If you watch players compete, there is one habit that the winners consistently have in common. Those are the shooters who always stop after a shot and appear to be momentarily frozen in time. What they are really doing is going over their shot, comparing the new table layout with what they were attempting to achieve. These are the players that learn from their mistakes.
A post-shot routine is actually a post-action analysis of the shot. It is similar to a military after-action debriefing that compares preliminary plans with actual action to determine what worked – and didn’t. The results of this process justify changes in policy, process, and procedure. In the same way that the military uses this, you can apply the same attentive process on a shot by shot basis.
This requires a certain amount of self-discipline in order to get into the habit of post-analysis. But once you start doing this, it doesn’t take long to become a habit. When properly utilized, it becomes as much a part of your playing style as your pre-shot routine.
To someone observing your post-shot routine, all they would see is the cue stick stroking the cue ball, followed by several seconds of holding still. What they can’t notice is the furious activity of your brain, identifying what worked, what didn’t, and what minor adjustment is necessary for the next time. (Whew – that’s a lot of brain action.)
Having a consistent routine like this supports your playing rhythm. The pre-shot and post-shot activities help develop a stable flow and game focus.
The analysis process is pretty basic. When you first start doing this, ask yourself: What went right? What went wrong?
Ask these questions about the cue ball path, speed, and activity. Then, consider the object ball movement. Finally, consider the results of any peripheral balls. If any of these could have been played better, make a personal note of the necessary adjustment. Only then do you begin your table analysis for the next shot.
If all went right, your self-conversation is short and sweet. If totally disastrous, you may need to stand up while considering the entirety of the consequences.
Additional analysis can include consideration of your assumptions. Was the shot choice correct or could it have been better? Was the initial table analysis considered all the way through to the final stop of all balls? Was the cue ball speed what it should have been?
There is usually several reasons for a failed effort. This can range from the mental process to a physical movement. Don’t attempt to correct more than one fault at a time. Fix one identifiable error first and then work on another.
Never, ever throw away the experience of a bad shot. You drastically slow down your learning curve if shooting or playing mistakes are discarded without thought. When you routinely perform post-shot analysis, the process will soon move you to the next level.
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