There are two circumstances when your game-playing skills seem to abandon you. One occurs on starting the match. You start slow and your opponent gets an early lead. The other occurs when you start well, then someplace in the middle of the match, your game goes downhill.
In both circumstances, you are not at your best. The problems begin looking bigger and more difficult. You can enhance this downward spiral by focusing all of your attention and emotions into a strong effort to go into a deep depression.
It is psychological maturity that can take you out of a bad patch of poor shooting. One of the ways to gain this type of assurance is to suffer through a few too many times when you slide into tournament obscurity. It begins when finally say to yourself, "There has to be a better way to handle this."
All players go through up and down cycles where there are times when you do well and other times when you do not so well. With experience, you can take steps to shorten the down side and extend the high side of these cycles.
When you are under the bad influences, here are some workable recommendations:
- Do not "tense" up. Tightening your muscles in an exaggerated attempt to over-control yourself will not work.
- Do not go into a "can't afford to lose this game" mode. This excessive personal pressure almost always causes you to lose.
- Do not compare the shots made on the up side to what you suppose your ability to be when on the down side.
- When you set up on a shot, slow down your rhythm. Do a couple of extra practice strokes. Pre-play the shot before the stroke to verify the speed.
- Shoot softer. Worry less about "perfect" position, and focus on getting a shot on the next ball.
- Lower your expectations on difficult shots. Pick opportunities to play defensively.
- Focus on the goal of winning and not on "not losing".
- If anyone tries conversing, limit your response to grunts.
- Keep emotions under wraps. Keep your mind busy. Constantly evaluate table layouts, even when it is not your turn.
- Don't get emotional over bad rolls for you or good rolls for your opponent. It will even out. Cultivate a placid expectation that the tide will turn.
When your game goes off, make adjustments to your expectations.
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