Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Pool Family

One thing that is really cool about playing pool is how the pool community is really family.

I love it how when a player is in need, the pool family comes to the rescue.  I've seen raffles to raise money for players in the hospital, pool tournaments put on to raise money for players who need help (houses burned down, tornado damage, health issues, etc), and even donations simply for players who need assistance with a crisis.

The other part of the pool family aspect I appreciate is when we need help with industry or service-type things, the pool world is there for us.

Sure, there are some bad apples, but there are also a lot of good, decent pool players who own their own business or have a specialty that can help when we need expert advice or things fixed that we may not be able to do on our own.

Here are just a few examples:

  • My roof was damaged by hail from severe storms last Spring and was re-done by a pool player who owns his own roofing company.
  • I had some issues with several areas in my house that needed the expertise of an electrician.  I called one of my league friends who does that type of work and he came over and resolved the electrical concerns.
  • I recently had some rain damage to my back door and found out one of the players on the tour works for a home inspection company and he was able to come over and inspect the areas that were damaged (saved me a lot of money). 
  • One of my friends was in a car accident and was hit by a semi truck.  I overheard him getting advice from a guy who drives semi trucks for a living.
  • Another pool player friend needed help with their fence and sprinkler system and one of the guys on the tour owns their own fence and sprinkler company and was able to help them out.
  • Another pool player works for an A/C company and he's been able to make side money by helping some of the players with the broken A/C systems.
  • Several pool players also own their own plumbing company and have been able to save many friends in time of need (saving time and money).
  • And not just physical things, but emotional support, as well:  Sometimes pool players become great friends who introduce us to faith or provide us help/resources with addiction.  
The list goes on and on.  

I think it's actually really cool to be able to have a group of friends (pool family) that can help us in many areas of our lives.  Instead of flipping through the yellow pages (or asking Siri or Google), we prolly know many experts already among the pool community.

Pretty awesome pool family we have when we can depend on them for help, support, and comfort in times of need.



Sunday, May 21, 2017

Out of The Box Tips

Sometimes it's cool to do out of the ordinary practice to help your game.
Most people think of the obvious:  hit balls, gamble, play in tournaments, etc.
What about some out-of-the-box things?
  • Work on your stroke by trying to get your cue tip consistently into a coke bottle.  This can be done at home without a pool table.
  • Try hitting balls for an hour or two with a mud ball.  If you can control a mudball cueball, imagine how much better you will be with a regular cueball!
  • Use dumbbells regularly to build your arm muscles.  This helps your stroke be more solid.
  • Practice "Carom Nine" (see rules at bottom of this page).  Helps you learn carom shots in a fun yet frustrating way, lol.  (basically, the object ball must make first contact with the cue ball to count as a legal shot, the goal being to carom the object ball into a pocket or into another ball.)
  • Don't shy away from the "non perfect" tables.  Also, it's okay to practice on slow tables and fast tables every once in a way - after all, the conditions are different at different tournaments.
  • While this isn't out of the box, this is a good time to remind people to work on your break.  Practice it.  Get it down pat.  It's the opening shot - it's an important part of the game a lot of us don't give enough attention to.
  • Speaking of breaks, practice your break using different racks - magic rack, accu-rack, and also regular wooden/plastic racks from the pool room.  Especially pick a certain one when your next upcoming big tournament uses a special rack.
  • Play snooker on a 10 foot table.  Talk about a test!  And then when you get back on an 8 foot table, you'll see just how small that platform is and you'll be at smiling the whole time.
  • Play opposite handed.  That's fun!
  • Play one-handed.  Even tougher!

 Enjoy!


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Getting Lessons Isn't Bad

For some reason, a lot of us pool players get kinda "ashamed" or "embarrassed" or "shy" to get lessons. 

Why?

In every sport, players improve all the time.

But for some reason, we as pool players have this mentality if we get lessons it means we aren't good, like we need lessons.  Or we are concerned our friends will judge us.  Well, why don't we look at it as:  I want to improve! 

It's not a bad thing to want to improve.  Is it?

NO. 

Tiger Woods had a coach.  Tiger Woods.  And he was top golfer for years.

Kids who are coming up in the pool world have coaches.  Do we judge them?  Not at all - if anything it makes sense in our minds - like a high school sport class or something.

