This little hustling trick is designed to confuse and destroy your playing rhythm. It is most affective on players who have a passive response to people – the “go along to get along” attitude.
Here is how the hustler gets this started. He stays seated and silent (good sportsmanship on display). But the instant he determines that your turn is over, he literally leaps up to begin his turn. The balls are usually still moving when he springs into action. If you happen to be in his way to the table, he crowds past you as if this was some kind of emergency. He may say “excuse me”, but only as an afterthought. The time he spends on table analysis, setup, and execution routines are also similarly accelerated.
Another tactic is for him to stand just off to the side of your shooting position. He won’t move, assuming the picture of patience. Then, the instant you shoot, he suddenly moves, on the assumption that you missed. In your peripheral vision, this attracts your attention, taking your eyes off the table, even as the balls are moving. Even if you make the shot, your concentration is messed up.
While you are shooting, he can also display little signs of impatience (i.e., toe tapping, fidgeting, knuckle cracking, etc.) Even when you don’t see his impatience, you know it’s there – another bit of pressure on you to hurry up.
On your shot completion, as he suddenly jerks into movement, he is covered both ways. If you miss, he is hurriedly walking around the table, concentrating on the layout. If you make it, he (again hurriedly) moves to the other side of the table. Either way – you notice this and lose a certain amount of concentration. About half the time, he is at the edge of your peripheral vision.
When playing pool, there is no need to react instantly – for example, ping pong, tennis, football, and other games where quick responses are necessary to properly play the game. Pool has a certain quiet flow of the way players move around.
Therefore, anyone acting as if the game required quick reactions creates a significant change in the general playing atmosphere. By being put under this “reactive” pressure, you unconsciously tend to speed up yourself. You get off-balance and become slightly confused. And this state of mind is what the hustler wants. There is nothing illegal about it, even with the most stringent rules
You do not want to allow his “hurry-up” offense to force a change in your playing rhythm. If you begin speeding up normal routines, there is less time to consider all the table options. Your normal rhythm suits your thinking processes. Being forced to spend less time in consideration translates to poorer quality choices, causing mistakes and judgment errors.
Instead of acquiescing to his implied pressure to “speed it up”, use the opposite approach – slow down even more. When it is your turn, take an extra 10-15 seconds to study the table before you move. Contemplate the table from the comfort of the sidelines or your chair – and do so for an extended period of time. If he tries to encourage you to rush, look at him with a calm and patient gaze (for several seconds). Just when he is ready to say something, speak up, “I’ll be ready when I’m ready, <pause 2 seconds> and not before.” You would be amazed how quickly he gets short tempered with this tactical response – which affects his concentration.
An alternative is to use false starts. For example, take a couple of quick steps from your chair, then stop and assume a pose of contemplation. After about 7-10 seconds, move to the other side of the table and repeat.
Here is another tactical response – when considering a tough table layout (about 10-12 seconds), turn to him and ask, “What would you do with this?” Regardless of his response (positive or negative), you have momentarily changed his thinking patterns. An extra point if you manage to force a considered opinion from him.
The standing stare also works. When you see him leaning forward in his chair for his sudden movement, stop your shot, stand up, and ask, “What?” Stare at him for a few seconds, then return to your standard playing routine.