Friday, March 30, 2012

Controlled Break

I have always been one of the few blessed female players that can break well. I can hit the rack harder than most girls for some reason, even control the cueball, and I usually always make a ball (or more).

One of my opponents in Reno had a very controlled break. I'm not sure if she only hits the rack this way on a bar table, and/or when using the magic rack, and/or because it was 9ball, but her break was semi-soft and very controlled. Kind of like Chip Compton in this video I captured of him last year at the Texas Open. Those were 9 foot tables, but the object is the same: control the cue ball, get a decent spread and most importantly, make a ball.

My female opponent broke this way our entire match, just like Chip. I, on the other hand, continued with my strong break, even though it was unnecessary on a bar table, I admit, now that I look back.  But I just don't know that semi-soft break yet.

As much as I admired her break, it truly is most effective for a player who can run out. Otherwise, if you don't run out, or don't play a good safe on a wide open table, I will be at the table with an opportunity to finish off the rack for you.

And, because I was breaking hard, I moved the balls more, including the 9ball. So, in our match, I made the 9ball three (3) times, which was good for me. I only made the 9ball a couple more times the rest of that 9ball division in Reno, so it must have been that table we were on.

I fully admit if I knew the semi-soft break, I might have used it. It is a very successful break! But to reiterate, it seems to be MOST successful when you can run out. And, if you do make a few balls on the break, that's even less balls to run out with a nice spread.  :-)

But my point is, which is better?

A controlled break to ensure you make a balk and get a spread, or break hard, make balls, and get the 9ball moving sometimes?

I say go with what you are comfortable with; what you are accustomed to.

Then I read in Billiards Digest, Corey Deuel said,

"My theory on the break shot?  It's just like any other shot:  You want to make a ball and get position.  I wouldn't shoot a shot in the middle of the game where I slam all the balls and hope to get lucky, so why would I do that on the break?  Makes no sense."

Well, when you put it like that, Corey, it makes sense to me!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Partner of AZB and Emails to Me

I don't know how many people know this, but I am a partner of AZBilliards (since 1999 or 2000).  If you don't know what AZB is, it's the most visited pool website in the world. We cover tournament results, have a marketplace, rank players, have a very popular pool forum, a tournament calendar for all the tours, a section of columnists, etc.

While I don't get paid (it's mostly volunteer work), I began helping out by taking pics at tournaments, writing articles, calling in bracket info, designing websites, etc.  While my role has dwindled due to obligations at home (taking care of my Mom and then her passing in late 2011), I still help out a little bit when I can.

I am listed on the Contact Page of AZB as the "media contact for several pro players, tours, and billiard companies."  Even though that isn't technically accurate, at least I'm listed!  :)  The other two people listed (Mike and Jerry (no, that's Ben and Jerry's you're thinking of)) are the main cohorts of AZB.  Mike founded it, Jerry joined several years ago.

As you can imagine with most companies, when someone has a request, problem, idea, needs help, has a complaint, needs correction, etc., they go to the Contact page. And then they email either everyone on the page, or they try to figure out the best person to email.

For some reason, I get A LOT of unrelated emails because I'm listed on that Contact page of AZB.  I have received
  • complaints about certain people on the forums, 
  • lots of emails that we have names misspelled,
  • people trying to sell me pool tables, pool cues, or pool gadgets,
  • companies wanting to improve the traffic to our site,
  • lots of emails asking why their finish wasn't included in the stats,
  • emails from people who want to add their tour,
  • people wanting to advertise,
  • people wanting to know details about tournaments that will occur in 9-12 months (I have no idea, but search the web and usually find answers for them),
  • people sharing tournament write-ups and press releases,
  • problems to post in the forums (can't log in or can't post a new thread),
  • people needing contact info of Pros,
  • people telling us we have a typo or error in our tourney recaps,
  • people asking about certain pool products,
  • people cussing at us because something isn't working properly for them,
  • people complaining about other pool players,
  • etc.
While some of these seem normal requests (and some of others are part of territory of owning a company), I'm simply not the person who should receive 95% of these emails.  I certainly cannot help someone log onto the forums (I don't approve the permissions) and I can't edit the site for errors, nor can I add results into our database.

It got to the point where I almost asked Mike to remove my name from the contact page, but when I received this one, it was so dang funny, I've decided I should keep my name up there and see what other emails I might get that make my day!

hello, my name is (xxxxx xxxxx)....i own/operate (xxxx xxxxx's billiards) in (city, state)...we have a road player by the name of (xxx xxxxx) coming into my pool room the last week or so...he says he lives in (city, state) ...... i know all the strongest players in that city...rumor has it he is from southern (state) & played on the one of too many pro tours from u have any info on this  guy??...sincerely (xxxxx xxxxxxxx)

I still can't believe anyone would email a question like this.  Seriously!  Even if I knew him, I wouldn't out him.  Maybe it's the sign of the Internet age.  Kinda like the other day someone snuck a pic of a road player and posted it on the forums asking peep if we knew who he was.  But seems kinda wild/weird to email an online pool company to see if we have info on a road player!  smh.

