My last post was about taking a break from pool as a way to renew your hunger for the game. Sometimes we get into a slump and we don’t have the time to take a break, and sometimes in the middle of a match the wheels fall off the cart and you cant do anything right. What do you do then?
This is something I used to struggle with quite a bit. I would try different cues or whatever gimmick was on the market at the time. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, I needed something that was consistent. I found the answer in a baseball game! Anyone that knows me knows I love baseball. One evening I was watching the Cardinals play (my favorite team) against Chicago and our pitcher wasn’t doing very good. In fact he couldn’t do anything right at all. His mistakes were snowballing and before you knew it they were in a hole too deep to get out of. A week went by and it was that same pitchers turn. I was hoping to see him turn it around but unfortunately he was still in a slump. In the 3rd inning our commentator, Al Hrabosky, who used to be a pitcher, made a comment that really made sense to me. He said that there was something wrong in the pitchers delivery, his mechanics were off, and until he fixed that he would remain in a slump.
Well, Al Hrabosky the mad Hungarian was right on the money. A light bulb went off in my head, if it works for pitchers why not pool players? I myself had been in a bit of a slump during that time so I decided to return to basics. I went to the pool table and focused on the basics, rebuilding my stroke from the ground up. Before I knew it I was back on track and playing better than before. But the real test of this theory would come almost a year later.
It happened at a tournament. I had been shoot great all week leading up to the tournament and my confidence was high. When I got to the tournament I decided I would play a few practice games and thats when it happened. If you have ever seen the movie “Tin Cup” you will understand this phrase, “I got the shanks!” Nothing was working right, I couldn’t even make a spot shot which is usually automatic for me. My confidence shriveled to nothing and the tournament was about to begin.
I draw a easy match right off the bat and I thought, “Good, this is what i need to get my confidence back, I’ll beat this guy and get back on track.”…….NOPE…… I got my butt whooped, bad, I mean really bad! I scratched the break, gave up ball in hand at least a dozen times. I miscued so much that I thought there was something wrong with my tip. Then it hit me, I remembered the Cardinals pitcher and what Al had said.
My next match I had complete focus. I went through a mental checklist paying close attention to every detail of my stance, grip and stroke. I found a mistake in my stance that was screwing up my stroke and got it corrected. By the end of the first game I had caught a gear and blew through the losers bracket. I ended up with 1st place and I owed it all to a Cardinals game that happened over a year ago!
So remember next time everything is going wrong, go back to your basics. Video tape yourself shooting or have a friend that knows what to look for, watch you. A slump is mostly caused by something wrong in your mechanics. If you can find the problem and correct it mid game you are going to become a hard player to handle.