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  • Worrying inconsistency in playing ability

    Hi all,

    Yesterday I had my very first (amateur) tournament match (in which I got miserably beaten). The defeat is not my concern, but the fact that I was nowhere near my A (or even my B) game is what worries me. I missed easy shots and my cue ball control was horrible. On the other hand, when I practice alone or against someone else, I can play to a fairly reasonable standard, and even fell the enjoyment of being able to pull of some exhibition shots.

    For some reason, when I approached the shots in my match, a feeling of "doubt" creeped in my head, which I think was the main reason why my performance was so bad. Where does this feeling come from, and how can I avoid it? I know that I could have easily won the game had I played with confidence as I do during practice sessions, however here I felt doubt at almost every shot, which made my game quite bad.

    Does any of you ave experience dealing with this issue? How can I face it and make it disappear?

    Thank you!

  • #2
    Originally posted by sn000ker View Post
    Hi all,

    Yesterday I had my very first (amateur) tournament match (in which I got miserably beaten). The defeat is not my concern, but the fact that I was nowhere near my A (or even my B) game is what worries me. I missed easy shots and my cue ball control was horrible. On the other hand, when I practice alone or against someone else, I can play to a fairly reasonable standard, and even fell the enjoyment of being able to pull of some exhibition shots.

    For some reason, when I approached the shots in my match, a feeling of "doubt" creeped in my head, which I think was the main reason why my performance was so bad. Where does this feeling come from, and how can I avoid it? I know that I could have easily won the game had I played with confidence as I do during practice sessions, however here I felt doubt at almost every shot, which made my game quite bad.

    Does any of you ave experience dealing with this issue? How can I face it and make it disappear?

    Thank you!
    Every match situation has value to it and it nothing like a practice game.

    The fact you jumped into tournament play is the first hurdle and now you get to find out how to deal with it being different.

    My advice to start with with would just experience a few tournaments first before you dive into what to fix, just soak up the experience and let yourself have a chance to settle a bit.

    I remember reading Terry Griffiths book and in it he said I did not get better in pro matches until I learned to lose and not be so hard on myself, tat sounds right to me.

    We probably all play better in practice as our heads are clear of any consequence when we miss a shot.

    I guess for people to give advice in the best way forward for you would first be to understand what level you are at as there is a range of difference between playing your first club tournament and pro ams, money matches and on the tour. Obviously there are similarities but it would help people better understand what to help you focus on and if it is in fact something to worry about!
    Snooker Crazy - Cues and Equipment Sales Website
    Snooker Crazy - Facebook Page
    Snooker Crazy - You Tube Channel

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    • #3
      Hi Shokerz,

      Thanks a lot for your reply. It is reassuring to know that this is expected behaviour during the first tournament matches. I guess experience will teach me.

      I just sometimes find myself thinking to myself, while down on a shot, things like "in order to pocket this ball, the cue ball would have to make contact with it at an infinitesimally small point", which shifts my "intuitive" way of seeing angles into an "algorithmic" one, i.e., I start thinking too much, which of course makes me miss the shot completely. Is there a remedy for such thought? How does one "quiet the mind"? How does one "get the head in the game"? Is this also just experience?

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      • #4
        I have always done bad at tournaments in any sport, other than playing in more tournaments, the only thaing that has helped me at all was betting on my practice matches.

        For whatever it is worth mate, I think casual bets make practice matches more like tournament play due to the added pressure of the wager.

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        • #5
          By the way I no longer bet on games or play in tournaments, the added pressure takes away from my enjoyment. When I would lose a tournament I would get down on myself instead of being more motivated. I hope you find your groove, best of luck mate.

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          • #6
            sn000ker...you are now joining the rest of us. Hendry used to say 'I wish I could bring my practice game to my matches'. This problem happens to EVERYONE and the only way to get over it is to play in more tournaments but given Hendry's experience even that doesn't actualy solve the problem just makes it a little better.
            Terry Davidson
            IBSF Master Coach & Examiner

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            • #7
              Originally posted by sn000ker View Post
              Hi Shokerz,

              Thanks a lot for your reply. It is reassuring to know that this is expected behaviour during the first tournament matches. I guess experience will teach me.

              I just sometimes find myself thinking to myself, while down on a shot, things like "in order to pocket this ball, the cue ball would have to make contact with it at an infinitesimally small point", which shifts my "intuitive" way of seeing angles into an "algorithmic" one, i.e., I start thinking too much, which of course makes me miss the shot completely. Is there a remedy for such thought? How does one "quiet the mind"? How does one "get the head in the game"? Is this also just experience?
              Welcome to tournaments!

              We all search for a quite mind and that certainly isn't easy in dead ball sports as you have too much time to think.

              Alex on here wrote a nice article about this on my blog (Them Damn Monkeys), certainly worth a read!

              I saw a coach once and he asked the following:

              "When you last won a competition and played well, what were you thinking about and how did approach each shot?"

              When I really thought about it, I hadn't actually been thinking about anything apart from playing the shot e.g. see it in my head and then play it; certainly not thinking about a mm to the left sort of thing.

