

In this article, I’m going to show you how you can change your mindset to produce a better pool stroke when you are under pressure.


In the same way a golfer drives a golf ball, or a punter kicks a goal during a football game, a pool stroke is also an athletic movement.


Most pool players don’t know how to limit their thinking before a shot, and this really affects how good they become.  One reason that pool is a far more difficult game than others, is because there’s so much time to think. 90% of the game is spent “making decisions” or sitting in the chair, meaning we literally have way too much time to think about our stroke.

I’m not saying that all thinking in pool is bad – one of the many great aspects of the game is that every shot is different…each shot presents its own set of unique challenges, which requires you to think about the best way to play it.

However, most pool players, don’t know how to turn off their critical thinking and access their “athletic mind”, so they can make a more natural stroke.

When a player is shooting their best game, they are not preoccupied by thought, judgement or emotion.There’s no sense of self or “self-consciousness”. The mind is focused 100% on the present and as far as they are concerned there is no past or future.


The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain which is responsible for managing processes like reason, logic, problem solving, planning, and memory. In pool this is great during the initial planning phase of your pre-shot routine, but it can easily become “a negative voice in your head” when you are getting ready to shoot. To produce a, better pool stroke and get into “dead stroke”, that little voice needs to be turned off and your athletic mind needs to be activated.

In pool, think about how focused you feel when you shoot certain shots – you have a clear vision of what you intend to do, and you execute it perfectly. This is what happens when your athletic mind is turned on and your critical mind is switched off. Your body is better able to “react” to the intentions you have set for the shot.


One strategy is to focus on your breathing.  This is proven to reduce activity in the thinking part of the brain. Breathing is also a key part of athletic performance, and it also helps reduce tension in the muscles.

Focusing on your senses is another great way to connect with the present and turn off the critical mind. Notice what you are seeing, feeling, or hearing as you walk up to the shot. Experiment with your senses and focus on one.  Simply becoming more aware of where your attention is and whether you are still “thinking” all the way through the shot, will help you produce a better stroke more often.

I personally believe pool is an athletic sport. Many pool players still play the game like it isn’t and I believe this holds them from reaching their full potential. Work to change your personal mindset, and you will produce a better pool stroke when the match is on the line.