Down, But Not Out

by: Roger Long, Advanced Certified Instructor

Roger Long

Last night I endured a tough test that had me revisiting a lesson that we all need to be reminded of from time to time.

I was asked to sub for a team in a 9-ball league whose format calls for each player on a 3-man team to play a match against each player on the opposing 3-man team. All players are rated, so the “race to” limit is dictated by how the players’ ratings match up. As I was one of the highest rated players in the league, I found myself having to spot each of my opponents.

What happened was this: In two of my matches, I had to come from behind to win. In the other one I led all the way, so that one doesn’t contribute anything to this story. But in the first of the two scary matches, I fell behind 2-0 to a good shooter who was going to 6, while I had to go to 7 games to win. The final score in that game was 7-2 my way.

In the second of the scary matches, I was behind 4-2 to a very experienced player who had to go to only 5 games, while my race was again 7. That means he was sitting “on the hill” while I had to dig out 5 games in a row for survival.  Fortunately (for me, anyway), it happened.

But how did this happen?  Was it because I’m such a great player?  Or was it because my opponents were that weak?  There would be big “no” answers to both those questions.

The reason I won both of those matches is because I didn’t quit.  I didn’t quit believing that I still had a good chance to win.  I didn’t quit taking the right shots.  I didn’t quit using good fundamentals.  And I didn’t quit giving either match my full focus and attention.

Never quitting on yourself is something you can do, also, if you really want to do it.  First, examine what you are currently doing when you get behind in a match.  Do you panic and start trying to force shots?  Do you indulge in negative thoughts?  Do you allow yourself to be awed by your opponent’s seeming superiority?  Do you allow yourself to be distracted by virtually everything in the room, including your own cell phone?  Do you submit to the notion that you just can’t win?

If your answers to the above questions are yes, then stop all that!  You may not have any control over what your opponent does, but you definitely have control over what you think and do.  So shut off your cell phone, stop ogling the opposite sex, order your dinner after the match, talk about work tomorrow at work, resist watching television until you get home, and keep your eyes on the table and your mind on the match!

If you take my advice on these things, you just might find yourself winning more of those supposedly “impossible” matches.

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