Thursday, January 29, 2015

Preparing For a Tourney

How do you prepare for a tourney?

Wait, do you prepare? Or do you just show up?

Honestly, it's okay if you do.  But even a few little mental preparations are better than nothing. 

Some people hit ball, hit balls, hit balls.  

Me, personally, I prepare by envisioning myself taking my time on my shots, and staying down well.  I have to keep that in mind or else I will rush my shots and that is NOT good for me.  It hurts my success, so I need to ensure to remember to not be in a rush.  Yes, I say "remember" because I do still forget sometimes.  So, that is my personal preparation.   

Visualization is very important and a big part of my preparation:

The advantages of sport visualization are extremely numerous. Athletes can use it to motivate themselves to train at their best. It helps you put things into perspective about what things are important and it also helps you block out any impending negative thoughts. Few activities can get an athlete psyched up like sport visualization.
(read more about sports visualizations HERE.)

Some people practice their break.  One of my friends' husband just borrowed a magic rack from me because he is playing in a big 10-ball event that will use magic racks and so he wants to practice his break with it.   Pretty impressive really to realize to work on that - and it's over a month away!  But, he doesn't play 10 ball nor has he ever broke with a magic rack before.

One thing I learned from one of Phil Capelle books is to also be prepared for the unknowns.

Wait, what?  How do you do that?

I wrote about this before, but it's been awhile so I wanted to remind people as this is a new year with new goals and new tournaments that you want to play in.

Basically. ...
I think it's very important to prepare for the UNKNOWN conditions of your tournament BEFORE you get to the tournament.

Specifically, these unknowns:

1. Equipment
2. Temperature
3. Surroundings

What?  How can I prepare for the conditions before I'm even at the pool room, or have practiced on the table to see how it rolls?... you might be asking yourself.

Let me 'esplain:

You should be aware and be prepared that the equipment may not be the best.  To help combat your frustrations with non-perfect tables, consider that everyone is playing under the same conditions.  Yes, we would like pristine conditions, but let's be realistic - there may be holes in the cloth, dead rails, plastic/clumsy racks/pockets, bad lightning.  I have played in a pool tournament with all of these conditions on one table before!  If you let yourself get upset over these things (things which you can't control), then you are not focusing on pool.  You are letting things interfere with your pool game that has nothing to do with being mentally able to focus completely on the task at hand.

Same for the temperature in the pool room.  Be prepared that some pool rooms get exceptionally cold or hot!  Bring an extra sweater or over shirt with sleeves as a backup in case the room is cold.  Better to have this as a backup than you not being able to play because your arms are frozen.  In the Summer in Texas, sometimes the A/C breaks or freezes and it gets hotter inside than out (no joke).  We play in these conditions a lot, believe it or not.  If you are consumed with negative thoughts about how damn hot it is, then you aren't focusing on pool again.  Don't let the negative energy of being upset about something YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER affect your pool game.

Now for the atmosphere - you never really know what you might be getting into.  Even if you've played in this particular tourney 1,000 times, maybe this time there is a heckler, or they get a new waitress who is the worst server ever, or the guys on the next table are clueless and keep getting in your way when you shoot.  Be prepared for everything; for anything.  Know that things may not be perfect; accept that!  Accept that you have no control over your surroundings.  When you do, then you can instead focus on playing your best pool, so the distractions do not become a negative and interfere with your matches.

Nothing is worse than distractions affecting your mental game.  Distractions are negative emotions that cause negative thoughts which leads to not thinking clearly which causes tenses muscles and your fundamentals become affected.  Negative thoughts and emotions CAN be tamed.  These tips above can help if you practice them.

This is a good reminder - to not let things bother us that we cannot control.  If you accept that things may go wrong and NOT let them bother you, you can then focus on playing pool; your best ability to play pool.  Don't let any of the above become YOUR excuse for losing.  Or for not playing your best.  Before you set foot into the pool room to play in the tourney, already be prepared for the unknown distractions so you can PLAY POOL with a clear, positive, strong mind.

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