Pool Game - Rack with Balls and Cue

One shot at a time – How outcome independence and being in the now can change your game

Sometimes one little concept can be the missing piece in your game.

Pleasures of Small Motions

I recently read the book Pleasures of Small Motions: Mastering the Mental Game of Pocket Billiards by Bob Fancher.  In the very first few chapters he talks about the motivation behind playing pool –  Some people play because they like to win,  others because they like to hang out with their friends and have a little fun.  However one particular group of people, doesn’t care about winning and losing, or about socializing. They play because they LOVE the game.  These are the people who don’t even need another person to play with and are happy shooting by themselves. These are the people who  enjoy drills and practice because they can appreciate the beauty in each shot, and the practice is a pleasure in itself.  During games, they admire a good shot played by an opponent and cheer them on instead of  hoping that the other person misses.  All they care about is learning and improving and enjoying the game.

However one particular group of people, doesn’t care about winning and losing, or about socializing. They play because they LOVE the game.  These are the people who don’t even need another person to play with and are happy shooting by themselves. These are the people who  enjoy drills and practice because they can appreciate the beauty in each shot, and the practice is a pleasure in itself.

Reading the book made me remember why I started playing pool in the first place. Since then, I’ve started enjoying pool a lot more. I’ve also got a whole lot better.  I’ve realized I don’t care whether I win or lose. Anytime an opponent makes an unbelievable shot, I usually ask them to teach me the shot after the game.  Each time I see or learn something new, I have to go try it myself. Suddenly each game  is no longer a win/lose situation but an opportunity to learn, improve and enjoy the game of billiards.

The Power of NowAnother profound book that has helped change my life is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.  For a book that has nothing to do with pool, it is amazing how much the ideas from this book have helped improve my game.

The book talks about being in the present moment instead of the past or the future; about doing things for the pleasure of doing them, and not for the result. The path to enlightenment is very simple – Do one thing at a time.  Don’t think about why you started the task. Don’t think about what will happen once you complete the task. When doing the task, focus on only the task and nothing else.

The path to enlightenment is very simple – Do one thing at a time.  Don’t think about why you started the task. Don’t think about what will happen once you complete the task. When doing the task, focus on only the task and nothing else.

Eckhart Tolle convinced me that even washing dishes can be a path to enlightenment, as long as I focus on the task and learn to enjoy it  instead of considering it a chore. A couple of months after I read the book, I had this amazing experience of happiness, joy and peace. This is one book I would recommend to anyone who is not happy and satisfied with their life and wants to learn to live at peace with himself.

Putting these two books together, I discovered the missing piece in my pool game – The art of running a table isn’t just about planning ahead. It is also focusing on one shot at a time and taking pleasure in each shot.  Shooting the shot because we enjoy it, and not as if it were a painful thing that we have to get over with before we can get to the end of the match.

The fact is, even when we have a whole table to run, once we decide what order to run the balls in we have only one shot in front of us at a time. Nothing else. It doesn’t matter who we are playing. It doesn’t matter what the race is. It doesn’t matter if this is a tournament or a fun match.  It doesn’t matter how many more balls we need to make. All we have right now, is that one shot.

I try to focus on that one shot as if it were the last shot I have to play.

I look at the ball I have to make and where I am shooting.  I relax and let the subconscious mind do the aiming for me as I get down on the shot. I shoot with a straight stroke and smooth follow through. I watch as the cue hits the ball and listen to the sound of the cue ball strike the object ball. I stay down on the shot and watch as the object ball slowly rolls into the pocket and the cue ball moves towards where I intended. And then I slowly get up to see what I have to face next.  Once I make the shot, I can focus on the next shot. If I miss, it won’t matter anyway.

With so much amazing stuff going on, why would I even want to be thinking about the next shot or the previous shot? It would be like sitting at a movie theater and day dreaming about the movie sequel instead of watching the movie right in front of me. Why would I do that and ruin the amazing movie I have in front of me right now?

With so much amazing stuff going on, why would I even want to be thinking about the next shot or the previous shot? It would be like sitting at a movie theater and day dreaming about the movie sequel instead of watching the movie right in front of me. Why would I do that and ruin the amazing movie I have in front of me right now?

Over the last few weeks, especially since I started working on the bottle drill to improve my pool stroke, I have been running 6-7 balls effortlessly. And each of the times I ran a table, there was one thing in common – I was only thinking about one shot at a time.

Each of the times I ran a table, there was one thing in common – I was only thinking about one shot at a time.