A coworker told me once in my 30s, "why don't you practice more or get lessons?"  Her kids in middle school and high school were constantly getting lessons throughout the year in many sports, and so she was confused about my sport (pool).

Even football and baseball have training.

Yet, when for some reason when we get lessons we don't share it with the world.  Why is that? 

A friend of mine who gets pool lessons pointed out that she doesn't mind telling people.  It reminded her of her job, where she has to get re-certified every year.  Getting lessons is along the same lines, if you think about it. 

And why wouldn't we want to improve our game?  Hitting balls is one thing, but I've known players to hit balls every night of their life and never get better.  Gambling can be considered "on-the-job-training" --->  if you are learning from it.

Taking lessons or seeking lessons is actually a really SMART thing if you want to improve - whether you tell anyone or not.  ALL sports have training camps or top coaches or schools.  Treat yourself and your game and look into lessons if you want to improve.  AND...don't worry about what others think.  (and in my experience, opponents tend to be nervous against players who are getting lessons anyway :).

Thursday, May 18, 2017

If Pool was like Tennis

I was watching an episode of Law and Order the other day and this amateur tennis player said something along these lines:

"I am ranked 81st in the U.S.  If I beat the player ranked 80th, no one notices.  If I was to defeat the 5th ranked player, everyone notices.  I might be on a magazine cover or get sponsor inquiries. "
What she said really hit me - dang, what if pool was like that?

Can you imagine?

Right now, if I am ranked 80th and I beat the 5th ranked person, people in the pool community might talk about it.  I might have friends in the pool room say something.  I might get a lot of kudos on Facebook or something.

But imagine for a minute if pool WAS like tennis?  And I really did knock out the 5th ranked player in a big tournament?

I'd be interviewed by many reporters, magazines, local tv stations, and maybe even be on ESPN's Sports Center.  I am not saying Nike would be beating down my door with a contract, but what I am saying is the difference in our sports is light years.  It's like water and oil, fire and ice... (you get it).

Sure, we can get on magazine covers and be interviewed today - but it's only for pool-related mediums.  Tennis and Nike are all-related-mediums.

Can you imagine how much more practice we would all put in if there was a chance to play in tournaments on live tv, knowing we might be all over the media?  Not just talked about in our local pool rooms, but be on Sports Center or Yahoo news?  And have the potential to have big name sponsors?  Sell my own brand of shoes or a clothing line?

So many of us would be playing so much better!!  lol



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Find 'American Billiard Radio' as a Podcast on iTunes!

In case you didn't know (like myself), American Billiard Radio is on iTunes!

Just search "abr - American Billiard Radio" in iTunes and you will see the podcasts come up.

Click below image to enlarge the snapshot of what the podcast looks like on iTunes.



Enjoy!

Looks like a couple of the episodes I was on are the highest rated.  You, Guys....blush


Monday, May 15, 2017

Stepping Away Explanation

I'm finding it more and more difficult to convince people I'm really not competing in pool anymore lol.  I have written about this several times already:


I am surprised I first wrote about this in 2015!  Wow!

And, yes, the last two years have been really nice not competing regularly in tournaments or leagues.  :)

Just in the last two weeks. however, I was asked by GREAT players (in and out of state) if I wanted to play in Vegas at BCAPL Nationals. When I said thank you (a sincere thanks!) and then said I don't play league anymore, they pointed out I don't need to play in league for scotch doubles or singles at BCAPL Nationals.  I then had to explain I just don't play pool that much anymore.

And two weeks ago I was asked to join a top women's team.  Makes me smile to be considered!

However, it's just tough to explain why I don't play pool anymore.

Friends say, "Oh you're just burned out.  You'll be back."

No, not burned out - this isn't a temporary thing.

"Why would you stop playing?  You love the game and play so good.  You'll come back after a break."

No, I don't see it that way - I don't think I want to return to competing.  I don't see this as a "break."

"Yea, right, you're not stepping away from pool."

Well, yes, I really am!

You see... I've changed.  I have played pool in smoky pool rooms for over 25 years.  I have stayed out late, been exhausted at work, spent too much money, dealt with drama, and had to manage mental toughness all those nights/days of all those years playing leagues and tournaments.  I've also won many coveted titles, formed great friendships, made amazing memories, and learned a lot about myself competing!

