Friday, November 25, 2011

Failed Test

Sunday afternoon we played a very good team who should be in the top 5 of our league (if they aren't already).  One of the teammates on this opposing team is the top player in our league.  And we have at least 100 people on this league, so that tells you how good he is (and how often he plays).

I approached him about mid-way through the team match and asked if he went to Vegas.  He said sometimes and I suggested if my boyfriend couldn't go, would he like to play scotch doubles?  He said yes, he would be interested if Plan A didn't work out with me.

Is it obvious I'm picky with my scotch doubles players?  LOL.  I want the best possible players - I wont "settle" in team events, and that includes scotch doubles. 

Cases in point: Last year I asked the top player in my other league if he could play with me in Vegas (we got 7th out of 385 teams).  Year before that I played with a pro (placed 13th in the Masters division).  Year before that - my scotch doubles partner and I placed 5th then 4th in consecutive years against about 400 other teams in Vegas!

My boyfriend and I play GREAT together and we do very well as a team.  However, because I'm very competitive, I want a backup plan just in case he can't get off of work and then I wont have anyone good to play with come May in Vegas.
So imagine my surprise when I started to take shots during league (hey, they were having $2 shot specials!) and I missed an 8ball and then a 3-ball out my last two games and the guy comes up to me afterwards and was like, "uh, I dunno now."  lmao!

He was picking on me, but it was pretty dang funny I preferenced my convo to him that I only play with good players and then I dog it!!

Reminds of me when I was being picky back in 2007 and I had to find an opponent at the last minute.  Someone suggested Royce Bunnell of OB Cues but I didn't know how he played, so I told him I'd have to make him try out.  He laughed and said he would, then I went to play a match and proceeded to dog two 9-balls!

He brings that story up to this day.  (and btw, that was my partner who we scored 5th and 4th scotch doubles places!)  :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What Do You Look at Last?

There is a "fun debate" going on over on the forums about what pool players look at last when they stroke.  The Object Ball (OB) or the CueBall (CB)?

Everyone is going back and forth.  And even other alternatives are being discussed (if you can imagine there are actually other things to look at last other than either the OB or the CB when you shoot a shot).

Some peeps are even sharing with us (in that discussion thread) which ball they think the pros look at last, too. 

Here's all I know:  when I started to look at the Object Ball last (about 1-2 years ago), my consistency in my pre-shot routine rose exponentially and I was able to stay down on my shots SO MUCH better (which obviously leads to less balls missed).

I don't know which is right or wrong, I'm just sharing what I now try to incorporate in my pre-shot routine and why it's been successful for me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Season Finale Tourney

The final stop of the 2011 OB Cues Tour Season was held the weekend of Nov 5th in San Leon, Texas at Casper's Billiards.  I've already posted a cool video tour of this amazing pool room and also a neat video compilation of our road trip, but how did I do in the tourney?

After my first successful Texas State title win, how would I fair in my next big tourney?  More importantly, what did I find out about myself and this lovely game of pool during the weekend of the Season Finale?

After a couple of league nights and a couple of weekly tourneys since my "big" win, I had already figured out that after you win a big tourney, you don't magically win everything from that point on.  lmao.

And to top it off, the invisible pressure we put on ourselves is immense.  I felt I had all eyes on me.  "She just won a tourney, why isn't she getting out in this rack?" I envisioned my league mates and league opponents thinking.  LOL.  Invisible pressure is like a tightly wrapped invisible cloak - you are trapped in this blanket and can barely move yours arms properly anymore.  It sucks, lol.

I didn't feel like I had the "It Factor" the morning of the Season Finale.  The "It Factor" is me being numb to nerves or expectations.  Instead, I was a little leery how I would fair, which is already a bad sign for me.  I'm already "worried" or "concerned" and they hadn't even done the draw yet! 

I admit, I was surrounded by great players.  It was a very tough field.  And let's face it, I haven't yet placed better than 4th in any OB Cues Ladies Tour Stop (ever).

About 45 ladies were eligible for the Season Finale but only 27 showed up.  Members had to play in at least 2 stops during the year to be able to play in the Season Finale, where they added an additional $1,000 to the already guaranteed $2,000 event!

