Thursday, April 27, 2017

Links: Handling Pressure

A friend of mine confided that he doesn't understand how he can gamble and practice well, but can't seem to place high in the Omega tournaments.  Further, he's losing to people he should beat in the tourneys.

After discussion back and forth, and as I suspected, the issue was mental.  He was worried about so many things before and during tournaments, he couldn't play his best pool.

In practice there is no pressure.  If you miss the 9-ball, who sees that?  Who cares?  What effect does it really have?  What does it cost you?

It's all about perspective and not putting pressure on yourself in tournaments.

I do my ABSOLUTE best when I am not thinking ahead, have no expectations, and are "numb" about the tourney.  If I care too much, if I put too much invisible pressure on myself, then I falter.  

Overcoming nerves and playing in the moment are the best feelings in the world during competition!

Back to my friend:  

I gave him several links to read, and wanted to share them with you all today.  

Further, after one of the American Billiard Radio podcasts, we got a request!  It's right along this same topic and so sharing these links is timely.  The listener asked:

"Can a podcast be done on how to deal with the mental game during a tournament? I got done last week playing in my local tournament and I did well. However this week when I went to the same tournament I did horrible and feel that my mental game wasn't there and I also was overthinking and second-guessing most of my shots. It seemed like my nerves got the best of me and I wasn't able to properly focus on my game and play the way I should be."

I could restate what I wrote in these blogs, but instead, I suggest if you are frustrated with playing well during practice and then you're not performing well in tournaments, or you are not consistent during tournaments, that you find some time to read each one in a quiet place to reflect.... so you can help yourself:  

Here is my friends "report" after reading the blogs and then playing his next Omega tournament:

Thank you for your help.. I will continually read those articles. I really believe they helped!
I saved them for future reference :)
It helped me with the difference between goals and expectations.  Goals are good...  My goal is to be a better player and cash in tournaments... expectations usually set me up for a fall, tho. 
If I play well leading up to a tournament, I have the expectation of doing well in the tournament which normally goes badly.. 
So now my only expectation is to do my best with the opportunity that I'm presented..
And getting rid of those other expectations helped turn my brain off.

I was so happy for him!  And I noticed he defeated a few top players and his losses were all close that weekend, even before his "report."

I am hopeful after we talk about this topic on a future podcast that we will get a report back from the other player, too, who wrote in.  :)

I think as we play more tournaments, we figure a lot of things out about what the feelings of pressure do to us.  Why are arms get wobbly, why our pre-shot-routine goes out the window, why we can't think clearly, etc.

What we learn is:

  • Feeling nerves means we care!  
  • Taking deep breathes slows down your adrenaline.  
  • Staying in the present is your best friend.
  • Not looking around at the crowd is key.
  • Focusing on 3-ball shape helps your brain from being distracted.
  • Goals are good, make them reasonable.  For example, "stay down on all my shots," in lieu of "last until Sunday."
  • So what if I miss?  It wont be the end of the world and my friends will still care about me.
  • Winning or losing doesn't define me.
Enjoy reading the links!


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

RIP Chris Ramirez

Heard sad news today that a friend and local player passed away this week.  He was prolly only in his late 30s.

He was a great guy and always smiling and fun to be around.  I don't think I ever not saw him smiling.

He and his friends helped me celebrate a few amazing finishes and wins in Vegas for ACS and BCAPL, always with great food and drinks and friendship.  

He even captured this only photo I have from when I won ACS 9 Ball Singles and became a National Champion.  This Facebook post shows his love of the game and the caring he had for his friends:

He was always the biggest fan of the female players in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and loved the game so deeply.

Chris's sudden death is tragic and shocking.  Gone too young.  Gone too soon.

Rest in Peace my friend.  You will be forever missed.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Gambling or Fun?

Lately in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, there have been several $1,000 match-ups occurring across the metroplex.

It's usually been the same guy playing each time (I'm presuming he has a backer), and he matches up with different players more than once a month.  I believe it's happened 4-5 times in the last 2-3 months.  It's a fairly new thing.

You might think this is no big deal - people gamble all the time, right?  Well, this is a cool/different thing because the matches are advertised ahead of time on Facebook.  So, we know "when, where, and with who" several weeks in advance.  And people can side bet and/or plan to come out to watch. And usually more than one set is played.

Further, because players are already there sweating the action, of course it's natural for other players to match up too, so I've heard several matches end up being played those afternoons.

On Saturday morning, I walked in to the local pool room to spar with a girlfriend.  She's going to Vegas for Nationals and she wanted to talk about 8-ball.  One of my friends happened to already be there and he hadn't seen me at this location so early on a Saturday, even tho I had been doing this for several weekends in the Fall.

So, to him it was a shock to see us: two chicks walking in with our pool cues, obviously ready to play.

And his reaction was priceless.

"Hey, uh, what are you two doing?  What's going on?"  he asked me all interested and excited.

He wanted the inside scoop and to find out what the bet was.  I told him we were just sparing for fun and talking about shots.  He seemed to get deflated lol.

I think because of all the recent match ups going on, he thought this was one as well and was all excited at first about it!

But, alas, just two friends playing the game we love.  No money being exchanged.

Poor guy - broke his heart!