Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Fellow ACS National Champion

This is my friend Steve Hansen.  We are both ACS National Champions!  I won the 9ball women's singles in 2014 and he /just/ won the 8ball men's senior division earlier this month in Vegas.

I saw him last weekend and I was so very mindful of how he must be feeling.  He walked into the pool room, and friends were congratulating him and shaking his hand.

I walked up to him and gave him a big congratulatory hug!  And called him, "Champ" and asked him how he felt.  We each had big smiles as we swapped similar stories.

He said he never thought in a million years he wold be a National Champion, and I remember thinking and feeling the exact same way. 

We shared how we each had goals in our pool life, or maybe even in that tournament (like top 10 he confessed), but never thought he would actually be able to be a National Champion.  I SO related to all he was saying and it was cool to swap our emotions about the win and how unreal it feels!

So, of course we had to get a pic together!  ACS National Champs! 

CONGRATs, Steve!!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Stressful Versus Non-Stress Situations

I love running across things that can relate and potentially help our pool game, and then I get to share it via this avenue (blog).

At work we were going over the different scenarios that may happen as we give weather briefings.  We give weather briefings to the media, emergency managers, etc., so, we were talking about the differences between how the audience "hears" and receives information based on the weather situation.  If it's a Fall day with no weather, versus a large hurricane about to make landfall, the presenter should be aware of the stress levels of the audience, which will effect the way we deliver information and how they receive it.

This all boils down to stress levels and how people receive information during different stressful times.  I think this ties directly into competing, so I wanted to share.

If we are in a high-pressure situation when competing, our stress levels may go up.  And if we haven't had a lot of experience in knowing how to handle the current racing adrenaline or nerves, then we kind of falter.

I have written before how I have test anxiety, so competing in a high-stakes-to-me title tournament, I would always fall apart.  It took YEARS to figure out how to resolve my "test anxiety" so that I could finally perform well and win.

So, I would compare my anxiety to a high stress level.  Let's see what I found out recently (click graphic to enlarge):

As stress levels rise in emergencies, the amount of information that people can process decreases.

In low-stress situations, people can process an average of seven messages at a time, but in high-stress this drops to an average of three. In low-stress situations, people can process things in linear and chronological order, but in high-stress situations, it is important to start with the most important impacts first. Priority order is key.

In low-stress situations, we process information at seventh or eighth grade level, while in high-stress situations, that drops by four grade levels!  So, we are taught to keep things as simple as possible without watering down the main points, during high-stress situations.

So, if you think about the difference in how people handle information during high stress situations, it makes sense when you picture yourself practicing and you can't miss.  But, when you play in a big tournament and all of a sudden you miss more, or can't think clearly, that can be related to stress and anxiety.

Not sure this info will help you play better in stressful situations, but what it should do is make you realize that indeed we do process information differently from a calm practice situation to a high-stress match for your team or trying to make your way to the finals in a big tournament.

(for tips I have shared before on how to handle stress, try this link.)

Friday, May 27, 2016

Proof of Focusing (video clip)

I've been wanting to write about this for a while but needed some dedicated time to write this one up.

Before I go into the details of focusing, I'd like you to review this video below.  See if you can beat my score!  You need to watch closely to see if you can count the correct number of times the ball is passed from the girls only in the white shirts.

If you can't view this video now, go ahead and come back later - it's the whole premise of the topic.

Ready to beat my score??

So, if this was your first time viewing this video clip, then you are JUST as shocked and surprised as I was.

Even weeks later after seeing it, I will walk down the hall and see the coworker who shared this with me and still say something to him because I simply can't believe it.  And of course, as soon as he showed me, I just /knew/ it would be a blog topic!

Basically, the video is proof how well we can focus on pool, and be in the zone.  It also proves that we can indeed focus on things and miss other things.

I could write prolly 10 topics just related to this video and focusing in matches, but let's only touch on a few:

1.  Team Captain:  This video shows why a team captain is important.  Some players need to focus on their game and wont be cognizant of the dynamics of what is going on around them.  And that's good!  We want their best game.  And so the Captain can be the person who sees the entire picture.  As captain, it's their role to see who is playing well, how to change up the line-up, or maybe help someone who is dealing with high emotions (as an example).  Letting the players focus on pool, allows the Captain to focus on the players.