It may sound silly, but hear me out.  When we get into our 40s, we finally figure out instead of "dealing" with people or things, we can just simply decide not deal with the people or things.  Our tolerance gets lower as we age.  And it hit me hard in my mid 40s.  But, the timing was perfect. :)

I don't want to be around drama anymore.  I don't want to have to be mentally tough all the time.  I don't want the commitment to have to play every week.  I'm drained from all the emotions and mental toughness that come with competing.

So, let me state all this more positively so you see I'm not whining, but in reality, wanting more:

I want to be around people who lift me up.  I want to do new things that bring me peace and happiness.  I want to have the choice to play pool when I have the urge to play.  I like being more calm and in less pressure situations.

I explained to a friend who has played pool his whole life how I have the choice to compete or not, and I like this choice because it is actually pretty tough to be mentally strong all the time.  It takes a lot of will power and inner strength and control to not get upset about things around you when you are playing.  He confided, "If pool wasn't my side income, I would quit too. And not have to deal with all that, either.  I have considered that before - less anxiety and less time getting upset."

I could play a tournament and go through a ton of emotions and feelings having to deal with situations.  Sure, my mental toughness got real good the last few years!  But, can you imagine the happiness I feel that I can go through a weekend and not have to be mentally tough or try to handle distractions, emotions, and chaos that can come from competing?  I can walk in a new park, hike in a beautiful spot, get things done around the house peacefully, visit locations I had to put aside before because of tournaments.

I have that choice to not be in a smoky pool room.  To instead be outside in the fresh air enjoying nature, getting some sun, and getting exercise.  What drama comes with that?  Instead, I get inner peace and no turmoil (unless I trip and fall or something lol).

I think it's VERY important to point out that I 100% know that if I had not been so successful in my pool journey the last few years, that I would still be competing.  I am a BCA and ACS State Singles Champion, a 3-time Scotch Doubles BCA State Champion, and a 9Ball Singles National Champion.  I've won countless league playoffs, was the clutch for several teams, and won 6 National Women Team Events.  If I hadn't won all these titles, I WOULD still be competing.

But, instead, I am going out on a high note.  I joke I'm like Michael Jordan, going out on top of his career, but people remind me, "you're no Michael Jordan, Melinda."  Bitches.  lol.

I am still involved in pool, though.  Just because I no longer compete in leagues or regularly in tournaments, I still ADORE writing in my blog, am a monthly columnist for Billiard Buzz conducting interviews (a dream of mine), contribute to a billiard radio show (American Billiard Radio) about twice a month, give lessons (highlight of my life), and also run a large billiards tour, the Omega Billiards Tour (another dream).  So, I'm still around pool, just stepping away from competing so I can have more peace and a better, healthier lifestyle - physically and mentally.

Have I been happy?  Yes.  Do I miss playing?  Only sometimes.  Am I more productive at work?  Absolutely.   Do I enjoy getting sleep and not smelling like smoke?  YOU BET.  Do I like saving money.  Yes!  Am I still going to Vegas?  Of course!  I take at least two trips a year.  Are you loving life?  Yes.  :)


Friday, May 12, 2017

Same Table, Different Response

I actually like writing about Tournament Director situations that come up.  I hope you don't mind reading about them.

At one the Omega stop this year, someone came up to me and stated in a loud, accusatory voice that they are playing on the same table their opponent just played on.

I expressed that we had over 80 players and only 12 tables, and so it was bound to happen.  At this point in the evening, we had no open tables to move him to.  And we try to keep the tournament really moving and it's not easy with only 12 tables and that many players, but we do our best.  He stood steadfast and was arguing with me about it for a bit.  I got upset internally and finally told him we would delay his match and put him on another table.

As he was waiting for a table to open up, he came up to me again.  Mind you, this conversation is going on in front of everyone within earshot or standing/sitting close by.  He asked me what I would do different and I told him I wouldn't have complained; I just would have played the match.  I expressed it would have helped if he just played on the same table.  Many players had to play on the same table throughout the day and didn't complain, and it would have been helpful to not delay matches and not cause a scene and just played on it.

The next day a player who had witnessed the exchange told me, "I don't know how you put up with some of these players and I don't how you remained calm last night.  I wouldn't have been so calm; he was a jerk to you."

