Saturday, December 31, 2016

Explaining Why We Lose

After I lost my very first match during the Season Finale of the OB Cues Ladies Tour in early December, I happened to run into a top player who hangs out at this particular pool room. 

He asked me how I did and I told him I lost.  But as most pool players do, I didn't just say, "I lost."  Yep, I gave him the final score, then explained that I was tied 4-4 but then scratched on an 8 ball, missed a tough 9, and I got accidentally hooked bad when my opponent was on the hill. 

You get the picture.

As I'm going on with my reasoning and explanations for losing he stops me and says, "Come on, Melinda, you're a seasoned player.  You know there's no reason to think about why you lost or worry about it or let it bother you. Just let it go."

It was very interesting because he was right.  I have played enough all these years to no go into details about why I lost.  I just needed to focus on what I can control in my next match.  

While I wanted to share with him why I really lost (those 3 mistakes and a bad roll), in reality I am at that point in my pool career that all I have to do is say the score and I don't need to give a play by play of every single reason for each game that I could have won. Lol

I think this might be because I haven't been playing a lot?  And so I just wanted to explain to him all the details of why I lost, lol.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Affects of People Watching Our Matches

While I was playing on Sunday at the OB Cues Ladies Tour stop a few weeks ago, one of the top players from the area who hangs out at this particular pool room had walked in.  He walked into the nonsmoking side where we were playing and said hello, and then he went to other side of the pool room and I didn't see him again.

Because I was drinking a lot of water, I had to go to the bathroom a lot and one time I walked by the bar area and I saw him there.  He asked me how I was doing and I said I had won my morning match and was in another match, up 5-2 or something like that.  I asked him why he wasn't watching and he said, "well I just want you to focus on your game."

What's interesting about this is is he recognizes that his presence can influence others.  

I want to say that he wouldn't have bothered me negatively at all.  And he wouldn't.  However, I WOULD be thinking about shots that maybe I could ask him about that he saw if he was watching - which is a distraction in itself.  I should be focusing on the current game, not trying to remember a layout to ask him about later.  I need to focus all my energy on the current situation.

I have talked many times in my blog how certain people watching can have a good influence or a bad influence. Some people don't understand that when they say things about a shot or a match after you have just finished playing that it actually affects us  deeply.  Not only at that moment, but we actually get anxiety when we see them at other tournaments because of their past "practice" of saying things that bother us.  I am afraid to walk by certain people for fear of what might come out of their mouth this time.

That's why I've written about how I don't look around at the crowd during a match.  Which is still one of my favorite tips I have received.

Then there are other people who watch that have a very calming affect on you or I because they don't say anything afterwards.  They don't say anything negative after a match or they don't make any opinionated, stupid comments lol.  

Then there are others that we yearn for them to watch us.  Helps calm our nerves, or makes us feel "loved" so to speak.  And those positive feelings help us when we play.

Coming full circle about this top player....  So, I appreciated that he recognized that he wanted me to focus on the match.  He's not a negative influence at all and he's never said anything to make me second guess myself.  But just having him in the room is a slight distraction that he recognized.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Mathematics of Improving

It always find it interesting what people focus on and think of when trying to improve their game.

Someone told me last month, "I want to be your first Most Improved Player on the Omega Billiards Tour."

I smiled as I read that, knowing this player was working on hard on his game.

Then the other day a different Omega Tour Player was asking me about how the Fargo Ratings work, since we are using them for handicapping starting in 2017.  

I received the answer from Mike Page:
The system doesn't care about tournament results per se.   It also doesn't care about handicaps or anything like that.   So for example if you Melinda (529) played a match against Sky Woodward (778), and Sky won 10 games, the system would say based on your ratings you are expected to get to 2.    So if he beat you 10 to 2, your ratings would stay the same.   If he won 10-0 or 10-1, you'd go down a smidge (and he'd go up).   If he beat you 10-3 or 10-4, you would go up and he would go down.    
If you played Monica Anderson, you'd be expected to win 6 to her 4.    It doesn't care that you are a 6 handicap and Monica is a 5 handicap.  If Monica won a match against you in a Omega event with a score of 5-5, she would go up a bit and you would go down a bit.  This is not because she won the handicapped match; it is because she would have been playing even with you for 10 games when due to her lower rating she is not expected to... 

After I shared the answer with the player, and told him I hope it was helpful, his response took me aback!  

He replied, "Yep, helps a lot.  Tells me what I need to focus on, i.e. wins against higher ranked players…not just wins in general.  The other stuff will ‘happen’ because of that focus.  

He added later when I told him he had an interesting perspective, "You see, I need 26 points to move to the next level i.e. a 7.  (If I read everything right). 

If I focus on ‘getting’ that 26, then the other items just come naturally, i.e. finishing better in the tournament(s), getting ‘better’ overall, etc.

Goal oriented."

I was very impressed with how much he thought about what he needed to do now in regards to improving on the Tour now that we are using the Fargo Ratings.

He's right, it's no longer just simply wins versus losses or how one finishes in the tournaments. But he was clever to ask just how the process of the Fargo Ratings work so he could focus on the numerics of it all.

I love smart people!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2017 Goal Time

Ahhh, that time of year where people contemplate resolutions. 

If you have been reading this blog for a while you know already that I do not do resolutions and instead if I "set" anything at all, they are goal-orientated. 

I have written about this a lot.

Back in  2011 I wrote about specific goals I had for that year.

In 2014 I discussed realistic goals.  I liked this blog topic a lot because I share good examples of realistic goals and unrealistic goals.  Sometimes we can't see the forest through the trees, and this particular blog entry was quite helpful to others about why certain goals aren't helpful (or attainable).

Also in 2011 I wrote about how sometimes I set goals to improve my game.  That was a fun blog topic to write about, too.  (and my game DID improve, btw)

If you have more time, see where I was in my pool journey with the goals I set for 2010.

Or maybe this blog topic where I wrote down my goals for a specific tournament.  You will see each of the goals were things I could control, not based on luck or the draw or how high to finish in the tourney.

Back in 2008 I wrote about goals for that year as well.  It was my first chat about goals in my blog.  It's a treat still to this day!

The key that I preach ALL the time is to set attainable goals.  Make them realistic.  Further, if you set goals, make them within your control!  

Good luck!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Less Sleep Is Good, too

"Which is it??"

You are asking yourself:

"Melinda you profess all the time how when you get a lot of rest/sleep before tournaments that you play your best and it's a big, key ingredient for you.  So, now why are you about to talk about less sleep??"

This is why:

I learned almost 15 years ago that I need my body and mind to be awake at least 2 hours before my first match in order for me to perform well.

I was in Vegas and I had a 9am match.  I was exhausted and wanted to sleep in as long as I absolutely could!  I can get ready in about 15 minutes, takes 15 minutes from my room to the playing area in the Riveria, and so I set my cute little alarm for 8:30am.  I thought I was a genesis.  Instead, I was STUPID.

I wasn't awake enough to play well.  I made mistakes.  I didn't have breakfast.  I was still out of it from just waking up.  I was missing balls.  And, I lost.

I was so very disappointed in myself.  I HAD that girl!

