Have you ever gone out with someone who was constantly and consistently late in getting ready to go or meeting you someplace? Remember that sense of frustration as you waited impatiently with nothing to do but count seconds to keep busy? That is just a feeling your opponent wants you to experience with this distractive effort.
This is most often seen in tournament play. A variation of this can be used during casual or pick-up games. In all tournaments, the pace of the event depends on individual competitions getting started within a certain time frame; usually a set number of minutes after the names of the competitors and the playing table are called out. The general rule is: if one of the players does not show up within that period of time, the person who is at the table is awarded the win and the no-show player forfeits the match.
An unprincipled opponent waits in the background through the second and third call for the match players. He carefully tracks the time on his wristwatch. Then, just before the final seconds pass for the forfeit to be declared, the guy magically appears at the playing area, ready to go. He might fake a little huffing and puffing to make his delay seem more reasonable.
Upon being called to the table, you are already feeling a little nervous about the competition. You might be vigorously rubbing a good luck charm, or saying a little positive thinking mantra in your head, such as, “I’m gonna win, I’m gonna win, etc.”.
During that waiting period for your opponent to show up, you go through several emotional experiences. At the beginning, you stride to the table, full of confidence and filled with purposeful intent. Your mind is focused on the competition. Toss in some nervous anticipation to the mix.
Halfway through the waiting period, the thought does occur that your opponent might not show up – maybe suffering a collision with a truck while entering the pool hall and already be on his way to the hospital. You relax slightly, because holding yourself in readiness is physically exhausting. When the final couple minutes starts ticking away, hope for a match forfeit and the easy win rises in your heart. The closer to the final seconds, the greater is your expectation and anticipation.
Just as you consider this to be your match, your opponent shows up – looking fit, exuding confidence, and ready to battle for the right to advance in the tournament.
A sudden hole opens up in the pit of your stomach. Your mind scrambles frantically to adjust from the positive pleasures of certain victory to the realization that you really must re-install your game attitude. That’s a lot of shock to the system.
Having suffered this roller coaster ride of emotional expectations, it is not difficult to quickly lose the first few games before your get your focus and concentration back into place.
You need time to recover time to change mental directions. To allow yourself the necessary time to get back into the competitive mood, slow down everything you do.
- Walk slowly and deliberately.
- Take extra time to analyze the table layout.
- Perform a longer than usual pre-shot routine.
- When you execute the shot, regardless of its results, stay in place to analyze the rights and wrongs of the attempt.
- Take your time, repeat. Take your time, repeat.
This is how you regain control of your inner game. An additional side benefit is that it also acts as a distractive effort to your opponent.
As you gain control over your game, you can also frustrate his intentions to get ahead quickly and easily. Look for signs of irritation (grimace, tightened lips, and/or frown). If you see any of these soon after you begin the reassembly of your focus, continue those activities long after you are back into the spirit of the game.