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 our 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. They enjoy drills and practice because they 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.
The moment of victory is much too short to live for that and nothing else.
It is impossible to motivate yourself to practice drills by yourself if you don’t love billiards and all you care about is winning. Practice becomes a painful chore that you have to finish before you can reach your wins. How can you learn and enjoy the game itself if you have to wait till the end of the game to decide whether or not you are allowed to be happy?
However when the beauty of the game itself motivates you, you can enjoy even watching a good shot. You realize that a single game means nothing in the grand scheme of things, and your motivation becomes to enjoy each moment and each shot. You can enjoy shooting well, and be happy whether you win or lose.
Recently I had started caring too much about winning and was extra hard on myself whenever I lost. After a recent losing streak, I started getting sick of pool and stopped wanting to even play. Reading this book made me remember why I started playing pool in the first place. How I used to spend hours at the table by myself just shooting. How much I loved playing “that perfect shot” and watching the ball slowly roll into the pocket.
I’ve realized it doesn’t matter 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 again.
Since then, I’ve started enjoying pool again. I’ve also got a whole lot better.