But, I hadn't had enough time to wake my brain and body up, so it cost me the match.

On Sunday morning of the OB Cues Ladies Tour a couple of weeks ago, I had set my alarm for 9:15am.  Boy, was I excited to get to sleep in a little more than usual.  Especially since I was also very exhausted from the whole day before playing pool all day (both physical and mental exhaustion).

I happened to wake up around 7:30am to go pee-pee.  As I'm trying to fall back asleep it hits me:  I need to get up by 8:30am!  Not 9:15am.

What was I thinking??

Recalling vividly that slow morning back in 2,000 in Vegas when I wasn't awake enough to play well, I made sure to get up that crisp Sunday morning and get my body moving through the house, even though I was still tired.

I need 2 full hours to be awake to play good pool.  Match at 10:30am, body out of that bed at 8:30am.

And sure enough, it took me a while to "get going" and wake my brain and body up.  I was glad I added time so I would be more prepared to play.

While getting rest and sleep IS key, what is also key is I need to be awake for at least 2 hours to give myself the best chance possible to play well.  Again, something we can control.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Eating and Tournament Preparations

I was reminded about a lot of things when I played earlier this month in a big 2-day tournament, that I hadn't thought of in some time.  So forgive me for writing about random things all of a sudden, lol.

But I think these are great reminders, and here is one of them:

Saturday morning on the way to the pool room, I picked up some breakfast tacos from Taco Cabana for my friend Tina and I.  Didn't really think too much about it, honestly.  Well, except I knew I would have a better chance of playing well with eating breakfast than playing on an empty stomach.  I bought myself 3 tacos - had no concerns about eating that many.  We arrived to the pool room around 9am, and the players meeting didn't even start til 11am, so I had plenty of time for my food to process in my tummy.

On Sunday morning, I found myself still in the main event.  Yay me!

Check out the difference come Sunday morning regarding breakfast:

While I'm getting ready that morning figuring out what to wear and how to fix my hair (lol), I'm thinking about those delicious tacos from Taco Cabana.  I'm also thinking about how I need food for energy (again, don't want to play on an empty stomach and food is energy).  However, I'm also thinking about how too much breakfast will affect my thinking.

I know from experience that if you eat too much, your body is busy sending it's energy and blood flow to work on processing the food in your stomach. This means less blood flow to your brain, and I really need those cells to think clearly in a match, lol.

So, I'm seriously considering all my options.

This particular morning I'm leaving the house 45 minutes from when I will be playing my first match, which means I cannot eat too much in the next 45 minutes.  As I'm walking out the door, I literally stop - "should I just grab a shake?"  Trying to decide what is best with my time constraint.  Not only am I thinking about the amount of food in my stomach, I'm also trying to figure out my practice time before my match.  This means I must figure out how best to fit in eating breakfast.


I decide to still stop at Taco Cabana, order only two (not three) tacos, and eat them on the way to the pool room.

This solves several things:

  • I have food in my tummy for energy, 
  • But not too much food so I don't feel full and tired from my body processing extra food, 
  • I eat on the way to save time (but I drive very carefully), and
  • I'm able to warm up hitting balls 10-15 minutes before my match at 10:30am because I ate on the way.

There's a lot to tournament matches and being properly prepared.

And food consumption is an important one.

Think about how much you are eating, what you are eating, and the time from when you eat to when you play.  All of that factors into your decisions to help give yourself the best opportunity to play well.  

Remember, these are things in our control that we must be cognizant of.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Breaking Memories

I wrote just back in November that a friend shared with me that his ego overcame his rationale thinking when he broke hill-hill, and it cost him the match.

Instead of using a solid, firm, controlled break, he instead broke too hard because he wanted to be the "hero."  Even though he is very much aware how crucial the break is, his adrenaline took over unfortunately.

I had four (4) hill-hill matches during the OB Cues Ladies Tour Season Finale earlier this month.  I won the flip and had the luck to be able to break hill-hill 3 out of 4 of those matches.

And each of those 3 matches, at hill-hill, I reminded myself of my friend.  I remembered that a controlled break is better than me slamming the balls, even though my adrenaline was racing and I felt pressure, I, too, wanted to be the "hero."  Slamming the balls can result in a miscue, cueball off the table, non-controlled break, etc.

While his experience was painful, I tried to remember it for my benefit lol.  But, I know of course that HE will also remember his hill-hill bad experience as well in the years to come when he finds himself in similar situations.  And, I also know that anyone who may be reading this blog will also benefit from his pain.

So, while it cost him that crucial match, his pain (okay, okay, his "learning experience") is paying it forward to many others.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Scratch Offs for 9 on the Breaks

On the OB Cues Ladies Tour, they give lottery scratch off tickets if you break and run or make a 9-ball on the break.

I was breaking unsuccessfully all weekend (by that I mean having many dry breaks).

However, I did manage three times to make the 9 ball on the break!  That meant 3 scratch off tickets!

This is how much money I made:


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Walking Around the Table

After I placed 2nd in the OB Cues Ladies Tour last weekend, I was standing near the tournament table and finally pulled out my phone.

I have learned not to look at my phone at all during tournaments.  I like to stay focused and don't want to be distracted.  You don't want to read anything that might upset you:  a work email, bad news from a relative, something stupid someone may have posted to social media that may bother you, etc.  You want no distractions (and this is something you can control - looking at your phone).

So as I pulled out my phone, I saw a notification.  I say out loud kinda laughing to one of the players standing there, "Hey, my phone says I reached my walking goal."  I was laughing because I didn't know what goal it set for me and also laughing because I think it's cool it figures these things out miraculously.

And the player (who I just met that weekend) tells me, "You /really/ do walk around a lot.  Like, A LOT."

I chuckled a little and then shared with her, "Well, in order for me to see where I need to be on the next 2 balls, I walk around a lot.  I don't like to presume anything about shape or guess where I need to be.  I am more successful when I walk around."

She replies, "Well, it definitely helps you.  Congrat's on 2nd!  And also congrat's for meeting your walking goal," she joked :)

Friday, December 9, 2016

Effects of Not Playing Regularly

One of the things that's been on my mind lately, especially after I dabbled trying to play pool a few times in the past 12 months, was something a friend of mine said.  He said that once you quit playing, your game just isn't the same anymore.

And he regrets he took a few years off.  His game just isn't what it used to be.

I also know that playing regularly is good for your game as well.  And since I don't play in leagues at all anymore and hardly play in any tournaments, I am a little nervous about this.

I'm not nervous to the point I want to play more, lol, but nervous in the sense that my game will falter when I do play.

And I have already noticed that.

In early November I played a little 8ball tourney and noticed my game is definitely off.  I missed some key shots, I messed up my patterns, and my mental game wasn't strong like it used to be.  Even a friend watching who I haven't seen in over a year asked me what was going on.  I was disturbed as he didn't know I haven't played often in a year, but I just tried to blow it off.  Point being though it's noticeable lol.

I truly feel that having solid fundamentals is crucial for me to be able to play well still.  Am I kidding myself that I can keep playing "okay" the longer I go without playing pool regularly?  No, of course not.  But, I feel okay for the moment for the position I'm putting myself in.  And that is, just playing for fun when I might have the urge.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Like Riding a Bike...?

