Thursday, December 31, 2015

More About Pressure and Comparisons

I wrote just yesterday about pressure.  Explaining that I was a photographer at a wedding for a friend, and how that was so much more pressure than playing in a tough match!

I received an email asking to explain what I meant, maybe give some examples if I had any.

Boy, do I!

I guess what I was trying to say was if we feel pressure when we are in a tight match or title tournament or against a tough player, try and remember other times in your life that were MUCH tougher and full of "deeper" pressure. 

There is something to be said for comparing situations from our past.  It can actually help you.

As you are in an important match and can feel your chest tighten, your adrenaline going crazy, your breathing is super fast, and you are missing some shots and feeling embarrassed, try and think to yourself:  is this embarrassment or is this match really so tough that I'm letting pressure affect my play?

As we all know, when pressure affects us, we don't stay down as well, we tighten our grips, we shoot too fast, and we lose our control of our fundamentals which causes us to miss, which causes us to fret, and then get embarrassed, and then we just well, continue to go downhill.

I have written about many things that can help:
  • Slow down your adrenaline with very deep breaths,
  • Get mad at yourself for missing,
  • Enjoy that you get to even play pool and have this opportunity,
  • Focus on your fundamentals profoundly,
  • Exaggerate your stroke,
  • Try and turn any negatives into positives,
  • Realize pressure just means you care,
  • etc.

But what I hadn't shared before is to compare the pressure to what you have already been through in your life.  Some pressure times or scary times, or overwhelming times in your life that you made it through.  Pressure from playing pool?  pfffft.  Try giving birth!  Compare that - hey, if I can pop out two kids, this is easy!  Or, for those of us who have witnessed a loved one take their final breath?  I have, and I can tell you that is much more traumatic than any pool match.  Or how about finding a loved one passed away?  Yep, done that as well.  That is very traumatic also and I don't wish it on anyone.  Have you been through a really bad car accident - wonder how you even survived?  What about a super bad divorce?  Remember how painful it was yet here you are today just fine afterwards?  Maybe you've been in jail - how scary!  Well, all these things are situations you can try to "compare" the adrenaline of the pressure you are feeling in middle of a match.  It will calm you down to realize/remember you have survived and been through SO much already.  Pool?  pfffft.  This pressure you are feeling in a match is NO match to real life stuff. 

So remember those tough times you survived while you can't breath in a pool match from all the pressure.  It will ironically help you release some of the pressure you are feeling so you can play good pool!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Different Kinds of Pressure

I was honored to be the photographer for a friend's wedding last weekend.

I found out that's SO much more stress than any tourney I could ever try to win lol.

Trying to capture a very special day for them, and to ensure I get their memories on camera and don't screw up sure is a lot of pressure, lol.  MUCH MORE than playing pool.

That is a friendly reminder that it's important sometimes in the middle of playing pool when you feel so much pressure in your chest and through your veins, that pressure is what you make it. 

Is it /really/ that much pressure?  Sure, feeling pressure means you simply care!  But, if you can relate it to other pressures in your life you've had, it can release some stress and adrenaline in the middle of a match.

Try it.  You'll like it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Happiness With Freedom

I ran into a friend I hadn't seen in over a year.  We saw each other at a local monthly tournament.

I asked her how she was and she smiled back and said, "fabulous" with the biggest grin on her face.

I was very curious, "oh, okay, what's been going on?" 

She said, "I quit league last season."

I shared, "Hey, that's what I'm doing! "

She smiled some more, "Yep, drama-free, baby.  I am SO much happier, I can't even explain it.  AND, I get to do whatever I want, whenever I want and don't have to be committed to be somewhere certain nights of the week.  I feel FREE!"

I was so elated to hear these words from her and to see how happy she was is! 

I shared with her how I have been hurt at league and disappointed with some things, and that I LOVED how the last two months I could go to dinner with any of my girlfriends on any night and not HAVE to play league. I even shared I was still bitter I had to play league the week my Dad passed.

It was refreshing to see how much happier she was than I'd seen her in the past, and that the biggest reason was her not playing league anymore.

There's something to be said for non-routine and to be able to play pool when you WANT to, instead of when you HAVE to.

I decided after yearning to play pool (oh the irony) back in late October, that I would continue to play in tournaments I was interested in, but STILL not play in leagues.  Yes, I do miss seeing some of my friends at league, but I am more relaxed without that weekly commitment twice or more a week. 

