My question is about the elusive mental game at the highest levels of this great sport. I have read a few books on the subject, but never any written by the "best of the best". What goes on in the mind of a top touring pro when he steps up to take a shot or run a table? Does he ever have doubts about making an easy or medium level shot or is he 100% sure about making it and controlling the speed of the cue ball most of the time? I guess I want to know mostly about the level of confidence and just what goes on in his/her head when they have an open table. How they approach it. Thanks.
Editors note: George mentions the book "Advanced Pool".  I have loaned my copy to many players in my local room and after reading it, most have purchased it. This is a great book and a constant reference source.

Excellent question. The truth is, the best players try to empty their heads of most of that (and some of them have a terribly unfair start when it comes to empty heads). Of course they analyze the table layout to determine what needs to be done, and that's definitely a left-brain function. But the best pool is played by feel, not logic; when you start thinking too much, it affects your playing rhythm negatively and gets you into the dreaded state called "Analysis Paralysis." The pro you describe, assuming he's on his game, carries a confidence level best described as monstrous, and looks at pocketing the ball as second nature; that's a given, and the only real question is how advantageously he can park the cue ball. No pro attempts a run-out unless he (please forgive the political incorrectness of that pronoun) is absolutely certain that he will get there; note I said "will", not "can". The latter is what most intermediates think, and that's part of what separates the men from!
the boys. It's quite possible your pro will have a sort of "mantra" that helps him prepare for the shot mentally (for instance, "feel" the shot, solid stance, loose grip, etc.; there are all kinds of "triggers" players use). But after that, he's going to try and groove his stroke until he's in the beloved trance called "dead stroke" and will burden himself with as few conscious thoughts from the outside as possible. That's wordy enough; does it help? Thanks for writing, and by the way, my "Advanced Pool" gets into this more deeply than most other books. GF
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