The Practicers

I have noticed that there are a few people in the area who always practice.  And I don't mean they are at the pool room every day practicing (well, they might be, but I don't see them); I mean they are ALWAYS warming up and hitting balls all day long between matches at a tournament.

And I mean, ALWAYS.

The morning of a big tourney (say a two-day event or a day-long event), they will hit balls and hit balls until the first match is called.

After they play their first match, they find any open table and hit more balls.  Constantly warming up their stroke and keeping their arms lose (I guess).

One guy in the area does this all the time and he doesn't bother me at all - it's just the way he is and he's not annoying about it.  He's very consciousness of those around him, and even though he yearns for that open table to keep in stroke, he will ensure he's far enough away or not bothering others.  He looks around to ensure he's not bothering any neighboring matches or players.  He literally will play pool for hours, because during his matches his competing, and in between, he's staying in stroke.

I was at a 12-hour, one-day tourney in Jan and he was there and prolly hit balls for 11 hours!  While most of us, will only hit balls to warm up and then only during our matches.

I admit I don't understand this concept, but it's the way he is.  I don't judge him, it's just an observation.

He's similar to this other person from my area, who is female.  She also has to be hitting balls all the time all throughout a tourney.  However, her, I do judge.  And I'm okay to do that.

This female does the same thing:  warms up before the tourney starts on any open table, and then when her matches are complete, she finds an open table and continues to hits balls.  She will do this the entire day.

There is this one tourney in Texas (The Texas State Open) that the pool room only has about ten tables and it gets a full field of guys and girls, so there is never an open table.  So what does she do?  She drives to the closest pool room to hit balls until her scheduled match time. 

At a tournament a couple of weekends ago on 8 foot tables, I happened to walk by the coin tables and I saw this player in the corner of my eye.  She looked in the bin and noticed there were some balls left.  She picked them up and put them on the coin table and shot the balls.  Really?  Are you in that much of a need to hit balls?

I don't mind how much she practices and I'm not making fun of her.  The reason she annoys me, though, is she has no awareness of those around her.  She will hit balls on any open table.  If there are matches next to it or not, she doesn't care.  I have asked her to move several times.  It's EXTREMELY annoying to be on a run and then have to stop to wait on her, when she's ONLY PRACTICING.  It's distracting to have to wait on a player who isn't even in a match to begin with.

She seems to be in her own little world.  Even when she plays in her matches, she doesn't look around and never has to wait on other players on other tables to shoot, because she doesn't realize she's in the way of someone else.  She has no awareness around her at all.

The Ladies tour I play on is nonsmoking during the tourney, while we play our matches.  She has actually lit a cigarette while she practices on a next table, even though all the matches around her are non smoking! 

The few times I have asked her to move (or not smoke), she will apologize and get out of the way.  But I think it's been enough times that she should be more cognizant of those around her who are in matches.  No one else does this, and we wouldn't do it to her. 

/rant off/

New Golden Nuggets

I always love good nuggets of information and in the last month or so I've "stumbled" upon some great ones I liked so much, I want to share them because they are new for me, and more importantly, because they have helped my game so much recently.

The Rear View Mirror, by CJ Wiley

I watched CJ Wiley's Ultimate Pool Secrets DVD two weeks ago before my big Ladies Tournament.  I noticed my boyfriend had been playing better after he watched the video, so I wanted to take a gander at it.

While my boyfriend liked CJ's approach to the shots best, of all the things that stood out to me, was in one of the discussions CJ had with his "Mental" guest, John J Emerick Jr..

Dr. Emerick stated to CJ, "Many of the excellent achievers I interviewed, once they miss, they will mentally rehearse not what they did wrong, but how they would have done it differently."

This hit me like a ton of bricks!  I thought it was a great way to think about my mistakes.  When I miss, I try to figure out what I did wrong - not stay down, not follow through, thinking while down on the shot, etc.  But this perspective that Dr. Emerick learned from his interviews of top professionals is very enlightening to me!  It's a huge thing, imo, because it shows the difference from what I was doing, to what I could do better that would help me.

CJ shared with Dr. Emerick that he doesn't look in the rear view mirror.  CJ stays in the present. Oh, if only I could do that, too!

Focus on the Shot, by Joe Salazar

Joe Salazar and I talked about shotmaking.  He mentioned to me in Feb in Reno that once he figured out to focus on the shot instead of thinking about making the shot, his game sky rocketed. 

The moment he shared that, I immediately asked him to repeat it.  I recognized how powerful it was (and wanted to write it own verbatim).  I had an epiphany!  I exclaimed to Joe, "That's wild!  Sometimes when I'm down on a shot, I am thinking, 'Just make this shot, don't worry about shape, just make the ball, follow through, stay down.'"

"Exactly," he says, "don't do that."

"Instead, concentrate and focus on making the ball, don't think about making the ball."

I realize we are told all the time not to think while down on our shots, but I admit I was trying too hard to make my shots sometimes.