Imagine my surprise when I'm warming up the morning of the OB Cues Ladies Tour.  I say hello to a fellow player and she asked where I had been.  I told her I hadn't been playing pool hardly any more.

Her response was, "It's not like riding a bike, is it?"

I was defiant, "Hmmm...well, I think it is."

And she replies, "Really?  Well, my game gets thrown off when I don't play regularly."

Of course, this is from a person who is known to go practice at another pool room between matches if there aren't tables open for her to practice on.

The interesting thing about this exchange was that I did NOT want it to bother me.  I didn't want her words to get to me mentally and to affect me negatively.  To me it was negative words, negative thoughts, negativeness in general... and I wanted to be positive to give myself the best chance possible this weekend.

I tried to so hard to get the thoughts out of my head.  Last thing I wanted to be thinking about or reminded of was that I haven't been playing regularly, lol.

So, as I warmed up, I just focused on what was going on with my game on the table.  Why was I missing?  Oh, I'm not staying down. Why did I not get shape?  Oh, I didn't walk around.  Why did I miss again?  Oh, I need to stroke more.

I wanted to focus on what I could control - resolving and thinking about some things with my game before the matches start.

Like I said before, I missed a lot of shots this past weekend, but I also made some great outs and played some good safes.  Whew.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Getting Warmed Up DURING A Tourney

My friend, Dave Faver, offered me some advice before I played this past weekend in the OB Ladies Tour stop.  He told me since I haven't been playing to use the first few matches to try and get in stroke.

Play safes more in the first few matches.  My stroke wont be what it was so I shouldn't go for tough shots I maybe could have made before.

As I move further along in the tourney (if I am lucky enough to stay in the tourney), I will get warmed up, feel more comfy, and shoot better.

I noticed this so evidently!

I struggled early on, but by the end of Saturday evening, I could see great outs and saw patterns and runs REALLY well.  Even with taking time off from playing pool, I was able to play well still.... eventually.

Again, I did make a lot of mistakes this past weekend, but I also was able to run out well and make some tough shots as the tourney went on.  I definitely felt more comfortable as I played each match.

I was very pleasantly surprised.  :)

Monday, December 5, 2016

I'll be Darned.... Played Well, Finished Well

I played in the OB Cues Ladies Season Finale just this last weekend at Rusty's Billiards in Arlington, Texas.

I didn't know how I would do.  How could I do well since I have not been playing pool hardly any at all this year?  I had no expectations at all (and that prolly helped).  While my internal "wish" (goal? hope?) was to last until Sunday, I would be pleasantly surprised.

I posted this on facebook the morning of the tourney, so if I didn't do well, peeps would know why lol:  True statement btw:

There were 33 ladies and I didn't get a bye while 31 others did, lol.  I lost that first match to the 3x-time Tour Champion 3-7 and there I was on the one-loss side right away....  Facing death.  No, no, not death, lol.  Facing a long road indeed, tho.

I suggested to a friend that in order to gain more experience she should play in this in-town ladies tournament, too.  It would be her first time playing and so we went together.  You know what that means, right?  Yep, we had to play each other.

Tina and I

After I won my first match on the one-loss side I had to play my friend, Tina.  It was a great match and we went hill-hill!  I won and although I was very happy how she played, I wish she would have got to play more matches.  While I'm not suppose to feel sad I won, I did indeed feel bad.

I then found myself down in my next 1-4 as the girl shot REALLY well.  I had to dig deep and I won 7-5.

I won my next two matches 7-0, 7-0 and found myself in til Sunday!

I had for some reason slept well ALL week and I know that sleep is KEY for me to do well.  I never got too tired and of course I also drank water like it was going out of style lol.  I kept hydrated all day long both days and I loved the feeling of not being tired, hungover, or mentally drained.

The other thing I noticed about both days was I felt no pressure at all.  That is a very great non-feeling to have, honestly.  No worries or concerns, just playing pool.  I've stated 1,000 times (maybe I'm exaggerating) that not thinking ahead or worrying about things you can't control is the epitome of being able to play well and focus completely on the game.  This past weekend was a clear example of that.

I didn't have to compare my last finish or wonder who my next opponent would be or wonder how I would explain my bad finish to others, etc.  The sense of no pressure was amazing.  Every win was just a bonus and every round I moved closer to the finish line was peer joy and surprise.  If I lost, I lost.  If I won, I won.  No pressure.  I hadn't played a two day tourney that I lasted into Sunday since April, so I was very raw with my expectations.

Again, prolly a good thing.

I won a 2 1/2 hour-long marathon match Sunday morning hill-hill.  Guranteed 5th.  Then I won 7-4.

Next up was another long and nail-biter hill-hill match.  This time I had to cut a long tough 8-ball and then bank the 9 ball which I was lucky enough to make both.  Guaranteed 3rd now.  I then played a tired opponent and won 7-4 I think.  Now I'm in the finals!    NO WAY!   I met up against the Tour Champion again and she played really well and won 7-3.  But I placed 2nd!

I still can't believe how well I did.  The very few times I played this year I saw roughness in my game and so I wasn't sure how I would do this event.  But I was pleasantly surprised how well I saw the runs and patterns and how well I made balls.  Don't get me wrong - I made plenty of mistakes.  Just also made a lot of outs that were needed at the right time.  And I am positive that recording this video review helped - because I saw angles a lot more this weekend than usual.

Oh!  And since I played in this tournament for two days I have a ton of things that came up with I will write about here in my blog.  Can't wait to share!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Learning by Watching Others

One of the coolest things I saw on a Sunday morning in October during an Omega tournament was this:

A player who is up and coming and ADORES the game, was sitting front-side of the row to watch the matches that Sunday morning.

Normally the people in the crowd on Sundays are significant others, close friends, fans of the game, or people who happen to stumble upon the tournament that day.

Why was this cool about this particular guy?

Because this player is working hard on his game.  He's taking lessons, does drills, plays in all sorts of tough events to get better.  AND now watching matches on Sunday of an Omega will also help his game.

I had never seen him there before on a Sunday.  He has never come in on a Sunday to simply stay the day and absorb all the learning.  I was tickled to see him add this to his learning plan.  Not many players are aware how valuable and effective watching great matches can be.  And if they do know this already, many don't go out of their way to do something about it like this player did.

The elite players of any tour are playing on Sundays.  If you want to improve your game and learn from the best - that's when to come watch.  Sundays the best players are fighting, competing, battling and we all get to watch their mastery.  You will see more hill-hill matches on Sunday than Saturday.  You will see emotions and mental toughness, but you will also see GREAT runt-outs and CLEVER safeties.  These guys want to WIN.  And they will give everything they have to do so.

So, the lucky ones (like me who have to be there on Sundays) and fans who come watch on Sundays get a real treat of adding ammunition to their arsenal of tools.  Watching run-outs and safeties all day long from great players automatically helps our game because we are watching and absorbing and learning so much from these players.

