Six Life Skills
by Samm Diep © March 2012

I dedicate this month’s column to the late Ron Lyle who, regardless of his past, turned his life around, moved back to Denver, and devoted his efforts to the Cox-Lyle Red Shield Boxing Program, a youth program designed by the Salvation Army to help kids who are at risk of becoming involved in negative activities, including dropping out of school, participating in drug abuse, joining in gang violence.

Aside from improving the educational outlook, the boxing program aims at instilling six important life skills: positive thinking, selflessness, integrity, courage, adaptation, and persistence. I immediately saw how these valuable skills could be applied to improving not only life but our pool game.

Positive Thinking

I can’t stress this one enough. Positive thinking not only helps to reduce stress, particularly when it comes to the pressures of competing, but it also facilitates in giving you more energy and who couldn’t use that in their pool game?

When it comes to competing, most of us fall victim to our own fears of failure. In reality, those ideas all manifested from the seeds of just a few negative thoughts. Planting the seeds of positive thoughts can have the opposite effect.

Think positively, feel positively, and live positively.


Life is not all about winning, especially if it’s at the expense of others. It’s proven, champions have to live, eat, and breathe success and completely believe they are the best in order for it to happen. It can be a lonely road victory. However, true champions understand what it means to make sacrifices for the things they believe in.

Give a little piece of yourself by passing on a little knowledge and experience to a beginner.


Winning means nothing if it cannot be done with integrity. To become a world class player in every respect of the term, it not only requires hard work and dedication but means being a leader and a role model for those who admire you. A professional does not lie or cheat to win. A professional plays by the rules and wins with honor and the utmost respect from his/her peers.


Believe in yourself. Inspiration can come from anywhere, but only you can summon the faith and confidence required to follow through. Courage comes from within and if you don’t believe you can do it, then you never will. “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right,” Henry Ford.


Adaptation begins with preparation. You would never show up for a tournament without your pool cues. And likewise, being mentally and physically prepared for a match is just as important. When it comes to adapting to the situation and the equipment, it can only be done when you give yourself the best opportunity to do so.


Never give up. This statement is used so commonly that it often loses its meaning. In pool, this means to keep fighting for every ball and every game no matter what the score is. It means you’re willing to practice the same shot 100 times a day until you never miss it again. It means to never break your cue down regardless of how bad you may be playing. It means you vow to let everything else go and keep grinding away no matter what else is going on.

I think we could all learn something from these six key principles, both in life and in pool.

Samm Diep, “Cherry Bomb” (
House Pro at Rack ‘Em Billiards (Aurora, CO)
Author of “You Might Be A D Player If… (101 Classic Moves That All Pool Players Can Appreciate)”
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