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Your Brain is a Lousy Pool Player. ~ David Sapolis

Let’s face it, some of us just think too much.

We think about winning, we think about losing. We think about what can go right, and we crush those thoughts by thinking about everything that can go wrong. Early on, we learn how to train our mind to crush the positive with the negative. In this chapter, I will show you how to crush the negative with the positive.

The Brain is a Computer.

Early on, when you first began playing the game, positive feelings were generated by enjoyment, success, and the love for the game’s challenges. At some level, you enjoyed the game, and linked certain positive emotions to the experiences that you were having either watching or playing the game. Your mind, working as a computer, filed these experiences in a folder, which are part of a complicated operating system. Let’s call this system, “The Brain.”

The Brain is a complicated system that operates on the programs and files that are stored in it. If you want to access a certain program, you need to locate it and then run the program.

Sometimes that is easier said than done. The Brain operates and functions by utilizing several “Drives” to run these programs. Below is a visual depiction of The Brain’s “Pool Operating System.”

The Brain’s Operating System relies upon several drives to function properly In the below illustration, we have opened our Pool program file, and we discover that there is a file labeled Experiences.


Experience is gained every time we encounter something when we operate the program. The Experience file is like a giant memory center that records all of our Pool History

This memory center is divided into two folders: Positive Experiences and Negative Experiences. The longer we play, the more experience and history we collect into this memory system. This system contains files and sub-files, programs and sub-programs that are accessed when The Brain recalls the files.

As we fill these folders with files, history and experience, we collect Belief and Emotion history. These files are recorded to Scripts.


Scripts are sub-programs that are linked to the experiences: either positive or negative. These “Scripts” are accessed when we face similar situations to those already recorded in the experience folders. The experiences are gathered, and then filed appropriately. They are labeled and stored as either positive or negative.

From these experiences, we connect specific emotions and beliefs to the experiences. These emotions and beliefs are stored in a specific script that is accessed by The Brain every time a similar situation arises. The Scripts, once accessed, become the operating centers for two of the 5 major Drive Systems for our Pool Program, Drive B (Beliefs) and Drive E (Emotion). Everything fed into those two drives comes from what is recorded into your experiences.

By realizing this, it should be apparent to you how important it is to monitor your Emotions and your Beliefs.


All of us have emotions. They are both positive and negative, and most importantly, controllable. Emotions are not to be avoided. Many players believe that if they stifle their emotions, that they will somehow control them. Keeping them stuffed down deep inside will only turn you into a ticking time bomb. Eventually you will explode like a powder keg. Like I said, emotions are controllable.

Going back to our definition of controllable and uncontrollable, anything that exists within you: with your mind or body is controllable. Realistically, we are not going to be able to control every emotion that we experience. We are human, and we are not perfect creatures by any stretch of the imagination. We all experience emotion. Our sensory motors generate the emotions as a response to stimuli. The emotion is a psycho-response to our situation and our surroundings.

The emotions are going to occur, and so will our emotional verbal and physical actions. That is where we should concentrate our energy and our thoughts. Plain and simple, the verbal and physical reactions associated with the experience of each emotion can be controlled. This takes discipline, preparation, and training, but it is possible.

If we miss an easy shot during a critical point in our match, we will experience a myriad of emotions. Our reaction to the stimuli is what will fill up our Emotion system folder. The result of those actions and the result of the experience will fill up our Belief system folder. Both folders will shape our emotional and belief system, as well as our Script.


Beliefs are thoughts and feelings. We attach emotions to our beliefs, and eventually we will either defend or resent rescind those beliefs. We all have a belief system that is engrained in our personalities.

If we go back to our Brain/Computer, we will see that our beliefs are the result of our experiences. Our beliefs and our emotions associated with those beliefs will shape our Script in every situation we encounter. We are what we believe, and it is proven that we will experience what we believe. Our thoughts create our reality and our perception of that reality, so we need to stay on guard and filter what we feed into our mind and our senses.

Our Scripts will generate our future thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions, and that will generate future Scripts that are based upon existing Scripts. The new Scripts will reinforce existing beliefs. Beliefs are shaped by our feelings and emotions about certain things, certain situations or ideals. If you believe that winning is impossible, then it will be impossible.

Possibilities, goals, and dreams are shaped with our beliefs. What your mind sees and believes as being “possible” will be possible; yet what your mind sees and believes as “impossible” will remain impossible. This means that you must be extremely careful about what you choose to believe and what you choose not to believe. You must positively control your belief system, or you run the risk of having your belief system eaten alive by negativity.

Your position in life is the sum total of your belief in your ability to succeed and achieve your goals. What your mind sees and believes as being possible will be possible; yet what your mind sees and believes as impossible will remain impossible. This means that as a player, you must be extremely careful about what you choose to believe and what you choose not to believe.

Remember the term Garbage In-Garbage Out. If you fill your belief system about your game with negative thoughts fueled by negative emotions derived from negative situations, then your outlook and your outcome will be just as negative as your past memories. Conversely, if you shape your belief system based upon positive thoughts that are generated by positive emotions from positive situations, then your outlook and outcome will be just as positive and successful as those past experiences.

It’s all about your attitude, your outlook, and which Script you decide to play in every single situation. If you miss an easy shot, or scratch on the break, or open the door for your opponent to easily win, you have the choice of how you choose to file that experience.

You can choose to look at it negatively. You can tell yourself how careless you were, or how you suck at the game and how you are destined to be a loser –OR—you can look at the situation as a learning experience.

The choice is yours.

You can choose to verbally and mentally bash yourself until you feel as bad as possible about making the error, or you can look at the occurrence positively and accept that a weakness was exposed. If you choose to believe that you’re a complete screw up, you will begin to portray that role every single time you make an error. There is no reward in doing that. Eventually, you will generate negative feelings and emotions that will ultimately plant the seeds for extremely low self-esteem.

If you are like me, you have enough to deal with. You don’t need to add low self-esteem to your list of problems. If you already suffer from low self-esteem, don’t worry. This book contains solutions and a step by step process to reprogram your belief system.

It all comes down to how you see things. It all comes down to perspective. You can enter the playing arena with the mindset and outlook of a helpless victim, or you can enter the playing arena with the mindset and outlook of a proud champion. Each has traits, and belief systems that make them who they are.

It all starts with their outlook and their perspective.

David Sapolis, aka Blackjack, is a former professional player, author and a respected instructor that resides in El Paso, texas. He has authored several books including Lessons in 9 Ball, the Growing Point and Building the Perfect Game. Blackjack’s instruction focuses on all areas of the mental game, game strategy and he is known throughout the world as one of the premier coaches and instructors for the of game 14.1 Continuous. For coaching and class inquiries, please visit his website. Photo: Flickr/deradrian Editor: Dana Gornall

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