I am actually disheartened to realize I won the Oct tourney because I was in the zone.  Sure, skill had something to do with it - I have years of experience, vast knowledge of the game, and obviously good mechanics when I'm on auto-pilot (the zone).  But, it's kind of a somber/sober realization for me:  I might need to be in the zone to do super well again.

Because we all know how tough it is to get in the zone.  :(

What was reiterated loudly to me again at THIS particular tourney is if I have too much going through my brain, too much pressure on my shoulders, nerves filling my soul, and thinking ahead about possibilities, I cannot function well on the pool table.

And that my friends is the complete opposite of being "in the zone."

My arms get wobbly, my adrenaline races through my veins, my mind is full of so many different thoughts flying around at once, and therefore my pre-shot routine suffers and I miss shots under pressure.

Bottom line - I lost matches I could have won if I wasn't nervous or thinking too much.  And I won the matches where I felt no pressure. 

I finished in 13th place Saturday evening.

If I had a stronger mental attitude, I would have easily lasted until Sunday.

However, this "misfortune" then "granted" me the chance to play on Sunday in the Second Chance event.  With 14 players, I look around the room and feel pretty dang good about my chances.  I'm one of the better players in this field and so my confidence already starts to go up.

I won my first three matches pretty easy (and with one unlucky scratch by a competitor) to make it to the hotseat.  I lost that match only hill-hill (I didn't focus toward the end and it cost me the match).

I got to the finals with a 4-0 win and then proceeded to win the first set in the finals also by a score of 4-0.  But I lost the second set 2-4 because my opponent played better and because I didn't play as well.  I just got tired and didn't focus as much; let things get in my mind again.

Tourney Description: Frustrated

As I watched some of the main event matches on Sunday afternoon, it hit me hard that the 8 ladies I witnessed competing had their emotions and thoughts contained.  They were playing POOL.  Playing well.  Sure, they prolly felt a little nerves but the difference is they were able to contain their emotions to play properly.

I SO wish I was one of those girls playing on Sunday.  I have been there before, but my mental toughness sucks right now!  I hope it can get back where I know it can be.  Where it has been in the past.

I'm frustrated with this game right now.  It's so mental, and yet my mental game is mush right now.  

I tried all my tricks over this weekend to get over my nervousness, negative thoughts, agitation, wants and desires, etc.  I have so many tips I've learned through the years, but I just couldn't overcome my nerves and couldn't stop my brain from thinking too much.

In the tourney I won in Oct, I had no expectations and was just simply happy for every win, and didn't think ahead for wants or desires.  I became almost complacent in my brain and simply felt joy and blessings where I was - AT THAT moment. Whether it was winning the first match, playing for third, happy to be playing in the finals, etc.  No future thinking or pressure entered my mind.  I simply played pool.

And during my "rough" matches in the Season Finale tourney, I tried to get that same "attitude" by reversing what was going on in my head and stomach by using tips I have learned through the years.  I tried to tell myself:

  • Be happy you are even able to play pool
  • Breathe in long, deep breathes to slow my adrenaline
  • Enjoy my opponent (i.e. not be nervous against them)
  • Think of how many games I needed, not what my opponents' score was
  • Get on to myself - "Stop being nervous! Stop it!!"
  • Focus solely on my pre-shot routine.
  • Stop thinking ahead.  Stop "thinking" of the ramifications of a win/loss.

I tried it all; to no avail.


Yet, I want to play in more tournaments.

But I admit - I am scared. 

I am scared of my nerves and the invisible pressure getting in the way of me playing good pool.  I'm scared of traveling all the way to Reno in Feb to only falter from mental mush.

People keep telling me to give myself some time.  It's not even been three months since my Mom's passing and I'm going through a lot.  Time heals and I suppose time is what I need to figure all this out.

That and MORE POOL!

But I will admit something else:  I am confused.  Why is this game so frustrating to me right now?  WTHeck is going on?  I've been playing pool for over 20 years?  Why all of a sudden am I so confused and frustrated!?  And where is my mental toughness dangit!  Who has it?  Give it back!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November Thanks

As host for PoolSynergy this month, since it's November I choose the topic "Thankfulness."   Thanksgiving for the USA is in November, after all, so I thought the topic would be apropos.  :)

I asked the PoolSynergy bloggers to wrote about what they are thankful about in regards to pool.  Something they maybe learned, witnessed, experienced, etc.  They were given free rein to talk about anything in regards to pool and what they are thankful for.