2.  Focus on the Table:  This video kinda encapsulates why you can be in the zone and not notice anything else around you.  It also PROVES that you can be THAT focused on one thing.  And for us, that is the game at hand.  If you are focusing solely on 3-balls-ahead-shape, I guarantee you nothing else will enter your mind.  That's the type of focus you want.  If you are struggling with focusing or you think you can't focus lately for some reason, think about how well you watched the balls from the girls in the white shirt and what you missed.   Yep!   See?

3.  Multi-Tasking:  What the video doesn't show but it attests to in documentation, is that if you were to see all three changes (curtain, the walk-on, and someone leaving), then you may not have counted the correct number of passes.  The neurology of our brain to do calculations is resource intensive, so if we are doing too much, other things may slack off.  That's why it's crucial to try and focus only on the game at hand when we are playing pool.  That's why when we get distracted by something external, we don't play as well.

4.  Practice versus Tourney Play:  This video also explains why during practice we play so much better sometimes than in competition.  In practice, we are not distracted, having fun, making all our shots.  Here comes competition and we are worrying about our "status" in the event, who our opponent is, who is watching, why someone just said something crappy to us, etc.  How can we possibly play our best being distracted?  That's why it's important to let things go, focus on the table, and regroup quickly when something distracts you or throws you off.

Hope this helps prove you CAN focus well, and how important it is.  :)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Pros Visiting Omega Tour

I have to admit it's really cool to have a top pro or well-known pro get to play or visit the players at an Omega Billiards Tour stop.

Not many players get to mingle with the pros at mixed events (amateur and combined pro events) or some don't ever get to travel to big events where they might see pros.

So, when they attend an Omega Tour event, I love seeing all the photos on Facebook afterwards.  It proves how excited the players are to meet them.

Here are a few from when Warren visited at the end of April at the Omega stop at JR Pockets in Denton, Texas:

(click any photos to enlarge)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Example of Preparing - Tennis Hustling Style

As many know who read my blog consistently, I highly recommend the book "Winning Ugly" by Brad Gilbert.  My mental toughness and killer instinct skyrocketed because of this book.

Wanted to share an excerpt, that gives an example of how important preparation is.

Here's a terrific example (although an extreme one) of the tremendous advantage the average player can get with good pre-match preparation.  And of what a disadvantage “just showing up" can be.  This particular player at the San Francisco Tennis Club used good mental preparation, good physical preparation, and some gamesmanship against a guy who just showed up and wanted to start playing.

For a big match (and he liked to bet $100 per set with certain players) this fellow (a bit of a hustler) would get to the court one hour early.  He had already spent time looking over his notes (yes, he kept notes of past matches).  He had given some attention to his game plan.   Next would be the stretching exercises to get completely loosened up.

Now would come the warm-up, before his opponent even arrived at the court. 

The “hustler” would hit with the club pro for thirty minutes, going through the strokes and touching up anything that was giving him trouble that day.  Nothing intense.  Just a real good warm-up.  Then he would leave the court, go to the locker room, and change clothes.  Now that he’s reviewed his game plan, checked his notes, done his stretching exercises, had a great warm-up, and changed into dry clothes, would he head back out to the court?  Of course not.  It was time for the final stage of the hustle.  He’d make sure he got there ten minutes late, apologize for the delay, and suggest that they cut the warm-up short.

Obviously, his opponent would be a little upset by the late arrival and want to get started to save time.  They’d move right into the match with only a “quickie” warm-up.  The “pigeon” would be handing over the money in straight sets. He would have saved himself $200 if he’d anticipated the behavior and prepared properly himself.  He got taken instead.  He had no plan, no system, no nothing. He let the other player control events because he wasn’t prepared.  He’d have been a lousy Boy Scout. 

The interesting thing about what this “hustler” did was that everything (except arriving intentionally late) was excellent preparation.   It's how a conscientious player should get ready to play a match.  Throwing in the last twist by arriving last was unnecessary (not to mention unsportsmanlike).  He was way ahead by doing everything else.  You can give yourself that same advantage.

