Monday, January 30, 2017

Bring in Cue or Not?

I have mentioned that I am helping raise money for local pool player, Dave Faver, who has throat cancer.  The funds have helped him stay in a hotel while he gets treatment.

I talk to him usually once a day to see how he's doing, and sometimes he shares pool stories.

Here is one of them:

He's been playing pool on the road since the 80s.  He said that back then and even 20 years later, he figured out it's just best when you get in a game while on the road, to play pool using the cuestick from the wall.

While he had his own cue stick in the car, obviously if you walk in with a cue, everyone thinks this stranger can play.  If you get a game, and then go outside to get your cue, then you'd be labeled a hustler before you even hit a ball.

It's kinda crazy all the things you had to think about and consider to get games back then (heck, maybe even today in some locations, right?) when you try to gamble in a town no one knows you, huh?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Don't Take Easy Outs For Granted

I was listening to two commentators talk about a game and their words hit me like a brick and I wanted to share them, because it was the EXACT reason for the importance of a pre-shot routine and non-laziness.

I hadn't watched any of this match except the very last game that someone shared on Facebook.  It was evidently a race-to-30 gambling match.  The player on 28 games breaks his 10-ball rack but doesn't make a ball.  His opponent is left with a really tough layout, and he is on game 29!

I am can only imagine what they were playing for, and I would guess in the $1,000s range, since it was streaming from the Derby tourney action room.

Anyway, as the player is running out this tough rack, the commentators share this information:

The player at the table had been messing up earlier in the match and getting out of line more on easy layouts.  One of the commentators even called it "Mickey Mouse" outs.  And the player was getting in more trouble with them, and those are the ones the commentators kept thinking he would run out on.

They went on to say the player "razzled and dazzled" and didn't take his time, and not only got out of line a lot on the easy layouts, but also missed a straight-in 10-ball earlier in the set.

This player, the commentators said, "bares down much harder on the tough ones [layout]."

And this out WAS a very tough layout and he DID get out.

It goes to show that you should put the same effort into all shots, matches, and games.

Don't get lazy, and don't presume a lot about the layout.  Walk around the table, don't rush your shots or 2-stroke your shots, and don't take any shots for granted.  That's what gets us in trouble.

And a pre-shot routine will help you realize that every shot is important; every shot deserves the same respect.  And you will be more successful.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Online Magazine Column!

One of the things I was excited about for 2017 that I broadly eluded to late last year in my blog, has come to fruition.  And, this is kind of a dream for me: Interviewing players for a billiard magazine!

Sure, I have interviewed a few people for my blog, but not many people come here or even know about this blog.  Further, I really wanted to showcase the personal side of certain players and being printed in a magazine would give them more exposure.

I am so excited!

And after I read the answers from my first sacrifice, err, interviewee, I was even more excited! Tony Sulsar was funny at times, gave some great tips, and reminisced about his Dad.  Tony really sealed the whole vision of this dream I am working on for others.

I am so happy about this coming to fruition!

I am now a columnist for Billiard Buzz!  It's an online magazine from  Here is the January issue and a sneak peak of the interview with Tony:

Right now I have plans in place to interview players who have overcome odds, but of course I will also interview players/people in the pool industry in general (if they say yes, lol).  Let's face it, they are interesting also.  Well, most of the time :)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Teammates Dogging It

I was watching the Dallas Cowboys playing the Green Bay Packers two weekends ago (along with a million other people in Texas, lol). 

We were down 13-28 at the beginning of the 4th quarter.  Then with about 2 minutes to go, we are somehow TIED!  31-31.

What a comeback!

A great interception by the Cowboys gave all the fans hope until that stupid little yellow flag was noticed by itself, flopping on the ground marking the beginning of all the "Noooooooooooooo's!" flying from patrons in bars across the nation, and fans at home, or in person at Jerry Jones' stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Anthony Brown (number 30) of the Cowboys had a pass interference called against him.

As the camera focused on Anthony, my heart hurt for him.  And the camera wouldn't stop following his every move and deflated look.  It was so sad.  Poor guy.  I felt horrible for hm.

I was at the pool room during the game as the Omega Tour Season Opener was going on and I asked one of the players, "I wonder what his teammates think?"

He replied, "They aren't mad at him.  They understand how things happen quickly and you have to make decisions fast and sometimes bad things happen you don't intend."

And, let's face it, that's how we feel about our teammates during team matches, right?  We don't get mad at them or chew them out.  Some might slam their fist in frustration at the mistake, but we don't go home thinking about our teammate who messed up. 

As my Mom always told me, "It's not all about you."  And she's right.  We think more about our own mistakes and what we could have done better, not that a teammate hooked themselves or dogged it or missed a tough shot to win.  We know that everyone wants to win!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

There is no I in Team

How many times have we heard that?  "There is no I in team?"

