You Better Think Of Something Good

Nick Varner

Is mental rehearsal just as important as physical rehearsal? Here is a question for you to ponder: What do you intend to happen during your next match?

Do you have positive aspirations, or are you thinking about something you don’t want to happen? The images you put into your mind can have a big influence on the actual outcome of your next match. One technique I recommend is mental rehearsal or “positive visualization”.

In this article, I’m going to share how it works, and how you can use it to perform better on the pool table.

Nick Varner once said, “A lot of times you get what you think you’re going to get, so you better think something good.” Richard Petty often said he would often mentally rehearse all his car races and see himself victorious before the actual event. So how does this help us as pool players? It means that we can do a lot of work on our games, by mentally rehearsing each shot. If the brain has already practiced what you need it to do, it will be more likely to produce this result during a match.

Seeing yourself being successful will make you feel more confident, it’s that simple. I’m not saying that all confidence comes from visualization, but you can certainly improve your outlook by rehearsing positive things.

If you focus on what you don’t want to happen before a shot, it’s going to cause unwanted tension and negative thoughts. However, if you focus on something positive you will lower stress and reduce unwanted thoughts.

What does this mean for pool? That you can practice your mechanics without actually being near a pool table. Rumor has it that, during practice, Willie Mosconi would sometimes spend several seconds before each shot visualizing his intensions – the idea being he would mentally practice the objectives he needed to perform.

Before I explain how this is done, I should mention that there are 2 ways to see yourself in visualizations: first person or third person. First person is where you visualize what you will actually see playing, and third person is where you see yourself as if you were playing on television. Studies show that first person is better for visualizing an event that has not yet occurred, and third person is better for reviewing matches that have already been played. This exercise can be done daily:

1. Find a quiet place.
2. Sit in a comfortable chair and relax. Be sure to close your eyes.
3. Focus on your breathing to relax and free your mind of any distractions.
4. When you’re relaxed, focus on your next match.
5. Use positive self-talk and tell yourself that you are confident and have the ability to win or perform well.
6. Try to visualize as many shots as you can, starting with the break. “See” exactly what you are going to see when you are there for real.
7. Imagine yourself going through your pre-shot routine and preparing for the shot. Focus more on the “process” than the result.
8. Imagine your stance.
9. Imagine yourself over the cue ball, aiming at the target with that image of the shot in your mind, and then visually stroke the shot.
10. Visually feel your pool stroke in your mind’s eye. Visualize what is needed to produce perfect results.
11. Visualize the object ball splitting the pocket and the cue ball gaining the position you intended.
12. Go through this process, until you’ve ran every rack!

Now open your eyes. Your visualization has just given you adequate preparation for your next match and has significantly improved your chances of getting a good result.

If you struggle to visualize things that have not occurred yet, visualize the past. Imagine times you’ve been successful. You’ll need to have physical skills first, but using visualization in practice can certainly help you develop a better set of mechanics. If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying. As with anything in life, practice makes perfect.