Go forward a month and on Saturday of the very next Omega tournament, a player comes up to me after we call a match and he says, "Hey, Melinda.  I'm about to play on the same table as my previous match.  I just wanted to let you know, in case it's an issue.  How can I help?"

I looked at him dumbfounded and wanted to hug him!

I thanked him for not only letting me know, but also for the way he approached me about it and brought it up nicely to me.

This stop had 12 tables also but with 10 MORE players - 95 - so it was even tougher this next stop to try and get all the matches in.

I had a couple of extra tables open because it was really late on Saturday, but I was trying to move to one side of the pool room so the place could rent out tables to paying customers.  I asked his opponent if he was fine with the same table that his opponent had just played on and he said, "doesn't bother me - we are under the same conditions."

My point of this post is not to point out bad attitudes or to complain, my point is to bring up that as a Tournament Director, we have to deal with many different personality types while trying to run a large tournament.  Some people are kind and gentle, some are abrasive, some are complimentary, some are rude.

It just comes with the territory.  Part of the job.

I'm lucky I have had a lot of leadership classes at work in my 30s and so I try to handle the tough situations well.  Better than if I was in my 20s for sure lol.  I wouldn't be a Tournament Director with how immature I was back then with handling situations.

But, this experience is prolly like any customer service industry job.  They/We run into happy customers and also unsatisfied costumers.  My arena just happens to be mostly full of men with emotions and testosterone who are competing for money lol.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Jealous? Good!

Jealous has such a negative connotation in the world.

But what I have learned over the years that jealousy in pool is actually a good thing.  Why?  Because it makes you work harder!  Practice more.  Compete more.

To see your friends rise on the league standings while you go down or if they pass you up, gives you that twinge of jealous feeling in your heart.

That's actually a really good thing!  It lit a fire under me and made me try harder, practice more, and do additional things to help my game.

Use those jealousy feelings to your advantage.  Make it push you to work harder on your game and improve.

Just as a friend recently told me, "Competition is good for business."

And if you start to work on your game, the benefits will be placing higher in league, being sought-after by other teams, placing further in tournaments, etc.  So, if that jealousy feeling gets you to play better because you are working harder on your game, other teams will recognize you are improving.

And when someone builds a new team (for example), who are they going to want?  You.

Don't let it be the other guy!

If you think about it, what if we all stayed the same ranking in the stats?  That's not even fun, huh?  lol.  And, it doesn't give us much incentive to do better if we all just stay in the same ranking spot.  But if you see a friend pass your ass up, you take notice.  Or a friend who has never been in the top 10 get there, makes you want to be in the top 10, too.  Or someone who remains always in first place, makes you want to work harder to replace them.

Jealousy is a gem to our game.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Paying it Forward With not Talking

One of the highlights of having an Omega tour stop at JR Pockets in Denton, Texas is because I get to run into a fan of my blog!  I love it because my friend usually shares which articles he likes best.

And this past weekend was no exception.

He shared that he still enjoys reading my blog and then specifically pointed out one blog entry that helped him and his friends.

He was referring to the blog topic about not realizing you have been talking during matches, which is a distraction to your opponents.


David Bond and I also spoke about this on American Billiard Radio, he entitled it, Are You Rude?

So, my friend tells me sure enough he had been talking during this matches and didn't even realize it. So, during his next night out playing pool, he was playing against a guy he always spars with, and he was trying not to talk.

His friend noticed.  "Dude, everything okay?

"Yes," he said.  "I'm just trying not to talk as much; don't want to be a distraction."  The guy looked at him funny and said, "Good point.  I'm not going to talk as much either."

Paying it forward is the best compliment and I am tickled that this awareness is now being practiced and passed on to others!


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Interview with Fred Pankey!

Oh what fun I had interviewing Fred!  He's only 96 years young.  Funny guy who not only has his wits about him, but still goes to the pool room to hang out with his friends and shoot some pool.

Yes.

Seriously.

Here is the article in the April edition of Billiard Buzz: https://issuu.com/azbilliards/docs/billiard_buzz_05_17_7/12

https://issuu.com/azbilliards/docs/billiard_buzz_05_17_7/12

I had mentioned in another post that it has always been my dream to do interviews. Well, this proves how long this dream has been on my mind:  I still have the notes from the first time I sat down with Fred.... when he was 87 years old!  9 years ago, wow!


I called him to get further clarification on my scribble before typing up this interview and he was shocked I still had my notes. It was fun to reminisce with him again.