Preparations, people!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Learning From Warren Kiamco

Warren Kiamco played in the last Omega Billiards Tour stop in late April (which he won btw) and I have to say that it was a joy to see him play but more so to watch how he handled himself in his matches.  I was so impressed how he handled people rooting against him or excessively for him, that I just had to ask him questions a few times throughout the tournament to learn from this Champion.

What I recognized most was how stoic he was.  He never showed any emotion and seemed to not let ANYTHING get to him.

I asked him how he handles all the different types of atmospheres he plays in and he shared:

I am on the road a lot, so I had to learn to deal with it.  I learned to ignore things around me and not let things get to me.

In the tournament on Sunday, he played a local player who was getting a lot of claps from the crowd and huge support.  You would have thought Warren had earplugs on.  I never saw him flinch or get upset or even show any emotion at all.  He sat stoic, waiting for his turn at the table.

He said he recognizes that people are rooting FOR his opponent and not against him, which is obviously very helpful for the mental part of the game.

At another time, I was calling a shot and the player at the table playing Warren actually said out loud, but under his breath, "I'm going to shoot this kick safe like this and then fcvk him."

I was mortified he said that and then felt SO badly Warren might have heard that.  He was a guest, and I was embarrassed.  Although the player was drunk and that's his way of being funny, if you didn't know him, it would /have/ to rattle or upset you, right?

I recall looking right at Warren after the player said that shitty comment, and Warren sat there stoic with no emotion or react to the words.  He was just calm, cool, and collected.

Afterwards I tried to apologize to Warren for the guys' actions and words and Warren tried to tell me not to worry about it and not to apologize at all.  He acted like he didn't hear the guy and just shooshed my apology away because he thought it was unnecessary and not needed.  Turns out he DID hear the player say that.  Warren told me, "it's okay Melinda.  I knew he was drunk and it's part of competing sometimes.  I just didn't let it bother me, and you shouldn't let it bother you."

There's a whole lot to that exchange.  He didn't want me to apologize, he was trying not to let me know he heard the guy (admirable), he just didn't let the player bother him, and he knows it's part of traveling to play pool sometimes. 

You'd think the words from the drunk player would have gotten to Warren, but instead he just ignored it and focused on playing pool.   Because as he shared, "if you let things like that get to you, it affects your game. "

I really was impressed.  I've seen many players handle situations in a match, but to see Warren be so stoic consistently throughout an entire event was awesome to witness.  I pride myself on being able to handle situations well while competing.  I've been complimented on how I handle myself during matches.  However, if something has upset me, inside I am torn and struggling getting past the issue, even though on the outside you may not see it in my body language or with emotions or facial expressions.  However, Warren really just does not let it bother him at all - even internally.  To be able to bend his ear, and he be open with his experience and knowledge was super cool.

I hope he gets to play again soon!

Here is a snapshot after Warren won the tournament:  Anthony Shea, myself, and Warren:

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Photographer Lessons

Notice the title isn't "photography lessons" but "photographer lessons."

I had been the photographer for the OB Cues Ladies Tour for 9 years and now for the Omega Tour for the last 4 1/2 years.  I'm lucky to have a couple of friends who help me take photos the last couple of years, but today wanted to share some of the things we come across as photographers of a tour (or tournaments in general).

First Rule:  I always take a photo of the top 3 finishers on Sunday BEFORE the semi-finals match is played (i.e. for 3rd place).  Nothing worse than trying to take a photo of the top 3 when one of them just lost.  Usually the player who lost wants to bolt, or the player doesn't come across very photogenic because they are upset that they just lost and the last thing they want to do is stand there and be in a photo.  I take the pics of the top three preemptively to prevent that.

Second Rule:  Some players cannot have their photos published.  I have learned for 2 reasons: (1) they literally work for the police department undercover or (2) they are not really suppose to be in a bar establishment because they are on probation.  I sometimes make announcements at the beginning of the year for new players so they are aware we respect players' privacy's.  (btw, the undercover person was from over 8 years ago and doesn't play pool anymore, so no worries to the guys currently on probation lol).

