verify, then trust

the texas tigger trigger wrote this in her post titled “the domino effect“.

His [paul potier’s] advice was: Basically, embarrassment is the same as fear.  If we look at fear and confidence on a percentage level, we have 100% of them combined into a flask (my terminology).  The key is to make the two “feelings” lopsided in the flask so there is more confidence than fear.  He didn’t tell me how to do that, but the information was still very valuable.

that was an interesting thought, so i’ll attempt to add to it.

confidence is a funny thing.  used excessively, it becomes overconfidence, or inflated ego if you’re the blunt sort.  used infrequently, it becomes a lack of confidence or timidity.  i think this says it best: “verify, then trust”.  (a little twist on the favorite saying of the former US President Reagan.)

if you take the logical approach, you can take apart the question linearly.

  1. first we ask, “am i confident?”
  2. then we ask, “what is the empirical evidence supporting my confidence/lack of confidence?”

on a pool table, the empirical evidence is execution, or “am i able to hit that shot”.  basically, you assemble confidence based on how many shots you can execute.  the more shots you can execute, the more you can believe in your ability to play pool.  and when i say execute a shot, i mean you can execute a shot repeatedly without missing (or rarely missing).  numerically we’ll say 90% or more.

a quick story for illustration.  a player excitedly tells a pro player that he just hit this great shot.  the pro says, “great!  now make that shot 20 times in a row.”

execution doesn’t count if you can’t do it over and over again.  it counts when you’ve drilled that shot so many countless times that you can hit it like you’re breathing.  this is of crucial importance; you must be able to hit a shot without thinking before you can say you know how to execute a shot.

here’s the good news: when you can make a shot over and over again, you now have NO reason to doubt yourself, because you know deep in your gut that you can make the shot, and you can because you’ve done it a million times before.  it’s all very logical and based purely on evidence.

when i play, i know i can probably hit about 80% of the shots on the table.  i’m not trying to brag, i just know.  now i’m not saying i can link all these shots together to run out all the time; i am saying that when given any one shot, there’s a good chance i’ll recognize the shot and know how to execute it.  😛

if i don’t hit a shot, i know it is due to one of two reasons.  one, i didn’t execute properly.  two, i don’t know the shot.  however, i know that none of the reasons are related to my ability to play.  poor execution can be corrected, and knowledge can be learned.  but i don’t have to worry since these reasons don’t affect my ability to shoot, so i can still be confident in my ability to play.  you may call this circular reasoning, but it works for me.

another area to gather evidence is the limits of your stroke.  the more intimately you know your own stroke, the more evidence you’ll have about how your stroke will hold up under various shots.  if you got a weak stroke with little power, great.  mark it mentally and study different ways to improve it.  a powerful stroke?  catalog how well you can control that stroke and remember your limits.  when a shot comes up, you’ll know exactly how well/how poorly you can hit that shot, then act accordingly.  the more improvements and evidence you gather about your stroke, the more your confidence will grow.  (personally, the 20% of the shots i can’t hit are those big stroke shots: e.g., draw the cueball back 7 feet when it’s 7 feet away from the object ball.  my current stroke just isn’t big enough to execute that shot.  i am trying to change that.)

feel free to apply this approach to any area (or all areas) of your game.  the more specific the area the better.

if you take this approach, then confidence is really just simple addition.  the more you know your own game, the more evidence you’ll have on how well you play.


  1. you verify your game through empirical evidence.
  2. once it’s verified, you can then trust in your ability to play.
  3. you can trust your game now because it has been verified by empirical evidence.
  4. if you can’t verify your ability to play through empirical evidence, practice until you have enough evidence to know you can play.

that’s it.  hope it’s simple enough.  if you want a name for this approach, call it the meritocratic approach.  oh, wait.  i think i’m gonna trademark that term.  i shall make this a wordreka moment!


Meritocratic Approach: an approach to assess a person’s game based purely on that person’s ability to play, as supported only by empirical evidence

there.  now go practice.  8)

2 comments on “verify, then trust

  1. Hi There!
    Do we know each other? I like your writing and I’m enjoying your blog. I just wanted to invite you to be a part of the January edition of Pool Synergy.
    Here is a link to last month’s edition:
    And here is a link with some more information on how it works:
    January’s topic is on ‘an activity, training, or experience outside of the billiard world and how it could be applied to improve a person’s pool game’
    We would love to have your contribution!

    • hi miss diep.

      i’ve never met you before & we don’t know each other. i’ve seen your writing floating around the blogsphere & azbilliards; not sure if that constitutes knowing. unless i owe you money somehow & i forgot, then in that case i definitely don’t know u. 😯

      thank you for your invite. i’m only an amateur player with no pool teaching credentials at all; my blog consists only of my weird insights. not sure if i can make a valid contribution, but i’m willing to give it a shot if you’ll allow me. hopefully my post will be up to par, or at least par for the course. lemme know what u think.

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