I decided last minute to play in a tournament last weekend (read how that happened here) and did not show up until about 5-10 minutes before noon.
The calcutta would start late about 12:25 or so and I was able to collaborate with a couple of friends about who might be good buys in the calcutta.
I knew most of the players, or recognized them, but there were a few I did not know. Many I hadn't seen in years it seemed like.
As we discussed the potential horses to buy, one of my friends said, "I don't know who he is, but he plays really good - I saw him practicing earlier."
And another friend said a little later about a different player, "that guy right there couldn't miss a ball practicing this morning against Phillip."
I quickly discounted both of those players.
I told each of my friends when this came up, "well, everyone practices well. There's no pressure just hitting balls."
It gave them something extra to think about - because I didn't want to them spend their money on an unknown player just because he hit balls well while he practiced. We all free-stroke during practice, right? That is actually why some people suggest to play in your matches like you are practicing, because there's no pressure in practice and we play pretty sporty while we hit balls by ourselves with no "real" competition right in front of us. For instance, have you felt adrenaline during practice?
Don't get me wrong - practice IS important. Crucial and essential, actually. But, you can't judge who will be the top players of a tourney the morning of. Some may be just trying to get the table speed down. Or warming up their body or getting lose.
One of the guys asked about another player, "What about the guy in the black shirt? Do you know him? He was also hitting balls well this morning."
I didn't know who he was, but I joked, "Well, again, everyone practices well with no pressure. Wait til he runs against a chick like me." And everyone laughed.
While funny, it IS true. If you find yourself against a good player, playing a chick in front of all your friends, or being down 0-3 against a scrub, it WILL affect your play and your free-stroking games of practice in the morning are all of a sudden now no-where to be found.