This was extremely helpful and I noticed it helped right away.  I did exactly as he suggested - focused on making the shot, instead of thinking about making the shot.

Walking Around the Table, by Lee Bret

During a big ladies tourney in January, I noted how I cried after one of my matches (I am not ashamed, I was emotional, upset, and being a GIRL!).  What I noticed was I missed late in the rack - every single game of the two matches on that Sunday.  I wasn't sure what was going on with me or why I was doing that.

I recalled a mental coach told me once that on average, people normally run a certain number of balls.  Her and I watched a female pro play in a big tournament in Austin.  The mental coach was the pro's coach and so she already knew the pro's ball count run was 5.  We would watch a great layout, do-able for sure, and sure enough, she would miss on the 6th ball.  A LOT.  It was wild what I was witnessing!

While I didn't ask her the solution (wish now I would have), I wondered how I should handle my late misses, and wondered if it had anything to do with the what I had heard from this mental coach over 8 years ago.

Then, before my second big ladies tournament in March, I watched this video by coach/pro player Lee Bret (promotional video for his upcoming DVD):

Bret goes over A LOT of helpful advice in this promo video (it's ten minutes long), but the biggest thing that I got out of the video that I utilized in my very next tourney was to walk around more.  "Don't walk this way (to the right), walk this way (to the left, the long way).  See the whole picture," Lee advises.  Walk around the table, see the entire table.

I can't explain why this helped me miss less and finish racks more.  But I was elated to finally not dog the 6, 7, 8 or 9 balls so much, lol.  I walked around more.  It helped me.

I always try to make sure what side of the next ball I need to be on, but the few extra steps I took that weekend during the tourney, really helped me finish out racks.

Approaching Shots, by Lee Bret

All the top pros have their own way to approach shots. Some use a certain line and bend over, some come into the shot, some use the snooker approach, whatever.

I asked Lee Brett (coach to many pros) in Reno about the 5 parts he teaches for each shot.  He showed them all to me in about 5 seconds (kid you not!).

One part of the five that he taught me in those quick seconds, I used a lot in Reno (and after) and helped me the most:  Walk into the shot.

I don't know how to explain it, except to share this:  When I would get down to shoot, I'd realize I didn't walk into the shot.  I would get back up, step back a couple of feet behind the shot, look at the shot, then walk into it, and then bend down for the shot.

Before, I didn't walk into the shot, I would just get down on the shot.  Walking into the shot made me see it better; and be more confident about the shot.  If I am on a tough shot, I will get back up, step back, and then walk into the shot.  It helped me stay down, too.  It helped me see the whole shot better.

BTW, you can buy Lee Brett's Secret Art of Pool on Amazon here. (also available for the kindle!)

So difficult to describe easily why all the above helped me so much, but I wanted to share these because I love them so much!

Friday, March 23, 2012

ByStanders Affect

It's very difficult to play pool and not care what others think.  Certain people are in the crowd and you consciously think they are judging you or your mistakes.  Or, when you are playing well, you shark yourself because it crosses your mind they are thinking about how well you are playing, too.

When we think about what others are thinking, it means we are no longer playing pool.  It doesn't matter if the thoughts are negative or positive - any "thinking" that is NOT about the balls in front of us is a distraction to our ability to play our best.

Joe Salazar and I spoke about this when I was in Reno.  He shared with me over 5 years ago or more to not look at the crowd.  I love this "tactic" and I literally walk to a table looking at the floor so I don't notice who is in the crowd.  Certain people can throw me off my game. 

He reaffirmed this important aspect of competition with me in Reno when we talked about how the reason we sometimes falter on the table is because we are concerned about what others think.  The key is to play for YOURSELF.  Not for anyone else.

As examples, when I play in big tournaments in Austin, while I don't look around, sometimes I would still notice a Mental Coach in the stands.  I used to play bad in front of her because she wanted to work with me.  I figured that meant I needed work.  Further, when I would watch matches with her, she would share mistakes about other players.  Because she discussed mistakes with me, I only imagined she judged my game as well.  A friend shared with me, "I think she wants to work with you because she likes you and wants to see you succeed."  It was a different spin on my negative thoughts, and now I play better in front of her.

Another friend in Austin, I adore!  He has never once criticized my game or shots.  He is full of support and if I see him in the crowd, I know he only wants the best for me.

Sometimes I worry so much about what people think of me when I miss, it can cause my embarrassment factor to go up and then I miss more.

There are two guys in my area that show up at tournaments to watch me play.  One I will call Chico and the other I will call The Biker.  I love their support and admit I don't know why they like to watch me, but it's cool to have a few fans that love the game so much.  As a matter of fact, they showed up on Sunday for the OB Cues Ladies Tour.

When they watch, even though I know they are full of support for me, admittedly, sometimes I still have to remind myself these certain friends only want the best for me.  Just like most people, when I miss, I get embarrassed.  When I miss in front of them, I try not to think I'm letting them down.  Or I try not to get embarrassed.  I tell myself they only wish I hadn't missed, and only want me to overcome and prevail.  I find it kinda crazy that even though they are extremely supportive, I still have to work to turn negative thoughts into positive thoughts.  I don't want to let them down, but I need to not even be thinking about them when I'm playing pool.  When I focus on ME, on my play, I play better.  As Joe says, "not what others think."

