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Sharking, Gamesmanship, & Other Mind Games. ~ Allan Sand {Part 1}

First of all, let’s properly describe the term sharking.

To people who lose, their first complaint (and justification for losing) was that they were sharked. Let’s set aside that notion immediately—you were not sharked when losing against someone of superior skill. You just didn’t have enough shooting competence, plain and simple.

Let’s talk about real sharking, better known among the rest of the sports world as “gamesmanship.”

Gamesmanship is any intentional action by anyone, designed specifically to cause a competitor to lose concentration or focus.

Gamesmanship comes into play when one competitor abandons the concept of true sportsmanship and applies such tricks that do not specifically violate the rules—but do bend or even break the spirit of competition.

There are the juvenile tricks, most often seen when a group of teenagers are banging balls for the fun of it. These very obvious efforts are intended to guarantee the shooter cannot concentrate on success. As a result, no one in the group plays seriously—to the point where a dedicated pool player turns away to avoid watching the Green Game being abused.

But there are levels of gamesmanship that are far more sophisticated. This includes almost any conversation not related to the competition—including compliments, complaints, verbal self-analysis and more. To be fair, most of these are not intentional efforts to distract, but more in the vein of “friendly” competition.

But a lot of players out there consider themselves to be “gamesmen.”

Over time, through discovery and research, they have built a library of tricks and traps they apply whenever the circumstances require.

Many are very clever. They will behave appropriately as long as they can maintain a competitive advantage. They will be the very soul of sportsmanship, even to assuming the responsibility of pointing out others who fail his apparently high standards. But when they see the need for a slight advantage, they will begin the process of adjusting the mind of a competitor.


Allan Sand is a certified pocket billiards instructor, qualified by the PBIA (Professional Billiards Instructor Association) and ACS (American Cue Sports). His focus is on helping players become the “Intelligent Shooter” (thinking before shooting). He has played the Green Game for more than 50 years and now resides in Santa Clara, CA. He keeps his skills sharpen on a 5×10 Saunier & Wilhelm 1938 table with double-shimmed pockets. He has written 10 books on pocket billiards and produced five videos on how play better and smarter. He has one of the most popular billiards blogs on the planet with three posts every week. Photo: KayVee INC/Flickr Editor: Dana Gornall

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