I seriously feel that my game was helped A LOT after I started running the Omega Tour.  In 2014 I had my best pool year as far as titles won (State and National) and it happened to be the second year I ran the Omega Tour.  Watching all these players stay down on their shots, smooth stroke, seeing awesome safeties and great patterns of runs helped my already good game become great.

And I know that that player I saw visit that Sunday morning and watch matches for hours and hours will also improve his game, too.

I love it!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Water and Exhaustion

Watching players compete intensely on the Omega Tour for the last 4 years, the most important thing I have witnessed is how exhausted the players get towards the end of the tournament.

At that point, it truly is about who is less exhausted.

Here is the situation on the Omega Tour:

On Saturday, the day is chalk full of matches and waiting around for matches.  You can be there for 8 hours and play only 2-3 matches if you stay on the winner's side.  If you get on the one-loss side, you get to stay even longer on Saturday and play even more matches - easily 12 hours some times.

That is exhausting - either playing a lot or waiting, both are tasking both physically and mentally.

Then here comes Sunday.  We start at 10:30am and usually finish around 10:30pm.  If a player stays on the winners side, it would go like this:  Play for an hour or hour and half then about an hour break; play for an hour or hour and half then about an hour break ..... and repeat all day until the finals.

If you are on the one-loss side, there are no breaks.  You play back to back to back.  If you make it to the finals, you have just played pretty much non-stop for 12 hours (a few breaks of 10 minutes between matches, but nothing more).

One stop this past season a player told me after he lost the hosteat match, "Man, I am exhausted."

I shared, "You know, at this point every single player is exhausted.   You've all been playing all day. What I witnessed and learned is the player who is the least exhausted does best."

He looked at me, taking in my words and agreeing.

Then I shared even more, "what I have seen is drinking water wakes a player up a little bit and gives them energy."

He ran immediately to get water.  And he won the tournament, too.  I'm not saying I helped him win, but I AM saying that the refreshing feel of water in his system helped him feel better and less exhausted with a clearer mind.  His opponent did not hydrate himself and was just as exhausted as he had been in the last few matches.  So, the player who was the least exhausted won.

We have all heard the benefits of water and hydration.  

And as most people know, hydration is key for thinking clear and being able to compete well.  The important thing of course is recognizing you are exhausted and then remembering water can help invigorate you and your senses.

Drench on, people!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

4-Ball Run Video Review (Amos Bush)

4-ball run?  What's the big deal?  Ahh.... but so much to see in just running these 4 balls.

Hopefully this helps even one person see maybe some things we hadn't considered before:

Monday, November 28, 2016

Remembering Connie O'Heron

I was very sad to hear of Connie's passing earlier this month.  She was a fierce competitor and yet the nicest woman at the same time.

She'd kick my ass, and then I'd give her a hug because she did it so eloquently because she was so dang sweet.

As I have been away from tournaments, I did not know she had been sick with cancer.

I remember her as this:  (3rd on the right, standing next to her daughter).

She loved every minute of pool and she had such a great talent for the game.  While I hated to run into her on the table, I loved seeing her smile in the aisles as we would pass each other and give smiles and waves.

She will be terribly, terribly missed.

I can't fathom what her daughter and family are going through.    May they have peace.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

City Council Experience

I attended my first-ever City Council meeting earlier this month!

Can you say Mayor Bailey?  lol

Although I live in the Dallas-Fort worth metro-plex, I physically live in a very small city so we have our own small city hall, with a Mayor, and once a month they have city council meetings.

It has been on my (what I thought would be a very distant) to-do list to attend one of these to get more involved, and I finally had the time to attend my first time.  I attended more readily because my next door neighbor is the mayor and that helped break the ice walking into something completely new - I wasn't alone and sat with his wife.

It was a pretty interesting experience to say the least.

And ironically, it's just like running an Omega Tour!  Meet once a month, some people give kudos, some people get upset, issues are looked into or resolved, and it's for the people.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Do You Influence with Info?

I have been working on a the last couple of months looking into adjusting a few players' handicaps on the Omega Tour to reflect more their known ability.  This would take place starting with the new 2017 Season in January.

After careful and many discussions, the Board and I decided after research and evaluation, that the Fargo Ratings are the best way to go.

I had been losing sleep over all the complaints about certain players and wanted to do something about it, and using the Fargo Ratings is the way to go.  Every person the Board considered moving up did indeed move up when we looked at the cut-offs for the handicaps for the Fargo Ratings compared to the Omega Tour.  It was quite remarkable.

And as one player told me,
"Players will complain about anything. But the biggest complaint I always heard about the handicapping for Omega before was that there wasn't a set methodology to determining a players handicap.  Now there is, so it'll come down to them whining about Fargo and not the decision makers on the tour.  There are some people who moved around but I think overall they were all moves in the right direction."
I had known about this new change (using Fargo Ratings) and had a lot of background information provided by Mike Page of FargoRate and was ready to announce this but wanted to wait until after the Season Finale so we could flush a few more things out and get some graphics that explained well the system/criteria.

But there I was Sunday morning of the Omega looking around the room and saw a few key players that I knew would be moving up come January.

I knew I wouldn't say anything to them, but I DID wonder what effect that would have had on them?  Would they have be consumed that they were going up in Jan and in-consequence not perform that well by being distracted by the news?  Or, would the info propel them to try even harder this one last event at a lower ranking?  (that's pressure in itself, tho, and can back-fire)

One player told me after he finished the tourney that he things it will push him harder to do well being ranked higher (as he knows he needed to be moved up).

Still - interesting, huh?

Such a mental game!  And I didn't want to affect the players in any way with the new news.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Ego Breaking

I wrote a few months back how a friend of mine pulled me aside to talk to me about my break.  It wasn't a solid break because my stroke was all over the place.  I didn't put a lot of dedication to the strokes (like I have with all my other shots/stroke)... and I needed to do that on the opening shot he reminded me.

That same player, went hill-hill with a tough player on Sunday last weekend of the Omega Tour Season Finale.  He was down 0-4 and came back hill-hill.

He confided that when he broke on the hill, that he had too much adrenaline and wanted "to be the hero" and instead of breaking like he normally does (solid and controlled), he broke too fast and hard... and the cueball flew off the table.

That gave his opponent ball-in-hand and he consequently ran out.

He was very forthcoming with what happened and took full responsibility. He knew right away what he did, why he did it, and he was reflecting on the tough loss.

This blog points out two important things:

  1. Remain calm and try and stick with your normal stroke during all shots even when under pressure or anxious.  We tend to shoot faster - instead, stroke more to slow yourself down a tad.  (read more here)
  2. Reflecting right away about what happened will be HUGE for your game (as it will for his for the very next time he's in this situation).  Learning and reflecting after each match is crucial for your future self in future tournaments.  It goes A LONG WAY.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Raised My Voice

I wrote just last month how a friend of mine suggested that I'm too nice sometimes to the players of the Omega Billiards Tour that complain a lot or cause issues.  My response and explanation I shared in this blog post (appropriately entitled:  Tournament Director Punching Bag) stated:

"I am of the opinion that it's not me being too nice, instead I am in a leadership role.  I am showing empathy and showing respect.  I am treating the players like I am a friend or maybe a mentor, and show understanding and let them talk and express themselves.
I think it's like running a business or being a supervisor.  And I wouldn't bitch out my employees or treat them with disrespect if they were upset.  I would show empathy, listen, offer advice (if a good moment to do so), etc."