I honestly need to get over being embarrassed when I miss.  I need to remind myself over and over again what my boyfriend tells me, "Everyone misses.  It's okay."   Embarrassment makes my arms wobbly, lol.  Yes, I know you know that feeling, too.

When you can get to a point to not think of people on the sidelines, your game will go up.

Chico and The Biker are extremely supportive and NOT once have they EVER said anything ill about my game, matches, or misses.  NOT ONCE.  They simply watch me play the game they love.

Two other guys, on the other hand, HAVE said negative things. I consider this one guy a semi-mentor to me.  He has given me tips over the years and I have appreciated his words of advice.  On the other hand, he is mentally very tough to handle because after matches, he only points out what I did wrong.  Semi-Mentor is very tough for me to fade when he's in a crowd.  I cringe at the thought of what he might say to me after.

The other gentlemen, who I will call Straighty, is similar.  He just says what's on his mind with no thought of how it might affect a weakened female who just lost.  He's told me things like, "You gave that match away."  One time he did that and I was so frustrated, I snapped back at him in retaliation, "You don't think I'm already upset??  Why would you say that to me?  I"m upset I lost!"  He just hugged me, "I know." 

Another time he said, "Wow, you didn't finish well.  Neither did your friend."  Why would anyone say something like that??  Seriously.

So, you can imagine my fears when Straighty and Semi-Mentor were in the crowd on Saturday at the OB Cues Tour.  Straighty followed me and watched a couple of matches.  When I first saw him, I just told myself to play for myself and not worry about what he might say after.  Same with Semi-Mentor.  This day, I played my little heart out and played well.  I didn't care on Saturday who was in the crowd - I played for ME.

Straighty shared after both matches that I was playing very, very well.  I think I impressed him a little because he told me Saturday night, "This might be the best I've seen you play; I think you can win this tournament."

It was a great departure from when I'm usually being the kicked dog, lol.  But MY success was that I overcame them in the crowd.  I honestly didn't remember they were in the crowd til the matches were over.  When I first saw them, I just focused on me.

However, Semi-Mentor was his typical self, and he upset me.  After my final win of the day on Saturday, I went up to him to ask him about close shots.  He had shared something about them before, and I needed additional help.  I started off with, "I missed the 5 ball because of...."  He cut me off.  "Yea, I saw you miss that five.  The one you $hit in."

"No, I'm talking about a different one," trying to get back to my question.

"Well, I saw you miss another five, and that six..."

I cut him off.  "Is that all you're going to say to me?"

He never once congratulated me or said I played well.  Maybe I didn't in his eyes.  But who cares.  I'm tired of the negativity and told what I did wrong and all my mistakes.  I still won that match, and then went on to place 5th!!  People feed off words of encouragement, not our mistakes. 

My point is, that even though we need to care only about ourselves, it IS tough because so many people make un-asked-for comments about our misses, losses, games.  No wonder we sometimes worry about being judged.  We ARE.  And they TELL us sometimes.

It amazes me because the game is such a mental game; why make it worse by saying stupid, negative, un-called for comments?  These guys have been around pool enough to know that it's 90% mental. 


The take-away from this post is for me to try and stop feeling embarrassed (a negative emotion) when I miss.  And..... play ONLY for me. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

OB Cues Tour Stop 2 of 2012

At the first stop of the year of the OB Cues Ladies Tour, I placed 5th.  Then I went to Reno in mid Feb for the U.S. Bar Table Championships and had a great experience strengthening my mental game (and pre shot routine).  However, League Playoffs in mid March proved to be a very a disheartening display of pool for me.

So, with playing so poorly in the team event just the weekend before, I was concerned how I would play at the 2nd stop of the OB Cues Ladies Tour.  Would I show up?  And how would I perform?  And admittedly, I hadn't been playing much pool - not weekly tourneys nor straight pool matches.  So, time off the table the last few weeks also worried me.

There were 46 ladies who played in the event - what a great turn out for the Tour!

As we waited for the draw, an acquittance comes up and starts to talk to a friend at my table.  Then he asks me, "You gonna win this tournament?"

"I don't know."

"You don't know?" He quips back at me.

"Well, there are some players in this tourney who are better than me."  Then I added,"but I'm not afraid of them."

"That's good," he replies.

Then he says to his friend, "I don't enter a tournament just to break even.  And when I play, I want to win."  I guess he just wanted to share his philosophy about tournaments and competing.

The draw is complete and I get a bye.

My first opponent is a good player.  I was nervous in the beginning, and therefore gave up two games because I wasn't staying down on my shots.  I'm not sure what was wrong with me.  Why the heck was I nervous and not focused?

At 1-3 her, I tried desperately not to think about how the score should be 3-1 ME; that she was UP because of my mistakes.

I thought about the exchange earlier:  And dammit, *I* wanted to win!