Well, I was reminded of that when a friend invited me to go to Vegas with her this year.  She has never been to Vegas, I have been a 1,000 times, and I was super excited that I could show her around!

While I got all pumped about it (even looked at flights and hotel prices), of all that I could show her (MGM volcano, Bellagio water show, certain card games, great places to eat/shop, fab buffets, beautiful statues, exhibitions, roller coasters, etc), I slowly started to draw back my excitement.....

You see.... she was invited to go to Vegas to be on a Women's Team for a National tournament.  It would be her first time with the team, the first time in Vegas, and also the first time in a National event.

And, I needed to not be selfish.

Although I wanted to go with her and show her around and also support her while she plays, I also know that what is MORE important is that she gets some good bonding with her team.

Team atmosphere, team dynamics, and team trust and comfort are all crucial for success.  The way to get all of that is with bonding; ie. doing things together and creating bonds.

If I am there, I would steal her away from anything pool-related, which really means even simple things like eating with teammates.  And in reality, she NEEDS to do that.  She needs to bond with them, get to know them better, have amazing laughs, and making memories with the team she will be helping to win!  She doesn't need me to distract her from pool just because we are in Vegas.

Even simple things like walking together as a team in their matching shirts to the tournament room is bonding.

I don't want to interfere with that.

There is no I in Team, Melinda!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Learning From Mistakes

Adding more to my thoughts about learning from our mistakes.

Let me put it another way about learning from errors.  

If you miss an 8-ball in practice, what did you learn?  You didn't even think about it again, do you? Do you think that missed shot will ever cross your mind again in the middle of a tournament match?  I'd bet not (and I'm not a betting woman).


If you miss an 8-ball on the hill for your team, I guarantee you will learn why from that 100 times over.  

And then carry that learning experience into future situations. 

You will think about that missed shot a lot.  Not because it haunts you (well, maybe at first lol), but because you will think about it enough to figure out why you missed it (and how to solve that for next time).  You didn't stay down, your adrenaline was racing so you were shaking, you rushed your shot - all those feelings do not come up during practice.  All those feelings only come up during intense, real-life match situations; NOT practice.  

And then you learn to tame those feelings so you CAN sink the 8-ball in a crucial, future match.  

Thursday, January 19, 2017

More About Asking The Score

I wrote the other day how asking a player their score during a match can sometimes throw them off.

I want to be clear though and point out the obvious:  that players with a strong mental toughness will not be thrown off by your question.

Further, IF they are rattled at all - they will recover from it quickly.  In other words, they may think about it for a bit, but then they will get it out of their mind and get back to the task at hand:  focusing on the table.

Not everyone is distracted with questions.  But no reason to test that, right?


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Get Your Own Score

(Since we can't hear tone reading words, I need to point out I am being sarcastic in the way the title reads).  :)

I've written many times how when I'm in a match I don't look around the room to see who is in the crowd.  Well, the same thing happens when I have to go to the bathroom in the middle of a match. I don't take long breaks; I take care of emptying my bladder and then head straight back to the table.

And as I am walking briskly to the bathroom and back, I never look at anyone. I look down or look at my destination. I never look into anyone's eyes. I never even acknowledge anyone around me as I walk by.


Because I don't want to give anyone the opportunity to ask me what the score is.


Can be a distraction.

I was watching the Omega Tour matches on Sunday and one of the players was in a really close, tough match and it was his highest finish yet on his Omega Tour journey.

One of his female friends was watching who isn't really around pool too much. He had just missed a shot and he was down in the match 5-3 I think and then he took a quick bathroom break. And before he even walked past her, I thought to myself, "omg, please don't ask him the score."

The thing is you really just shouldn't ask anyone what the score is. It can throw them off - whether they are winning or losing. They need to go to the bathroom or go smoke their cigarette and then they need to get back to the table. They now do not need to be thinking about who is watching, confessing that they're losing, or even "celebrating" that they are winning by providing you information. All of these things can be distractions just because you are being selfish and wanting to know their score (I kid, I kid!).

If you see me walking briskly to the bathroom please do not stop me to ask the score.

And I beg you, when you see your friends walking to the bathroom during matches, please do not ask them for an update. Let them focus. Let them get back to the table and get to business. Don't distract them. If you want to know the score, ask a friend or check out where the coins are.

Thank you in advance from all of us :)

(and yes, she interrupted his focus to ask him the score)

Friday, January 13, 2017

Help From The Arnold

Arnold Schwarzenegger that is.

I wrote a week or so ago about how making mistakes helps us become more successful.  I was dissecting Colin Powell's quote:  "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure." 