Well, he was right.... I am too nice.  And, this past weekend I wasn't nice.

While I want to pat myself on the back for being the nice leader and treating everyone with empathy and respect, I found myself instead raising my voice over the past weekend.  I had two players "lay into me" and I couldn't take it anymore just standing there being a "punching bag," and I finally reacted.

I finally got fed up and raised my voice back at them.  Unfortunately the "discussions" were back-to-back so that didn't help matters at all.  While I might have HATED that I raised my voice, the reactions from the twp players were something I hadn't planned on:  they each stopped bitching at me as I "retaliated" and defended myself.

Basically, I let them vent to me for a while and just tried to be nice and calm in response, but inside I was upset and honestly, fed up.  I finally just couldn't take it anymore and raised my voice in defense of the tour and the decisions.  And told those two players that if I had the control to make things better, I WOULD.

I can't control mistakes, I can't control if a table rolls off;  there are just some things I can't control.  I feel like I am trying so hard and to get beat up on is tough to take sometimes.  If I could fix any of their concerns, I expressed to them passionately and with frustration that I would in a heart beat.

Because I was verbally abused for 25 years, I DESPISE raising my voice.  However, I simply couldn't handle the complaints, grumbling, and bitching at me any more.

I am disappointed in myself for raising my voice.  But I couldn't take being a punching bag that morning.  I just find it ironic, weird, and confusing that raising my voice finally stopped them from bitching at me.

Don't worry, this experience wont cause me to raise my voice a lot, lol.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

To League Or Not to League

...That is the Question.

While I have enjoyed not playing league for the last year or so, when I watched a whole day's worth of league playoffs, it did hit me I might want to get back in.

This particular league has a lot of benefits to me personally.  The most important one is it is NOT a traveling league and it is fairly close to my house.

However, I just don't know what to do.

I should write a list of pros and cons to help my un-decisiveness lol.  

I do think it would be good for me to get out more.  And I have the itch to play again and when I do, I can tell my game is off from the lack of play.

However, I still adore the non-committalness since I don't play any leagues.

What seems like a tough decision is really not an easy one for me.  Do I play again, or do I not?  Do I be around smoke?  Or do not worry about that and be around friends?   Why do I want to play?

Decisions, decisions.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Helping Others Through My Blog

I started my blog for myself.  It was easier to type online than write out my thoughts on paper.  It became my new pool journal.

Eventually I opened up my blog to a few friends.  Then they suggested I open it to the world (lol).  I was very hesitant, but eventually did.

But, what has happened through sharing my learning experiences is, a lot of tips, learning experiences, tough lessons, or key lessons other players are reading about.

It is so freaking cool when someone mentions my blog, or one of my topics, or something I wrote about.

But what makes me most happy is to see that my LONG pool journey and sometimes tough learning experiences, others are learning from.  I can profess certain things til I'm blue in the face, but when people act on it and work on things little 'ole me mentions, I get super tickled!

It took me 20 years to be the competitive player I am today.  I am thankful to help others through the pool journey we are all on together!

The reason I share all this today is because a fellow player from the Internet World reached out to me again and emailed me this:

One of the things you mention in your columns is about getting experience in more events to help you with your game, particularly the mental side. 
This past weekend we had a local 'fun' mini tournament. There were three person teams and each person played a game against one player on another team. It drew a different crowd than our normal tournaments. It was more casual but teams still playing their best. My team came out 2nd of 16 groups. It was non-handicapped. I'm glad to have that experience.  
This coming weekend I'm stepping out of my element though. Going to play 9-ball in an out of town tourney, handicapped. I'm a 5 (5 lives matter) and I know there will be a number of 8s and 9s in the tourney as well. We have four 8s from my league going and I was talking about it with them and thought you know what? this is exactly the kind of step I need in my game to keep improving. But without the confidence I see you speak of in your posts, I wouldn't be sure that I'd be ready for this. But I'm going to go there and do my very best and not fret over results. 
Wish me luck and thanks for the inspiration!

Made my whole month!  :)  It's very crazy that I might be an inspiration to others or that "without the confidence I see you speak of in your posts, I wouldn't be ready for this.... "

Wow, just wow.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Standing in Front of the Light

I hear a lot things being a Tournament Director.

This particular instance still has me  a tad baffled.  Baffled as in, what would I have done in this situation?

A player reports his score to me and says, "I won hill-hill."  And then he pauses, thinking, and adds, "I think my opponent is mad at me."

I look up from the chart and ask him, "why?"

He shared, "Well, we were playing by the window and he was shooting the 9-ball.  The glare was bad from the sun through the window and he asked me if I would stand in front of the sun."

I asked him, "well, what did you do?"

He says, "I told him no!"

I then asked, "had you two been stepping in front of the sun during the match?"

"Nope.  And that was the only time the whole match he asked."

Even to this day as I am typing this up a month or so later, what what I do in that situation?  Could I live with myself (you know what I mean) if I decided yes and lost or decided no and won?  Could I sleep at night peacefully if I didn't help out a fellow player who asked for help?

The thing about the decision is - it can haunt you not matter what.  You say no even though it may be right, but it's not a comfortable decision.  You say yes, and then you lose hill-hill.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Watching And the Effects

I eluded that I was helping a friend by sparring with her a few times before a big state tournament.

She mentioned a couple of weeks later that she was going to play league playoffs and I surprised her and showed up to support her and her team last Saturday.

I didn't think much of it, really.  I show up, I watch her play, I go home.

Well, let me be honest, there is A LOT to this situation that I hadn't considered.

As I walk in, I sit over by her team and everyone else I know there is poking fun of me to sit in the middle between teams, as it looks like I'm playing favorites.  lol.

I'm not there even 15 minutes and my friend is up next in the line-up and has to play a game for her team.  Little did I know it was the hill-hill game.  That can be pressure, I don't care who you are.

As I'm watching her play this game, it hits me pretty strongly.  OH SHIT, am I a distraction?  Will she be able to play in front of me?  Or will she be wondering, "What would Melinda want me to do?"  Or, would my presence remind her to walk around more (one thing we talk a lot about).  Or would she be thinking about not making a mistake in front of me?

I am happy to report she BROKE AND RAN!  For the team win, too!  Pretty awesome to always witness that :)

After her well-deserved accolades from her team (and the other team), I waited a bit and then we chatted about this very thing.

"Uh, did I bother you?"

She shared that she was aware I was there, but it didn't bother her.


She then said if she did something wrong, she knows I would say something.  I expressed that when it comes to shots, I wouldn't say anything because I wouldn't want to put any negative thoughts in her head about what I might be thinking.  I would, however, offer any type of pre-shot help though - you rushed that shot or didn't stay down (for example).

But more so, she already knows what shots she should and shouldn't do, even if she doesn't choose the shot.  Which I love about her awareness of the table already.  So because of that, there's not really a way for me interfere negatively with her mental game if I'm watching from the sidelines.  Whew!