It's either pretty cool I kept these notes because I had always envisioned/dreamed of still doing the interview with Fred, or proves I was a hoarder, lol.  I'm kidding... the dream was always alive, just needed the right time and platform (Billiard Buzz).

So glad he finally got his story in an online billiard magazine, not just my little blog - he deserved more attention!   Army vet from WWII and lived through the Great Depression.  Pretty wild, huh?

Friday, May 5, 2017

Be Careful Setting a Time Standard

I love helping people.  It's one of my favorite things.

One example came up over the weekend I wanted to share with you all.

Sunday night after the Omega tournament, someone wanted to go home and work right away on uploading some videos of recorded matches throughout the Omega tournament.

I gave him some sage advice based on my learning experiences as a Tournament Director:

I told him not to race home and stay up late trying to get the videos ready right away.  I suggested that he take his time - still do them this week of course - but not rush and stress himself out that night trying to get them online as soon as was humanly possible by staying up late.

Here's what I learned as a Tournament Director:  When we work hard/fast to get things done for others, people will tend to expect those same things in the same time period.  And when that time limit slips, people start to complain or ask a lot of questions.  Sounds like something you may have already experienced in life, I bet.


I was preparing things right away after tournament weekends and then posting them as soon as I could on the Omega website and Facebook.  Updated standings, uploading photos, writing the article, etc were completed and then posted right away, usually on Mondays, Tuesday at the latest.

At times, work was busy and so I had no choice but delay posting the results, standings, and photos until Wednesday. Maybe Thursday.

And by Wed, I'm already getting several inquiries.  Where are the pictures?  What happened to the photos?  Did any come out?  When are you going to put them online?

After one tournament, I had to go out of town for work the very next week.  By Thursday I was getting questions about the standings and photos.  I explained I was out of town and couldn't work on the items yet.

Everyone was fine with the explanations and very cordial about the delay, but it goes to show that my desire and excitement to get the updates to the players quickly after every tournament, led to disappointment from some of the players when I could not post them timely/quickly, as had become routine.

So, I was trying to help my friend out.  Because if he starts to upload the videos every Sunday night after a tournament stop, then that will become a standard expectancy.  The players and fans will get anxious for the videos, and then disappointed/complain when they aren't posted as quick enough like in the past.

So, thought I'd share these lessons with you all as well; it can relate to many aspects of our work and personal lives, too, right?



Thursday, May 4, 2017

Don’t Seek Happiness, Happily Seek

Does anyone wonder why I entitled this blog Pool is a Journey?

Because it's not about the destination.  It's about all the steps, stories, trips, and memories we create along the way.

I wanted to remind players to be happy in the pursuit of your goals.

Instead of trying to acquire titles and achieve goals in order to be happy and fulfilled, why not be happy while you pursue your goals??

In other words, as I read recently which I loved:  "don’t seek happiness, happily seek."

Enjoy the journey, not just the destination.  All the memorable experiences along the way is what makes the journey a beautiful one.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Jelly?

I wrote just recently how I helped a friend of mine with his mental game.  We had several days' worth of great discussion, and then I provided him with some links from previous blog posts where I wrote about how to handle pressure, etc.

He told me he now reviews that material before his big tournaments.

Pretty cool, huh?

After the "pep talk" and reading material, he placed well in the next Omega tournament (in March) - placing better than the previous events for sure.

And in the April tournament this past weekend, he lasted even further than last month!  He lasted until Sunday and even got in the Calcutta money!  It's his highest finish in a couple of years of playing on the Omega Tour.

I was very happy and excited for him that the material and discussion is already helping him!  It's so nice when we learn to calm our minds so we can focus on playing our best pool.

My question is, where's my jelly?

hahahaha

Totally kidding!

I don't want or need a tip - my reward is seeing his rewards!  :)


Monday, May 1, 2017

Summer Fun

Well, it's already May.  Can you believe it?  I can't either.

This is the slow time of year for the pool rooms.  The weather gets nicer and people do more outdoor activities than stay indoors and play pool.

My hope is you get to do BOTH!

Get some dedicated time indoors playing the game we all love.  However, it's also important to get outside and take in the sun, get some exercise, take advantage of the weather, and make some memories that involve more than just pool tournaments.

Make this summer your best yet!