Friday, May 27, 2016

Proof of Focusing (video clip)

I've been wanting to write about this for a while but needed some dedicated time to write this one up.

Before I go into the details of focusing, I'd like you to review this video below.  See if you can beat my score!  You need to watch closely to see if you can count the correct number of times the ball is passed from the girls only in the white shirts.

If you can't view this video now, go ahead and come back later - it's the whole premise of the topic.

Ready to beat my score??

So, if this was your first time viewing this video clip, then you are JUST as shocked and surprised as I was.

Even weeks later after seeing it, I will walk down the hall and see the coworker who shared this with me and still say something to him because I simply can't believe it.  And of course, as soon as he showed me, I just /knew/ it would be a blog topic!

Basically, the video is proof how well we can focus on pool, and be in the zone.  It also proves that we can indeed focus on things and miss other things.

I could write prolly 10 topics just related to this video and focusing in matches, but let's only touch on a few:

1.  Team Captain:  This video shows why a team captain is important.  Some players need to focus on their game and wont be cognizant of the dynamics of what is going on around them.  And that's good!  We want their best game.  And so the Captain can be the person who sees the entire picture.  As captain, it's their role to see who is playing well, how to change up the line-up, or maybe help someone who is dealing with high emotions (as an example).  Letting the players focus on pool, allows the Captain to focus on the players.

2.  Focus on the Table:  This video kinda encapsulates why you can be in the zone and not notice anything else around you.  It also PROVES that you can be THAT focused on one thing.  And for us, that is the game at hand.  If you are focusing solely on 3-balls-ahead-shape, I guarantee you nothing else will enter your mind.  That's the type of focus you want.  If you are struggling with focusing or you think you can't focus lately for some reason, think about how well you watched the balls from the girls in the white shirt and what you missed.   Yep!   See?

3.  Multi-Tasking:  What the video doesn't show but it attests to in documentation, is that if you were to see all three changes (curtain, the walk-on, and someone leaving), then you may not have counted the correct number of passes.  The neurology of our brain to do calculations is resource intensive, so if we are doing too much, other things may slack off.  That's why it's crucial to try and focus only on the game at hand when we are playing pool.  That's why when we get distracted by something external, we don't play as well. 

4.  Practice versus Tourney Play:  This video also explains why during practice we play so much better sometimes than in competition.  In practice, we are not distracted, having fun, making all our shots.  Here comes competition and we are worrying about our "status" in the event, who our opponent is, who is watching, why someone just said something crappy to us, etc.  How can we possibly play our best being distracted?  That's why it's important to let things go, focus on the table, and regroup quickly when something distracts you or throws you off.

Hope this helps prove you CAN focus well, and how important it is.  :)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Pros Visiting Omega Tour

I have to admit it's really cool to have a top pro or well-known pro get to play or visit the players at an Omega Billiards Tour stop.

Not many players get to mingle with the pros at mixed events (amateur and combined pro events) or some don't ever get to travel to big events where they might see pros.

So, when they attend an Omega Tour event, I love seeing all the photos on Facebook afterwards.  It proves how excited the players are to meet them.

Here are a few from when Warren visited at the end of April at the Omega stop at JR Pockets in Denton, Texas:

(click any photos to enlarge)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Example of Preparing - Tennis Hustling Style

As many know who read my blog consistently, I highly recommend the book "Winning Ugly" by Brad Gilbert.  My mental toughness and killer instinct skyrocketed because of this book.

Wanted to share an excerpt, that gives an example of how important preparation is.

Here's a terrific example (although an extreme one) of the tremendous advantage the average player can get with good pre-match preparation.  And of what a disadvantage “just showing up" can be.  This particular player at the San Francisco Tennis Club used good mental preparation, good physical preparation, and some gamesmanship against a guy who just showed up and wanted to start playing.

For a big match (and he liked to bet $100 per set with certain players) this fellow (a bit of a hustler) would get to the court one hour early.  He had already spent time looking over his notes (yes, he kept notes of past matches).  He had given some attention to his game plan.   Next would be the stretching exercises to get completely loosened up.

Now would come the warm-up, before his opponent even arrived at the court. 

