If introspective by nature, you are a careful and thoughtful pool player. You understand the importance of setting up properly for each shot and that fundamentals (stance, setup, and stroke) are necessary to playing a good game. As a thinking pool player you probably have a small library of instructional material that has proven to be effective and helpful. The occasional lessons from pool instructors with good reputations have thoroughly established in your mind the important values of constant and consistent routines. You are a “thinking” player.
Along comes this pool hustler – all nice words and friendly attitude. He gets to playing with you and starts laying the groundwork to make you more vulnerable to sharking tricks. And because your game is based on your true skills and abilities, his normally effective distractions and confusions don’t work on you.
An experienced gamesman, knowledgeable in all of the tricks of hustling is not put off by your seeming invulnerabilities. When the first sets of “standard” tricks fail to get results, he easily discards them. This shark is often saved as the back-up hustle – the intentional and thorough destruction of your self-confidence.
The sophisticated pool hustler is also a dedicated billiards enthusiast. He is knowledgeable about the whole of the game (history, famous shooters, more than a nodding acquaintance with the main instructional books, and the culture).
Once he has established his “credentials” as an experienced and thoughtful player himself, he can begin his dirty work – the complete disintegration of your trustworthy shooting and playing routines.
The simplest and most effective approach is simply getting you to focus your attention on some of your routines that have been under your control for years.
All he needs to begin is to get you to agree that he is knowledgeable enough to provide valid suggestions and recommendations. This is not something that can be done easily – since you have a good stable foundation. His credibility is established over two or three games. But once he is “under the hood” of your fundamentals (with your tacit approval), you are ready to be his victim.
For example, it might be his strong recommendation to make a minor change in foot placement. By introducing one small change in your routine, he has given you a new set of tasks – on each and every shot, you have to consciously make the recommended physical adjustment.
This is not to say that his advice is exactly correct and actually necessary to improve your shooting. In fact, the more true and valid his recommendations are, the more thoroughly your adjustments mess with your routines. Here are some situations where he can force you to "re-think" a routine:
- How far back you move a hand or foot before execution.
- How far your follow through goes.
- The various back and forth distances for practice shots.
- Where your feet are placed.
- Your body balance.
- The set and angles of your shoulders or hips or knees.
Basically, he is pulling your mind into one of those mental tricks your playmates used to mess up your hopscotching skills, the trick known as "Don't think about purple elephants."
A person who thinks too much requires the occasional reality check. After all, why would someone you are betting some amount of money (or prestige) be interested in improving your game? If your playing is that bad, he should be pitching his special 12 hour correctional shooting analysis and tune-up course at a one-time price of $239.
Therefore, all ideas, suggestions, recommendations, and/or assistance offered by an opponent deserve discussion AFTER the competition, not during. If you hold to this, a smart hustler recognizes when his tricks are discovered and move on to some other tactical tricks.