Third Rule:  Some players are very particular about themselves in photos.  If I get a request to remove a photo, I never ask why, I just delete it.  I once had a friend in tears because of the pic I took of her at state.  All she saw was her tummy, all I saw was how beautiful she was.  We each see things about ourselves we don't like, so deleting a photo for someone makes them feel much better.

Fourth Rule:  If I take a photo of someone and it's unflattering, I don't post it.  Some photographers don't care and say that's how a person looks.  However, I would rather publish photos people like of themselves, not ones where they look terrible.  I think we all know certain angles create more weight or wrinkles or fading hair than others.  If I have two photos of a player and one is borderline unflattering, I will simply delete it and post the other one that's better.

Fifth Rule:  I take about 500 pics at an event and then only get about 250 good ones. They wont all come out perfect in the low light, and because obviously pool players move while shooting.

And the Sixth Rule:  Take non-action shots.  Those are the best!  Friends talking, or a player thinking in his seat.  Here are just a few of my favorites from the Omega Tour:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Shy About Pool

I set up an appointment to have my carpets cleaned the other day.  So that meant a stranger was going to be in my house.

I put up all my cues and cases and tucked them away so the guy wouldn't see that I played pool.

I know many people probably like to talk about their passions, but I tend to get shy to mention or talk about my career (weather) and my passion (pool).

So, imagine my surprise when I'm sitting on the couch killing time while the guy is busting his a$$ on the carpets when he tries to make small talk, "You a pool shark?"

I replied shyly, "maybe," all the while wondering how he knew I played pool.

Then I looked up from my Candy Crush game - and he was looking at my plaques on the wall.  OH SHIT.  Well, that backfired.

He tried again an hour later, "you're pretty good, huh?"

"Yeah,  I guess so," I kinda-sorta-admittied, as he smiled and laughed as he walked by more plaques.  LOL

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

What's In The Case?

No, this isn't the normal "What's in the Case."  I actually already did that via video a few years ago. 

This is about how when you are walking through the airport or a hotel and you have your cue case with you.  It's inevitable that someone asks you, "What's in the case?"

I always wondered why I would get stopped a lot for that question when I had my cue.  First of all, isn't it obvious it's for a cuestick?  But, I suppose not.

When WE see someone else with a cue case out of the pool room, there's like this magical connection - we know they are pool players, too, and we are connected in a way the average human is not.

But, I'm sure if you travel enough for tourneys you get asked this in the lobbies or at the airports (especially when we could carry our cues onto the planes - 'ole, the good old days).

So, imagine the roll reversal I found myself in last Friday.

My friend was staying in Downtown Fort Worth and I picked her up for dinner.  I then see this:

And there I was, the person who always asked the question of us, "What's in the case?"

She replies, "A javelin."

HEY!  A javelin!  How cool.

Turns out there was a college track meet that weekend in town.  Hope she kicked ass.  And glad I asked the question. :)


Friday, May 13, 2016

Where I'm Meant to Be

I think one of the most amazing things I have experienced rising up in the ranks (so to be speak) is when you go from being nervous in certain points of big tournaments, to knowing you belong there.

I remember the first time it happened to me.  I was playing in BCAPL Texas State, and I had done well enough that I was coming back to play on the winner's side for the second day.

As I walked in, instead of playing on far back tables or scattered around like all the first day, each winner's side match was scheduled right up front.  People had already claimed their seats to watch their friends and players were warming up.

Normally in this position, my nerves ramp right up and I get butterflies, and my adrenaline starts to race just seeing where my table is in front of everyone.  But I had finally got to a point in my pool career that I actually recall saying to myself, "this is where I'm meant to be."

Wow, just typing that out makes me smile.  Gonna type that out again, "this is where I'm meant to be."

It was one the coolest things I have experienced.  I wasn't nervous at all.  I wasn't scared.  I truly felt okay to be playing in front of everyone on the front tables because that's where I was suppose to be finally.

Difficult to not come across arrogant to put this into words, but for SO long and YEARS and YEARS I would get nervous and feel pressure and pretty much fail before even getting to the table just from anxiety.

So to finally feel COMFORTABLE and thinking that's where I belong instead of chicken-shit-scared was so powerful and calming and a huge confidence boost.

