Thursday, July 27, 2017

Refocusing Early - the Danielson Series, July 2017

This month's installment of The Danielson Series is about refocusing early.

One of Danielson's matches from the July Omega Billiards Tour stop was right in front of the tournament table, so I had no choice but to notice/watch/see.

I actually tried not to watch, as I don't really know if he plays well in front of me or not, or if he doesn't even notice I'm there.  I've written about this before - sometimes we notice people around us and it affects our game.

But, being that I was right in front of his table, I did see some of the match.  And I had noticed he was missing more than usual.  And then I recognized immediately the reason why.  Of course I couldn't take a time-out and tell him, tho, during the match.  So I sat there and watched him struggle; felt so badly for him.

On the Monday morning quarterback conversation, Danielson shares with me, "I don't know what was going on... " he lamented.  "You could tell I don't play often on these Diamond bar tables hahaha" he shyly admitted, a tad embarrassed.

I shared with him carefully, "It looked like you were trying to get shape more, instead of focusing on making the ball.  And with those tables, shape is secondary because they are so freaking fast. You'd get shape almost every time just about anyway on the smaller table; if that makes sense."

He shares, "Yeah.. I have been really working on shape.. staying off the rail and playing to the middle of the table."

I exclaimed, "That's great!  But those tables deserve attention on shot-making first, because shape comes kinda normal on them because they are so fast and small."

And then I shared with him the key:

"The key is to figure out right away what's going on. Why are you missing more than usual?  What's going on?  You could have recovered right away and won that match.  Granted, it took me a couple of years to figure out and to realize DURING a match to think about what I'm doing wrong and fix it.  Sometimes we don't think like that, we just get frustrated.  Instead, though, figure out right away what's up."

And then I sent him these two links that delve further into "refocusing early":

http://pooljourney.blogspot.com/2009/11/refocus-early.html

http://pooljourney.blogspot.com/2015/11/learn-to-refocus.html

He admitted, "You're right.. I just kept fighting it instead of correcting it.  I could have beat that top player.   I just couldn't get out of my own way."

Danielson did still finished 17th place out of 64 players, so it was still a successful tournament overall!

It takes huge self awareness to train yourself to figure out what's going on during a match real early, instead of letting the match get away from you.

Can you imagine the many different outcomes if you taught yourself to become aware of why you are missing, and then resolved it before the match finished?

I implore you to read the two links above to help you out in your very next tournament!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Giving and Receiving Advice During a Tourney

As the main photographer of the Omega Billiards Tour (I wear many hats running the Tour, lol), I know probably more than anyone which players stay down well on their shots and which do not.

Of course we may generally recognize which players shoot fast or maybe don't stay down.  Or maybe you might recognize players that exaggerate staying down on their shots (whether intentional or not).

As the photographer, though, I know EVERY single players' normal shot routine.

During the last Omega tourney, I was taking photos and immediately recognized that a player was staying down longer on his shots.  In the past, he tended to falter sometimes in matches due to misses (not due to choice selection or safeties), but today he was staying down so well and taking his time more than I'm used to seeing, and it was clearly related to his positive score in this tough match, because he was making more shots.

I debated on telling him or not that I noticed this.  As I've written before, bringing awareness to someone about their game can actually be detrimental during a tournament, as they then begin to focus too much on that, instead of playing pool.  So, I decided to just kept the compliment to myself.

The player won that match, but then lost his next match.  He came over to the tournament chart, waiting to play his next match, and I decided to finally give him the compliment. 

I told him I noticed he was staying down really well and was taking his time more than usual in his earlier match, and that he made more shots than usual.  I told him I was pleased to see this change, as it really benefited him.  I also shared, in comparison, that in his next match he didn't stay down quite as well, to shine on the reality that his staying down and taking more time was indeed beneficial to him.

And then I recognized right away my compliment was kinda lost.  He wanted to explain to me why he hadn't stayed down in that last match and why he lost.  Every time he would say something like, "He hooked me 3 times in a row by accident," I would counter with a chuckle, "What does that have to do with staying down well?"

And then he shared more of his frustrations with me, "Well, he had me down and then shit in a ball."  Again I asked, "What does that have to do with staying down?"

