Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Not Looking at the Bracket - Project Hunger Games

I have written many times how I have test anxiety, and that's one of the reasons why it took me so long to finally win that title tournament I yearned for for years!

But even after I got mentally strong and became more successful, I still never wanted to look at the bracket; I just didn't want to see who I was playing next.

I would psych myself out before even getting to the table with them, lol. If they were a top player, I could get timid and scared. If I thought they didn't play well, I could get too cocky.  Either persona doesn't look pretty, right?

Recently I had a convo related to this with Katniss.

She was explaining a tournament experience and in that recap, she said she had asked a friend to go over to the bracket and tell her when she would be up next, as she didn't want to see the bracket.

I immediately felt giddy of course, because I could relate! I told her, " I don't like to see who I am playing next either. "

But, she shot me down.

She wasn't saying that at all!

She told me, "I don't mind who I'm playing next, I don't mind knowing that at all, but I don't want to see how much money I could potentially make if I won a few more matches."

Oh!

So, this goes to show that we each have different things we don't want to see or know about because because it might affect our thoughts and emotions. 


Thursday, February 20, 2020

Just Have Fun - The Cueist Project

I have written a TON of times in my blog that it's important to have fun in your matches.  A TON.

And truthfully, it's the most used sentence when I send texts to friends who are playing in tournaments, "Don't forget to have fun."

(going with my theme to shorten my blog posts, I will not go into all the fine details I could share about this and try and make this short and sweet.)

Imagine yourself having fun, smiling, enjoying the game we love to play, while you are competing in a match.  Can you add pressure and then still be smiling and having fun?  Nope. The two don't go together like milk and cookies.

It's really difficult to have fun when you feel pressure. But if your goal is to have fun, the pressure is not as strong.  And, having fun helps lower tension, and feelings of negativity, which can get in the way of playing our best.

This resonated when The Cueist described to me a key match on a Sunday morning of a big tournament he was playing in.  His description explains VERY WELL the concept and my motto of "having fun."

"Next morning, my first match is against a guy that is always tough to beat, and I know he loves the bar tables as much as I do. But, I figured that if I had fun in the match, I'd still be tough to beat. There was a lot of people watching, but I was feeling comfortable. It ended up being a close match, but I won 7/5. "


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Low Confidence Leads to Improvement - Project Hunger Games

Katniss (the pool player of the Project Hunger Games section of my blog) shared with me she is having some confidence issues.

"I sucked at a tournament last weekend and then at league the very next week, I sucked worse. I am feeling some frustration and low confidence. I'm playing really badly!"

I took in her words and could tell she was hurting.

I shared with her, "Everyone goes through these confidence things, just remember it's all part of the process. And very normal :)."

I added, "Funny thing: we actually improve during times of these little baby steps backwards. If that makes sense. It makes us not get too comfortable, which leads to us working on our game, which leads to improvement. :)"

She replied back that I made her cry. 

Oopps!  

Don't worry - she was crying in a good way, lol.

Maybe it's because my words eased her feelings remembering that being frustrated and lacking confidence from playing badly is very normal and we all go through it.  Plus, the good news is it's a catalysts to work on our game, which in turns helps us improve.

Because I have been in her situation almost 1,000 times (I might be exaggerating) of feeling down after a tough loss or a bad tournament run because I'm playing so badly, I can relate. Ugh. 

Friday, January 17, 2020

New City, New Pool - with a Caveat

One of my friends, who I met about 20 years ago when we joined the same team, has not been playing pool lately.  She might occasionally play at a local jaunt on a Friday night to show the big ego guys a chick can play, lol, but she hasn't played league in a few years.  Mostly because of the drama associated with the leagues she was on - either between players or how the leagues were run.

My friend is moving to a new city, and I mentioned to her that maybe because she was moving to a new location, did she happen to have interest to join a league in the new area?  She is very talented and really enjoys playing.  I told her there are some good pool rooms around her, and she wouldn't really know everyone, and it would be a change of scenery, change-of-pace, new league operators, and away from the previous drama that she had been around in her home town.
I honestly thought she was going to say no.