The “hustler” would hit with the club pro for thirty minutes, going through the strokes and touching up anything that was giving him trouble that day.  Nothing intense.  Just a real good warm-up.  Then he would leave the court, go to the locker room, and change clothes.  Now that he’s reviewed his game plan, checked his notes, done his stretching exercises, had a great warm-up, and changed into dry clothes, would he head back out to the court?  Of course not.  It was time for the final stage of the hustle.  He’d make sure he got there ten minutes late, apologize for the delay, and suggest that they cut the warm-up short.

Obviously, his opponent would be a little upset by the late arrival and want to get started to save time.  They’d move right into the match with only a “quickie” warm-up.  The “pigeon” would be handing over the money in straight sets. He would have saved himself $200 if he’d anticipated the behavior and prepared properly himself.  He got taken instead.  He had no plan, no system, no nothing. He let the other player control events because he wasn’t prepared.  He’d have been a lousy Boy Scout. 

The interesting thing about what this “hustler” did was that everything (except arriving intentionally late) was excellent preparation.   It's how a conscientious player should get ready to play a match.  Throwing in the last twist by arriving last was unnecessary (not to mention unsportsmanlike).  He was way ahead by doing everything else.  You can give yourself that same advantage.

Preparations, people!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Learning From Warren Kiamco

Warren Kiamco played in the last Omega Billiards Tour stop in late April (which he won btw) and I have to say that it was a joy to see him play but more so to watch how he handled himself in his matches.  I was so impressed how he handled people rooting against him or excessively for him, that I just had to ask him questions a few times throughout the tournament to learn from this Champion.

What I recognized most was how stoic he was.  He never showed any emotion and seemed to not let ANYTHING get to him.

I asked him how he handles all the different types of atmospheres he plays in and he shared:

I am on the road a lot, so I had to learn to deal with it.  I learned to ignore things around me and not let things get to me.

In the tournament on Sunday, he played a local player who was getting a lot of claps from the crowd and huge support.  You would have thought Warren had earplugs on.  I never saw him flinch or get upset or even show any emotion at all.  He sat stoic, waiting for his turn at the table.

He said he recognizes that people are rooting FOR his opponent and not against him, which is obviously very helpful for the mental part of the game.

At another time, I was calling a shot and the player at the table playing Warren actually said out loud, but under his breath, "I'm going to shoot this kick safe like this and then fcvk him."

I was mortified he said that and then felt SO badly Warren might have heard that.  He was a guest, and I was embarrassed.  Although the player was drunk and that's his way of being funny, if you didn't know him, it would /have/ to rattle or upset you, right?

I recall looking right at Warren after the player said that shitty comment, and Warren sat there stoic with no emotion or react to the words.  He was just calm, cool, and collected.

Afterwards I tried to apologize to Warren for the guys' actions and words and Warren tried to tell me not to worry about it and not to apologize at all.  He acted like he didn't hear the guy and just shooshed my apology away because he thought it was unnecessary and not needed.  Turns out he DID hear the player say that.  Warren told me, "it's okay Melinda.  I knew he was drunk and it's part of competing sometimes.  I just didn't let it bother me, and you shouldn't let it bother you."

There's a whole lot to that exchange.  He didn't want me to apologize, he was trying not to let me know he heard the guy (admirable), he just didn't let the player bother him, and he knows it's part of traveling to play pool sometimes. 

You'd think the words from the drunk player would have gotten to Warren, but instead he just ignored it and focused on playing pool.   Because as he shared, "if you let things like that get to you, it affects your game. "

I really was impressed.  I've seen many players handle situations in a match, but to see Warren be so stoic consistently throughout an entire event was awesome to witness.  I pride myself on being able to handle situations well while competing.  I've been complimented on how I handle myself during matches.  However, if something has upset me, inside I am torn and struggling getting past the issue, even though on the outside you may not see it in my body language or with emotions or facial expressions.  However, Warren really just does not let it bother him at all - even internally.  To be able to bend his ear, and he be open with his experience and knowledge was super cool.

I hope he gets to play again soon!

