So Mark Selby is back in the World Championship semi-finals for the first time since 2016-17. Interestingly, after his domination of Aussie cueman Neil Robertson in the quarters, Selby spoke about his loss of confidence in recent years.
Given his status in the higher echelons of the modern game, it comes as something of a surprise to hear The Jester speak this way. For surely a three times World Champion can’t be suffering from self doubts?
Yet Selby admits he has been constantly questioning himself since his title win in 2017. Each tournament which he hasn’t won, eating into his pool of confidence. Which is a very interesting thing to hear from a top player.
Because you are the world number one, doesn’t mean that you are going to win every tournament you play in. But it does, perhaps bring pressure, to perform as if you are the number one. The best. And when others beat you, does this mean that you no longer feel you are the best?
Perhaps being labelled World Champion ,or world number one, traps you into a role and mindset. Traps you into an expectation of yourself. Creates an internal pressure that is very hard to live up to.
So that when you don’t meet that expectation, it eats into your self-view. Eats into the champion feeling. So that instead of having the mindset of a winner and champion, you have the mindset of someone who was once champion, but doesn’t know if they will be again.
Now, in this spectator free World Championship, Selby is playing like a champion again. Not with expectation. But doing the things well that made him a champion in the first place.
For understanding the process, the micro-details that made you a champion in the first place, are the things to be reflecting on in periods of doubt.
This is the personal template that allows you to assess your technical, mental and emotional game at anytime. And shows you what micro-adjustments you need to make to get back on track.
Being a champion is an outcome. A result of doing many things well repeatedly. So when you lose games as a champion, always examine the reason why. For there you will find the truth.
Now Mark Selby is focusing on himself and his game, not his status, he is back on track. Expect him to be hard to beat again!