If one really looks at my statement about "making mistakes helps us become winners," it seems awfully negative, right?  It's actually been bothering me what I said.  Even though it's true, I wanted to talk about it more and try to explain it more.

And then I came across this great quote last night that kinda seals what I was tried to get across:

"Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength."

I think this explains it even better.

Here's to the mistakes we make!  No, no, no.  What I mean is, if we make mistakes or if we come in 2nd place, or if we lose because of emotions, we learn from each of those things.  And we carry those over to our next tournament.  We remember.  We learn.  We don't give up.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Quote: There's No Courage Without Fear

If you're deep into leadership like I am, you see and hear things in your daily routine that reminds you of things to help you personally, and of course that leads directly into pool and competing.

Since mental toughness is high on my list, I loved when I heard the other day this quote from the movie, Edge of Tomorrow:

"There's no courage without fear."

And just ignore that this quote is spoken by Bill Paxton right before a lot of the future-soldiers are about to die from a future spaceship landing onto a beach infested with aliens.  Okay - don't think about that part!

Seriously, anytime any of my friends get nervous or have anxiety, I remind them that those feelings just mean they care.

Let me say this another way - when your heart is racing, you are getting nervous, or you have anxiety, it means you care about something.  And, that's not a bad thing.  Right?

There's no courage without fear.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Watch Who You Watch

I got a kick overhearing some players lament about the opponents they just played in the Season Finale of the Omega Tour back in November.

Turns out they had great advice and they all agreed and where laughing together:  Don't ever watch a match of the opponent who just beat you.  Why?  Because they in inevitably won't play as perfect as they did against us in their next match!

After they beat our ass, never miss a shot, and kick us to the curb, they go on to their next match and miss easy shot and are no longer running out.  Wth?  lol  It's like they aren't even the same player, lol.

The players were joking how these opponents never missed against them, yet they then go on to their next match and can't make a ball!

The solution to their sickening feeling was to just simply never watch their opponents' next match. Just don't torture yourself!  DON'T DO IT!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Technical Explanation of Nervousness

Leave it to good ol'e Dr. Oz to help me out with a billiards blog post.  :)  I subscribe to his magazine, "The Good Life" and I always read great little tidbits.

Today I share about, "Nervous Flutters."

I have written a lot about having "test anxiety" and I freak out sometimes during interviews, tests, and also of course vying for that coveted state title.

What I read in Dr. Oz's magazine was WHY this happens.  And, of course it all makes sense now:
"It's your turn to make a speech at a wedding but a cloud of butterflies are dancing around your gut.  What you're really feeling is blood leaving your digestive system - it's part of that flight or fight response that occurs when adrenaline spikes, sending blood to your extremities in case you need to say outrun a bear or a mugger. Yes, it's a bit of an over reaction when when all you need to do is take the mic."
Now I understand what is going on with the blood in my body during my episodes of test anxiety.   My brain can't think clear - because all the blood is busy making me run from a bear!

No wonder I can't think clearly or get things accomplished well during those few (but crucial) anxiety moments that cross my path in life (and well, you, if you have them at times, too).

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Dissecting Colin Powell Quote

I love this quote from Colin Powell:

"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."

This is so true as I reflect back on my pool journey.

I didn't just show up to tournaments hoping I would do well.  I prepared; I put in work; And, yes, I indeed learned from failures.

I had a goal one year to practice at least 2 hours a week.  While that may not seem like much, it was dedicated, solo, determined practice.  I would arrive first thing in the morning when the doors opened either Sat or Sun and grabbed a 9 foot table, put in my earbuds, and then try and run 10-ball racks for at least 2 hours straight every weekend.  For a year.

This is just one example, but Yes, I put in the work.

I also had goals were I would watch a certain number of videos a year, play in more weekly tournaments, and read a few key books to help my pool journey.

Yes, I prepared.

And the more I played in tournaments - weekly, regional, league, league payoffs, state or national tourneys either in singles or teams, the more I learned from my mistakes.  That 8 ball I missed at state for my team doesn't haunt me anymore.  Why?  Because I learned from it.  I carry the reason why I missed forward and it helped me be more in control of the successful table run I accomplished hill-hill at ACS Nationals to capture my first, ever, singles, National 9-Ball Title.

Yes, I learned from my failures.

The more tournaments you play in, the better you become.


You naturally put in the work so you finish better in them (practice, watch videos, etc).  You naturally get more prepared, too (read books on mental toughness, play in more leagues, etc).  Again, playing in more tournaments has a cause and effect.

You play in more league events and tournaments and you don't just hope to do well - you prepare, you put in the work,  And because you are putting yourself in more tournament situations, you make mistakes and have losses and failures, which in turn you learn from. Which in turn makes you successful later.

Pool is a Journey!

Let's go full circle with his quote:

"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."