And, haha, I actually didn't win that match nor placed real high in the tourney (I think that was the year I placed 5th maybe).  I still had a lot to learn along the way to finally win that coveted title.  But those thoughts and feelings that day sure put me on my way.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Alcohol to Calm Nerves

After I was put out of the 2-day 8-ball tourney I played in back in early April, I was talking to a friend that had bought my half of the calcutta.

As we chatted, he told me I played well all weekend.  Then he asked if I wanted a drink, as he was sitting there drinking a beer by himself.  I replied thank you, but I had quit drinking.  You never know how people will react to these little but important words, "I quit drinking," but his response caught me off guard:  It was about POOL.

He reacted shocked, "What!?  How did you play pool without drinking!?"

I stood there looking at him confused.  Uh, What?  What do you mean?  I don't need alcohol to play pool.  Do you?  And then he shared well, it can calm my nerves and make one feel relaxed.  And then I was like, "oh, yea, that's right."

Then I joked with him, "how the hell did I finish and play well without a few drinks!?  Damn." Honestly, though, hadn't even crossed my mind.

Even though quite a few times I felt pressure and adrenaline in matches in this 2-day tourney, I didn't even think at all to take a shot to help calm my nerves.  It's actually really cool to realize it didn't even cross my mind - tells me I'm not dependent on that "crutch" and that I can handle pressure and nerves in competition through (1) deep breathing techniques to calm down my adrenaline, (2) positive thinking affirmations, and also (3) staying in the present moment.

I'm not saying everyone who drinks does this - usually drinking while playing pool is just a habit - but what I am saying is that indeed just the right of alcohol can tame nerves.

He then shared he thought it was cool I wasn't drinking, and it was no longer about "how did you play well without it" to "that's really awesome for you."

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Effects of JUST a HandShake

I have written numerous times, and experienced this numerous times lol, when after you lose someone says something that just ticks you off.

  • "You gave that to me"
  • "You didn't want to win"
  • "You had me"
  • blah blah blah

Just walk away people!  Shake their hand and walk away!

A friend reminded me the other day how I told a league-mate years ago not to tell me after I missed the 8 ball three times, "you gave that to me."

Why do people even talk?  lol

And then my friend said something refreshing that I had never really realized before:

"Do you remember that time during State we had to play each other and I was up 3-1 over you?  I missed the 8 ball, and then I couldn't recover.  Then you beat me.  And, you never told me, "you had me" or "you should have won."  Instead, you simply shook my hand after wards.  I didn't understand that day at league why you got upset at that girl, but now I do.  And now I appreciate so much that you DON'T say those things to anyone (or me) because it would have stung SO much more had you have said something." 

Funny how I have written before about how I feel when people say things that sting right after a loss.  When instead I should have also written about the other side of that:  how appreciative people are when we are cordial and understanding and that a simple handshake with no words is sometimes the best course of action after a tough loss.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Busy as a Tournament Director

It's amazing to me just how busy I can get on Saturday's running the Omega tournaments.

I have about a million things to do on Saturdays (okay, I'm /slightly/ exaggerating), and that's even with having a great team helping me.  With over 80 players, there's just a lot going on and a lot to do on Saturdays.  It's truly jammed-pack with a lot duties along with handling the logistics with all the players. 

Sometimes I don't even get to say hi to someone for 2 to 3 hours.  This happened last month when I walked briskly right by a friend who wanted to say her hello's but I had to locate a player and then quickly start the calcutta.  She just happened to want to get a hug and say hello when I was SUPER busy.  I wasn't able to catch up with her literally until about 1pm (yet she got there that morning about 10:30am).

At the March stop, a friend of mine asked me a question about the music playing as I quickly walked past him.  I didn't respond, kept walking, then handled an issue at the brackets.  As I walked back by him to handle something else, I then responded to his question.  He was surprised I had actually heard him, because I hadn't responded when he first asked.  I did hear him, was just swamped at that moment.

It's also very tough to complete a conversation with someone, lol.  I either get interrupted or need to address something that has suddenly come up - whether it be calling a shot, or I see an open table, or someone needs me for something.  It's the life of a pool Tournament Director that runs a large tour.   I'm not complaining, AT ALL, but it sure makes it difficult at times to be nice and friendly and give everyone their quality time.

