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BD House Pro
Tony Robles
A longtime teaching pro at Amsterdam Billiard Club in New York City, Tony has dozens of regional and national titles to his name, including the 2004 BCA Open Championships.

Instruction Articles:
• January 2017
Adapting to New Rules

• January 2017
Systems vs Feel

• December 2016
It Happens to the Best

• October 2016
Riding the L

• September 2016
Tips on Tips

• August 2016
The Art of Deflection

• July 2016
Note To Self

• June 2016
Object of Safety Play

• May 2016
Speed Zone

• April 2016
Frozen Ball Shots

• March 2016
Hide and Go Seek

• February 2016
Two-Rail Kicks

• January 2016
Staying Down

• December 2015
One-Rail Kicks

• November 2015
Breaking Bad

• October 2015
Call Shot, Call Safety

• September 2015
Own the Shot

• August 2015
Patterns - Part II

• July 2015
I Notice A Pattern

• June 2015
Two-Way Prt. 2

• May 2015
Two-Way Shots

• April 2015
The Fine Line

• March 2015
Straight Break

• February 2015
The 'Walkaway'

• January 2015
Pushing Your Luck

• October 2014
Walk This Way

• August 2014
Attitude Adjustments

• May 2014
Adapt to the Equipment

• Mar 2014
Turn The Beat Around

• Feb 2014
Straight Is Great

• Sept 2013
Cover the Basics

• June 2013
Getting It Right

• May 2013
Strength Training

• April 2013
Rust Proof?

• March 2013
Not So Fast

• February 2013
Two-Step Jump

• January 2013
Open Your Eyes

• December 2012
Feeling Good?

• November 2012
Hang In There

• October 2012
Back on Track

• September 2012
Straighten Up

• August 2012
On the Rail

• July 2012
Mental Checklists

• June 2012
Respect & Fear

• May 2012
Chin Music

• April 2012
On the Line

• March 2012
Balancing Act

• February 2012
Creative Drilling

• January 2012
Power Outage

• December 2011
Jumping In Line

• November 2011
Soft on Soft Breaking

• October 2011
Find Your Stroke

• September 2011
The Path Off the Rail

• August 2011
Short Position

• July 2011
Inch Along

• June 2011
Into the Unknown

• May 2011
Sharpened Focus

• April 2011
Never Flatline

• March 2011
Stop For A Review

• February 2011
One To Watch

• January 2011
The Straight Answer

• December 2010
Shoot The Lights Out

• November 2010
Never Overmatched

• October 2010
Drawing Conclusions

• September 2010
Through & Through

• August 2010
Along the Rail

• July 2010
The Small Stuff

• June 2010
Three in One

• May 2010
One Ball At a Time

• April 2010
Going Thin to Win

• March 2010
Know Your Game

• February 2010
14.1 For 8-Ballers

• January 2010
Setting It Straight

• December 2009
Hanging Out, Part II

• November 2009
Hanging Out

• October 2009
Control Your Speed

• September 2009
Busting Out of a Slump

• August 2009
Easy Errors, Part III

• July 2009
Easy Errors, Part II

• June 2009
Easy Errors, Part I

• May 2009
Body Language & Breaking

• April 2009
The Break: Body Language

• March 2009
Must-Reads from Robles

• February 2009
Position: Four Square

• January 2009
Romancing the Stance

• October 2008
Look Out for Boingy Rails

• September 2008
Build a Better Break

• August 2008
Q&A: Ask the Pro

• July 2008
'Buzz' Kill: Stay Down

• June 2008
Stop Shots Safeties III

• May 2008
Stop Shots Part II

• April 2008
STOP-SHOT Safeties

• March 2008
How to Keep Winning

• February 2008
The Dreaded Straight-In Shot

• January 2008
Trying the Soft Break

• December 2007
The Hard Way Makes It Easier

• November 2007
How to Sight the Cue

• October 2007
Win from Your Chair

Maintaining Focus
November 2016

Like many sports, pool is as much a mental battle as it is a physical battle. Maintaining laser focus through an entire practice session or match is extremely difficult. Learning to maintain focus through a match is something that takes practice, just like the physical side of the game. You have to keep your brain, body and nerves in check on each and every shot. The top pros have this ability in spades, but it is something they have all worked hard to control. Sometimes it takes mental tricks, but mostly it takes a sense of conviction to stay focused.

This may sound overly simple but, for me, when Im playing well, it is usually because Im playing every day. And when Im playing every day, Im feeling more comfortable. And when Im feeling more comfortable, it makes me want to play more. When you play only occasionally, it is difficult to maintain any consistency. Without consistency you lack confidence, and thats what causes a player to jump up on a shot or to shoot without real conviction.

This is difficult to do, but when you are struggling, you have to completely forget about the previous shots and focus on the shot at hand. Again, this is easy to say and easy to understand, but it is anything but easy to apply. So, how do you completely clear your mind? One tried and true system is the use of power words. I have read a great deal about this. Olympic athletes use this method all the time to remind themselves of how much work they have put into training, and how they have earned their spot in the competition. You need to believe 100 percent in your ability, so the use of power words or trigger words help reinforce that belief. The trigger could be something as simple as, Im going to shoot this shot with confidence. It could also be a single word, like, Release. These words or phrases draw your focus back into the moment. They help you forget the previous shot and they help instill confidence in your next shot.

Trigger words can certainly assist you in playing your best pool possible. And they help you build your mental toughness. Mental toughness is another thing that the top pros have. Players like Darren Appleton approach every shot with conviction, as if their life depended on it. That doesnt mean that you will make every single shot you attempt solely because you shot it with conviction. But it does mean that you will be able to move on to the next shot without any regret or mixed emotion. That conviction allows a player like Darren to eliminate any excuses if he misses. Other players say, I would have won that match if Id focused more on this shot. There is none of that with the top players.