Last Thursday saw my new philosophy put into play. As I talked about it that night, I realized that, in fact, this was not anything new for me. I think it was after reading the Pleasures of Small Motions, that I had decided to try not to focus on winning, but the process of playing the game. In fact, when I look back at when I played my best and had the most fun, that's where my focus was.
So, back to last Thursday...I'm feeling positive. Relaxed. Looking forward to playing pool. Focusing on the game, my stroke, the ball going in the pocket. Letting go of the win. Secure that if I do this, I will win. But not thinking about the win.
My teammate, who is often my coach during a match, comes up to me and starts talking to me about how we need to win big tonight. He says the word "win" ten times in the conversation. Everytime he says the word I feel a little mental twitch inside my brain. And I'm about to open my mouth to just explain to him I'm putting my focus somewhere else...and the overwhelming deja vu stops me, just before I'm about to step into an argument...that I've had before. (The pressure of trying to win helps him focus...and I believe he thinks this will help me as well.)
When I say that I'm not focusing on winning, it doesn't mean that I don't want to win, its just that I think my best mental strategy is to try to focus on playing instead of winning. That's how I'm going to win. It doesn' t mean that I will take the "what the hell its only league shots" or the "lets see what happens shots" in a match.
Anyway, I didn't play perfect pool, but I won. Most importantly, I enjoyed my game much more than in the last couple weeks. At a couple of points, I was distracted by either the banterings of the other team (and my own team's), but I was able to shake it off....that's progress.