Markus Hofstatter wrote about great moments he had around the world, practicing, and people who he is happy to have in his life. Check out his blog entry here.

Gail Glazebrook surprised me by her thankfulness, yet it makes perfect sense (and now I wish I would have said this!).  Read her thanks here.

Samm (Diep) Vidal talks about 10 wonderful things pool has brought into her life.  She's always amazing at giving, and now check out what she's thankful for.

Alison Fischer gives us a look into her many years of thankfulness and I'm so glad she shared!  She has a way with words I can only dream of. Read her article here.

Mike Fieldhammer also contributed this month and his thankfulness also surprised me.  Check out his thanks.

Johnny101 is most thankful for the support and guidance he's received from people he's never actually met!  Intriguing, huh?  Read his article here.

John Biddle shares many thankful pool reasons, from family to authors and also thanks to other players.  He's right on target, too.  Read the details.

Gary Frerking gives thanks to attention-to-detail, how his Dad pounded it into his head, and how it's useful now.  Check out his article.

And I (Melinda) wrote about Thanks, also.  I thought everyone would say the same thing (always glad to be proven wrong in these instances!), and here is what I am grateful for:  click here.

/pun on/ Thanks to all the bloggers for writing about Thanks!  /pun off/  :-)

Hope everyone has a great month of Thanks and check us (Poolsynergy) out next month when  Michael Reddick is our gracious host!

Thank Yous

This months topic is simply: Thank you.  What are we thankful for in regards to pool? 

For me this is easy:  I am thankful for pool because I have met amazing, wonderful, impactful people.

  • I met a woman in my mid 20s who helped me become more confident by taking an interest in my well being.
  • I have met so many wonderful, amazing women who have given me great advice during adverse times in my life.
  • I have met guys who became my boyfriends who captured many years of happiness.
  • I have best friends because I met them through the love we share with pool.

While co-workers and family may not understand why pool means so much to me, fellow pool players truly understand the passion.

They understand why pool makes me happy, challenged, and passionate. 

They understand why I travel across the country to play pool, why I cry after I win a tournament, why at other times I get so frustrated.

I found love because of pool. 

I have found heartbreak because of pool.

I believe that everything happens for a reason and everything in life makes us stronger, so I embrace all that happens, and for everyone that crosses my path. 

As many fellow OB Cues Ladies Tour Members have said: attending tour stops is not about pool, it's about friendship.  To get to see our friends, hang out with friends, getting our hugs, sharing our happiness, and getting consoled during life's hiccups.  It's a family.  Dysfunctional, fun, amazing family!

I truly have a family because of pool. 

And I have so many great friends and loved ones because I met them through pool. 

Who have helped me through so much in my life.  That I will never forget, ever.

I honestly don't know if I would have this many friends if it wasn't for the love of pool that brought us together.  And they help me through the tough times, share in laughter other times, and yes, I even am honored to offer advice or my experiences at times to help them.

Friends are my personal counselors through life.  They lift me up with their words, help me leave the house with encouragement, take memorable trips with me, and help me laugh!

This is all why I'm very thankful for pool!  What would I do without all my friends, and the love that fills my heart, and life experiences we share together?!

And don't forget to read ALL the Thank you PoolSynergy blogs by clicking here!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Video Tour of Caspers Billiards

Thought I'd show you all Casper's Billiards via ala video tour blog.  Casper's Billiards was home to the OB Cues Tour Season Finale held last weekend.  Spacious, gorgeous, waterfront, two-story pool room with lots of beautiful 9-foot tables.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

So, Did I Accomplish No Tolerating?

On Friday I posted I was going to speak up more and "defend" myself.

Then I went out of town to the OB Cues Ladies Tour Season Finale that night for the weekend.  If you happened to wonder if I had any opportunities to speak up (when otherwise normally I wouldn't), the answer is:  Yes.

Four times I spoke up.  Four times!  When in the past I may not have said anything, this weekend I did.

