STAY IN THE GAME!

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to play well early in the game? In the game of eightball getting four or five balls off the table is easy it is always the last two or three balls we have trouble with. This is when you get out of line trying to get perfect shape to win with. Many players assume this is because as they get closer to the end of the rack their nerves build. They conceive the shot on the eightball to be more important then the other one or two balls.

For some players this is true, it is nerves. But for many that is not the case at all. Many players instead actually lose their concentration as the rack progresses. Concentration is vital to proper execution. Many players simply don't concentrate as well at the end of the rack as they do at the beginning. Let's take a look at some of the reasons for this.

For one, there are so many more balls at the beginning of the rack to consider that you naturally concentrate harder there. Everyone knows you have to stay "in line" during the runout and so they begin the rack by planning the table and developing a map for the rack that takes them from ball to ball. The concentration and focus requires to do this is considerable, so their brains are "tuned in" early in order to make the plan.

Then they stay in focus early in the rack to avoid getting out of line and winding up snookered behind a ball or facing a shot tougher than the one they planned. But as the rack winds down there is less to worry about. There are fewer balls to get trapped behind and the job of running the rack is largely done. So the level of concentration falls off thee because the job seems accomplished.

This is where you see players relaxing to soon and getting out of line on the last shot or missing an easy shot that they took for granted. They also lose their rhythm here. Early in the rack they approached the table methodically and with purpose, but late in the rack many players will rush their shots because they think they have it made and they relax. Getting out of their normal routine. All players should strive to approach every shot in the rack from the first to the last, with the same routine, be a machine!

If it took you ten seconds (or thirty) to make the first ball, it should take you just as long to make the last one as well. There are so many more distractions late in the rack. When you begin to taste that victory there is a little voice that starts screaming at you. It begins congratulating you on your run. It refigures the score and starts telling you how much you have just increased to lead. It remembers the tough shots of the game and begins to smirk and it demands your attention. You must quiet that voice. Do not allow yourself to start thinking about the next game until this one is over with. That little voice, which pretends to be your friend, is the enemy of your focus and will cost you games and matches. If you are over the shot on you next to the last ball and you hear that voice telling you how good a player you are, get up, Get off the shot, quiet your mind, and refocus on the game at hand.

You must concentrate completely on the shot at hand, no matter how simple, until the eightball drops and the games is your. Then you can pat yourself on the back all you want. Indeed it is very healthy to congratulate yourself and to enjoy winning, But never during a game only afterwards…Late in the rack as many easy shots are missed as hard ones. If you take a shot for granted you do not focus on the shot and your arm does not get the instructions it needs from your brain to carry out the task at hand.

An untutored arm will be sloppy and can miss anything. You see players miss with "ball in hand" all the time because the shot is so easy that they take it for granted and don't bother to tell their arm what to do. Again, approach every shot, no matter how easy, with the same routine and with total focus. Remaining in focus throughout the rack is a great way to kill the nerves that often show up at the end of a game. After all, What creates nerves is fear.

You fear shots you have missed in the past. So if you have been missing the last ball often then you will be nervous when shooting that next to the last ball. But more then likely you missed those shot in the past because you got out of focus, and by getting out of focus late in the rack you have perpetuated the vicious circle of a "lost of focus = missed balls = nerves. Break that circle at the focus point and you will gain some of the confidence back in the late part of the rack.

Fatigue is another confidence killer and robber of focus. If you have pulled off a couple of miracle shots early in the rack it is natural for the adrenaline to drop off and take away a little energy as the rack winds down. If you find it hard to stay focused on your shots late in the rack get in the habit of pausing at the next to the last ball and refocusing. Step back from the table and make a new plan. Take your time to make a new map and tell yourself exactly how you will get from the third ball to the second ball to the eightball…

Having confidence of a new plan will reinvigorate the subconscious and help you stay focused until victory is yours. "Keep your eye on the ball, and your mind in the game"