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Excerpt: “Headcase” — Coming Soon By Jeremy Mason

Most players who struggle with anger management during or after competitive pool matches have a two-fold problem. One, they attach too much of their own personal value to their performance on the table. Two, they struggle to have real respect for their opponents, especially the ones whom they deem to be inferior players. I will address both of these issues.

The first issue has a simple solution that is, like many things in pool, easier to understand or say, than it is to implement the fix. You can easily counter the issue of placing too much of your own humanic value on pocket billiards performance, by working on truly believing within yourself that you are a good and valuable individual. It is important to recognize your own worth, and understand that it is almost completely separate from your performance or abilities in pool.

To take it a step further, you can and should believe that you are a good player, and that this truth cannot and will not be negatively affected by failing to perform in any individual shot, rack, match, tournament or even stretch of time.

When you combine this belief and understanding of your own worth as an individual along with the fact that you are a good player whose status is never at stake, you can easily accept the possibility of any outcome in any shot, rack, match or tournament. One might be tempted to think that such an acceptance would be inherently detrimental to a player’s drive to succeed. The opposite is true. Once you accept the possibility of all outcomes, you free yourself of an immense amount of unnecessary self-induced pressure, and you become free to perform at your best and maximize your enjoyment of the game.

The second issue, struggling to respect your opponents, is solved by achieving a better understanding of what competition is and why it is that we compete in the first place. Any competitive game or sport should be solely intended to be an artificial application of difficulties and obstacles that we impose upon ourselves, so that we can develop the kind of resilience and ability to overcome adversity that is required to be successful in all aspects of our lives. Obviously difficulty and obstacles arise in all of our lives organically. So competition affords us all a dojo of sorts to work out our abilities to overcome, and it does so under the guise of fun or enjoyment.

Once you adopt this fundamental view of what competition is, you can understand and appreciate that your opponent is your friend. They are your friend because they do the very best that they can to make things as difficult for you as they possibly can. You should view this in light of the obvious logical conclusion that we all do our best to be the very best that we can, taking into account that we all have different capabilities or ceilings.

That being said, every opponent you face is somewhere on their journey towards being as close to their own full potential as they can be. This is a different individual circumstance of the same endeavor that you are striving towards. With that understanding, how can you not respect all of your opponents? And once you respect all of your opponents, and accept all possible outcomes for every shot, rack, match and tournament, how can you make an ass of yourself when you lose?

Every time you lose, you have lost to somebody who is (although a different entity than yourself) a manifestation of the same effort that you are working towards.

With this understanding in place, there will still be moments where you operate and react in a manner that is outside the framework of this knowledge. But, like an artist who has colored outside of the lines, you will instantaneously understand your mistake, apologize, and work to reinsert your thinking into the place where it belongs.

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