Here is a snapshot after Warren won the tournament:  Anthony Shea, myself, and Warren:

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Photographer Lessons

Notice the title isn't "photography lessons" but "photographer lessons."

I had been the photographer for the OB Cues Ladies Tour for 9 years and now for the Omega Tour for the last 4 1/2 years.  I'm lucky to have a couple of friends who help me take photos the last couple of years, but today wanted to share some of the things we come across as photographers of a tour (or tournaments in general).

First Rule:  I always take a photo of the top 3 finishers on Sunday BEFORE the semi-finals match is played (i.e. for 3rd place).  Nothing worse than trying to take a photo of the top 3 when one of them just lost.  Usually the player who lost wants to bolt, or the player doesn't come across very photogenic because they are upset that they just lost and the last thing they want to do is stand there and be in a photo.  I take the pics of the top three preemptively to prevent that.

Second Rule:  Some players cannot have their photos published.  I have learned for 2 reasons: (1) they literally work for the police department undercover or (2) they are not really suppose to be in a bar establishment because they are on probation.  I sometimes make announcements at the beginning of the year for new players so they are aware we respect players' privacy's.  (btw, the undercover person was from over 8 years ago and doesn't play pool anymore, so no worries to the guys currently on probation lol).

Third Rule:  Some players are very particular about themselves in photos.  If I get a request to remove a photo, I never ask why, I just delete it.  I once had a friend in tears because of the pic I took of her at state.  All she saw was her tummy, all I saw was how beautiful she was.  We each see things about ourselves we don't like, so deleting a photo for someone makes them feel much better.

Fourth Rule:  If I take a photo of someone and it's unflattering, I don't post it.  Some photographers don't care and say that's how a person looks.  However, I would rather publish photos people like of themselves, not ones where they look terrible.  I think we all know certain angles create more weight or wrinkles or fading hair than others.  If I have two photos of a player and one is borderline unflattering, I will simply delete it and post the other one that's better.

Fifth Rule:  I take about 500 pics at an event and then only get about 250 good ones. They wont all come out perfect in the low light, and because obviously pool players move while shooting.

And the Sixth Rule:  Take non-action shots.  Those are the best!  Friends talking, or a player thinking in his seat.  Here are just a few of my favorites from the Omega Tour:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Shy About Pool

I set up an appointment to have my carpets cleaned the other day.  So that meant a stranger was going to be in my house.

I put up all my cues and cases and tucked them away so the guy wouldn't see that I played pool.

I know many people probably like to talk about their passions, but I tend to get shy to mention or talk about my career (weather) and my passion (pool).

So, imagine my surprise when I'm sitting on the couch killing time while the guy is busting his a$$ on the carpets when he tries to make small talk, "You a pool shark?"

I replied shyly, "maybe," all the while wondering how he knew I played pool.

Then I looked up from my Candy Crush game - and he was looking at my plaques on the wall.  OH SHIT.  Well, that backfired.

He tried again an hour later, "you're pretty good, huh?"

"Yeah,  I guess so," I kinda-sorta-admittied, as he smiled and laughed as he walked by more plaques.  LOL

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

What's In The Case?

No, this isn't the normal "What's in the Case."  I actually already did that via video a few years ago. 

This is about how when you are walking through the airport or a hotel and you have your cue case with you.  It's inevitable that someone asks you, "What's in the case?"

I always wondered why I would get stopped a lot for that question when I had my cue.  First of all, isn't it obvious it's for a cuestick?  But, I suppose not.

When WE see someone else with a cue case out of the pool room, there's like this magical connection - we know they are pool players, too, and we are connected in a way the average human is not.

But, I'm sure if you travel enough for tourneys you get asked this in the lobbies or at the airports (especially when we could carry our cues onto the planes - 'ole, the good old days).

So, imagine the roll reversal I found myself in last Friday.

My friend was staying in Downtown Fort Worth and I picked her up for dinner.  I then see this:

And there I was, the person who always asked the question of us, "What's in the case?"

She replies, "A javelin."

HEY!  A javelin!  How cool.

Turns out there was a college track meet that weekend in town.  Hope she kicked ass.  And glad I asked the question. :)