My mantra is also, "take advantage of their mistakes."  Well, I waited.  And waited.  My opponent broke and ran one game, and ran from my break two games.  Score is now 1-5 Her.  I kept waiting for a mistake, for a chance at the table, but she was playing good (she would go on to place 2nd in this tourney).

Finally, she missed.  Ugh; finally!  By this time, I have overcome my nerves, focused only on me (and not those around me) and I'm ready to freakin' play pool!  Ready to stay down on my shots!  I start to make a come back.  I am playing good, solid, strong, with a great pre shot routine.  And I manage to tie it 5-5 !!

Go me!

She gets on the hill first.  But, I then make the 9 on the break to make the match go hill hill!  :)

I play real good still the final game.  After probably one of the best shots I had all weekend on the 8 ball (long distance, cueball on the rail), I was left with a tricky 9ball that I barely missed.  Then she made it easily. 

I had very mixed emotions.  To finally start to shoot well is a wonderful feeling, but to lose hill-hill and be so close is disappointing.  My boyfriend reminded me how well I did - I was down 5-1 and came back strong with great play.  He seemed proud of me, even though I lost.  That meant a lot. 

Overall, I did feel great!  Anytime I pull my head out of my a$$ is a great feeling, lol.

I then play two new girls next and win both of those.  Then I play a teammate (fro State and Nationals).  I start of slow, but then I dug deep and focused and played good to win another match!

Then I have to play one of my besties who is one of the best players on the tour.  It was a tough match.  People watching who judge us, last match of the night, who would be left til Sunday, etc.

I didn't let the bystanders get to me - if I lost and they said something, I would handle it then.  I just tried my best and focused on me and my game.

I was up 6-4 but then couldn't finish any racks, lol.  I lost focus, I guess?  It went hill-hill and I was content overall with how I played and would be fine with going home.  But, after several innings on the hill-hill match, I was able to make a tough 8ball somehow for the win.  I just stayed down, smooth stroke, tried not to force the shot and made it.  Then made the 9ball in the side with a soft stroke.

I was SO surprised I was still in the tourney til Sunday!!  Out of 46 girls, I admit I was happy and surprised by it all.

I stayed at the pool til 2am because my boyfriend was in a big gambling match.  I desperately wanted to get some sleep, but we could not leave because he was up in the sets.  After only about 4-5 hours of bad sleep (noisy hotel), I arrived at the pool room Sunday morning more refreshed than I thought I would be.  But, I also kept in mind what Amanda Lampert told me a long time ago, "Pretend like you aren't tired."  (yes, it works).

I played SO dang well the first 4 games of my first match on Sunday.  I was elated inside.
E-L-A-T-E-D!  But then I started to not finish games and I let my opponent inch closer.  I finally got up 5-3 but took a bathroom break.  I washed my sticky hands, came back determined, and won the next two games with great play (like I had played in the beginning)!

I was now playing for 7th place!

Again I started out strong but when I was up 4-2 I made a crucial error on the 9ball.  Frustrated with my play (because I was no longer playing well (just like the first match)), I again went to the bathroom to wash my hands.  I play so much better when my hands don't feel sticky (it was very humid this weekend).  I came back from the bathroom and won each game after that, sealing my win 7-3.  My opponent told me afterwards that she had a feeling she was in trouble after my bathroom break, lol.  I suppose I did give myself a pep talk while I washed my hands.  Mostly, just to try to play well again and stop thinking while down on my shots; and stop thinking about those around me.

I then played one of the top players on the tour and while Ming Ng is a friend, she's also fierce on the table.  I was so enamored by her play, I almost forgot I was competing against her, lol.  I loved the way she would run out a rack; loved her patterns.  I was able to get a couple of games and Ming commented how much my game has improved, just from the stop in January.  That meant a lot because I have been working on things, and for her to notice meant the world to me.  I would scratch on a tough 8ball and miss an even tougher 9ball, so the 7-2 loss could have been a much closer score.  But, I still played good overall, and I felt great.  I also placed 5th!  OMG!  Out of 46 players!

I'm still so shocked!

I was able to prevail in a lot of matches and I dug deep to compete.  It felt great to be a competitor and to fight hard and to overcome mental obstacles in my brain.  Further, I really did play well; stayed down well; stroked the ball well.  It is such a wonderful feeling to play good pool.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New Attitude in Reno (Thanks to Friends)

As I mentioned several times about my big week-long Reno tourney, I was very apprehensive about competing against the great talent in the field.

While I shared a couple of things that helped me: wrote down notes/reminders I re-read throughout the week, and talked to a lot of people who gave advice. There was one other big thing I wanted to share that helped me - my attitude.

I am sure you have seen this before (at least among females):  The opponent who feels sorry for you because you miss a shot. She is timid as she walks up to the table after your miss, and her whole body emits a sense of "Oh, poor thing" or "I only got lucky."

They act like a sad puppy, really. These are also the same people who will express ahead of time why they might play bad, to get their excuse ready if they lose. Seems they lack confidence and also feel bad for our mistakes.