And while I'm sure everyone understands when I have to hastily rush away to handle something, I do think later as I'm driving home or taking a hot bath later that night trying to recoup, "did Pam get to finish her thought with me?"  Or, "did Mike get to finish all he wanted to share with me about the tourney?"  Or, "Did Joe finish telling me his story?"

I get so preoccupied and engrossed in all that needs to be done, that I am not sure the conversations get finished or not!  Pretty sad, huh?

I respect friendship and understand the importance of communicating with all the players and fans at the tournaments, so I need to work on that.  Because no matter how busy I am, chaotic it is, or how much I'm multitasking, players, friends, and fans of the Tour come first.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Break Cue Weight

One of the things I heard from a very good player over 20 years ago was about the weight of a break cue.

A lot of people think you need a heavy-weighted break cue to break well and solid.

So, it was ironic when my friend was trying to find a cuemaker who would lighten up her break cue to around 15 ounces.  It was actually tough for her back then to find someone to do that - only so much weighted bolts in a cue you can remove.

Back on point, though - she recognized that she actually had better control and a more solid/better break with a lighter cue instead of a heavy cue, like people seem to think.

I'm sure there's some study that would corroborate that.  And my intense research on the subject (you know, using Google.com) shows a few links of interest.

Bottom line it seems to be personal preference and you'll need to test this out for yourself which is better for you.

Me?  I prefer controlled break over power break.  My break cue, while not super light like my friend wanted, is around 18 ounces.  I have tried heavier cues over 20 ounces and they do NOT work for me nor help me break better at all.  I lost control of the cueball pretty easily with a heavier cue, which is not good for my arsenal.  I prefer a controlled break where I can squat the cueball in the center of the table.  And a lighter cue helps me accomplish that.

Hope you find the perfect-weighted break cue for yourself!  Trial and error, baby.  :)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Honored by Phil Capelle

Pretty cool when famous billiards author Phil Capelle asks you to review his new book and then you find your quote in the book!

Just received this gem in the mail yesterday:

My own personally-signed copy!

Here is my review:

(click to enlarge)

Six Words to Pool GREATNESS is now available via his website for ordering TODAY.  Shipping cost is included, too :)

If you loved his "Laws for Pool" in his A Mind for Pool book, then you'll enjoy this book even more.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Tourney Director Duty - Talking During Matches

It's amazing to me how many times during an Omega tournament I have to ask players or friends of players not to talk to someone during a match.

I don't think people really understand the true dynamics that goes on when two people compete and that what happens along the sidelines affects BOTH players.

I can remember two vivid examples from when I first started playing pool that encapsulates this exact thing:

(1) I was watching June Hager Walter in the finals of a tournament in the mid-nineties and myself and another friend went to talk to her because she was struggling.  We didn't necessarily have any advice for her, we just recognized that she was struggling and so we just wanted to maybe distract her or make her laugh or something. We didn't quite know exactly what we were doing OR that we shouldn't be talking to her, until the Tournament Director (Belinda Campos Calhoun) came up to us and told us that we can't talk to her and we had to retreat to our chairs on the sidelines. We ran away with our tails between our legs not really knowing why.

(2) The other example that I remember vividly is I was gambling in a very small match in the mid to late nineties with a friend in Austin, TX at Eric's Billiards. This was THE place back then for tournaments. While I'm gambling with her, a friend of hers walks by and stops to chat with her.  After her friend leaves, my opponent apologizes to me.  At this point I'm a little confused why she is apologizing to me.  But she explained almost in these exact words, "I could go and on about all the dynamics and reasons why her coming up to me makes me feel better.... and that's really not fair to you."

What?  I was so new at competing I was like, whatever.  But, it was a huge, pivotal moment in my pool journey, also.  She was actually sharing how talking to a friend calmed her down and helped her play better because she "felt loved and relieved."  Since I had no one to talk to to get the same effect, it wasn't fair to me, she expressed. 

