(FAQ) How do you analyze a lost pool match?

(About the Author)

Whenever you play competitive pool matches, you will once in a while find yourself on the losing side. When that happens, there are reactions. For some reason (certainly no fault of your own), you experienced this setback.

Your response usually is to suffer through a post-match depression. Your post-match activities can include the standard 'why me' moans and groans. You could be a person who immediately make a quick survey of your available friends and then force them to listen to your tales of woe (expecting a sympathetic ear). You might be the rare individual who suffers in silence in consideration of the feelings of others.

Regardless, you serve your obligatory time in purgatory. You can use the simple process of doing your best to forget the experience. To do this, the loss is tossed away, scrubbed from your memory, or otherwise put behind you. Eventually you decide to grab your bootstraps and pull yourself up. By discarding the memory, you can pick your life back up. Actually, this process of ignoring and abandoning a life experience is not the best way to become a better player.

Instead of trying to erase the experience from your memory, try this approach: Try to figure out what happened. You lost the pool match. Why? Consider the concept of learning from your mistakes. Some careful analysis might reveal room for improvement. There can be multiple reasons and playing decisions that lead to the loss. Perhaps, this analysis can discover one or more of these. Once recognized, you can take steps that could reduce the number of failures in the future. Facing up to reality is a proactive approach to improving your game.

Start with a general overview of the match. Review your playing decisions and results. How many times did reality match up with your expectations?  Here is a sample set of questions to ask yourself after you have replayed the match in your head.  You must develop a standard set of self-analysis personal queries. (This checklist can be modified to fit your personal viewpoint.)

Note: If you don’t already know this, I might as well tell you now. Most of the games lost are because you gave your opponent too many opportunities to win. You didn’t consider the chances of success and failure, played offense which you should have played defense, and just plain stupid shots that should never have been considered, much less actually shot.

So let’s open up your memories and get some answers.

  • Was your opponent above your skill level?
  • What (and how many) shot choices helped your opponent beat you?
  • At any time, did you consider the consequences of failure?
  • When your opponent gave you an opportunity (ball in hand, miss on an easy shot, etc.) mistake, what did you do with it?
  • What shots decisions now look stupid in hindsight?
  • What was your attitude throughout the match?
  • Were you actually serious about winning the match?
  • Did you shark yourself?

Some of these answers can reveal a strategic weakness in your game or your attitude. For example, did you analyze what your opponent could and couldn’t do. How many actual defensive shots did you shoot?

Other answers reveal a number of tactical errors made during the pool match. For example, if you had no shot, did you consider more than one defensive option? When faced with an easy shot, did you consider how to get shape on the second or third ball? Did you leave a cluster for last, and thereby waste several innings in the end-game? Did you get fully down on every shot? Some of these will require physical changes in pre-shot routines. Other answers will point out a necessary correction in your attitude. This analysis will also point out skills that need improvement.

You can make a further effort to reduce the number of lost pool matches. After your personal analysis, take the time to write out a plan. Start by writing down details about the mental and physical mistakes. This makes you very aware of the problems, which helps you focus on what you should do.

This whole article can be summed up with these words: You learn the most from mistakes, and the least from successes.

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