I tried to really reinforce that him staying down was a beautiful sight and that he played so good taking his time.

--------------------
Okay, folks, I could easily end this blog post right here.  But for some reason, I think it's intriguing to delve into this exchange some more.  Sure, it makes for a longer reading (sorry!), but I like evaluating aspects of situations.  It's the leadership classes I've had over the past 20 years that begs my mind to evaluate and contemplate the different aspects of communication.  

You can stop reading now if you wish, or read on for my opinion of the leadership/psychology aspect, lol.
--------------------

At this point in the conversation, I knew there were many factors affecting his absorption of the compliment or not.  It was now a matter of his personality on if my words would sink in or not, or maybe my timing was bad, or maybe my choice of words wasn't good, or maybe comparing it to his next loss was not smart on my part, etc.


Further, it's actually tough for some guys to take advice from anyone, much less a chick.  Further, he wanted to really explain why he lost.  That's his personality; and I'm okay with that.  He might have heard what I was trying to tell him that would help him, but he didn't acknowledge it; which again is fine.

But he seemed to brush it off, and instead wanted to counter with the reasons why he lost (many bad rolls and his frustration over that). 

I am fully aware that some people take advice, some don't, some don't think I know much, some don't acknowledge positive things, etc.

The whole conversation was really about two personalities and also if the words I choose would help the compliment be received.

Further, what frame of mind was he in to receive the words of advice?  If I told him over dinner, I bet the convo would have been different.  Instead, I might have picked the wrong time to tell him because it was right after he lost a match.

Timing, personalities, ego, acceptance, choice of words - all these things go into giving/receiving advice.  Even if it's a compliment.

I am hopeful he thinks about the compliment the weeks after, and shows up at the next tournament ready to take extra time on his shots and kick more ass!


Monday, July 24, 2017

Introducing: The Danielson Series

I mentioned that I have been helping a friend with his game, mostly by just talking about the mental aspect of the game and such, and usually right before or after tournaments.

Well, his progress has been such that he and I thought I should also be sharing this information all along this year with you all as well.  Kind of like a progress report.  And also so you can learn along with him. 

Sure, I wrote about this "coaching" a few times already (here and here), but after every tournament, he and I chat about something new that came up for him from the previous weekend's tourney, and he's telling me it's really good info that I should share with others.

Most of the time I've already written about it in my blog because I've gone through the familiar situations already in my pool journey, so I find him previous links to blogs I've written.  It's actually really cool I've written about many of the topics already; proves we all go through similar mental situations in our pool journey.  But he suggested I reintroduce these links to you all as well, as a sort of series of learning blog posts.

This player was ranked in the 60s on the Omega Tour End of Season Standings in 2015 and in the 40s in 2016.  He also went 0-2 in most of the stops those two years who never cashed in an Omega Tour event.  And this year he's turned into a player ranked in the top 25 who now is a threat to cash in every event!  

I'm going to label this "Danielson," like the eager student in the movie Karate Kid who was a quick learner as he applied the lessons from Mister Miyagi.  So, in the blog pieces, I will be referring to the player as "Danielson" and not use his real name.

I'm even going to make a tab on the top of my blog so you can follow along when I update you all of his progress (which I will do this week).  Today is just to introduce the concept to you.

Dainelson and I hope you enjoy this journey of learning!


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Got a Little Table Time In

I normally don't even consider anymore playing in an Omega Tournament because I'm too busy.  With over 90 players a stop, it isn't really fair if I try to play and also run the tourney because there is too much to do.  Sure, I have helpers, but photos still need to be taken, raffle tickets sold, and break and run to be held, all the while running the bracket and posting results online.  So, I just don't feel right leaving so many duties to the helpers so I can play a little.

However, at the last Omega stop, I sure did have the itch to play!  I was secretly hoping we would have one opening so I could play, because the tournament was being held on diamond bar tables!  Omgosh I play well on those tables!

Further, this event was limited to 64 players because they only had 8 tables, so the tournament was more manageable and I knew I could step away and play.  You know, if the need arose that I needed to help out fill a 64-person bracket.  LOL.

