D I A R Y
of a

P O O L    S H O O T E R

The Adventures of FastMikie
in search of Truth and Beauty in the art of pocket billiards.




Sunday, March 04, 2007

Focus vs. Concentration





Concentrate

A. to bring all efforts, faculties, activities, etc., to bear on one thing or activity

B.
to come to or toward a common center;

C. to become more intense, stronger, or purer.


Focus

A. to concentrate: to focus one's thoughts.




So much for Dictionary.com's meanings of these words.
For the full definitions, click on the underlined word/links.

The reason for a fuller analysis of these words is because
El Maestro and I went at it yesterday on the keys
to success in pool.

I have always used these words interchangeably,
and, based on the definitions above,
you might see how I could do that.
But in the pool world of El Maestro,
these words have different meanings.

It was only yesterday,
after 3 years of my dogged determination to learn
did I finally press the issue
when he told me that I have NEVER YET
been focused in a pool match.

Needless to say,
this was a stinging rebuke,
and my first and natural reaction was
to completely reject his hypothesis.
But I suspected it might be some language issue
(what with him being Honduran born and raised
and English being his second language)
so I pressed for a more complete analysis of his meaning.

For an example of "focus" he offered his own performance.
When he is playing a match,
he does not recognize distractions,
never talks,
never shows emotion
even on the rare occasion of a missed shot.
He never sits down,
never recognizes any person
even if they come up to him during a match.

He is a rock.
There is nothing in his mind except the table.
He never looks at his opponent,
even when he (the opponent) is shooting.
Instead, El Maestro will tend to the tip of his cue,
which may be one reason why he gets fewer hits per tip
than anyone I have known.

In comparison,
he tells me that I have some need to be a nice person
and talk with those who talk to me,
that I show emotion during the game,
that my attention wanders all over the place
from the TV to the spectators, players, loud noises
and shiny objects.
In short, I am a mess.

I complain bitterly to El Maestro
that his characterization is excessive,
and that surely I must have had at least one match
when I had good focus?
No.

Ouch!

In fact, he says, it is his judgement that
I have probably never been focused in my life.

What?
Impossible!
Surely my successes in yoga, business and aviation...
landing an open cockpit biplane in a high crosswind
on a narrow runway...
Was it all just luck?

Now he's pissing me off.
Who is he to negate my ability to focus?

Well, actually,
he's the best pool shooter I have ever seen,
so he just may have some basis for his assertions.

It may be time for me to assume some humility
and listen up.

El Maestro suggests that,
maybe I might want to actually try to focus
and see how my game improves.

I am reminded of Paramahansa Yogananda's quote:
"The results can not be achieved
unless the experiment is made."

So, with some humility,
and great determination,
I agree.

He challenges me to a race to 7 in 8 ball,
followed by a race to 7 in 9 ball.
In complete silence, and total focus.

We go hill-hill in 8 ball,
and in the last game I do an offensive safety.
He kicks at his 8 and sinks it cross corner for the win.
My focus was not shaken even though he
visibly marked the cushion with chalk
where he needed to kick at the ball,
(totally illegal)
and even though he did not call his pocket.

In 9 ball, I won 7-2.
Again, in complete silence,
even though there were several times
when he sharked me by moving in my field of view
while I was shooting.

His antics, of course, were a test for me,
and not his usual style of competition.




Concentration, in the world of El Maestro,
is what is needed at the time of shot-making.
If something happens to interrupt the concentration,
then, without losing focus,
one simply restarts the shot routine.

So, maybe Focus is "big picture"
and concentration is "little picture".
But you can't have concentration without focus.
Lose concentration, and you will probably miss the shot.
Lose focus, and you will probably lose the match.

(blog top)


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2 Comments:

Blogger Cary said...

"Lose concentration, and you will probably miss the shot.
Lose focus, and you will probably lose the match."

Very well said. Keep up the insightful posts. Pool is the new yoga.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Michael McCafferty said...

"Pool is the new yoga"

Very well said to you too!!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007 12:22:00 PM  

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