Ask the Viper

Melissa Little


“Lately I’ve been putting in a lot of table time and I feel as though I’m shooting some of the best pool of my life, but in competition when it really counts, I’ve been missing the key shot to my run out.  I literally can’t seem to control my nerves. I would appreciate any advice you can give on this part of the mental game.”


Sorry to say but there is no quick fix for developing mental toughness. Each day that you practice you should be preparing for that big moment. The definition for practice should be to work on problem shots or areas of your game that you need to be improved upon.

I suggest you participate in as many competitions as possible – over time your tournament game will improve… its called becoming “seasoned”.  Anytime you can feel pressure is a good thing.

My long time coach Henry would say its okay to feel nervous, it means that you’re alive. Everyone gets nervous, I mean everyone!! It’s how you handle the pressure is what matters.

Stay in the present. Being present and not thinking of the past/future when you’re at the table. It is a discipline and it’s a part of the game that everyone needs to spend some time on.

Forgive yourself for making mistakes. The faster you forgive yourself the faster you will stay in the present. If you don’t forgive yourself in a timely manner then it could cost you multiple games.

Best of luck to you,


If you have a question for “The Viper” please e-mail them to Melissa Little at

Melissa “The Viper” Little has been a WPBA Touring Professional for over 10-years, she has represented the USA in Four WPA World Championships, is the current USA Bar Table Champion for 8-Ball and 9-Ball and has over 20 top-10 WPBA career finishes. Melissa is the house-pro at the Wynkoop Brewing Company located in Downtown Denver and is sponsored by The Wynkoop, Jacoby Custom Cues and The Colorado Cue Times. She teaches monthly clinics, gives private lessons, and has created a juniors program that promotes billiards education to the local youth.

For more information about Melissa  please visit:

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