Alas, the field was full.

And that's okay!  Still had plenty to do.

Come Sunday, the itch is still there.  Strong.

I don't think I've even played a game of pool since April.

Later in the afternoon when the tournament is winding down with only a match or two left, I ask a friend if I can borrow his cue.  He happens to also shoot with an OB shaft, so it felt really comfortable.

I ran out the first rack (with a mulligan lol), then ran out two more racks.  Many people are watching and asking me why I didn't play, and I shared, "sure wish I could have!"



As I'm handing the cue back to the player, a veteran on the tour and someone who knows how I play quips up to the guy, "and that wasn't the cue that made her shoot that way."

hahahahhhaha!

I was cracking up!

Many Omega players don't even know I play pool or that I play pool kinda good, so some were shocked how well I played just in those few games they witnessed.

And normally people joke, "Wow, that cue doesn't miss!"  But this guy immediately shot any notion or thought down that it was the cue with his really cool compliment.

/blush/


Friday, July 21, 2017

Friends Nervous Might Blog About Them

I haven't been to a pool room on a week night in at least a year I think.  I don't play league anymore (loving the free time and going to sleep at a decent hour not smelling like smoke!), and don't play weekly tournaments, so I only really get to a pool room maybe on a weekend to give lessons and of course to run the Omega Tour.

However, the other night I ventured into the local pool room on a tournament night, because I had an appointment with a friend about an idea for pool.

As I sat there, many people were surprised to see me, and then surprised I didn't even have my cue with me.

"Not here for the tournament, just meeting up with a friend to chat," I repeatedly shared to those who asked after their hug. 

I recognized most all the players, but there were a few new ones I hadn't seen before.  But it was the same scenario as usual - tournament, break and run pot, players trying to make extra money, smokey place.

At around 9:45pm, even my friend Dave Favor said to me, "Isn't it past your bedtime?"  LOL.  He knows I go to sleep early nowadays because when he calls after 9pm I don't normally answer because I am sometimes already in bed.  lol.  But I had a little bit more chat time left with my girlfriend and so stuck around just a little longer.

Because I was focused on my her and our talk, I didn't even look at my phone for two hours.  I finally checked it when I left and saw a message from a friend who lives out of town.  "Hey, I'm outside.  I'm sure you're playing league but can you come out real quick to say hi?"

He was just passing through on his way to a meeting, drove by this pool room, and happened to see my car.

I asked him later (I missed his text by an hour), "Why didn't you just come in and say hi?"

"Oh, no" he chuckles but being serious, "I didn't want to read in your blog how some guy came in and interrupted your perfect score on league night!"

LMAO

Pretty damn hysterical!

And yet I still put it in my blog, LOL!


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Chris Melling 8-Ball Run - WOW

Everyone is talking about this run from Chris Melling last week during the World Pool Series.

You will also be talking about it... check it out for yourself!


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Upping Your Pool Case

I love the ingenuity and cleverness of players.  Take this case for example:


This is a funny saying a player liked so he added it to his pool case.  His profession is putting wraps on cars, so he was easily able to apply this on his case.

Pretty cool, huh?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Please Praise Players for High Finish

I think it's very unfortunate and sad the way players complain about lower handicapped players.

Because the Omega Billiards Tour is handicapped, you can imagine that it is the number one complaint.  But, the complaints aren't just to me, but to the players, as well.

If the Tour wasn't handicapped, the comments wouldn't be quite as personal or rude to their fellow players.

BTW, the reason the Tour is handicapped is so all levels of players can compete.  This was the sponsor's biggest passion for the tour, and it has proven successful because we have full fields over 90+ players, 12 times a year.  Sure, a non-handicapped tour would also be successful, but it would not garnish 90+ players ever month, every year if the same players keep winning all the cash.

However, let's just ponder a moment IF the Omega Tour was non-handicapped.... I personally think the players who were lower ranked would not get "bullied" for performing well, instead they would be given praise by their fellow players.

