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Nr. 67 Psychologie - Anhang 3: Internationaler Briefwechsel (Auszüge)

"Dear A. – you are dissatisfied with your progess during the last year and you doubt whether you are on the right way, whether all your convictions and the good pieces of advice you got from books or other players are helpful for
you or not. You told me your considered opinions:

"Motivation, concentration, and comfortance are the most importants mental parameters – Think only of the point you are playing – Forget the score, the opponent, and the average – Be optimistic – Play primarily on feeling –
Don't be afraid to lose."

I could make it easy for me by saying: All your fears are without any reason and your convictions are quite o.k. – but this won't solve your problems. Therefore let us discuss them in detail. In the end you will have to make several
decisions and afterwards forget all about it - for ever.

O Velocity of progress

You have reached an average of about .8 to .9 after playing billard for about 8 years. I would say that is a very good achievement, regarding the fact that you are still very young. It doesn't occur often that someone plays at a significantly higher level under these circumstances. Of course there are some examples but that is not a guarantee for a later top ten ranking either. On the other hand you can take for granted that a somewhat slower development may lead to the same or even better results - and more consistency in the long run.
As matters stand it is absolutely possible you will belong to the Top 10 of tbe world in five years - it seems you are talented enough. By the way if you ask what is necessary to become Nr. 1, believe me: Talent and diligence are only preconditions, more vital on this level are other qualities: In first place patience (do you believe it?) and the absolute will to win (et alii) - we should come back to that later on.

O Constancy of development
It is absolutely normal that the individual progress takes place not gradually but erratic, in "leaps". Every time you delve into thinking about billard-problems (psychology included), you run the risk to lower (!) your average, the same applies when you deal with systems.
An example: A teenage friend of mine had a rather slow billiard development - not more than about 5.0 general average partie libre after three years. Then he went to Cologne as a student of medicine, entered a new billard-club and, believe it or not, one month later his average was 10.0. The reason was: In the new club there was not one player - no matter how young or how old he was - whose average was lower than 10. My friend lost of course every match until he began to internalize this :

"When all these people play so excellently - why not me??" The rub of the matter was not "me too can play that good" but: "It's nonexcusable to play less than 10, if every one else can do it".

Therefore you should enter a club with very many very good players (in Germany 1. Bundesliga). Of course you can be glad to have one 1.1 partner but five or ten would be better. That draws you upwards automatically (provided you are talented enough). If you play a weak partner, his main concern will be not to leave anything, and on the other side you are in danger, not to play the best you can, because you know "I can't loose".

O There seem to be major psychological problems with your general attitude to the game, your abilities and your progress. It won't be quite so easy to solve them and it will take some time, but I am very confident we can do it concertedly. But ex ante: Psychologiy is not a wizardry. I can't give you a specific advice which enables you to play 1.5 g. a. next sunday. And: The following hints are meant only for you personally.

1. As "Mr. X" already told you, dont look at the scoreboard at all - neither points nor innings (shall we bet if you an do it?). You'll hear in time that enjoyable "pour trois".

2. When it's not your turn to play, be seated, don't look at the table, close your eyes and think of something, that has nothing to do with billard.

For example, imagine you lie on a large, flowered meadow, the sun is shining and the birds are singing. Just relax, breathe in and out slowly but not too deep, feel good. Is it really of utmost importance whether you play good or not, win or loose?? Of course it is, but if you are constantly focused there-upon you will inevitably get uptight.

3. The style of your play: Don't resolve in advance to play defence or aggressively. Play normal, just what the situation demands.

4. It is completely worthless to plan e. g. "during the next 10 innings I will play at least 1.0 average." That's sheer nonsence. Maybe you won't gain a single point - maybe you make 30.

5. The best way to better your average is, to extend your respective runs to the utmost. As long as you are at the table, you are in command. Make the best of it. Take your time, even if you need a minute. Annoying is every shot you don't make when you had the opportunity. On the other hand you can't do anything about the leaves you get from your opponent.

6. Don't speak about your average, your prospects - neither before nor after the matches, not with "yourself" nor with others. Just take it as it comes. You simply can't make things better by thinking and fearful hoping - the opposite will take place.

7. Maybe your problems won't disappear entirely but at least you can come to terms with them, saying: "So what! - It's annoying, but nevertheless I can relax and feel good." You must make peace with yourself!

O I fear we really have a total misunderstanding as to what your behaviour at the table should be: Nothing else but play billiards. All what we discuss, has to be worked out only in the training-sessions, never during the matches!

Your problem is: You try to enforce a specific mental attitude during the match, but that means an inevitable fall into the abyss. You described it exactly with your own words: "Only the feeling that I'm too focused on the mental attitude I should adopt, instead of what I must do on the billard." During the match you should not strive to have a certain pschological demeanor but only be focused on one thing: making points. Let's recapitulate:
The only thing you can do, when you are encoutered with mental barriers: Relax and try to feel comfortable.

O Ambivalence. Any pschological hint might apply - or not - or even do harm in your case. If you are told: "Don't look at the scoreboard" this might be helpful to free you, but it also can go the other way round, the sub-consciousness rebels, you get into a conflict and become uptight. The same thing can be noticed with mottos like "think positive" or "relax" etc.
By the way: If you resolve to try out something "psychological" during an official match, you should at any rate restrict it to 1 (utmost 2) items - this holds good also if you play "for nothing" with a friend and even if you exercise certain shots alone:
Not too much or too many at one time. The same applies to the number of "dessins" while training.

O Billiard must be played in an automatic subcon-scious way. But if you have problems, the first step of all animals gifted with intellect is to think - and thereby destroy the automatism. Therefore it is necessary to go "detours" to avoid this (e.g. drills instead of thoughts).

If you have a trainer or psychologist, in whom you rely without any reservation, you must not do the thinking yourself, you get orders: "do this, do that" - and in case you believe (!), it will work by 'external suggestion'.

Let's come back to your momentary situation. In case you are too frustrated
, I'd fully understand if you say:
"I'm jolly well fed up with psychology - I'll throw it away and never return to it. From now on I'll only do what I learned, PLAY BILLARD, enjoy the game , and think of nothing else."
To be continued sometime –

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