Then there are the Lisa Marr's and Jennifer Kraber's of the world! These two ladies have competed alongside me for the last 10 years or so and their attitude is much much different.

For instance, Lisa "seems" to punish me when I miss. LOL. She doesn't walk slowly to the table, she walks briskly to shoot that 9ball I just dogged.

Jennifer took some time off from pool, and when she returned, I noticed a new, competitive attitude from her.

Lisa and Jennifer both care more about winning than their opponents' feelings. I'm not trying to be rude, but it's what I see - and I like it!

So the first morning in Reno, as I lay in bed getting mentally ready for my matches, I thought seriously about their attitudes for a few hours. I wanted their attitudes. I wanted their confidence. I didn't want to be a player, I wanted to be a strong competitor!

I literally carried those feelings to my matches and when someone would miss, I would walk briskly to the table to capitalize. I felt no remorse, nor sorriness, no nothing for my opponent. I was there to compete! I wasn't there to slack off and be friends. I WANTED to win and if you missed against me, I took advantage of it. Wholeheartedly; with no remorse.

It's not to say I wasn't competitive before, but my attitude wasn't as strong and visible like theirs. Yes, I wanted to win, but I also let up sometimes, felt bad for my opponents, felt a little sorry for them sometimes.

Visualizing Lisa and Jennifer's competitive attitudes and confident composure around the table helped me so much in Reno. I tried to emulate them at the table, and it worked! I could FEEL I was more a competitor than before. I could FEEL my desire to want to play the game and fight for the wins.

What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight - it's the size of the fight in the dog. ~Dwight Eisenhower

I asked Jennifer and Lisa about their attitudes. I expressed how much it helped me and wondered if they could explain their strong competitiveness so I could share it via my blog.

Jennifer explained that during her time off from pool (for about 1 1/2 years), she focused on poker.  She met her boyfriend playing poker and Jennifer shared, "one night we were playing and there was someone I liked at the table and I kind of took it a little easy on them, and afterwards, my boyfriend almost yelled at me (in a loving way).  He said if you don’t want to take their money, YOU SHOULD NOT BE AT THE TABLE, period.  Because the whole point of the game is taking money when you win, and all your opponents want to take your money, that’s the way the game is played, so if you don’t play that game, it will just be a losing proposition."

That led to Jennifer being more competitive on the pool table when she returned to the game.  Being more competitive also meant she should not be as social at tournaments and instead get sleep and focus on practicing and not drinking or staying up late like she did before.  At one of her high finishes, Jennifer "kept to myself a little, and I think that helped me, kept me calm, and also not as concerned with the friend thing.  It’s hard because so often it’s great to see people at tournaments, but it’s really not the best time to socialize."

While Jennifer is a tough competitor, Lisa is on a-whole-nother level, lol.  Even Lisa admits, "I know I come across as being very harsh and cut throat when it comes to playing pool.  If you know me very well, you know that I am one of the biggest, softest hearted persons you will ever meet, but you might not ever see that side of me.  I treat pool like a business.  It takes a lot of money to travel, so in order to get reimbursed for your expenses and make a little profit you have to show up with your “A” game!"

Lisa is right - she is loved away from the table, as is Jennifer.  But come pool time, Lisa is all about business.  "People will comment on how hard I play them," Lisa admits.  "The answer I give them is that while I am playing pool with you, our friendship is on pause.  After the match is over we can hit play again and will be friends just like before the match.  It’s not personal, it’s business!"

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. ~Winston Churchill

Lisa then explained further why she has this strong attitude, "Women are not raised to go out and kill the food. We are raised to be caring and nurturing, so competition is a hard toggle for most women to understand and grasp. On one hand we hate to see someone make a grave mistake in a match but on the other hand you gotta take your opportunities when they are presented to you. Luckily for me, I had some hard times as a child & was a tomboy and did what the boys did, so my cut throat instinct comes easier for me than most women."

Lisa plays pool "to satisfy myself. No one else! I can’t be distracted when I am playing someone I care about when they play bad or make mistakes. I will admit for one microsecond I do feel bad but I realize that my job has to come first and foremost when playing. I can feel bad for them later. It’s not being mean or hateful. Let’s face it, we all play pool to win and play well."

Lisa explained further, "When you take your focus off of yourself and worry about someone else’s game you are cutting yourself and your game short and that’s not fair to you. In other words, if a burglar was coming to rob you, would you open the door for him to take all your possessions or lock him out and fight like mad to protect your home? I will always be that fighter as I am sure that most of us would do. It’s survival not personal!"

If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it.  ~Mary Engelbreit

Jennifer feels the same way and I think that's why they each have such a great mental game when they play pool.

Jennifer also shared something we all know but I think it's important to reiterate, because it explains her attitude some more, "I also think (and this is a cliché), but nothing breeds success like success.  During my time away from pool, I’d played in a bunch of poker tournaments, and had some success there.  I was traveling in Amsterdam about four years ago, and while I was there played in a poker tournament that I won!  I was so thrilled and it was so exciting!"