(pats myself on the back)

I never felt bad, I never felt guilty (as I said I also wanted to work on).  I was kind, cordial, and simply spoke up because I felt it was necessary for my mental attitude.

(as we all know, pool is 90% mental)

I'll share 2 of the 4.  Two seemed "minor," but the two below that I'll share are significant compared to how I would have non-responded in the past:   

On Saturday afternoon, a member was smoking near my match and she was only practicing on the next table and I asked her to move her cigarette.  This may seem minor, but not one other person was smoking near the matches at this end of the room and so her smoke was very obvious (and bothersome) and I wanted to focus on my match (we are a non-smoking tour). 

The Reaction:
She asked me if I was about to play on the table she was about to practice on.  I said no, "but I'm playing right next to you."  She moved her ashtray and cigarette to the other side of the table.  

I wouldn't have spoke up and instead been perturbed about her smoke which meant I wouldn't be focused on my match. As you can imagine, a smoke-free area all of a sudden "invaded" with a smoker is extremely obvious. 

Right before the finals of the Second Chance tournament, the TDs discussed moving the match downstairs.  I expressed that we shouldn't change equipment because we had been playing on these tables upstairs all day.  The tables downstairs were different and I thought a change in equipment should not occur right before the finals. 

The Reaction:
They said we could continue to play upstairs.  :)

I wouldn't have spoke up and been ticked as I played the finals match downstairs on different equipment.  Don't get me wrong - I can adjust quickly to tables, but I still would have been perturbed, which could have taken away focus from playing my best.

It all sounds so silly I know, but I'm proud of defending myself so I could focus on my matches.  Right now I need all the help I can get for my mental mush.  And let's face it - we all DESERVE to have great atmospheres to play our best and focus on the game we all love.  :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Video of Ming Ng Racking

Hope my friend Ming doesn't mind me sharing this video I captured of her.

Ming (former WPBA professional) is a very competitive player but also an awesome friend and fills the room with laughter!  She's a joy to have around because she enjoys life and has fun and also because I love to watch her compete because she's so talented and skilled at this lovely game.

But check this out!  Ming is a little "vertically challenged" and the tables we were playing on last weekend were kinda tall:

Video of the Magic Rack

Just in case you haven't used the Magic Rack, I did a little video to show how it works.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Panoramic Pool View!


I would love to to be able to rent this for just a day and throw it up in the air in the middle of the Riviera Convention Center during the BCAPL Nationals!  I think this would be SO neat!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Not Tolerating Anymore

I have noticed when someone close passes away, that part of my personality changes.  Either by choice or not, I'm not sure.

I noticed it after my Dad passed away.  I was a "list" person.  I wrote a list for everything.  Had to have one.  Couldn't function without one.  After he passed, no more lists for me. 

After my Mom passed, a different, more honest person came about.  I don't mean I lied before.  I mean, I no longer am going to hold back when I should speak up.  I will still continue to be careful HOW I speak my words, but I instead of NOT saying something in fear of hurting others, I'm instead going to try and speak up.

I'll be honest:  I'm tired of not speaking up for myself.

I'm tired of being agitated by people and letting them get to me.

For instance, the other day I played poker at the casino and the guy next to me took up the space under the table with his lanky legs.  He took up too much space and was not considerate of others.  And it annoyed me.  When I do anything in life, I don't want to be annoyed.  I want to be happy.  Not distracted.  Not my mo-jo messed up.  Not my mind irritated and my forehead crinkly with dissatisfaction.

I mentioned it after-the-fact to my b/f and he says, "why didn't you ask him to move?"

Interesting concept.

I would rather not inconvenience the guy than say something.

One time a pool player's smoke bothered me while I ate.

They noticed and then finally said, "why didn't you just say something?"

I dunno.

Another time some friends made too much noise when I tried to sleep and they told me later, "why didn't you just say something?"

OMG... I don't know!

Why would I rather suffer than say something??

I just don't like to inconvenience people.  I'm just too nice, I guess.  I dunno.

I need to realize if I speak up it's not a bad thing and no one will be upset with me.  And even if they get upset with me, who cares, right?  I have a right to be in a happy place.  Right?

I witnessed so many instances in the past where people reacted badly to "suggestions" that maybe I'm nervous to speak up?