Because I have competed for the last 20 years and run big tours for 15 years, I understand and have seen the affects on BOTH players when someone is talking to a friend during a match.  When I am at the table trying to shoot and my opponent starts to have a conversation with someone they know (or even don't know), it's a distraction/disruption to me - the player trying to concentrate at the table.  Sometimes it feels like disrespect.  Depending on your mood and where you stand in the match (winning, losing, playing bad, etc), it may even escalate your reaction to what's going on on the sidelines.  And, that's the case whether the distraction is intentional or not.

And of course the reverse happens when I am sitting in my chair (struggling or not) and my opponent is at the table, and I hear a friendly voice talk to me.  Just like in those two instances above, I recognize (and have felt plenty of times) a sense of comfort, love, and support when someone I know talks to me while I'm in a match.  It calms me down.  And if you think of this dynamic in a competitive setting, it's really not fair to your opponent.  You're happy and calm, your opponent is distracted.

That's why on the OB Cues Ladies Tour you are not allowed to text.  You can easily imagine someone sending a text to a friend, "I'm playing like shit."  And they respond with comforting words or advice.  Again, not fair to your opponent who is NOT on their phone getting support.

And because I recognize all of these dynamics, and because I've been through it, and because I see how people act when it's happening, and because of the many complaints I receive during the Omega tournament, I have to sometimes ask people to refrain from talking to their friends during a match.

Just at the last Omega tournament, I had to ask a player to please not talk to his friends during his match.  They all were not happy with me, but it wasn't fair they were talking while the opponent was trying to shoot.  If it's one time or something, I wont interfere, but if it's every time you are away from the table, it needs to be addressed.

Also at the same event, a player's girlfriend was talking to her boyfriend in the middle of his match. They were drinking and having fun which is normally fine, but the players are competing for thousands of dollars and they're not there just to have fun quite honestly.  So I had to ask her not to sit near him.  It really wasn't fair to the other player who was trying to concentrate and play his best.  Further, when it was his turn to watch, he would sit quietly in his seat and not walk around and talk to friends.

People get upset with me and don't understand why I ask others to move or why I asked people not to talk to their friends, but in reality I'm just doing what's fair and equal for BOTH players.  So, if I'm considered a bitch because of that, I will take that title because these players are playing for a lot of money and they need to be playing in an equal atmosphere so they both give their best.

Even though most of the time it's never intentional, and we don't even realize talking to friends is bothering our opponent, it is still about mutual respect.

There are a lot of emotions, thoughts, and feelings that go into playing competitive pool. We've all heard that pool is mostly mental and that is true.  Therefore, that is why if I notice a player talking to friends during a match, I ask them not to.  It should be equal footing because of all the emotions already going on during a match.  And as a Tournament Director, part of my role is recognizing these things for the players.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Why a Blog?

Many people ask me why I started a blog, so thought I would share that journey today.

I first had a journal that I used as a pool diary.  You know, what we used to write down on paper?  I kept the journal with me and would write in that after my tourneys.

Then I decided to move up in the (digital) world and started to journal my thoughts online.  However, it was a private blog and so no one even knew about it but me.

I did eventually tell a few close friends and they wanted access to it, why I do not know, but I gave them rights to view it.  Back in the day (10 years ago) I only really blogged the recaps of my tournaments - who I played, what happened, how I felt, etc. 

A few years later, I was getting such a great response from those friends, they suggested I open it to the free world!  It was quite the step for someone who was really only using it as an online diary of tournament recaps for myself.  I was extremely apprehensive.

When I finally had the guts to click that "not-private" button in my blog settings, it then "unlocked" all my past entries too, so I had to go back through past blog entries and either remove names or give players a nickname.  For instance, to Turtle 1 or Turtle 2.  Or how about the guy who kept a tape measure on his belt even while he played?  He was nicknamed 'Tape Measure Guy' in my blog, lol.

I would eventually learn that I was fine with using someone's name if it was something I would say directly to the player/friend/opponent in person.  I hardly ever talked bad about anyone, but the few times I vented or the few times I shared a tourney encounter, I would be cognizant of others and just not use names or even nicknames anymore.

About 5 years into writing on my online blog, I was working on an instructional website project with a friend I met through the AZB forums.  After awhile, he would say things like, "I read your blog entry today.  You allude that your Mom is sick.  What does she have?"

I shared with him that she had advanced emphysema.  Turns out his Mom had it as well.  And then he suggested I open up more in my blog and share the personal side of myself.  Make it more human.

