Why do we choke?

Jlincoln

Active Member
Joined
May 5, 2014
Messages
27
I had a frustrating day yesterday. I usually play great when it comes to big money, but yesterday I played terrible. The thing is too, it wasn't even for as big as what I'm used to playing for! I usually hit a spell where I choke one time a few months for whatever reason, but I don't know why? I've played for $2,000 per game of one pocket and $10,000 a set. Yesterday I was playing for $500 a set and i was just not my self. I had the best of the game but I choked. I just don't get it. I kept selling out, missing straight in shots, missing banks. Why does this happen? Does this happen to everyone? Please share some stories.

Thanks,

Jesse
 

bstroud

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May 29, 2010
Messages
1,426
You choke because you are not controlling your apprehension over failure.
Your apprehension causes you to move off the shot or move your head resulting in a missed shot.

You can overcome this in practice by staying down better on all shots.
Teaching your conscious mind is the only way to overcome it. You can not do anything that your subconscious does not believe you can do.

You teach your subconscious mind by repetition in your conscious mind.

Practice with intent.

Bill S.
 

1pwannabe

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Oct 17, 2015
Messages
842
Short answer: Confidence (or lack of)

Long answer: Under stress you tighten up your muscles too much, especially in your grip hand and shoulder. Breathing usually becomes short, making nervousness worse. Jumping up and not staying down on the shot. Looking away from your shot too quickly, usually to the next ball or position. Negative mental state. All of this is caused by stress, which originates from lack of confidence. Practice helps build confidence, playing beneath your skill level helps build confidence, winning for sure builds confidence. Playing above your skill level can kill your confidence quickly, along with being out of stroke and losing a lot.

I had a frustrating day yesterday. I usually play great when it comes to big money, but yesterday I played terrible. The thing is too, it wasn't even for as big as what I'm used to playing for! I usually hit a spell where I choke one time a few months for whatever reason, but I don't know why? I've played for $2,000 per game of one pocket and $10,000 a set. Yesterday I was playing for $500 a set and i was just not my self. I had the best of the game but I choked. I just don't get it. I kept selling out, missing straight in shots, missing banks. Why does this happen? Does this happen to everyone? Please share some stories.

Thanks,

Jesse
 

LSJohn

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Joined
Aug 15, 2013
Messages
7,985
Short answer: Confidence (or lack of)

Long answer: Under stress you tighten up your muscles too much, especially in your grip hand and shoulder. Breathing usually becomes short, making nervousness worse. Jumping up and not staying down on the shot. Looking away from your shot too quickly, usually to the next ball or position. Negative mental state. All of this is caused by stress, which originates from lack of confidence. Practice helps build confidence, playing beneath your skill level helps build confidence, winning for sure builds confidence. Playing above your skill level can kill your confidence quickly, along with being out of stroke and losing a lot.
Excellent.

I would have said tightening the grip as a result of guiding the shot rather than confidently stroking it, but all muscular tension, looking away and jumping up can all be the answer for different people at different times. For me it's the grip, but it's not really choke IMO unless the root of it is in fear of failure.

Other things can look like choke or dog, but I don't put it in the same category: Anything that causes a loss of concentration. A fight with your lady; a loved one or even a pet dying or very ill; a beautiful girl watching that you've been trying to move on; being uncomfortable in the environment; anger with your opponent, etc.

But as Ronnie Allen said, "Don't you know that dumpin' and doggin' look the same?" :)
 

keoneyo

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Mar 31, 2014
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2,883
Mostly in my own experience it is preparation. How you rest before you commit. What food you put in your system. Some kind of mental preparation as well. Remind yourself of fundamentals. Never take any opponent for granted. Never take yourself for granted. Focus on the objective. Do not let outside forces interfere with your goals. (socializing with the rail, girlfriends, trying to impress the crowd, etc.). Above all relax and trust yourself.
 

newfosgatesucks

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Nov 23, 2006
Messages
858
Won't go as deep as some but for me the recipe is this:
A repetitive pre-shot routine, and knowing what you're doing before entering that routine.

Mine is chalk/look, approach, stance, and execute. Return to chalk/look if anything is uncomfortable.
 

petie

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Joined
Oct 2, 2005
Messages
3,314
You choke because you are not controlling your apprehension over failure.
Your apprehension causes you to move off the shot or move your head resulting in a missed shot.

You can overcome this in practice by staying down better on all shots.
Teaching your conscious mind is the only way to overcome it. You can not do anything that your subconscious does not believe you can do.

You teach your subconscious mind by repetition in your conscious mind.

Practice with intent.

