How To Play Your Best In 2023

3 Mental Tips From 3 Pool Legends

1. Mosconi’s Ability To Focus

It would be impossible to summarize the entirety of Willie Mosconi’s mental greatness into only a single

tip. From his childhood, Mosconi was primed to become a pressure player — defeating every great player that lived during his generation. His transformation into the greatest player in the world was both preordained and historically significant.

But that is not to say there’s nothing you can learn from Willie Mosconi’s mental greatness. Sure, you might not have the added benefit of prodigious ability or a lifetime of training, but there is always room for improve- ment, especially when that improve- ment comes from one of the greatest players of all time.

Steve Cook once asked Mosconi, “What do you do to focus?’” He said, “Actually, I hear everything.” Mosconi’s point: the key isn’t to try to avoid the noise — it’s to grow comfortable in it. To hear everything but pay no attention to it.

In some ways, that’s easier said than done. A great way to practice this skill is to read with the TV on.

For your game, practice the same. Learn to be comfortable in a distracting environment without losing concentration on the shot at hand.

2. Ronnie Allen’s “No Bad Days” Approach

Every pool player is going to have bad days. They’re inevitable, and in one of the delightful ironies of the sport, they have a nasty habit of showing up in the precise moment we need them least (like, for example, a big tournament or during pool league). Bad shots, in that very same vein, are nothing more than a fact of life for a pool player.

But reacting to bad shots and bad days? Now, that’s where champion players set themselves apart, at least, in the mind of Ronnie “Fast Eddie” Allen.

Allen said one of his biggest lessons was to learn how to forget the bad — or at least learn to live with it.

“That’s one of the things I’ve learned — or maybe just matured into, I guess, is the right word — is learn how to page11image100296448forget bad shots and move on to the next,” he said. “It’s not the end of the world. I’d be upset for about a minute or two and then I’d move on to the next shot and if something else pops in my mind I’d try to focus on my pre-shot routine. You got to learn to go out there and do your best. Even after a little bad luck, you still got to be a fighter, a competitor, and just see what happens.”

3. Lassiter’s Endurance

It is perhaps the biggest mental hurdle faced by amateur pool players: they’re not capable of keeping focused for numerous games. Sure, for 2-3 games their focus is good, but then what? Ultimately, isn’t the goal for every player to be locked in for the entire tournament? And if it is, how do you get there?

if you were a marathon runner working towards a race: train for it. At least, that’s the answer according to seven-time World Champion Luther Lassiter.

Shortly after winning the World Championship, Lassiter shared that he’d been playing insane amounts of pool in the lead-up to the tournament, all with the goal of “elongating” his focus. Here’s what he said:

“I’m just making more and more progress just by trying to elongate my focus. I might try to play 10 hours a day when I go out and play for 6 it doesn’t feel like it’s that much of a strain. I’m trying to use my mind like a muscle and just make it stronger by working it hard. As I’ve gotten older, it’s been more difficult for me to maintain focus, good visualization and see the shot.”

If you’re struggling with maintaining focus through the entire tournament, perhaps your best bet is to play longer sessions during practice. Hey, it worked for one of pools legends, maybe it can work for you, too.