It's funny the timing of this:  For whatever reason, I am getting asked more and more lately to play in leagues and in league events coming up.

But, I am so much more happier right now, just like my friend experienced this WHOLE last year for her.  I can't wait to have non-league play in 2016 - what a wonderful break this will be! 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Played Mike Dechaine

Thanks to my friend Pan Hansen for putting me in the box against Mike Dechaine in a challenge match to raise money for Royce Bunnell's family during his Celebration of Life.

I got to break and he had two chances at the table and then I beat him!


Oh, nothing but pride :)

At one point in the game, - I shot a pretty tough 8ball and stayed down real well and I made it for shape and he said, "good shot."  Felt pretty good!  A LOT of people were watching him (and therefore his opponents) so it was nice to stay down under all the eyes of pressure.

I'm not "googlielee" at all around pro players because so many are my friends and I know over 90% of them, it was cool Pan put me up to play him to help the added monies for the Bunnell family!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Winner of the Royce Bunnell Celebration of Life Tourney

I was lucky enough to be able to attend Royce Bunnell's Celebration of Life on December 13 held at the Billiard Den in Richardson, Texas.  He passed away in November and was a huge part of the pool world. 

Along with raffles, (live and silent) auctions, free food, and a display for Royce, there was also a tourney where the ALL the money raised all weekend went to his family.  I entered the 64-person tourney and was promptly out in two.  As I wrote about before, I wasn't comfy in my clothes which distracted me.

One person who was comfy was William Howard.

Later on in the day, I walked by William and found out he was still in the tourney on the winner's side.   With only a handful of players left he shares with his heart, "It would be so cool to win this tournament for Royce.  It would mean a lot to me to do that for him."

I was impressed by his sincere-ness and wondered how that "pressure" would affect his game.  Because, he wanted to win it so badly for Royce.

William used to work for Royce at OB Cues and they played on the same league.  I could see the determination in William's eyes, and his heart was full of the loss of Royce (as it was for so many out of the 100s I saw that day).

Later on that night I read on facebook this simple and little, but powerful line from William:  "That one's for you, Royce! Miss you brother."

As I type that out right now, I have tears in my eyes.

William would later say, "Thank you everyone. Felt great to represent for a great man."

William is a shy guy with a huge heart.  For him to win a 64-person tourney in Royce's honor I would think has to be one of the top wins for William.  

And I think we will find out.  Billiards Digest contacted me about an idea for a person for their Spotlight Player of the Month. I replied, "William Howard, without a doubt, for what he accomplished last weekend."  So, we will be able to read William's thoughts on the win in the next Billiards Digest issue!  

Congratulations, William, for the win for Royce!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Blooper Reel!

I shared a video that I created to show a good drill.

You can check out that video clip here:

Of course with any video, you get bloopers/mistakes/funnies that come out of taping, lol, and I put some together for you!

The first clip was me showing the camera woman (Tammy) where to stand and move to during the taping, but we accidentally recorded that discussion, lol.  Then you see not one, but TWO times where I mess up the drill and instead of back banking it, I kiss the ball.  And the fourth is even funnier - this drill is suppose to show how to back cut a ball back to the end rail and on the last clip, I BANK IT RIGHT IN lol.

It really is a great drill and you can tell it's not an easy one (obviously by my blooper reel, lol).  Hope you check out the CORRECT video drill, too.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

People Walking By Matches

When I was playing in the tourney last weekend in Oklahoma City, in one of my matches my opponent kept getting upset and annoyed at people walking by.

I have always been somewhat amused by this. 

The reason why is because that means my opponent is letting things get to them.  It means they are not completely focusing on the game at hand. 

Don't get me wrong - you don't want to be distracted or have people walking by interfere with your shot, but to get visibly angry and annoyed is not the answer.  To give the person mean looks or to shout at them is not the answer.  I see it as they are just upsetting themselves.

Just get back up, get ready to re-shoot the shot. 

When I see an opponent upset, I know I have an advantage.  They are letting things bother them and getting distracted.  Of course, if they are losing in the match, then we all know they would be getting even more upset than usual anyway.  So, someone walking by just escalates the fact they are losing.  I've even seen someone yell at people walking by when she was the one who wasn't even AT the table shooting, she was so fuming about it. 

