(S&D) Safety & Defense – Ball-in-Hand: Blessing or Curse?

(About the author)

Safety Toolbox (Advanced)

(This is today’s bit of advice from the book Safety Toolbox.)

Maybe an effective hidden ball safety worked or your opponent badly screwed up to give you a ball in hand situation. A momentary thrill starts in your belly and shoots up your spine. You can barely¬†suppress your joy. All the while, you struggle to maintain a mild expression of sympathy while offering insincere condolences to your opponent. (It would be poor sportsmanship to express pleasure in the midst of your opponent’s disappointment.)

There is a danger of allowing yourself to experience strong emotions (positive or negative) during a competition. It is very difficult for the brain to clearly process situations when you are experiencing intense emotions. Never allow yourself more than a minor feeling of satisfaction for a properly planned and played shot.

Immediately suppress any momentary thrill. This may take a few seconds to bring your mind under control. This is not the time to prematurely celebrate anything. Even if you are shooting on the money ball, be serious and restrained. See Emotional dangers on page 139.

Take your time reviewing the table. A ball in hand situation does not confer the blessing of the billiard gods. This situation is no different than any other pre-shot analysis process. In fact, it is even more difficult. You have to now consider many possible starting shots and the options for each one.

At the top player level, a ball in hand is usually a game winner. In most competitions among regular players, a ball in hand only gives a slight advantage. This is true when many balls are on the table. The shooter’s BPI average comes into play.

In some circumstances, ball in hand can lower your chances of winning. Becoming gleeful and over-confident causes reckless shot consideration. If you have to, walk around the table four or five times while you bring yourself under control.

 

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