I should have told her right up front that I wont talk about any shot unless she is curious about something that happened during a game and she asks me about it.  Otherwise, I'm not there to second guess, I'm there just to support and watch and be near my friend.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Pre-Shot Routine is a Habit

A friend of mine lost his chalk holder one Saturday night during a big tournament in October.  However, he didn't realize it until the next morning when he was about to play his first match of the day on that crisp Sunday morning.

It's the type of chalk holder that has a long end, where you can tuck it in your pocket, and the chalk hangs out.  Kinda like this:

I remembered another friend asking me if I knew who's this was, as he had found the chalk holder that Saturday night on the floor.

I immediately texted my friend Sunday morning, "Hey, I found out who's chalk holder that is and he needs it back."

The player said he would be okay that morning without, but I knew how uncomfortable he would be all day.  I knew that if his pre-shot routine included him tucking his chalk holder in his pocket after every shot (which he does), then he would be doomed....

Habits are hard to break.

And your pre-shot routine is a huge habit.  If that habit is broken or altered, it will very most likely affect your play just by the distraction of not doing something you've been doing every shot for years.

The player did not get his chalk holder back that day, but will at the next tournament.  He told me he has had it for 10 years or something and it means a lot to him.  Can you imagine a pre-shot routine for 10 years and then one day you have to change that routine?  

Here is another important point:  IF that did not affect his play, then he needs to work on his pre-shot routine.  Pre-shot routines are essential, critical parts of our game.  The more routine it is, the better chance we have at focusing on the ball in front of us the same every single shot.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Funny Team Names

I love looking through the brackets of team events.

Team events are kinda tough to follow if you don't know who is on what team, but sometimes I just like to look because the names make me Laugh Out Loud.!
Check out this group of names I saw from Texas ACS State just last month in October:

(click photo to enlarge:)

It still might be tough to read, but here are some of the men's team names on just this portion of the chart that made me laugh at their cleverness!

We Can't See
Lucky Cowboys
G Spots
Usual Suspects
Slow Death
Wild Misfits
Los Borrachos (which is actually my old team and it means "The Drunks", lol)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Omega Tour Purpose Reminder

I have struggled a lot in my life the last few years with "purpose."  Well, I have eluded before that running the Omega Tour is one of my true purposes right now in my life.

And when I read things like this, it reinforces this elusive thinking for me:

(Click photo above to enlarge)

Omega Tour player George Merchan said:

"I had two main goals coming into this years Omega tour. Don't go 2 and out, place in the money for at least one event, and crack the top 50 by the end of the year. Done, done, and done. I'm excited about what I'm going to accomplish in 2017 "

I responded:

"Congratulations, George! This is one of the many reasons having the Omega Tour for the players in DFW means so much!"

I started the Omega Billiards Tour along with Mike Hoang of Omega Billiards Supply and we both wanted to provide an avenue that allows all levels of players to play the game they love to improve their skills and where they can make some money at it, too. 

It's been a dream come true for me personally, and the tentacles of the tour have spread throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex billiard community.  As Mike has always said, starting this tour helps not just the players want to improve and play more, but also has impacted positively the billiard businesses in the area.  From increased attendance at pool rooms to the needed table mechanics to the billiard supplies, etc.

George placed 43rd this year out of ~230 players, and that's with missing 2 stops, too.  

GREAT job, George!  And thank you for the lovely reminder about the purpose of running the Omega Tour (and of my life). 

Monday, October 31, 2016

5 Lives Matters

At the October Omega Tour stop one of the tour players stopped me and shared that he was looking around online for mental toughness topics about pool and ran across my blog.  I smiled and listened and was pretty pleased because he was giving me kudos about my blog and that he learned some things.

And then he halted my happiness in its tracks and said, "I saw your post about how you couldn't believe one of your opponents thought that you were at 5."

(The Omega Tour is a handicapped Tour and the rankings range from 5 to 9.  I am a 6 and I blogged that my opponent thought I was a 5.)

Back to the story....

I wondered where he was going with this and he tells me very serious, "I'm a 5.  You know, all fives matter."  And he and his friends start laughing, lol.

I told him I was going to blog about it which I am obviously right now.  :)

But I think it's interesting because I was pretty offended that one of my friends, my opponent, thought that I was at 5 when in fact that implies to other players that are fives that I was talking badly about them.  It's making me realize that I need to be careful no matter how funny I try to tell a funny story.  

And for the record, Casey, five lives really do matter!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Video Review of a 9-ball Run by Paul Guernsey

My first-ever video review!

I thought this was a great run to discuss because it has so many great elements to a 9-ball run.


I am hopeful that some players may see some things in this run to learn from (I know I did):

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Sly Video Capturing of Good Player

One thing I'm trying to do on the Omega Tour is to do a video compilation of matches/shots during a tour stop and then putting it all together into one little youtube video.  Here's an example video compilation from the Omega stop in September.

Obviously, I have to be careful when I'm taking video.  I stand there and I hold up my phone and I'm trying to ensure that the players don't see me, but sometimes they do.  I sometimes feel like I affect their play so I've been trying to videotape people in such a way that hopefully they don't see me or maybe they think I'm just taking a picture with my phone (which is less distracting than realizing you might be video-taped).

During the October stop I was videotaping a good player and he was on the ball before the 9 ball.  I am trying to take the video and a couple people next to me make remarks that I am sharking him.  The guy next to me joked, "I can't believe you're doing that while he's shooting - it's a pretty tough shot."  And I replied softly, "well I know this player really well and he's not gonna let anything bother him if he's distracted.  He will back off of the shot and prepare his pre-shot routine before getting back down on the shot.  He only shoots when he's 100% dedicated and prepared."

The shot was a very sweet shot actually and glad I captured it on video.  Then I found out he was on the hill and that's scary I could have distracted that key moment!  Yikes.

I asked the player afterwards if he saw me.  He replied, "yes, I noticed you standing there with your phone, but because you were not moving around, it didn't distract me and that allowed me to just focus on the shot."

Here is the video I captured of him (Mike Voelkering):

You can see he did indeed get back up before he felt comfortable about the shot.  He's a very disciplined player (we can all learn from this! - get back up off the shot if you don't feel prepared or 100% committed):

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Venting at the Position

A friend of mine got bitched out the other day from a teammate.  The players' feelings were hurt and by the time she let her hurt known, there was raising voices and pointing fingers and expressing pain.

My friend is the Captain of the team.

She was upset about the entire thing (who wouldn't be) and while expressing empathy, I also tried to tell her it comes with the territory.  As Captain, we are in a position to get yelled at and when feelings get hurt, or players are upset, they most of the time take it out on the Captain, the person who is "in charge."

Case in point is being a Tournament Director.  I get yelled out and chewed on a lot.  Players show their frustrations to me and cuss at me (yes) and get mad at their situation while raising their voices at me.  Or sometimes players send me day-long texts about why they are upset with the handicap system or what transpired that day they got upset.

It just happens to be the position we are in.  All Tournament Directors have an unwritten line in their job description that reads, "will be bitched at."  LOL

I get it.  I do.  Players lose, they vent.  Players get hurt, they vent.

Players are competing, it gets emotional, money on the line, rankings, etc.  I understand so completely about losing and venting.