Instead, I was pleasantly surprised when she said she had actually thought of this also! However, with a caveat - she made it a point to say she wouldn't join any leagues at pool rooms.  

I was intrigued!  

So, even though I'm super shy and never one to press or ask prodding questions (yeah, right Melinda, lol!), I asked her what she meant.  And of course you all know what that means next - I want to write about it!  

My friend had played in some leagues that didn't care about the players. She was burned by them, and it has stuck with her. Also, she has had some bad luck dating career pool players. Hmm, I can attest to that, also, so you can throw me into that club, too, lol.

So, therefore, she doesn't want to play in big leagues or be around career players. Being a single, pretty, female who can play pool, the career pool players hit on her a lot, but they aren't the type of guys she is interested in. She explained that it's less stressful, less drama, and honestly a lot more fun to play pool out of bars instead of leagues in pool rooms. She expanded, "I would rather meet real people who happen to enjoy pool...and that happens in the bars that don't cater to [certain leagues]."

It was a different and interesting perspective, one I hadn't thought of.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Whiny Pool Players - The Cueist Project

The Cueist shared with me once that he really doesn't like to compete against whiny pool players.  He shared an instance when he was playing a match against a guy named Oscar.  I don't live in the same town as him, but I immediately asked him, "Does he have a regular day job?"

He replies, laughing, "LOL, no. How did you know?"

The one thing I can say that I don't miss about playing pool anymore is the pool players who play pool for a living, who look to place in tournaments as their sole income.  I'm not talking about pros, I'm talking about the guys who have been only pool players their entire life, with no other source of income.  

Those players are THE TOUGHEST to play.  Not because they are good, everyone can play good, it's because when they start to lose, they cause a fuss, vent openly during a game, and/or bitch and whine, which of course can sharks us.

Most players look at tournaments as simply extra income. One friend of mine, every time she got an envelope, she would put it into a jar and at the end of the year she added how much she had and then went and bought herself something sweet!

Some players, when they finally maybe place in the top three and for the first time dip into a few hundred dollars, they might buy themselves something special with that extra cash.  When I won the Women's 9-Ball Singles at ACS Nationals, I took that $800 first-place-prize-money and went out and bought myself a tablet!

A majority of people use their winnings as extra money. Yes, we may use it to pay some bills, but we're not solely dependent on how we finish to pay the bills.

While I understand the frustration to need to pay your bills if pool playing is your sole income, but they take it out on us day-job-peeps if we start to beat them in a match or defeat them in a match.

I saw this in another way one time as well. I played scotch doubles in Vegas a long time ago with one of the local guys in San Antonio (where I lived at the time). He is a pretty even-keel guy, but he got onto me pretty badly when I made mistakes in our matches.  Of course back then I didn't even know what shape or patterns were, lol. Turns out he got mad at me because he was relying on us finishing well to pay his flight and hotel bills.  Damn that's a lot of pressure!  No wonder he got mad at me.

But, I just think it's unfair to us who play pool for fun or because we love the game, to have to play against players bitching, whining, cussing, slamming cues, whatever because they are losing. Yes, they are losing lunch money, bill money, etc. and so it is a pretty big loss when they depend on the win to pay their bills.  But, it's not our fault they decided to play pool for a living. But, they sure take it on us, huh?

Cueist said he got into it with Oscar.  "I got out of line when I lost my cool w/ him...but, I'm actually glad I stood up to him. I usually try and avoid conflict especially in the poolrooms b/c we see everyone so often. And plus, it's totally unnecessary. But at the same time, I felt like I needed to stop him and say something that a lot of guys wouldn't have said. "


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Making Me Smile - Project Hunger Games

I always love it when people surprise me and make me smile.

This happened the other day when I was conversing with Katniss (the pool player of the Project Hunger Games section of my blog). We were on FB messenger talking about many different things back and forth about pool.  At one point she described something that happened at league.  Being who I am, I put on my "I have a suggestion!" shirt, lol, and then gave her some advice.