Jennifer continued, "I think the mental game is very similar in pool and poker.  I noticed if something went poorly for me in poker, I had a lot of good, positive “self-talk” at the poker table, which was distinctly different from my experience at the pool table.  If I experienced a bad beat or a mistake I made in a hand, inside I would just tell myself that I’m still in it, still have chips and a chair and therefore I still have a chance, so just do better next time!  In the past, when messing up in pool I would have a hard time bouncing back, and would get down on myself.  So I've tried to incorporate some of that positive feeling. When you have the attitude of 'even if I mess up, I'm still in it,' and then if you’re opponent messes up, you’re excited to get back to the table (rather than feeling sorry for yourself and for your opponent). "

Lisa is so competitive she even shared this, "One other funny tidbit people will say to me, 'Do you play your Momma like that?' (she plays pool too :o) I say yes and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She doesn’t want anything given to her she wants to earn her wins! We all feel better and more satisfied when we play well enough to win and not have someone just hand it to us!"

I want to thank both Jennifer and Lisa for opening up and sharing their insights about their strong competitiveness and attitude. I just KNOW their comments will help my fellow pool players (as it did me).


Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I love being inspired and surprised by peoples' unexpected actions.  I.E. Leadership moments.

In the pool room, I see plenty of negative things to write about, but it tickles me more to run across positive things to write about.  Although few and far between, when they show up, I embrace them to the core.

Having attended several leadership classes, maybe I'm more aware of certain actions by people than otherwise?  I dunno.

As I just wrote, we had league playoffs last weekend.  The first Sunday match, I had an instance where the opposing team cheered for my loss.  To say I was livid, is an understatement.

Later on in the match, the score is 11 to 8 us, in a race to 13.  One of the guys (an older gentlemen) on the other is about to break, but he can't find his break cue.  He asks my team if we've seen it.

"No, but what does it look like?"  We ask him.

We start to check our cue racks and we don't see it.

He checks again around where his team is sitting and he still can't find it.  He keeps walking around asking about it, looking for it.

His opponent, my teammate, walks up to him and tells him, "Take your time.  Don't worry about breaking.  I wouldn't be able to break either if I couldn't find my cue."

He is by now super upset.

"You bet I wont be breaking!  I paid $300 for that cue and I am going to find it," he bellows loudly.

He then leaves our area and walks by every table in the place and checks everyone's cues.  He comes back to our side of the pool room and is still looking for it.

He finally decides to break and as soon as he breaks he walks up to our team and says, "I found it."

"You did?  That's great," one of us replies.

"It's my bad.  My fault.  I just remembered I put it up, in my case, because I thought the match would be over.  It's my bad completely."

I sat there in utter astonishment.  I really did.

You all may think this was minor, but in my leadership eyes, it was exceptional.

If that was me, I'd embarrassingly probably say, "Opps, I just remembered, it's in my case,"  and turn red with embarrassment or point to my blonde hair, lol.  Others may just have said, "Oh, I know where it is."  Or, maybe not acknowledge their mistake at all.

But, this man took FULL responsibility.  He wasn't ashamed, embarrassed, or gave excuses.  He blamed it on himself and completely accepted his mistake, in front of everyone.

I honestly don't think many other people would have reacted that way.  It was a very enlightening moment for me to see such honesty of someone's own mistake like that in front of so many people.   He took command of the whole situation - before and after.  It was the after that impressed me:  Accepting responsibility in front of everyone.  Wow.

League PlayOffs

I played in my first-ever league play offs last weekend.  In this league, if your team does well enough, you play in The Best of the Rest tourney one weekend and then the next weekend is Best of the Best.  The only way for the team to make money is to make it to the Best of the Best weekend.  There were 12 teams total that made it to the Best of the Best.

We placed 4th overall.  We made $1,000.  The matches we won, the entire team played well.  The matches we lost, we could have defeated our opponents, but as a team we all seemed to struggle in those two matches.

I played every round, but I didn't play well!  I don't know what was wrong with me (besides exhaustion) but I was nervous at times (dog a 3-ball run and then stormed off), didn't have much confidence (and was very upset at myself a lot) and fluke things would happen a lot.  I scratched a few times and my opponent would run out either from the break or early in the rack (when normally they shouldn't be able to get out).  I was frustrated most of the time; the entire weekend. 

I got embarrassed a lot, too.  Team pressure is entirely different than when you are playing for yourself.  And with so many people standing around literally within arms length, it amplifies my mistakes. 

The one time I stormed off after I missed the 8ball, someone joked I needed to be put on suicide watch, lol (I admit that joke helped).  And when I would moan to my boyfriend how stupid a miss was, he would comfort me and tell me everyone makes mistakes.  He kept reminding me it was "okay."

On Sunday morning, my first game (and the first game of our first match), I am running out beautifully and bank my last ball - the 5 ball.  It goes nicely in the pocket, but the cueball bumps the 8ball and the8ball slips into the side pocket, also.  The other team starts to hoop and holler and clap.  My embarrassment factor escalates through my body and I immediately get super pissed. 

