One of the hardest things to deal with since I’ve been competing again is the choke. I’ve found myself in many matches winning control of the table, having a great layout and then missing a routine shot. I find myself over the ball with my heart and mind racing, my arm shaking and no matter how hard I try to calm down I can’t seem to make it happen. I remember dealing with this when I first got on the pro tour, but I was rather surprised to have it return after a year off from the game.
I played Turning Stone this weekend, and had a pretty bad choke against a great player who was off his game. The fans groaned and rolled their eyes as I proceeded to dog my chances to win. It’s painful for the fans as well as the player. What I want up and coming players to know is that choking is part of learning. It’s part of becoming a better player. Eventually you learn how to deal with the pressure, but even then top players still struggle with it occasionally. The idea is to put yourself in pressure situations often, and that choking feeling will slowly happen less and less. I know because I overcame it before, and I will again.