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.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Moving Coins Hill-Hill

During the Omega stop earlier this month I saw a match go hill-hill. 

One of the players takes his coin out from under the rail and slides it on the felt towards the center of the bottom rail.  Then he walks over and does the same thing to his opponents coin.

I've been playing and watching pool for over 25 years and don't recall this before.  You mostly see it when the score is 8-8 in gambling, but not 6-6 in a race to 7 in a tourney.

I can't even fathom that this would be normal because I've personally been in over 100 hill-hll matches myself and witnessed SO many hill-hill matches all these years, that I know it's not "normal."

Makes me wonder why he did this.  Did he do this so people would not see the score?  Did he do this so he wouldn't be distracted by the coins shouting at him, "it's hill-hill!"

And what if I am his opponent and I don't want my coin moved?  lol.

I will try and remember to ask him next time I see him at the Omega Tour Finale in November why this is his preference.

Humidity Is Different Between Saturday and Sunday

On weekend tournaments, Saturdays are more humid and hot because there are more people in the pool room. 

Players tend to need gloves and powder more on Saturdays than Sundays of a weekend pool tournament, because by Sunday the field is whittled down to about the top quarter, and so less people, less humid, less need for powder or using a glove.

As a Tournament Director, we of course notice the same thing.  On Saturdays we plan to wear short-sleeved shirts (females) and light in weight.  On Sundays, we bring back-up sweaters, lol.  The temperature difference is truly amazing from Saturday to Sunday.

One player remarked at the last tourney he uses more powder on Saturdays because it's so much more humid that day of the weekend due to the number of people in the pool room. 

Preparation is key!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Asking to Brag

I have been a COOP (Continuity of OPerations) class all this week for work.  It's a fantastically-run class about how to prepare for the "What If" scenario. 

You know, if your office building is no longer standing due to a natural disaster or human intervention, what would you all do in that situation?  How would the essential functions of your business continue?

We need to prepare for these "What If" scenarios.  This can include doing training, exercises, preparing plans, what are your notification procedures?, etc.  Finally, do you have an alternate building your staff could work out of until you get to return?  If so - those type of situations should be planned out BEFORE an event.

It was a great class and it made me think of things I hadn't thought of before and gave us a lot of resources to get a plan in place.  Loved it.

Anyway, back on the topic of pool...

The week was separated into two classes.  In the first morning of introductions, we were to stand up and say our name, where we worked, title, and then something we were passionate about. 

I don't normally share what I'm passionate about.  I kinda keep quiet it.

Yet here I was EXCITED!  I was being ASKED to share.  :)

I shared with the folks in the class that my passion is pool and I'm kinda a top player in the area and I also run one of the largest billiards tour in the state of Texas right here in DFW (Dallas - Fort Worth area).

No one seemed to care, honestly, lol.

In the second class of the week, sure enough the morning of we do introductions again b/c it's not all the same people.  THIS time we had to share not our passion, but something we are kinda famous for. 

Hmm... I don't normally talk about myself.  Even in the pool room, usually a friend will mention first I've got a certain title - I don't like to talk about myself too much, especially to strangers.

While most people said they went to school with a famous person, I stood up proudly and said, "on my work side, I implemented the Southern and Eastern United States Tsunami Warning Program and on my personal side, I am a National 9-Ball Champion and a 3-time Texas State 8-Ball Champion."

People said, "ooooooh" and the instructor joked no one should play me in pool, and I quipped as I sat down, "yea, keep your money in your pockets please."  As we all laughed.

It was actually a nice way to brag a little.  Like I said, I don't normally talk about myself (prolly why my resumes aren't very stout, lol).  But in this case, I kinda had to brag and a small piece of me was proud to do it.  :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Social Media Use During Tournaments

I wrote yesterday about the effects that the social media climate has on athletes and how they have to be mentally stronger than before social media came into our lives in order for them to compete at their best.

Those thoughts are the same reasons why I never posted online during my tournaments to give updates.  I didn't want to read comments from people.  I didn't want people to give me congrats before I won, or advice on how to win.  I didn't want to feel the pressure of people saying, "you can do this!"   I stayed OFF of social media and I just tried to mentally prepare myself for the game at hand (which was already pretty tough to do lol). 