You're gonna clap for a win like that??  I was LIVID.  I grabbed my chalk, shook the guys hand and said loudly as I walked away, "You gonna clap and cheer for someone making the eightball out of turn???  Really???"

My b/f tries to calm me down and I tell him "It's not right."

"I know, but it's okay. "

"I can say something if I want to," I boldly state to him.

He replies, "Yes you can, just don't let it affect your next match.  Let it go soon."

"Oh, I'll be ready.  I'm ready to play NOW."

I did end up winning my next two games of that match.   

I was reminded it is the playoffs and so the teams aren't all nicey nicey and don't really have etiquette.  Which to me is no excuse - you should have etiquette not matter what tourney you play in.

I didn't let things snowball, but I was agitated at different times throughout the weekend with my shape mistakes or missed balls or rude comments.  Again, I don't know why I played so badly.  I just hope by this weekend that's out of my system, because I have an OB Cues Ladies Tour stop in town to play in!  :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pool Table Made the List!

While catching up on some news via Yahoo! I came across an article entitled, "Ten Most Dangerous Things to Move."

Was I secretly hoping pool tables would be on the list?

Yep, you betcha!

And I wasn't disappointed, either.

Pool Table was listed as item #2 not to move by yourself!

A do-it-yourself move can be a lot of things: stressful, long, tiring... and that's if you're lucky. If you also have heavy, bulky, or fragile items, it can also get downright dangerous.

Yes, certain things, like brain surgery, bomb defusing, and piano moving, should really be left to the professionals.

With that in mind, here are 10 items that experts consider dangerous for do-it-yourself moving and may warrant a call to the pros.

For Pool Tables specifically, here is what the article stated:

Your pool table is another source of wonderful entertainment that is anything but fun on moving day.

They are dangerous to move because of their slate - the large, flat surface that is usually made of actual slate rock, according to John Bisney, a spokesman for the American Moving & Storage Association. Slate is heavy, and if lifted wrong, it could spell major back trouble.

It's also very fragile, with corners that need thick padding to protect. Plus, it should be shipped vertically, not horizontally. "Crating the slate is by far the best way to ship it," says Bisney.

Because of a pool table's weight, Bisney says that most people hire pros for the moving process. "Also, have a professional company reassemble and re-level the table in the new residence," he advises.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Women's All Around in Reno

I can't begin to tell you how excited I am about where I placed in the Women's All Around in Reno the week of Feb 13th!

Quickly, let me explain the All-Around:  Each player received points for their finish in each division during the week at the U.S. Bar Table Championships.  The top 3 Men and top 2 Women received extra money!  However, you are only eligible if you play in all three divisions (10ball, 9ball and 8ball).

Women's 1st place monies in the All Around was $500 and 2nd was $250.  :)

When I placed 4th in the first division (10ball) it didn't cross my mind about the All Around.  However, as the second event (9ball) continued along, I was suddenly very cognizant how the top finishers of the 10ball competitors were doing in the 9ball division.  For sure, the All-Around was on my mind.

Then when I placed 7th in the 9ball division, I couldn't beleive I had a chance to be in the top 5 of the All Around!  Because a few of the top ladies from the 10ball division hadn't placed higher than me in the 9ball division, there was even more of a chance!

I never in a million years would think I would be in contention for the cash, or even in the top 5 of the All Around, but there I was.  Little 'ole me!

I placed 9th (boo-hiss) in the final division (8ball) and although I knew I wasn't in the top 2, I knew my chances for top 5 were pretty good.  Stacy Allsup ended up winning the 8ball which platooned her to 2nd place in the All Around, while Rebecca Wagner had 1st place sealed with her double wins for 10ball and 9ball.

It took me a while to get the final stats, but here they are:

OMG!  4th place!  Sure, no money, but who cares!  I got 4th place in the Women's All Around at the 2012 U.S. Bar Table Champsionships!


Friday, March 2, 2012

Video of Lisa's Inspiring Tattoos

I shared back in Jan 2010 the inspiring interview with Lisa Marr about the story behind her tattoos on her wrists.

Then in early Jan 2012 (during a tournament as we watched Lisa compete in the first stop of the OB Cues Ladies Tour in Arlington, Texas at Rusty's Billiards), I mentioned to friend that and I captured her story on video.

My friend had not seen the video and so I tried to find it so I could share the link.  During my research, I realized I had not shared Lisa's video on my blog.  What was I thinking?!  I want to ensure you all get to see this truly inspiring video for yourself!

Lisa has 'Strong' tattooed in Chinese on her stroking arm & the 'Courage' tattooed in Chinese on her bridge arm. "My strength is always behind me and you need courage to more forward. So my stroking arm is always behind me & my courage, bridge hand, is always in front of me" she explained. Lisa does use them during matches also: "when I start screwing up I use them to tell myself that I am strong and to have the courage to regroup myself & play better." When Lisa is looking down during a match, she's not getting down on myself. She admits, "I am pumping myself up by looking at my tattoos! Someone once commented to me that I look like I am giving up when I look down. I thought to myself 'got you fooled then' lol."