A shocker shark is any activity designed to destroy your game focus and make it difficult to recover any ability to play effectively. It does this with an action that is a complete surprise. It can be a shock to your sensibilities or to your nervous system. It can even go so far as to be a dangerous threat to life and limb. At its more intense levels, this is a gross violation of the spirit and idea of sports. The lesser shockers often fall within the spectrum of juvenile horseplay.
There are always a few pool players with a poorly developed sense of propriety that are willing to try this. If you are a nervous person, affected by sudden unexpected movements or sounds, this is one of the tricks that a hustler uses against you. A socially inept person can be looking for a bit of fun through by executing a surprise attack – expecting to achieve an early victory based on the shattered remnants of your concentration.
Unless you have some experience of exposure to a great variety of noises and surprises, your mind generally shuts down and your hind-brain is suddenly left in charge. When your fight or flight response is triggered, your body prepares to act. This can generate an embarrassing reaction ranging from diving for cover while emitting a shrill scream to the frozen immobility of a possum. Besides the immediate reaction, the entire body tenses up as it is flooded with adrenalin and endorphins - not a good thing for a pool player who depends on a quiet playing environment.
Shockers have varying degrees of intensity and affect people differently. Here are some various types:
- The most extreme shockers are the very loud dangerous noises, including explosions and rending metal. The sheer volume indicates some kind of life-threat is extremely close and is seriously dangerous.
- Just below this are the sudden sharp noises that occur nearby when least expected. Examples are the firing off a starter's pistol, lighting off a fire cracker, the blare of a juke box after several moments of quiet, or knocking down a rack of sticks. While the reaction is not the desperate scramble to save your life, it can include jumping away from the immediate area or a crouching drop to the floor.
- Below this, are sudden movements and actions that are most effective when seen with peripheral vision. It could be someone hitting you on your blind side, or a sneak poke of a body part. It can also be a social surprise, such as the exposure of a normally covered part of the anatomy.
You can’t really call a player who uses any of the shocker variations – a pool hustler. It is most often the teenage youths who think this is a witty way to play pool. Such individuals are also loud, announcing their existence across the width of the pool room.
This does not mean that a shocker can be applied by a skilled hustler. It is done once during a match – carefully timed. The use of a shocker MUST appear to be accidental, such a letting a cue fall to a hardwood floor. If you attempt to split your attention between the shot and his possible actions, he doesn’t even have to actually use a shocker. Just the implied assumption that it could happen would be efficient enough to satisfy the hustler.
Alternately, use such an attempt to “explode” at the guy. Shout, yell, insult at a loud volume to intimidate him. Most hustlers like to be sneaky, but if you make him the center of your anger, he can usually be cowed into submission – not only for this match, but all future matches the two of you play. Extra points if you can get people to eyeball him with suspicion.
Another pro-active approach to a sudden noise is faking a faint or even a heart attack. Such drama also frightens him away from future use.
If you were affected by the trick, take a short bathroom break. Do a couple quick toe-touches, windmills, jumping jacks to blow off the excess energy. Then go back to the table with your strongest, most focused attention to win.