And I remember CLEARLY back in 1999 I was playing in a ladies tournament in Florida.  They had one open table and it was near the bathroom.  The tournament director warned me it was close to the bathroom and be distracting with everyone walking by.  I exclaimed, "put me on that table, I'm ready!" because I already knew my opponent would get upset about it (she has a history of getting irritated with things like this), and I would have the advantage.  Yep, I won the match.

It seems only certain players get super agitated over people walking by.  Others seem to take it in stride.  I suggest if you are this player to accept the conditions around you and don't let them upset you.  That /will/ affect your game.  You want calmness in your mind and not to be distracted with feelings of upsetness.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Disturbances Affect Playing Our Best Pool

I decided over a month ago to head to Jamaica Joe's in Oklahoma City to play in a ladies tournament December 19th.  I rode with two friends of mine (my friend and her husband) as we hit the road early Saturday morning to make it in time to sign up and then be a part of the calcutta.

One of the top three pick of the litters is a player I don't know, but Amanda Lampert (a good player in her own right who went for pick of the litter), told me she plays well and that's why they wanted to buy her.  I had never heard of her.

My friend's husband bought me for $70 in the calcutta.  Not sure why he did that, but it kinda put some pressure on me, lol.  I never buy half myself, so he was in for all his own money.  Normally who buys me doesn't affect me at all.  But, it also actually gave me more to play for.  Instead of just "having fun," I really wanted to do well for him.

I have to say I didn't like the way the tourney was run - $55 entry and we had to pay quarters still, and the players were moaning we wanted the calcutta to be paid down more than 4 spots, but we just weren't listened to.  But, to play on beautiful equipment with a great staff was for sure a treat!  39 ladies and at least $1,000 added because we had more than 32 ladies.  But if they would have paid out 9-12 in the tourney and 5/6 in the calcutta, that would have made it not so very top heavy (IMO). 

So, I get called to my first match and low and behold I have to play the girl I mentioned above - the one I don't know but everyone says she plays well.  I have no idea if she knows me or not.

She wins the first game, I COME WITH IT tho and win the next game.  She wins the next, and I again return and come with it to win the next game.  Now she knows I can play.  I haven't faltered and she has seen me run out a rack twice now.  We trade games again and it's 3-3, and I can feel SO much pressure, still.  Before we even flipped the coin, a player walks by and says "wow, you two drew each other?"  And I'm sitting here like, THANKS.  lol.  I honestly have never seen her or know how she plays but people are making it pretty obvious she plays well.  Then again - they do indicate WE drew each other, not that I drew her.  So, basically, it was going to be a good match.

I wanted to do well for my friend's husband who bought me, but it was a weird feeling to be playing this player that everyone thinks plays well.

I get ahead 4-3 and then she ties it again.  Then I get ahead 5-4.  At this point, a friend of hers, but a good player that I know, sits right next to her.  I at first think, "hey wait a shouldn't get a corner man."

There is a LOT to this moment in the match.  At this point, she is missing more and feeling the pressure as she realizes she is playing a good player.  I realize that I am in control of the match and feel real good and am PLAYING good too.  Can't begin to describe how awesome it feels to get out well and play great safes in a tough match. 

As this friend sat right next to my opponent, A LOT is going through my mind already.  It's already very tough to play in an environment where it seems everyone is watching this "famous" local girl playing me and wanting her to win (because she's expected to), and they have no idea who I am.  I'm just trying to play my little heart out and not be too aware of all things around me so that I can just focus on playing good pool.

Her friend asks me, "Hey Melinda, is it okay if I sit here."  It was my shot, and as I'm walking to the table I turn to her and say, "no, it's cool." 

I have to play safe and then sit back down and tell her I thought it was really nice of her to ask me that.  And she said, "well, I am sitting close to you and just wanted to be sure."

I felt pretty cool about it until when I got back to the table, I could hear them talking!  THAT I did not like.  You see, this goes WAY back to about 20 years ago when I'm in match and a friend walks up to my opponent to talk to her.  She eventually tells her friend to leave and my opponent begins to share with me how unfair that was.  That during tense situations, if a friend comes up to talk to us, it actually calms us down.  We feel "safe" and "loved" and we get to either vent about the match or we get to just feel comfortable; or maybe use the talk with a friend to get over any embarrassment feelings.  Well, I knew RIGHT AWAY that them talking was NOT good for me; it would be good for my opponent.