I dunno, doesn't sound like me.  I'm a pretty forward and confident woman.

And don't get me wrong - rile me up and I'll be the first to speak up (lol).

But, what I'm referring to that I want to work on is the atmosphere around my pool matches:  I'm tired of people talking to me when I play pool.

I'm tired of people trying to be funny when I'm in the middle of a straight pool match.

I'm tired to people interfering with my mental game.

I realize I'm "letting" things bother me, but I can have a say so in my environment at times, right?

Like I mentioned in my blog article the other day:  Some guy sat next to our straight pool match and made comments. I thought about asking him to leave.  Thought to myself, "this is the right thing to do.  It's okay to ask him to leave.  It will allow you to focus on your game."

But I never asked him to leave because he eventually kept quiet. Until... my opponent rallied almost 25 points to tie the score.  Then he thinks he's funny, "Let him catch up, huh?"


Like I wasn't freakin' upset about it already?

I seriously don't understand people.  Well, to be fair, people don't understand sports and that it's best to just keep quiet.

I've decided (since my Mom's passing) that I wont and shouldn't put up with people like that anymore.  I am tired of letting things get to me.  So, I will speak up more.

Not rudely, of course.

But I need to look out for me.

The difficult part will be my common concern: to be able to ask peeps to be quiet without upsetting MYSELF.  Without making myself feel bad for saying something to them.

I don't know why, but I do feel bad for defending myself sometimes.  And guess what?  Yep, tired of that, too.

I've taken enough leadership classes to politely ask someone to STHU (lol).  I can do it.

I have enough experience with being careful with my words so I don't hurt others.  I do it all the time, actually.  But that's usually when I'm giving advice or when someone asks me for my thoughts.  I don't normally speak up for myself.  So, this is new for me.  Someones gotta stick up for me, right?

Let the practicing begin!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I have come to the conclusion that the only way to play my best against The Talker is to try not to listen to him.  How the heck does one do that??  Lol.  The only idea I can think of is to use my headphones when I play against him. 


Maybe that will work? 


I decided I should "practice" using my headphones.  Not practice with my headphones, but practicing using my headphones. I just don't want to show up one day to play him and had never used them before in a straight pool match.

I wanted to get used to how it felt.  Make sure I feel comfortable.  Figure out which hip to hook my ipod; how to finagle the cords to the headphones through my shirt.

Even though I may not play him for months (the next season starts in Jan), I wanted to practice early.

So, in my last 5 straight pool matches, I used my ipod 2 1/2 times.

I have always felt a little semi-self-conscious when using headphones.  I feel it "looks" like I need a crutch to win.  When in reality, I don't NEED it to win, but it is legal and may help me focus.  May help me from being distracted. 

I tried the headphones an entire match against my friend, The Plumber, two Saturdays ago.  I thought I would feel awkward (self conscious) but I was surprised I felt pretty comfortable overall.  I liked listening to the music while I played.  While I'm not sure it helped me focus more, it was relaxing.

He smiled and laughed at the beginning of the match, "what, you don't want me to bother you?"  I no-responded and just laughed as I put the earbuds in my ears.

After the match I explained why I was using the headphones.  He laughed from his belly and shook his head because he's well aware of how much The Talker talks.

I then confided I was a little self conscious about them.  He is a good friend of mine and he shared back, "I think pool is fun. So I don't mind joking around. But if I'm gambling, don't talk to me."

In that moment, I was no longer self conscious.  Pool is fun to me, yes, but I want to be serious when I play my straight pool matches; I want to win.  I'm here to try to grab that first place spot to win the trophy. 

(for the record, I have no idea what the trophy looks like.  It could be as tall as my hand span for all I know, lmao).

I wore my headphones again in my very next match, that same day. My new opponent is a fun guy and enjoys the game SO much, even though he doesn't have a lot of "W's" by his name.

Every once in a while he would say something to me non-pool related and I would take one of my earbuds out and turn to him to listen.  He'd then be kinda embarrassed and wave me off (because he realized he forgot I had headphones on), "Oh never mind, never mind.  We'll talk after.  Sorry."

I explained to him after the match why I had them on and he also shook his head and laughed and shared The Talker has upset him in the past, too.

