“SEE” Your Pool Success

Imagery is simply the creation of mental thoughts in your mind.  Imagery can be used in a variety of ways, skill acquisition and mastery, increasing self-confidence, and even faster injury rehabilitation.  Thousands of elite-level athletes use imagery every day for athletic success, and in this month’s column I would like to show you how you can use imagery for success in pool.

First, it is important to say there is no wrong way to use imagery.  If you can create an image in your mind, you are using imagery.  When you stop to think about making your next shot and actually see the ball roll toward the pocket and drop, you are not only strengthening neural connections in your brain, but also eliminating your sensors to outside distracters (i.e. your opponent, the fans, etc).  When your focus is entirely on the shot, it is impossible to also think about the “other things” around you that often get in the way and prevent you from playing your best.

For imagery to be most effective, consider the following tips for immediate success:

Control & Vividness:  Try practicing taking total control over the shots you play in your mind – and always be sure to make your shots successfully while using imagery.  Try closing your eyes as you rest at night and see yourself taking total control of the table and with each successful shot make the situation as real as possible in your mind.  With a little practice, you will be amazed at how quickly you will be able to imagine your local pool hall, the cue in your hands, and the sounds of the balls cracking off the break.           

Internal/External Imagery: Internal imagery is as if you are looking at the pool table through your own eyes, using your own point of view.  External imagery is as if you are watching yourself play through a camera sitting across the room.  Both types of imagery can be effective, so try both and see which type best suits you.  In my personal experience, internal imagery seems to work best for pool players, but either type is far better than doing nothing at all.

Use All Your Senses:  Imagery is more than just visualization. Think about what it feels like to hit the perfect draw shot (kinesthetic imagery), or feel the pool stick in your hand (tactile imagery), or even the smell of your local pool hall (olfactory imagery).  Quite simply, the more you can incorporate all the sense the more real it will become in your mind – and the most confident you will be when playing in pressure situations (because in your mind you will have already been there a million times before.).

Pre-shot and Pre-game Routines:  Use imagery the night before a tournament (pre-game routine) and briefly before each shot (pre-shot routine).  Imagery will help you keep a good pace and block out unnecessary things (i.e. the crowd watching), while also helping with self-confidence.    

Try using imagery and allow yourself time to get used to the experience.  Remember, always keep your imagery positive and productive so that you can stay loc ked in and play your best.