Here is what he said, which really propelled my persona online:

"No one can tell anyone how to write. After getting the technical skills down everything else must come from within. I think you've progressed nicely on both counts.

Observation (not criticism) No. 1. My favorite post is the one about Lisa Marr's tattoos.  In many ways I feel I now know more about Lisa Marr than I know about you through your blog.

My definition of journey would encompass everything you see on the trip. Not just everything you see on the pool table.
With your blog you have a "hi, how are you, let's have a drink" type of relationship with your readers. Obviously people who know you know much more.  You definitely don't cross a certain line with your personal life.  That's a choice - there's nothing wrong with it.  But as your blog/discussion evolves, the next step really is to start tiptoeing across that line.  I think you wouldn't mind it, it just isn't something that comes natural right now.
I'm not saying you're not giving enough personal details.  It's not the details; it's how you're telling the story.  You're not telling it from your heart.  You're telling it from a safer (to you) place. "

I heard his words, but I was still extremely apprehensive for some reason.  But, he has a way with words and is quite compelling as you can see above lol.

Reading this now, makes me wonder why?  I talk about SO much now and really don't hold back anymore, and actually love that, so what the hell was I thinking back then lol.

But like with most things in life, it morphed through baby steps.  First I had my foot barely nudged in the door, letting out a few personal things I was going through. Then I pushed opened the door a little more and was telling every day stories I was witnessing in the pool halls, and also shared even more of my life.

I received a lot of positive feedback for showing all various aspects of my pool journey, and eventually the door flung open past it's hinges.

I actually strive to blog 12-15 times a month, which is quite unheard of.  I am pretty sure I'm the only pool blogger that keeps an up-to-date blog, which is the number one complaint about blogs. 

I have won a couple of awards for my blog which is SUPER cool and I never imagined that would or could happen (OR that there was that type of award).

But prolly the coolest is when someone tells me randomly that they enjoyed a certain entry, bring up my blog at a tourney, or more so, when someone shares with me that what I wrote helped them with their pool game or in a tourney.  That's one if the main reasons I keep blogging....to help others.

I now write about anything and everything.  Everything is up for discussion.  Whether tourney recaps, instances that occur in a tournament, something upsets me, things I learn from, something I read that relates to competing, tips I share, stories I hear, leadership aspects, personal reflections, etc.

People actually may find themselves written about in my blog.  Names withheld of course.  I hardly use names at all anymore.  It's the story behind the name, not who was involved in the lesson or turmoil or funny story.

One side note.  I think my blog actually helps me compete.  I write about so many tips (new and past learning experiences), that writing them down actually helps in my competitions.

Ironically, blogging is prolly the best part of my pool journey.  You see, I didn't start blogging after I won titles, but when I didn't even know what 3-ball shape was or could barely get "into the money" in tournaments.  Heck, my nickname back then was "one-out-of-the-money Melinda" for years.  Yet, I was still writing about my pathetic matches and wondering why I play this game lol.

So, to have written about my journey from day one into a "someone" in the pool world is pretty dang cool to me.  I'm so glad I finally opened up my private blog, then started to make it more personal, and then really let the flood gates open with all the different topics. 

One of my favorite joys in life is this blog.


Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Joys of Playing Badly

I played in The Omega Billiards Tour tournament yesterday. I haven't played in one in about six months or so.  But the heat of playing in such an event was intense for sure.

I need to play in four tournaments this year in order to be qualified for the$ 4,500 added season finale. So I needed to finally start that fulfillment, and decided this weekend was the time.

I admit I was more stressed than usual running this event for several reasons. And I don't know if that's why I played bad but I definitely didn't play like myself.

While I didn't really have a chance to win my first match I definitely had chances to win my second match. Instead I went 2 and out which was a lot of fun (absolutely not really).

I had moments of great shots, but just couldn't finish. Too much on my brain, and it wasn't all related to playing pool lol.

Of course someone tells me afterwards, "you should play more you, should get out more."

I knew that I was going to hear that from that person, but I still don't want to play a lot. I just wasn't fully into my game and that's what happens sometimes.

Not the end of the world; I just played badly.