Bill S.
Apprehension over failure has been a great motivator for me and just what I needed to excel at times. Not always, I am sure as it sometimes hinders fluid performance. But it is that very fear of embarrassment that provides the je ne sais quoi that has helped me perform with brilliance when I needed to. My brother who was a professional basketball handicapper would give points to the team who was embarrassed by the other team in their last outing. He won a house using this and other secret plays that worked.

I know what you mean though. There are times when your knees kind of buckle almost. I think the difference is not feeling sorry for yourself and using it to your advantage. Get pissed off enough to help you perform. Refuse to be embarrassed. Maybe this is what you mean by controlling the apprehension.
 

jrhendy

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May 24, 2004
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4,731
IMO lack of confidence is the main culprit. I have dogged it in tournaments and for the cash many times over the years. Sometimes you can overcome it and some times it spirals down until you almost want to quit.

It can be something physical which quickly turns into mental and down you go.

As an older player with minor physical problems, my mechanics get out of kilter. Once I start worrying about my stance, pre shot routine ect.., I am on the road to a bad day playing pool. I seem to lose my aggressiveness, fail to push through the cue ball enough to execute the shot and when you have to concentrate too much and try too hard, it eludes you even more. In my younger days I could often pull out of it, not so much anymore.

One of the best videos I have watched about attitude and pre shot approach and routine is one from Lee Brett 'The secret art of pool'. You can find it on leebrettpool.com and there is a free video that has helped me. When things start going bad for me, I use some of the advice he gives to get back on track.

I have been running pretty good for the last few months, but I know that ole dog is hiding down there somewhere waiting to bite me on the ass and cost me some $$.:D
 

androd

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Dec 10, 2008
Messages
7,252
There was a guy around here Roger Reel, He recently passed away.
He was a pretty fair player, a road partner of St. Louie Louie.

A fellow here (Duke) that played well was giving him 8/5 and the breaks, I asked him how can you give him that spot ? he plays to good for that.
He said " real easy he never makes his game ball"
 

straightback

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Feb 16, 2014
Messages
1,851
IMO lack of confidence is the main culprit. I have dogged it in tournaments and for the cash many times over the years. Sometimes you can overcome it and some times it spirals down until you almost want to quit.

It can be something physical which quickly turns into mental and down you go.

As an older player with minor physical problems, my mechanics get out of kilter. Once I start worrying about my stance, pre shot routine ect.., I am on the road to a bad day playing pool. I seem to lose my aggressiveness, fail to push through the cue ball enough to execute the shot and when you have to concentrate too much and try too hard, it eludes you even more. In my younger days I could often pull out of it, not so much anymore.

One of the best videos I have watched about attitude and pre shot approach and routine is one from Lee Brett 'The secret art of pool'. You can find it on leebrettpool.com and there is a free video that has helped me. When things start going bad for me, I use some of the advice he gives to get back on track.

I have been running pretty good for the last few months, but I know that ole dog is hiding down there somewhere waiting to bite me on the ass and cost me some $$.:D
The Lee Brett video is the best video I have seen on fundamentals.
 

petie

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Oct 2, 2005
Messages
3,314
If you watch the video carefully you'll see a probable reason why the guy missed the black.

Compare his eye pattern when he makes the pink with when he shoots the black. He blinks and then resets before making the pink, but he's looking at the pink the entire time he's stroking and after contact. Before he shoots at the black he ever-so-slightly drops his eyes (focus) to the top of the cb and then brings them (it) back up to the black, which he dogs.

Eye pattern consistency doesn't usually get much attention when people are talking about mechanics, but it is critical. I remember Varner tangentially alluding to it in an interview once. He said he had to remind himself to "look at the ball".

I didn't think about it much when I was younger but as I've aged and the old eye muscles and visual acccuity ain't what they used to be, I have to constantly check myself. I think YOUR correct eye pattern is what’s happening when you’re “seeing the balls good”. I wouldn't be surprised if it's an issue for some of the other older guys around here who are wondering what's going wrong for them.

Final note, if you've had any training in art you remember making blind contour line drawings. If you think your eyes don't dance around even when you don't consciously notice, try a couple of those and notice how often, even for a split second, you look ahead, or behind, or away from where you are supposed to be looking on the object's contour. You probably will be surprised at how often you are looking where you're not supposed to. The same thing can happen when down on a shot and it can really mess you up. IMHO.
I have a friend who is into "quiet eye theory." I read a little about it and it makes sense.
 

LSJohn

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Aug 15, 2013
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7,985
I have been running pretty good for the last few months, but I know that ole dog is hiding down there somewhere waiting to bite me on the ass and cost me some $$.:D
The way you've been playin', I think that "old dog" is under your lemon tree. :D
 
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