How to win at pool

29 November, 2018

About 60 million years ago, when I was 29, I was rocking it with one hand in the pocket of my brand new Diesel jeans, the other dexterously holding an until-that-night-totally-unfamiliar snooker cue stick.

I have two clear memories from that evening,

  1. The shimmery green tassels around the edge of the low-hanging table light.
  2. The ease and noisy euphoria with which I was sinking the balls.

Somewhere in the fog of cigarette smoke and long island iced teas (remember those?) I started visualising which ball was going to roll into which pocket, and the precise angle, and force, that was needed to strike it. I could feel the impact, the trajectory, the scattering of the other coloured balls, and finally, that exultant moment when it landed in the net. (I’m sure there are more precise technical terms for what I’ve just described. Forgive me).


This happened again and again, right up until the barman cleared my long island iced tea glass and with it my visioning skills. Just for the record I only had two. I’m not an animal.

Cut to last week and I’m watching a video on the power of visualisation. I was fascinated as the narrator described a research project where one group of basket ballers was required to shoot hoops for 20 minutes a day for 20 days (I think). Another group visualised shooting hoops for 20 minutes a day for 20 days, and a third group did nothing.

Here’s the thing, the group that shot hoops improved by 24%, while the group that just visualised shooting hoops, without even putting on their takkies, improved by 23%. Go figure. The group that did nothing, did nothing.

The video goes on to say how Jim Carrey, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lindsey Vonn (most successful female skier of all time), Will Smith, and a host of other celebrities and sports stars use visualisation as their go-to competitive advantage.

Says Zig Ziglar,

“If you want to reach a goal, you must see the reaching in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal.”

When I told my teenage sons about the basketball hoop experiment, they asked if I’d ever visualised anything that came true. I didn’t tell them the pool story, but I did remind them about my International Toastmasters Competition win from earlier this year. I told them I’d visualised each moment: from what I would wear, to how I’d walk on stage, to the smile I’d give at the end, and most importantly, I visualised hearing my name as the competition chair announced the winner. Much like I’d done before becoming Head Girl in my matric year.

I have three words for you: it works, people!

You might think it’s esoteric nonsense, but the results speak for themselves. Ask Oprah.

Whatever you want – whether it’s more of the right clients, a better relationship with your children or a PhD in parabolas, visualise it.

Right now I’m visualising being awarded my green belt in karate.

Help me picture it.

Robyn Young - Personal Leadership Branding for Executives

About the Author

Robyn Young

As a personal leadership branding strategist, Robyn Young helps individuals identify and articulate their unique strengths, values and goals, empowering them to build an authentic personal brand that resonates with their stakeholders.

Robyn has a keen eye for aligning personal attributes with professional aspirations, helping her clients project a powerful and compelling image in their chosen field.