Her immediate reply was, "Ooooh! I'm going to write that in my notebook!"
 
I chatted back and told her I was impressed she was going to do that, because it showed she didn't want to forget what we talked about (and, maybe, just maybe I gave good information lol).

Smile was in full effect!

As I sat back in my chair, blowing on my knuckles and wiping them on my shirt with pride, I waited for her reply.

Uh, nothing.

She didn't respond like she had been for the past 15-20 minutes.  I didn't take it personally, and figured maybe she just got busy with her new job or something.

About 10 minutes later she chatted me, "Okay, it's in my notebook!"

And I admit I was a little bit stunned.

I said, "What do you mean you put it in your notebook?"

She replies, "I put it in my notebook because I wanted to remember what we talked about. "

"But how did you do that from work?" I inquired.

She shared, "Oh!  I keep my little pool notebook in my purse.  I have it with me at all times."
 
Katniss really made me smile!  What a great idea!

Of course, don't forget that in our digital age you can take notes on your smart phone, too.  Just be aware that many tournaments don't allow phones during matches, so you might want the hand-written notebook or checklist as a backup.

Checklists/notebooks/notes are extremely helpful. I wont rehash what I wrote many times about this, but you can start reading here if you want to check out the benefits.

I have always said to make sure to put your checklist or notebook in your pool case, so you have it during tournaments to review.  Her idea is even better - she has it with her all the time no matter where she is or what she is doing!

Still smiling!


Friday, January 10, 2020

Focus on One Thing to Keep Emotions at Bay - The Cueist Project

I found another email from The Cueist (the pool player of The Cueist Project section of my blog) from last year and saw a gem in it to blog about.

He was upset at his opponent for pulling some sharking moves during the playoffs of one of his leagues.

He shared:
I couldn't help but think that I was about to lose the game b/c of those stupid moves that that guy pulled. And I tried everything to shake it. I could hear my heart beating, and I just wanted to win so badly after this.

So I make the 1 and I'm still upset. I make the 2, and tell myself "just make one ball at a time. You don't have to get perfect, just get out."
First, I hate for anyone to have to deal with tough opponents or raised emotions while we are trying to compete.  Sucks, doesn't it?

But his last sentence is something I wanted to touch upon today with you all.  It's really golden advice and and a great reminder.  And something I suggest you consider when you are upset, feel pressure, or are riled up during a match.

One ball at a time.

Usually, negative emotions can lead to us not performing our best, which in turn can cause us to lose the match. We try our hardest to win!  But....we still lose because the emotions overcome our muscle memory and our pre-shot routines.

One ball at a time.

The Cueist shared what he was thinking during this chaotic match, and it goes along with what I preach in my blog all the time.

What the Cueist eventually transitioned to was to was focusing his mind and thoughts on playing his best for the shot in front of him.

He eventually turned his focus, and he was no longer thinking about the score, or how badly he wanted to win, or how pissed he was.  Are any of those thoughts related to the mechanical process of playing pool?

NOPE.

His thinking was spot on. At this point, when he was so upset and wanted to win so badly, that isn't the time to be fancy and cute and also try to get perfect shape. It's actually the perfect time to re-focus solely on the ball in front of you.

One ball at a time.

Remember that, peeps!

Do you see what is so great about this?  The Cueist removed emotion from his mind, and started to focus on the shot in front of him. THAT wins you games. THAT helps your nerves, pressure, or negative emotions. THAT helps your pre-shot routine. THAT helps you win more games.

It's okay to think and feel negative things. But let them go quickly! And then get back to the task at hand:  kicking your opponents' ass....One ball at a time.


image from Goalcast.com


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year! (and Goals Reminders)

Can you believe it's 2020 already?  Where did the last 20 years go?  No, seriously!

lol

If you decide to set some goals for 2020, keep these in mind:

(click image to enlarge)

Happy New Year!



(image from https://keap.com/business-success-blog/sales/sales-process/7-sales-goals-for-2020)