While I admit it's tough to be on the receiving end and handle sometimes, I would rather players vent to me than to all their friends and bad-mouth the tour (or my friends' team as another example).

It's just the position.  And it's part of the "job."  It's not the time to take anything personal, retaliate, argue back, etc.  Sure, it bothers us.  As turmoil or conflict normally does.  But not taking the venting or hurt towards us personal is the true leader in ourselves.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Making Dreams Come True

"Good luck this week!! I know at times it will be stressful and players may complain, but remember you are making dreams come true, allowing players to compete and win titles they've dreamed of!  Adore you and all you do! "
I sent this message to one of my friends earlier this week.  She's running a big State tournament coming up and I know it's going to be a lot of work for her running the tournament and dealing with so many players.  She may also be on the receiving end of complaints, too, which may hamper her spirit. 

But I wanted to remind her that even though at times and she may not get a lot of appreciation, the bottom line is she is creating State Champions because of the work she is doing;  she's making dreams come true.

When I won my State Singles Championships, besides being overcome with amazing emotion, I knew that the reason why it was even possible for me to win those titles was because of all the hard work people do to run those types of tournaments.  It was truly the main reason why I was even a State Champion. 

Let's face it, all the years of training and preparing are for naught if there is no tournament to play in.  The dream or goal of becoming a State Champion are only put in our hearts and minds because of the people creating and running those State tournaments to begin with.

Think about it.

I, for one, appreciate their hard work!  As I know many others do as well (they just may not hear it often).

Monday, October 24, 2016


There is good in every situation.  Just takes time maybe to see it... but it's there.

Every loss, learn from. Every scratch learn from.  Every mistake, figure out why.  Learn - see the optimisms everywhere!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tournament Director Punching Bag

I was telling a friend the other day that there have been some recent arguments and conflicts during matches (or after) during the last two Omega Tour stops.  I also mentioned a few players were giving me grief about handicaps.

He told me not to lose sleep over it because there will always be complaints about the handicap system and you can't make everyone happy.

He also confided that he didn't think that I would be able to handle running the Tour.  He said that I had thinner skin in the beginning (I did) and that he thought I was too nice to run a tour full of men because it was a handicapped tour, and those are the very hardest to run.

I thought it was really weird to hear.  I honestly never even imagined the Tour wouldn't be successful or that I couldn't keep running it.  Failure wasn't even a thought - it was always, "what can I do better for the players."  It was weird to hear that would cross someone's mind, as it never crossed mine lol.

He told me he was super proud of me and the Tour and was very happy to see it going well, thriving, and how I handle things (even I admit it's tough sometimes).

Another friend told me also I was too nice.  When a whiny player or venting player comes up to me and raises their voice, or vents, or storms off, he feels I should be harsh with them.  I am of the opinion that it's not me being too nice, instead I am in a leadership role.  I am showing empathy and showing respect.  I am treating the players like I am a friend or maybe a mentor, and show understanding and let them talk and express themselves.

I think it's like running a business or being a supervisor.  And I wouldn't bitch out my employees or treat them with disrespect if they were upset.  I would show empathy, listen, offer advice (if a good moment to do so), etc.

Are there times I wish players wouldn't yell at me?  Well, of course.  Do I wish I had super thick skin?  Yes.  But players venting to me or getting into arguments with each other doesn't happen all the time.  And every time a situation, conflict, venting session, etc, occurs, I learn from it.  :)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Hearing About Good Sportmanship

The U.S. Open 9-ball Championships is going on in Norfolk, VA.  People are talking about Earl Strickland and Darren Appleton who forfeited in the middle of their matches.  You know, we are hearing about all the bad antics, which leads to players saying that's what's wrong with our sport, and why we aren't mainstream.... (I despise this way of thinking by the way)

And then I read this on Facebook from the USA Mosconi Cup Team Captain who is in person at the US Championship:
"Adrenaline is still going on here with the entire U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship. These players have raised the bar of excellence once again with the Republic of China leading the way. I find so much inspiration and respect for their approach to the sport.

Ko Pin Yi has so much class, professionalism, and style, that I am more impressed with him than if he had won against Shaw.

He single-handedly displayed the character of a true champion and quiet professional, after a stinging loss in which he did nothing wrong... no excuses or lame Facebook posts, he played his heart out, he knows it, and he has my profound respect for his courageous display. 

Ko Pin Yi did more for the sport last night by his example and leadership, than he is aware of or recognizes. He motivates me to try much harder to improve our sport...I will forever be a Ko Pin Yi fan."

I have no idea what happened.  It's evident that Ko Pin Yi lost a heart breaker match and didn't act like a child, tho, huh? 

It think it's VERY refreshing to read about how a player handled themselves WELL after a match and how it impressed someone, rather than hearing how bad players acted. 

This is so wonderful!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Dog Ate My Homework

I was promised my friend Ann that I would give her my Play Your Best Straight Pool book by Phil Capelle.  I left it out upstairs a week or so ago so I wouldn't forget it for the Omega tourney this weekend.

I came home Monday night to this:

So, I had my dog, Lily, write a note to Ann publicly via Facebook:

Dear Ann.

My Mom told me I need to write you an apology letter. I'm really, really sorry I chewed the book she was going to give you. She shouldn't have left it out where I could get to it! I didn't know it was for you, I just saw easy access to something new! But, I was mad at her for leaving me for a few days and saw my opportunity to get back at her. It's really her fault.

Sincerely, Lily.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Help During Matches with Paper

There was recently an article on poker about a player that pulled out instructions on what to do during certain situations.

It kind of reminds me of when you're at a blackjack table at a casino, you're allowed to pull out the little card that tells you what you should do in certain situations (take a card, split, double down, etc.).

However, this was at a table full of poker players for a lot more money at stake than just playing a couple hands of blackjack.

A lot of people have pool mantra's or a pool prayer that they read before matches.  I actually have a list of tips I've written down on a piece of paper and I read them before a match because I needed to remind myself of things and maybe calm myself down.  

We aren't allowed to use cell phones during matches because you can technically text for someone for advice or get some comfort which is considered cheating and illegal, but what about pieces of paper during a pool match?  What is the rule on that?  I guess it's considered getting advice/help.

And how would you feel if you saw your opponent sitting next to you at the poker table pulling out sheets of paper or your pool opponent pulling out a sheet of paper to pump himself up or calm himself down?

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Reactions When Bothered

Last month two players were having a verbal altercation during their match.

As the Tournament Director, I intervened and told them to stop talking, only play pool, no more breaks and to not do ANYTHING (move or talk) while their opponent is at the table.

Turns out one of the players was bothering the other player by mumbling while his opponent was trying to shoot, moving, and going to the bathroom more than once.  So, it got under the players' skin.  By the time he finally spoke up, he was pretty vocal and it became an argument.

Afterwards, I overheard someone say that the player should have told his opponent right away that he was bothering him, and then he wouldn't have reacted as he did (upset at the guy).

I told the guys talking that while I agree, sometimes that's very tough to do.  You don't know until it's too late that a culmination of things have bothered you to the point you have to speak up rudely.