The opposite is true, also, though.  I've seen players declare on Facebook, "oh I'm not feeling well yet I'm about to play for fourth place."  Or maybe, "I hurt my hand so not sure how I'm going to finish the tourney well."  These players are already letting their fans and friends know that they probably are not going do well in the event.  Kinda giving their excuse ahead of time to the world.

Whereas they could have just not have said anything at all and then maybe explain afterwards why they won or lost (or even obviously not explained at all if they don't wish).

Having a Blog allows me to explain why I faltered or maybe what I learned during a tournament.

In my opinion, social media is kind of a deterrent to us focusing on the game at hand, so that's why I kept away from an online presence during a tournament.

On the other hand, some people announce, "hey I'm about to be on the stream table at 2 o'clock!"  You have to admit that shows that they are very confident and they probably like to know that people are supporting them and watching them.

However, if I was up next on a stream table I wouldn't tell a soul lol.  I was not mentally strong enough to handle the thoughts in my head of the people watching.  Further, if I was playing bad I would start to get embarrassed and then it would kind of go downhill realizing all these people were watching me play badly on the stream lol.

I admire those that can use social media to their advantage.  Because for me it was a distraction.  However, because I know my mental toughness weaknesses, I need to do what is best for me during tournaments.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Mental Toughness is Tougher in Our Current Climate

I think that the media having more access to athletes and also the explosion of social media has actually brought a realm of mental interference into playing sports.

How many times have you seen the new young leader after Day 2 in a golf Major being interviewed over and over again after the cut, to not even see him anywhere near the leader board on the final day - sometimes not even on the leader board anymore at the end of Day 3.

If you think about it, back in the day before there was social media no one was online giving their opinion or talking crap about athletes or making memes.  Football players, tennis players, basketball players, golfers, even Olympic athletes didn't have to read or hear all these things before they played in events.

Even before games start, the media is interviewing players before they go on the field and before they go on the court to bring us, the public, a personal and up-close view of the thoughts and opinions from the athlete himself.  I think that is a distraction to the player.  That's a lot of mental interference.  That's a lot of expectations he is now having to think of because of the reporters questions.

Sports and competing is already so mental, and to think about how you answered a question, or why you were asked a question, or being "forced" to delve into certain topics before you even play can be such a hindrance to your performance.  I actually think athletes in today's world have to be even more mentally tough than in the past when the public would read in a newspaper the next day who won a sports match.

Nowadays, the public has such an easy access to athletes through social media, too.  Hashtag their name, mention them in a post, create a meme that goes viral, give your opinion on Facebook Live.  Again, that's a lot for an athlete to handle and have to deal with mentally before they even step foot onto the mound, or on the court, or on the field.

I commend and applaud how they handle these situations and are still able to perform at their best surrounded by these new distractions.  MENTAL TOUGHNESS, baby!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Shooting Pool Literally, (Video Clip)

Have you ever wondered about shooting pool, literally, with a gun?

Well, the folks at Demolition Ranch shot pool balls, literally with bullets, on a pool table!  Nice friendly game, tho, so no worries, lol.

They nicknamed this "bulliards."  :) 

Here is the videotaped grudge match for us to witness:

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Submitted Q: Playing Over a Shot

Someone sent me a question the other day and wanted to try and answer it today for him:

"When you are playing and over a shot, what is going thru your mind? Is it all the little things we've been taught (follow thru, stroke strength, where to hit, English, etc); or, do you try to clear your mind and leave those other thoughts for part of your next pre-shot routine?"

What I was taught with this shot, shooting over a ball, is to keep my body completely still and focus solely on a smooth, calm, steady stroke looking at the object ball.

When I first tried this new-to-me approach over 10 years ago, I was surprised when I made the shots more and more in competition!  I got excited I was finally able to make them more consistently, instead of missing them all the time hahaha.

Let's face it, shooting over a ball is nerve-racking - a lot of things to think about and worry about.  But, keep your body still and focus all your attention on a smooth, calm, steady stroke.

Just like in basketball, focus on the follow through and the shot, not your opponent trying to block you (which in pool would be the ball you are shooting over).

And of course, because being so still while shooting over the ball felt "beautiful" (yes, I said beautiful), I incorporated that 'stillness' in every shot.  It has made a HUGE difference.  Imagine that - not moving while shooting helps.  ;)

Thank you for the great question!