I'm used to not having players be able to talk to anyone during a match.  And this proved it.  It was distracting because I could hear them talking while I was at the table, and I could also hear her giving her a little pep talk.  Although not intentionally, it is something we would just normally simply do with friends, so I don't consider it coaching, but I didn't think it was "fair."

And so, as I look back, if I would have said, "please don't talk," then THAT would have been on my mind.  You see, we don't need any confrontation during a match.  I don't want to feel bad (or look like a bitch) because I asked her to move or not talk, because then that "negative emotion" takes away from my match.  BUT, them talking was giving me a negative emotion as well.  It was distracting.  It wasn't really "right."  It wasn't really fair. And yes, it was bothering me. 

I was running out the next game, again I'm up 5-4, and I get bad on the 8 ball but it's still make-able.  But, I shoot the 8ball too fast b/c I wasn't sure before I got down on the shot and I missed.  She easily makes the 8 and 9 balls.  Score 5-5.  That was A HUGE game.  Instead of me being up 6-4, it was now 5-5.

I then leave myself a really tough shot on the 8 ball the next game but thought I could still make it, and I missed.  I heard her friend say, "there you go."  She wins that game and is up 6-4.

One of my friends asks me in front of my opponent if I am the player up 6-4 and I reply, "I should be, but I've missed the last two 8-balls" - which is now showing my frustrations, which I hate showing any emotion during a match because you don't want to give your opponent an edge letting them see you sweat.  She wins the next game due to errors on both our parts (but mine was the final error) and she makes the four balls left and beats me 5-7.

To say I was deflated is an understatement.  I am seasoned (enough?) to know to not let things bother me, but I haven't been playing enough still in my lifetime to /really/ ignore things.  SUPER proud how well I handled myself to even get to five games against this good player!  I really did come with it in the beginning and overcame a lot of pressure to play well, just got distracted in the end (dammit).

Off to the one-loss side I go, but it's a race to little ole' five!  Ugher.  I play super sporty (imo) on the one loss side as well and win about 5-6 matches before finally losing steam and placed 9th.  Yep, one of the money!

I am still very happy (even elated) that I played well most of the tourney!  And I had a great learning experience.  I try to learn from every tourney, every match.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Video Diary - Drill To Practice Back and Forth a Safety


This is a drill where you practice putting the object ball on the end rail, and after you are successful, then you go to the other end of the table and repeat the shot.  On a 9 foot table, you are simply using top English.  On a bar table, you might need to use inside English. 

It's a fun drill and you'll be surprised when the opportunity will come up to use this nugget.

Thank you to my friend Tammy for being the camera woman!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sometimes You Can't Give a Pep Talk

I played in a bar table tourney a couple of weeks ago now.

Two of my friends and I bought two top players in the tourney - split three ways seems like a great deal!  Less up money and more players we can get in the calcutta.

After I won my two matches, I'm playing in my third but have to go get quarters.

As I walk by one of the other matches, my friend leans in towards me and confides, "Man, I can't play Coy, he's tough and I'm just not playing well against him."

Normally at this point, I would give encouraging advice.  I would remind her to breath and play pool, focus on the game.

But I had to stop myself before the first helpful word sputtered out - her opponent was one of the guys we bought in the calcutta!  I can't give her advice right now, wtheck!

So, I just kept walking back to my table to play my game with no advice given.  Hurt my heart because I like to help my friends during tournaments, but I gotta think of my pockets and also of the other two guys I'm in with.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Comfy Clothes

I have written about this before, but comfortably clothes are KEY to playing good pool.

You don't want to be wondering about if your boxers are showing, if you feel fat, if your shirt is too tight, have the wrong shoes on, shirt lifts too high in the back, sleeves too long, etc. 

I could go on and on with examples.

Thinking about those things (that you could have controlled) distracts you from thinking about POOL.

So, imagine my surprise when I found myself in this very same situation I have written about before.  Ugh!

I played in the Royce Bunnell Celebration of Life tournament yesterday in Dallas, Texas and while I was comfy with what I was wearing, I did NOT think ahead about the possibility of it being too hot.

So, I had a long, light sweater on, and felt fine with it on over my sleeveless blouse.

But it got WAY too hot for me inside and I had to keep going outside to cool off because the December weather felt good for once.

