Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Longer Races and Mental Exhaustion

As I was watching the finals of one of the Omega tournaments recently, I noticed that one of the higher ranked players was showing signs of exhaustion at the end of the tournament. 

It could have been due to dehydration (which I have written about before that water can substantially help - it’s a great read; you won’t be disappointed).

But it also could have been due to mental exhaustion because his races are longer.  You see, he is a top player and his races were to 9, while most of his opponents were racing to 6 or 7.  And he had played 8 matches in a row nonstop just that day to get to the finals and he was still fighting hard all the way up to the first set of the finals (which he won hill-hill).  But in the second set, I noticed he was just a little off and that fatigue had set in and he wasn’t playing the exact same.  

I wanted to share my amazing insights with a friend, but that top player was talking to him and a couple of other people in the crowd while his opponent was taking a bathroom break. 

When the players started to shoot again, I took the opportunity to then walk up to my friend to share my thoughts.  You know how it is: a lot of us like to talk about pool and learn from things.

I shared with him that because this is a top player, he actually has to focus more than most because he had to race to 9 in all his matches.  It may not seem like that means he has to focus harder, but he does.  He has 2-3 more games to earn EVERY single match he played and it takes A LOT of energy to keep mentally strong and focused every single shot, all day long.  And eventually, it’s natural for a player to get tired. 

Sure, the lower-ranked players also have to focus, but the top players actually have to focus longer and harder. 

I was very proud of my knowledge I had just shared with my friend and then he looked at me funny and then kind of laughed at me. 

Uh, WTF?

Then he exclaimed, “that's exactly what he just told us!” 

As he laughed a little more with surprise, he then continued, “that player just told us that he is tired because he's had to focus so hard on all of his matches all day long because his races are longer... and so now he is feeling tired.”

So, yep, proves I can read minds and knew exactly what the top player was feeling and thinking. #Fist pump#

No, no, no.

lol.

I can’t take credit for this knowledge.  I’ve just witnessed it for several years and also heard it from other top players who have played all day Sunday of the Omega tournaments. 

BTW, the second set of the finals went hill-hill AGAIN!  Alas, a scratch on the break from the top player allowed his opponent to the table and win the final game of that very long day.

But it was a great day for BOTH players who fought hard with heart all weekend.

If you watch closely, though, you can see exhaustion and fatigue set in sometimes at the end of a day.  Usually it’s due to one of two things:  (1) dehydration and/or (2) getting tired from being mentally strong all day, match after match.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Second Place Needs a Hug, Too

Being the one who normally cheers for the underdog, I am the type of person that when someone loses (I wrote something similar before), I go to them first to show condolences, understanding and emphasize with their pain.

As a Tournament Director, I find myself doing this a lot.

Here's what happens:  It's the finals in the Omega Billiards Tour Stop and both players are playing their hearts out.  The crowd has their favorite player and are intently following their every shot and win.

When the dust finally settles, the eventually winner gets all the claps and congratulations!  While the second place player who also fought their way, doesn't get the same type of congrat's.

Sure, a few friends will tell them they did great, all the while that player sees the winner getting the high-five's and smiles from the crowd.

As the TD, I recognize this a lot and so I make it a point to go to the second place finisher first to give them the congrats that they deserve as well.  They are normally very disheartened and upset but a quick hug from a friend is never turned down - a normal hug is not returned, but I understand.

I also ALWAYS pay the second place finisher first.  It's my other way of still ensuring they know they did great, even if it wasn't the top prize.






Sunday, September 17, 2017

I Had An Accident

I guess it's finally time to share I had an accident.  Why would I share this on a pool blog?  Yep, because it could affect my pool game.

Basically, I had a fight with my lawnmower and I didn’t win.  Dang it.

I’ve been doing my own yard work since I was a child helping my parents on weekends, so the embarrassment factor is high for this.  But, on a nice Thursday morning, I was rushed to mow my yard and the wet grass from days of rain was not helping move things along.  I tried to lift the side opening to let the stuck, wet grass out, which I have done a 1,000 times, but this time it didn’t lift and I reached under too far with my fingers to try and get it to raise.  Yes, while the mower was still on.

It was just a freakish kinda of accident, really.

The blades clipped two of my fingers on my right hand and after grabbing a towel and ice, I then carefully (not really) rushed myself bleeding to death (not really) to the ER.  The same ER I used to take my Mom to.  So, yea, I lost it as I walked in.  And then kept losing it at weird moments sitting alone in a hospital room watching my life flash before my eyes (not really).  But, the emotions of being in the same ER of the last moments of my loving Mother made for a much tougher, very lonely, scary, alarming, dire situation.

When the finger doctor (really a “hand surgeon,” but I think my description is funnier) asked me if I brought my skin in, I knew it was bad.  I looked at him confused, then pictured my lawnmower and my yard and realized some blade of wet grass was holding the top skin of my middle finger ransom.   

The finger doctor gave me shots into the top of those two fingers (yea, it hurt like $%@!^& hell) and then gave me 11 total stitches.  The longest finger (yes, the famous middle finger) was the finger that was damaged and slit open the most between the two.

Fast forward 5 weeks and I still have an open wound on the top of my middle finger.  My 4th finger is extremely sensitive and hurts, also, but the skin has closed up at least on that finger.

I can’t stress enough all the things I canNOT do quickly or easily on a daily basis because I am right-handed and the wounds are on the fingers of my right hand:  Brush my teeth, put on makeup, wiping (no matter what type of wiping - face, going to the bathroom, counter, etc), zipping up a zipper on my pants, cleaning around the house, typing, using scissors, opening any type of can (dog food or diet soda), etc.  Try doing dishes one handed!  I dare you.  I can’t even wash my hair - I have to go to a salon to get it washed and straightened (kinda like a diva).  I can’t write, can’t…..well…..can’t do anything that puts pressure on the top of my middle finger because it’s an open wound.

I have a couple of months of healing left.  Healing well, but still extremely sensitive and hurts to the touch on those two fingers.

However, if anyone needs a partner in crime, my fingerprints are gone and altered, so there’s that to help throw off any forensics and CSI.

A few fellow players were like, “good thing you are right handed and it didn’t affect your bridge hand.”  But alas, I’m one of those unique players who is right handed and yet plays pool left handed so it DOES affect my bridge hand.  But, I haven’t competed in a long time and haven’t even tried yet to see if I can play pool (that will be tested next weekend, tho; scary).

Makes one wonder, though, if I was still in the throws of competing, the type and amount of delay it would have in my pool playing plans.

While this is a horrible, scary experience that put me into a very deep depression for reasons related to aloneness and invisibleness, I am completely aware how very blessed I am.

Blessed?

Yep, blessed.

The blades didn’t go to the bone and the blades didn’t take off any fingers.  So, extremely blessed I still have all my appendages.  Could have been a TON worse.

I have to keep my hand elevated because any blood flow going down to my fingers causes a lot of pain (I even sleep with my hand in the air resting on a pillow above me).  And, I had to wear a sling for the first couple weeks to help keep it elevated.  I went to Paris, France right after this freak accident (and don't worry, I wasn't about to let my almost-gone-fingers stop me from traveling across the world to see the beautiful city for the first time) and so all my photos have this monstrosity in them:


But then in some other photos I took off my sling and hid my bandages behind me:


Bottom line is:  I can’t wait to mow again, do the dishes, brush my teeth normally, etc.  I still might have that chick wash my hair tho - that’s a pretty sweet deal!