On Sunday last weekend of the Omega stop, a few players were talking about a 5-ranked player and a 6-ranked player who were having a good day on Sunday (one placed 5th and the other placed 7th).  It was each their very first time to even make it to Sunday!  Yet some of the players were not happy for them or congratulating them, instead they were questioning their ranking.

I think this is in direct relation to the Tour being handicapped.

Unfortunately.

Dang it.

At some point, everyone's game improves and we have a few good tournaments before we become consistent.  And these out-of-the-ordinary-tournament-finishes are a gem in our journey where we finally finish decent.  And I bet you weren't badmouthed, talked about on the sidelines, or questioned.  I don't know if you were congratulated per say, but I bet your finish wasn't diminished by the whispering of "he's under rated; how is he doing so well; he should move up; he's definitely not a 5;" etc.

Again, every player who finally has a good finish should be given a pat on the back for their first-time-to-place-that-high for them.  Not to feel ashamed or embarrassed for their ranking, or felt they only placed that high because their handicap is too low.

Give these players some respect for their first-time high finish!

I have been harassed openly on social media for being an Open player.  It was NOT a fun experience and yet it's not the players fault for their ranking - it's the system being used or the Tournament Director's decision.  To harp on the player or about the player is just so unfair and ridiculous.

Why not PRAISE players for doing well?  HELP them in their journey.  Don't discourage them with snide remarks or even joke to them about their ranking.  Instead, pump them up and congratulate them for their great finish that they have struggled to achieve for years! 

Do good, not harm.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Being a Leader Takes Self Reflection

One of the humbling lessons I've learned running the Omega Billiards Tour is it doesn't matter my personal distaste for a player or not, I must be cordial and nice to them.

But, it even goes beyond that. 

A player who has never played on the Omega Tour signed up in February for a stop in July.  Seems no big deal right?  Happens all the time.  However, I just happen to have history with this guy.  And not good history.

He is the one I wrote about last year ("The Clapper") who was rude to me during a tournament.  Read all about my emotions and his unethical behavior here.

However, running the Omega Billiards Tour is just like running a business.  And running a business well takes leadership, learning from mistakes, and treating everyone with respect.

It wouldn't be proper for me to deny his entry fee because he pissed me off last year.  That would have been unethical on my part. 

Confession:  The thing is, I have not treated all players equally or fair the entire time of running the Tour. 

I unfortunately learned from my upbringing to ignore people when they've upset me.  Learned this well from my Mom; she didn't speak to one neighbor ever again because of a comment he made about her in 1980.  Throw in that I'm female, and it seems to be part of our DNA.  You know the joke - guys get into an argument and are friends in 5 minutes; girls get into an argument and don't talk to each other for 5 years, lol.

Whether clique or not, it's not right to ever ignore anyone because you are upset at them or because they hurt you.  Sure, it's a "normal" defense mechanism we use to protect ourselves, especially right after we feel hurt.  But when running a business, it's really not the right thing to keep doing. 

When I first started the Omega Tour over five years ago, there were a couple of players I was upset with, and so unfortunately I wasn't nice to them.  I wouldn't really ignore them, but I wasn't real friendly and I was cold to them and barely made eye contact because I was hurt by their actions in the recent past.  I was also rude to a couple of players when I ran the Ladies Tour.

You might think ignoring people because they might have hurt you or because you don't like them is childish and rude.  And well, you are right!

Every single time I did that, I was WRONG.  It was a VERY unprofessional, rude, and unacceptable behavior on my part!  I am still ashamed how I acted.

However, I have luckily realized my actions were wrong.  I don't care what history we had or if I'm still upset with a player for something personal, the bottom line is I run a business and I need to treat everyone with respect.

"The Clapper" played this past weekend and we were both kind to each other and there were no issues.  And I also wasn't a bitch to him - NO reason to act like that at all.  I was a professional.  I was a leader.  And it felt good.

The point is, no matter your position, always treat people with respect.  And as a Tournament Director, this leadership position for sure means I need to act like a leader, and not like a child. 



Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tough to Lose With Class

One of the Omega Billiards Tour player's who is well-known for handling loss well and never showing emotions or getting upset, was sharing something with me and his fiance' after he lost a match late on a Saturday.

