Unlike insults where your opponent makes no bones about pushing your ego into the mud, this sharking effort pretends to have a veneer of good sportsmanship. The distractions are always presented as a two part effort. The first part is a meaningless compliment. The second part is the slanderous statement. If you consider the opinions of others to be reality, this shark is very effective in helping you lose the match.
The subject matter of these observations covers the entire gamut of your playing skills. His contributions of opinions run the gamut from your pre-shot routine, cue ball control, intentions, strokes, consequences, and your ability to apply intelligent thinking to each shot. Anything you do is fair game for his observations and comments, so long as it can divert your focus, even slightly.
Every comment he utters utilizes a two-part statement. First is the obligatory compliment apparently in the spirit of good sportsmanship. This is followed by the dig, jab, or poke at your self-esteem. Here are a few examples:
- That was good. And, you almost got position too.
- Congratulations on that tough shot. I guess luck is more important than skill.
- Nice shot. Too bad you couldn’t get the cue ball into a decent position.
- Good try. But it looks like you can’t run out from here.
- Good run. It looked good right up until you screwed up.
- I’m impressed with the shot. But not your control.
To check your sensitivity level, he throws out a couple of investigatory jabs, and then closely watches your reactions. Any twitch, frown, or grimace encourages him.
The intensity increases as the game progresses. By the end-game, the level depends on whether he is winning or losing. If winning, he reverts to the milder version. If losing, he is more aggressive and may abandon the veneer of sportsmanship and go to straight insults.
This won’t work if you don’t care what anyone says about you in specific or in general. And when you can’t be affected in this way, your opponent is wasting his time. Because of your stable self-confidence, his offensive remarks cannot be taken as a personal affront to your abilities.
You can use this as a motivation to play with greater focus. There is a certain amount of self-satisfaction in using this shark attempt as a self-motivator. Regardless, be deliberate in performing all the necessary table analysis and shot selection. Perform all of the proper routines through to the execution.
You can apply the silent treatment, ignoring anything and everything your opponent may say or do. Simply withdraw yourself from all communication with your opponent. When your opponent shoots, turn away from the playing area. Absolutely do not allow any eye contact. Force him to tell you to you when it is your turn to shoot.
If you can handle a more aggressive approach, get into a exchange battle. Play the same schoolyard games you experienced in elementary school. Extra points if you can out-insult him to silence.
This distracts both of you during this process. The trick to quick recovery of your focus is that you intentionally initiated the insults. That makes it a lot easier to regain focus and intention. While he is stilling feeling the reaction to your efforts, you have a chance to pick up a game or two.
There is still the option to make a direct request to stop being childish. This has to be delivered in a parental tone of voice. This can be effective when the request is made in front of a group of railbirds.