I took off my sweater and immediately felt uncomfortable.  I doubt anyone even noticed or cared, but I did.  White pasty arms, non-toned arms, and THEN I had to keep pulling up my pants that were too loose, otherwise they would be too low in the back and show my crack (yes, I just said that lol).   The sweater hid that, but with no sweater, I was vulnerable.  And, it's all I thought about was my pasty arms and loose jeans; ie, NOT pool.

I am so disappointed in myself for not thinking ahead and wearing a better shirt just in case I had to take off my sweater.  It crossed my mind for a split second when I was getting dressed, but didn't listen long enough.

So, I lost the two whole matches I played, even with the chances I had in every game.  Ugher.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Photo Shows Staying Down on Shot

What's cool abt this photo from last weekend at a tourney, you can see the cueball and the 2 ball moving, but I stayed down well during the entire shot.

It's taken me years not to jump up or rush shots or lift my head as I shoot.   Game elevation, peeps.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Still Playing Pool?

Yep, I am STILL playing pool!

I am no longer on any leagues and prefer that right now, but I have sparred with a few people and have really yearned to not only do that, but have enjoyed it as well.

For those who do not know what I'm talking about, I was ready to quit playing pool and focus on others areas of my life (some still with pool, some not). 

  • Well, I ended up gambling one night.  Really had fun.
  • Gave lessons the next night.  Loved it.
  • The next weekend I played in the OB Cues Ladies Tour and placed 3rd (WOW!).
  • Two weeks later I'm itching to play and spar with a friend for about 4 hours on a Diamond bar table. 
  • Next weekend I spar with another friend for 3 hours on a 9-foot table.
  • This weekend I might play in bar table 8-ball tourney 

Looks like I'm not done with this pool playing thing yet!  :)

I admit though, I'm loving not playing league!  It's so nice to be able to make dinner plans with friends and not have to play every single week.  There is definitely a lot of freedom to that that I am enjoying.

 Fun photo from one of the days I played:

Chris Fields (JAM-up player) and I, along with photo-bomber, Keith.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Do You Play?

During my first weekend of my ladies league playoffs back in Oct, we had to wait a for a match to play before we knew who our next opponents were.

So, my teammates and I were watching the match.

One of the players, who I had never seen before, was playing JAM up!  She was kicking long rail AND making contact with her ball, and she was staying down well, too.  I was impressed.

As she walked by, I told her, "Wow, you played that great.  Nice long-rail kick to hit your ball!"  It was SURROUNDED by her opponents balls and yet she somehow hit it.

I watched another game of hers and again I was impressed with her shot making and kick skills.  I said to her again as she walked by, "Nice game again."

She looked at me funny.  I suppose it was weird some stranger was complimenting her.

She played her final game and again she played great.  She didn't get out and lost but still play smart making great shots.

This time I didn't say anything to her.  I figured I should keep my mouth shut lol.

She goes to her team and then she comes up to me, "Did you see that?  OMG I missed shape on that last ball or else I would have been out.  You didn't see it, did you?"

"Actually I did see it - it was a tough shot and tough to get shape on it.  You still played good," I comforted her.

She's about to walk back to her team and then turns back to me and asks, "Do you play?"

At this point, what do I say? 

I'm sitting next to a friend and she starts to shake her head.

I say politely to the player, "Yes, I play on this league actually."

And she replies, "oh cool!" as she trots away back to her team.

And my friend is busting out of her chair.

"DOES SHE PLAY?!  OMG DO YOU PLAY? "  Now looking at me.

"What?" I ask my friend.

"DO YOU PLAY?  Tell her!  Tell her you are a state champ and national champ and the top player on the league - tell her!  She has no idea who you are!" my friend insists.

"No, no, I don't care.  I just hope she really did hear my words and takes them to heart because she really does play well."

"Oh, Melinda....." my friend says as she turns her head away from me frustrated and in disbelief.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Option for the Flip

Hadn't thought of this before, as most tourneys I play in are even races so we want to win the flip and break first.

But when we win the flip of a coin, we actually get the OPTION if we want to break or not first.

This came up during the Omega Tour stop last month and is a good point.  Since the Tour is handicapped, sometimes you DON'T want to break first - because in a handicap race that may mean you are not breaking if it goes hill-hill.

Hence the term, "Flip for the Break."   In lieu of "winner of the flip breaks.'

I am surprise this is the first time it's come up for me!  So, thought I'd share.