Or, maybe the first bathroom break was no big deal.  Maybe the first movement was no big deal.  Maybe by the time he heard the mumbling, it was already too late to bring up his concerns "early."

And while they thought he shouldn't have reacted so upset, in my opinion while I agree, sometimes we can't control it as our emotions are swirling and we feel like a poked bear.  And when we finally do speak up, it isn't pretty.

Not everyone handles their upsetness with calmness.  Especially when competition is on the line. 

I don't necessarily mean that raising your voice is "right" or "correct" but I will defend that fact that everyone handles being upset differently under different situations.

BTW, after the match they talked and the one player apologized for bothering the other player.  He admitted he had no idea and felt bad about it.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Do I Miss Playing?

A lot of people ask me if I miss playing pool.


I am still around pool, but I do not miss playing.

I even went to BCAPL Nationals in Vegas in July and visited a few friends the first day I got there (Friday).  I was apprehensive at first trying to locate them at their tables, thinking I might get the pool bug and the tug of wishing I had signed up and was playing. 


I felt nothing.

Not even one smidgen of myself was envious or had feelings of regret that I didn't play.  It was actually really weird.

Sometimes when I spar with a friend and play good I think about maybe going to State, but then by the time I even get back in my car the feeling goes away.

However, I thought it was REAL weird last month when the feeling of playing overcame me.

I happened to catch my scotch doubles partner from the last 2 years play in a match during the Omega tournament when I was walking around taking photos.  I watched him play a rack and for the first time, the desire to play tugged at my heart.

That was such a weird feeling... first time I felt such an urge to play.

I'm still not playing, tho, lol.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Teaching Me My Own Lesson

One of the things that gives me the most happiness in life is to be able to talk to others about pool.  It gives me the biggest high in life.  I feel the joy deep in soul - my heart actually flutters in the middle of talking to others about pool because I get so happy about it lol.

I think I mentioned that I met up with a whole ladies team one night for about 3 hours and we just played pool and talked about pool. We didn't just talk about shots, we also talked about confidence, nerves, etc.  Because as you know, pool is mental as well as ability and shot making.

I've helped a few friends throughout the years with some sessions and they have always been grateful.  I recently started to meet up with a friend to spar with.  She and I thought it might be good to get some good sparring in before a big tourney she has coming up.

If we do talk, we mostly talk about strategy.  We play 8-ball.  So we might talk about why certain shots are better, when to not make balls, when to go for break outs, how to play better safes.  We are learning from each other, it's pretty cool.  Her safes are jam up - I hate them lol.

We've only met up a few times and now.... I've come to the point where I actually hate our sessions.  Omg... she learns too quickly and she has turned the table on me!  Now I have to step up my game and try to play smarter, tougher.  She gets my mind working overtime because I have to think even more strategic than usual because she catches on too fast.

It's killing me!

I LOVE IT.  :)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Different Thoughts of Playing Better Players

I think it's very interesting what goes through people's minds when they see someone with high talent walk into the pool room during a weekly tournament.

What are YOU thinking?

A girlfriend of mine and I were talking last weekend about this very topic.

She said it must be tough for local Pros to walk in to play in local tournaments because they have a target on their head.

I looked at her very curious because that's not the way I look at them.  My thinking is completely opposite.

My thinking is more like, "shit, I hope I don't have to play them tonight."  lol.  I get nervous I might have to play them.  Instead, she is of the mind set that she HOPES to play them so she can try to beat "de-throne" them. 

I wonder why people have such different reactions and thinking when it comes to wanting to play better players? 

Confidence?  Mental toughness?  Killer Instinct?  Hmmm....

Playing The Name

What I find interesting is when we go to big tournaments a lot of us check out the chart to see if someone that is well-known is in our bracket or not.  And naturally we might get a little nervous at times.

Not a lot of people know this, but about 10 years ago I was married for a few years and my last name was Hinojosa.

I was playing in a tournament in Vegas for BCAPL Nationals and I'm sitting there next to my table with the score sheet waiting for my opponent.

A girl comes up and she's looking around and she sees the scorecard but she walks away.  She comes back about 5 minutes later and she looks around again kinda confused and she finally asks me (because I'm sitting there right in front of the table in front of the score sheet), "do you know who's playing at this table?"   And I reply, "I am."

And she looks at me real funny and she says "no, I'm playing some good Japanese girl."

And I am really confused, "I'm Melinda Hinojosa, who are you suppose to be playing?" 

It's funny because Hinojosa is actually a Hispanic name, not a Japanese name!  Little did I know I was already making my opponents shake a little in their shoes before they even got to the table just by seeing my last name on the tournament chart LOL.

Oh, and yes, she beat me.  Back then I wasn't a decent or seasoned player (yet!).

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Giving Lessons, But Why Me?

I mentioned a couple of times that I am giving lessons, and have given lessons.

It's a very weird thing, though.

Who am I to think I can give lessons?

What's also weird is that's how people feel about me (and I presume others who want to teach, too).

WHO AM I?  And why would I be good at it?

I posted on FB several months ago I had some openings for lessons and someone commented, "you?  why you?  haha."

I don't blame them, really. 

I am the first to admit some people have no idea how many state and national titles I've won, or hill-hill matches I've cinched for my numerous teams in numerous playoffs, state and national events, or how many trophies I have, or that I've been playing pool for over 25 years, or that I actually know strategy and position very, very well, or that I was ranked 2nd on the OB Cues Ladies Tour, or that have a great temperament to teach, or that I have already excelled people's game with just a few lessons....

So, without knowing all of that, it makes sense why people don't understand why I would give lessons or why players would want to take lessons from me.  I get it.

Plus, some players see me not finish high on the Omega Tour, and I don't play on the OB Cues Ladies Tour anymore so players new to knowing me are really thrown for a loop, lol.

But, most people are aware that even famous athletes have coaches that don't play like the top pro's they are helping.  So, at this point, luckily I have word-of-mouth. 

If I didn't think I was making a difference I wouldn't even tell anyone I have given lessons and just move on to other things.  But I love making players happy with new knowledge of strategy and position.  I love it when players love the game even more because they see the table differently and get more wins.  I am so very lucky to be able to contribute in this arena!

First Impressions Go a Long Way

As in anything in life, customer service is key.  Respect for customers is key.

The other day a friend of mine recommended me for a pool lesson.

By the time I got the player's contact information, he already had a set time for a different instructor (he was eager for lessons).  I told him I understood and so we set a date/time to meet about 2 weeks later.

Then a few days later he calls me back.

He shares that he hates to go back on his word, but the guy he was suppose to meet up with that week had not called him back in days, when he did call initially he didn't respect his time, he over-talked him on the phone, and he just didn't seem very cordial at all.  The player decided that since I was more courteous and responsive, he cancelled the appointment with the other guy and met up with me instead. 

As the quote above states, "First impressions last."  And that can be a positive first impression or a negative one.

First impressions are so important.  This was very evident in this situation - the instructor lost the chance to provide lessons because of that.  Normally when we think of first impressions we think of what we might wear and how we will act and our body language, etc.  Remember, though, the very first contact (phone call, text, email, etc) - that's crucial, too.