              It takes a lot of commitment to calm the mind and not react to flukes, poor run, being late, not enough practice, cannot cue straight, my girlfriend doesn't love me any more etc etc

              Whether we like it or not, all out emotions go in the stress bucket in the week and we take them to the competition waiting for those voices to confuse and put us off.

              I think we all suffer but just try and play as many comps as you can, try some other pressure in practice games (give a handicap, put money on it) and then keep trying to keep your head clear.

              Obviously there are books like 'The Chimp Paradox' but why focus on telling yourself you have a problem before you get a chance to get past it naturally like the rest of us.

              Just clear your head, take the shot, don't focus that hard on the mm or you'll forget the pocket and loosen your arm. If it doesn't go in, wait your turn with a clear head and let the last shot go or it will affect each and every opportunity you get.
              Snooker Crazy - Cues and Equipment Sales Website
              Snooker Crazy - Facebook Page
              Snooker Crazy - You Tube Channel

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              • #8
                Thank you all for your insightful comments! It is a relief that I am not alone in this

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Terry Davidson View Post
                  sn000ker...you are now joining the rest of us. Hendry used to say 'I wish I could bring my practice game to my matches'. This problem happens to EVERYONE and the only way to get over it is to play in more tournaments but given Hendry's experience even that doesn't actualy solve the problem just makes it a little better.
                  Totally agree, we all suffer at different levels.

                  I'm sure some of the best players out there have never made the World Championships and we probably haven't ever heard of them on the circuit because they just couldn't play under pressure and realise their full potential.

                  I had an uncle in the 70's who had beaten every one who's anyone in the world at darts and was absolutely awesome. He was a right hard nut in a fight and a real man's man.

                  Put him on the larger stage and tv and he just fell apart in his head and drove himself mad trying to understand why lesser players were beating him.

                  The mind is a game in itself!
                  Snooker Crazy - Cues and Equipment Sales Website
                  Snooker Crazy - Facebook Page
                  Snooker Crazy - You Tube Channel

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by sn000ker View Post
                    Thank you all for your insightful comments! It is a relief that I am not alone in this
                    Funny that isn't it.

                    It gives people comfort to know everyone else is in pain (but I know what you mean)!

                    If you are going to be sentenced to life imprisonment, its nice to have company in the dock............
                    Snooker Crazy - Cues and Equipment Sales Website
                    Snooker Crazy - Facebook Page
                    Snooker Crazy - You Tube Channel

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                    • #11
                      @Terry Davidson Thank you for the comment and the interesting blog post. I will certainly read it.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by sn000ker View Post
                        Thank you all for your insightful comments! It is a relief that I am not alone in this
                        Check out the old thread I just revitalised. There is some good stuff on there.
                        No cheap shots...well maybe the odd one if its funny...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I've struggled with this for a long time and am only recently figuring out how to bring my practice game to the match table. I used to not even play as well as my worst game when faced with match play.

                          I've worked on understanding what happens to me when I come under pressure. The key things are flinching as I hit the ball, movement and tension.

                          Since most of us play and practice so much, the mechanics of our execution shouldn't change much, unless we overthink them. But it's the tension and movement, at least for me, that spoils everything.

                          As a parting note, the main exeption are those players that we know who play great dispite all kinds of movement. But within the last year I've had the opportunity to watch a former Canadian champ practice who has a lot of movement. The important thing I noticed was that he moves around a lot in practice too. So although he may get even better if he reduced his head movement, the fact that he essentially practices it, allows him to bring his practice game to the match table.

                          Compare that to someone like myself, who tries to stay still in practice. Movement and tension on the match table spoils everything.

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                          • #14
                            On wednesday night I had half hour practice and didn't miss a pot. Then lost my singles match 4-2 and then my league match 2-0 in the same night.

                            At the time I was bemused but the next day thought about the reasons for my losses;
                            - My opponents played well
                            - Hard day at work followed by rushing straight to snooker
                            - Trying to sort the team out, food out, pay subs whilst trying to concentrate on my game
                            - not practising enough
                            - distractions of the more important things in life.

                            Whatever you do when going into a tournament, set yourself realistic goals and make sure you concentrate.
                            You can't go into your first tournament and expect to play brilliantly. I don't get nervous anymore and wish I did
                            as nerves bring out the best in me, I think perhaps I just don't care enough about the game anymore.
                            "just tap it in"

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                            • #15
                              For the top level this is a young man's game however that doesn't mean us old gits can't enjoy leagues and match play (when we can get it). I am struggling too with my health along with no practice partners outside of a good friend who visits twice a month (maybe) and then there are the chores, medical appointments and everything else that goes with having a regular life.

                              Tom...I hope you don't lose your interest in snooker. I have noticed myself lately a little lack of motivation which now that our tournament season has started I'm hoping will go away. It appears snooker is getting more popular here in Ontario lately with 36 entries in our tournament this past weekend and the next one unfortunately is limited to 24 entries as we only have 6 tables available and don't like to extend into a second day if we can help it. This popularity encourages me to stick around a bit longer.
                              Terry Davidson
                              IBSF Master Coach & Examiner

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