You see, just because he SHOWS no reaction to losing a match he cares about, doesn't mean he's not internally really pissed off!

He said, "Ya know, it really is tough to lose with class."

I looked at him kinda weird, knowing he handles losses better than anyone we all know.

He continued, "I'm actually really mad I lost that match and I'm out of the tournament already, but I don't need to be an asshole because of it."

I couldn't even see on his face or in his body language that he was that internally upset about his last match; he controlled his emotions that well.  If he hadn't uttered that confession, I never would have known just how upset he was.

He continued to share that when he was a kid/teenager playing pool at places with his Dad, he was punished for outbursts.  "Daddy took my cue away if I showed I was upset.  Or, he wouldn't let me play for two weeks.  That teaches you to stop showing you are pissed off when you lose.  I wanted to keep playing!"

He added, "It's so hard to be a good loser because we want to win so badly.  We don't have to accept it.  Hell, we don't have to happy about it!  But, always lose with style."

I think Tony Sulsar would be extremely happy and pleased to know that what his Dad instilled in him is actually what we all see and appreciate in Tony.  People talk about it all the time - how well he handles himself, is always a gentlemen no matter if he loses a tough match or wins, and never shows anger at all after losses.

He's a great role model.

His Dad would be so very proud of him!


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Pressure on Day Two of a Tourney

Being a player for the last 25 years and also a Tournament Director for the last 15 (two Tours), I see a lot of things from experience and also from the sidelines.

One thing I see by running the Omega Billiards Tour, and have also been through myself as a player, is that some players who come back on Sunday are more nervous, more anxious and feel more pressure than they did on Saturdays.

It actually reminds me of a pro golf tournament. The unknown (less famous) players that find themselves top of the leader-board going into the weekend are interviewed by the media and hounded with questions like, "How do you feel?"   "How do you think you're going to do tomorrow?"  "What helped you today?"  Etc. 

And then Sunday comes and at the end of the day they aren't on the leader-board anymore.  They have faltered.  Mostly it's because they're not seasoned enough.  Not because they don't have the talent, but because they don't have enough seasoning, experience and enough tournaments under their belt to know how to handle all the emotions and pressure of lasting into Sunday as a leader.



Same thing happens in two-day pool tournaments.  If you aren't really seasoned yet and you find yourself on the winner side on Sunday, honestly you pretty much have a restless night.  You're thinking about the what-ifs, you're thinking about the excitement of being on the winner side still, you might be thinking about the points you're going to get and move up in the standings, etc.

STOP.

You're don't even realize it, but you're putting invisible pressure on yourself by thinking about all these things.

Just as the pro golfer on the leader-board who is no longer in the hunt late on Sunday, many players put so much pressure on themselves Sunday morning, that they don't play good pool.

All they really need is seasoning, more experiences and to position themselves into numerous Sunday finishes to be able to get used to the feelings and thoughts that come into our anxious brains the night before day two of a tournament. 

I know from painful experience the "Day Two Sorrows," lol.  For many years, I just wanted to get in the money.  Then I yearned to last until Sunday.  When I finally did, I fell on my face lol.  Then I wanted to win just a single match on Sunday.  Just one!  Then I yearned so badly to come into Sunday on the winner's side.  Then I wanted to win a match on the winner's side......

But you see....all of these humps/goals eventually happen.

It just takes time.

Took me many, many years.

It's just part of the journey.

It takes seasoning.

It takes experience.

What I wish all players to know is this:  you will feel like you failed on many Sundays of tournaments.  It's just part of the journey we all go through, though.  Please don't get discouraged.  It's just part of the process.

Good news is, the more tourneys, the more experience.  The more experience, the more winning of matches.

And you will soon be on the leader-board coming into the final round on Sunday yourself!


Friday, July 7, 2017

Helen Hayes - RIP

It's another sad day in the pool world.

One of the biggest hearts in pool has passed away.  Helen Hayes.

She was a staple on the Texas pool scene and also at National tournaments.  But besides her amazing talent on the table, she is also known for always laughing (she had a GREAT laugh, too) and enjoying life.  She never spoke ill of anyone and she had a heart bigger than the world.