I think it's actually quite ludicrous I'm "testing out" wearing headphones for one person.  But in the same breath, it crossed my mind after those two matches that you know what?  I kinda think I WANT to be known as the player everyone expects to be serious.  I want to be known as the girl who wears headphones because she doesn't want to talk and rather focus on the match.  (Or at least I'll look serious wearing the headphones, lol.)

I tried to wear my headphones for my last 3 matches, but after a while in each of the 3 matches, I wasn't really listening to the music anymore and so eventually I just took off my ipod. 

And I admit, I missed being social and talking to my opponent when they might say funny things.  I don't mean the distracting type of convo, but the fun, this-is-what-pool-is-also-about, type of fun, cool convo.

Heck, I don't know what I'll do next season!  Wear my ipod every match.  Don't wear it every match.  Wear it only sometimes?  Ugh.  I dunno, lol. 


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

End of Straight Pool Season - 5 Match Recap

Well, I somehow managed to fit the rest of my straight pool matches in with hardly any time to do it!

I played my last 5 matches in 4 days.

I played two last Saturday and won one, lost the other.  I came back in the first one, being down 87 to 58, I rallied to 81 points before losing 100 to 81.

In the next match, I dilly dallied for too long and let my opponent stay even with me til 65.  I finally told myself I better shape up and pay attention or else I might lose to an opponent I normally beat.  I ran 5, 12, 2 and 13 before finally winning.  He would tell me the next weekend that I embarrassed him.

"How so?" I asked.  "We were even til about 65 and we had a good match."

He confides as he laughs, "Because, we were tied at 65 and I never made another ball and lost 100 to 65!"

I laughed and said, "Well, just don't tell that part of the story and give the final score."  lol

On Friday I played Turtle #2 and somehow managed a win 100-79.  He has been playing so good, I was honestly surprised when I beat him.

I only got 3 hours of sleep Friday night and but still had a match scheduled for Saturday at 1pm and could not cancel or postpone b/c I only had one day left to play my other match.  I was so exhausted and I played like it!  But I reminded myself to push through as best I could and I won 100 to 78.  That match took forever!  And I played so badly.  I finally ran 14 and 10 at the end to finish off the set.

And as typical fashion, I didn't get sleep AGAIN that night, lol.  4 hours of sleep and a tough match at 2pm on Sunday.

But I surprised myself!  While a huge APA league was going on around us, I foul on the opening break and I start off -2!  Then my opponent "Tape Measure" runs 17.

OMG, really??

How would I handle that?  That's actually quite a bit of pressure.  How would I return?

I get to the table and run 15!  Holy crap!  I was so impressed with myself for not faltering.  And I was playing decent!

A few balls by both of us later, score is now 26 to 20 him.  And then I run 20!  EEeek!  I then run 9 after he misses and I'm up 49 to 26.

I was so happy with my play.  Not only was I making balls, I was playing smart - key ball to key ball and good break out shots.  Watching all these videos is really really helping me.

He then runs 7 and I run 9.

I notice I am up by 30 and then only 20.

And then it happens.

I start to not play as smart; start to miss; start to lose the momentum.

I try to forge through it, but I'm also dealing with a guy who is sitting near us making comments.  I lose my focus and am aware I am feeling pressure.  I'm recalling the two matches were I was down by 30 and then came back to win.

He's down only 65 to 55 then ties it 70 70.  The guy sitting near us says to me, "You let him catch up, huh?"

I really despise people trying to be funny during my matches. STHU.

I shoot back, "Really??  Just.  Don't say anything okay?  I'm in a match here."

I was already ticked at him and seriously considered earlier asking him to move because of the comments under his breath.  And should have asked him to leave 20 balls ago.

But, I lost because Tape Measure never gave up and I started to miss more.  I couldn't capitalize on his mistakes and wasn't playing as good.  I lost 100-92.  I never gave up, but I definitely gave the match away because I was thinking too much. 

But, I still played GREAT at the beginning of the match!  Put a little star by name for that, please  :)

The cool thing is I have had high runs of 20, 18, 18, 14, 14, 15, and 13 for these last 5 matches.  Sometimes I can run only 8 consistently in my matches.  So, these new numbers really excite me!  I can't wait to watch more videos and learn learn learn!