She found out only a week and a half ago she had Stage 4 lung cancer, that had spread to her brain and abdominal lymph nodes.  She hadn't been feeling well in many months, and now we know why.

She still traveled to ACS Nationals just in May and her women's team won:


Helen and I go way back.  Not far enough for me, now.  She was a great friend to every single person she came across.

This is how I remember her:  always smiling, always laughing:


She was to have her first round of radiation on Fri (two weeks after she was diagnosed), but the day before, she was rushed to the ER... and did not survive in ICU.

The outpouring of love and memories on Facebook is heartbreaking.  Shows how wonderful of a person she is.  And how much her loss has touched everyone.

She was only 43 years old.

RIP in my dear friend.  You will be missed beyond words.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Rejected

Interviewing people for my column in Billiard Buzz, I have a mental list of folks I want to approach to interview.  Since it's been a dream for years, my list is kinda full.

When the people on my potential interviewees list say yes, I get stoked because I know we can all learn from them (like the recent one from almost-unknown cuemaker Jacob Hulsey and later in July read all about Billiards Digest editor Mike Panozzo!).

It's the days I'm talking to someone and a light bulb goes off about why that person would be an interesting choice as well that makes me smile and get excited.  Besides being shocked not realizing sooner of their obvious inclusion on the list of potential folks, I also get excited because I know readers would really enjoy their story.

Just the other day I was talking to a friend and it hits me like a bolt of lightning - this guy would be a great person to interview!!

I called him back a couple of days later to see if he would be interested, but he shot me down.

Dammit.


I told him people would really be surprised by his life story, but he said he didn't really want to do an interview.  I told him I understood why (he has some business legal concerns), but admittedly I was disappointed because his story is VERY unique.

I told him because he is a backer, that part is an interesting perspective for people, too.  He said, "Melinda, I have nothing good to say about pool, so it wouldn't be a good interview."

I exclaimed, "THAT's exactly why it would be a good interview!"

What a perspective/treat it would be for us!

To see his side of why/how people approach him to back him (he has the funds), people ask to borrow money (then he gets ignored by players who owe him money), and yet why he can't trust anyone (how do you know if two players aren't "in" on a scheme to get your money?).

He did add, which I will share, "It's a shame you can't trust anyone when you walk into the pool room."

But, it's also his life story.  How he came from nothing to something.  How he invests in land and businesses and what all that really means (taxes, economy, waiting, etc).  How he's famous in other countries (his photo is printed on shirts and people stand in long lines for his autograph). (really piquing your interest, huh?)

But it is also the negative side of the pool room when it comes to action and backing that makes for a different perspective we may not think of a lot.

Oh well.

Dammit.


Monday, July 3, 2017

The Eyebrows Have It

A year or so ago, I started to "draw in" my eyebrows.

Yep, you heard me right, lol.

In order to get a good arch, I use a pomade (it's like a lightweight paste, see photo of it below) and I draw and fill in my eyebrows with it now.  (I can't believe I'm talking about this, lol).


But, it's the only way for me to get a pretty arch and a carefully sculptured eyebrow, as my own eyebrow hairs are chaotic and not shaped well at all, lol.

So, imagine my surprise one fine afternoon during a busy Omega Tour stop weekend early last year and checked myself out in the mirror as I washed my hands.  My left eyebrow was kinda smeared!

You see, I had been taking photos for a few hours of the players, snapping great pics for them.  Not realizing putting my eye against the camera to look through the lens was smearing my perfectly-shaped (not anymore!) eyebrow.

Hysterical!

So, I have learned from the several times of forgetting my eyebrows can smear against the lens all day, to take photos different now.  All in the name of beauty, right?  lol!

I used to take photos like this:


Now I take them more like this:


However, I actually lower the camera lens to about waist high - the best photos are level to the table, not above the table/player.

What's funny is, because I don't look through the lens anymore, I kinda point and shoot.  So, sometimes I will snap photos of the lights on the table or the legs of the table, instead of the player, lol.  But, eventually I capture several good shots of each player.

And in case you are imaging weird, fake-looking eyebrows on me, here is what my drawn-in eyebrows look like: