Thursday, April 27, 2017

Links: Handling Pressure

A friend of mine confided that he doesn't understand how he can gamble and practice well, but can't seem to place high in the Omega tournaments.  Further, he's losing to people he should beat in the tourneys.

After discussion back and forth, and as I suspected, the issue was mental.  He was worried about so many things before and during tournaments, he couldn't play his best pool.

In practice there is no pressure.  If you miss the 9-ball, who sees that?  Who cares?  What effect does it really have?  What does it cost you?

It's all about perspective and not putting pressure on yourself in tournaments.

I do my ABSOLUTE best when I am not thinking ahead, have no expectations, and are "numb" about the tourney.  If I care too much, if I put too much invisible pressure on myself, then I falter.  

Overcoming nerves and playing in the moment are the best feelings in the world during competition!

Back to my friend:  

I gave him several links to read, and wanted to share them with you all today.  

Further, after one of the American Billiard Radio podcasts, we got a request!  It's right along this same topic and so sharing these links is timely.  The listener asked:

"Can a podcast be done on how to deal with the mental game during a tournament? I got done last week playing in my local tournament and I did well. However this week when I went to the same tournament I did horrible and feel that my mental game wasn't there and I also was overthinking and second-guessing most of my shots. It seemed like my nerves got the best of me and I wasn't able to properly focus on my game and play the way I should be."

I could restate what I wrote in these blogs, but instead, I suggest if you are frustrated with playing well during practice and then you're not performing well in tournaments, or you are not consistent during tournaments, that you find some time to read each one in a quiet place to reflect.... so you can help yourself:  

Here is my friends "report" after reading the blogs and then playing his next Omega tournament:

Thank you for your help.. I will continually read those articles. I really believe they helped!
I saved them for future reference :)
It helped me with the difference between goals and expectations.  Goals are good...  My goal is to be a better player and cash in tournaments... expectations usually set me up for a fall, tho. 
If I play well leading up to a tournament, I have the expectation of doing well in the tournament which normally goes badly.. 
So now my only expectation is to do my best with the opportunity that I'm presented..
And getting rid of those other expectations helped turn my brain off.

I was so happy for him!  And I noticed he defeated a few top players and his losses were all close that weekend, even before his "report."

I am hopeful after we talk about this topic on a future podcast that we will get a report back from the other player, too, who wrote in.  :)

I think as we play more tournaments, we figure a lot of things out about what the feelings of pressure do to us.  Why are arms get wobbly, why our pre-shot-routine goes out the window, why we can't think clearly, etc.

What we learn is:

  • Feeling nerves means we care!  
  • Taking deep breathes slows down your adrenaline.  
  • Staying in the present is your best friend.
  • Not looking around at the crowd is key.
  • Focusing on 3-ball shape helps your brain from being distracted.
  • Goals are good, make them reasonable.  For example, "stay down on all my shots," in lieu of "last until Sunday."
  • So what if I miss?  It wont be the end of the world and my friends will still care about me.
  • Winning or losing doesn't define me.
Enjoy reading the links!


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

RIP Chris Ramirez

Heard sad news today that a friend and local player passed away this week.  He was prolly only in his late 30s.

He was a great guy and always smiling and fun to be around.  I don't think I ever not saw him smiling.

He and his friends helped me celebrate a few amazing finishes and wins in Vegas for ACS and BCAPL, always with great food and drinks and friendship.  

He even captured this only photo I have from when I won ACS 9 Ball Singles and became a National Champion.

He was always the biggest fan of the female players in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and loved the game so deeply.

Chris's sudden death is tragic and shocking.  Gone too young.  Gone too soon.

Rest in Peace my friend.  You will be forever missed.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Gambling or Fun?

Lately in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, there have been several $1,000 match-ups occurring across the metroplex.

It's usually been the same guy playing each time (I'm presuming he has a backer), and he matches up with different players more than once a month.  I believe it's happened 4-5 times in the last 2-3 months.  It's a fairly new thing.

You might think this is no big deal - people gamble all the time, right?  Well, this is a cool/different thing because the matches are advertised ahead of time on Facebook.  So, we know "when, where, and with who" several weeks in advance.  And people can side bet and/or plan to come out to watch. And usually more than one set is played.

Further, because players are already there sweating the action, of course it's natural for other players to match up too, so I've heard several matches end up being played those afternoons.

On Saturday morning, I walked in to the local pool room to spar with a girlfriend.  She's going to Vegas for Nationals and she wanted to talk about 8-ball.  One of my friends happened to already be there and he hadn't seen me at this location so early on a Saturday, even tho I had been doing this for several weekends in the Fall.

So, to him it was a shock to see us: two chicks walking in with our pool cues, obviously ready to play.

And his reaction was priceless.

"Hey, uh, what are you two doing?  What's going on?"  he asked me all interested and excited.

He wanted the inside scoop and to find out what the bet was.  I told him we were just sparing for fun and talking about shots.  He seemed to get deflated lol.

I think because of all the recent match ups going on, he thought this was one as well and was all excited at first about it!

But, alas, just two friends playing the game we love.  No money being exchanged.

Poor guy - broke his heart!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Trophy Disposal

Yep, you read the title correctly.

Am I /really/ getting rid of my trophies?

Well, I'm de-cluttering!  I've mentioned it several times now and I know you are hoping this is the last mention of it, but this time it's about trophies.

I can remember writing just only a few years ago about trophies and how I longed to win some of those really big ones I only saw in other players' arms.

You see, the leagues I had been in didn't give big trophies.  Plaques or statues were given in place of trophies.  So, when I played in a few tournaments that gave big trophies out, I was more vying for the trophy than the win (and of course I lost b/c my mind was on the prize and not on the table in front of me).

I remember people making fun of me, too.  "Oh, they just collect dust anyway, Melinda."  Well, I WANTED big dust collectors!  lol.  Here is just one story for ya.

So, every so often throughout the years I would win a little trophy and be SO happy, literally like a little kid on Easter or Christmas.

Here, see for yourself:

And then comes along the 'de-cluttering Melinda' trying to get ready for a garage sale.

One thing I need to share with you all is I'm a HUGE green person.  I recycle everything I possibly can both at home and work.  I bring used batteries to work for the collection box, take my own recycling to the recycling dumpsters because we don't have curb-side yet in my city, I am in charge of ensuring the proper recycling for my coworkers, and I'm even on the "Green Team" in my building and help participate in making the world a better place to live in by the decisions we make in our building.

So, when I decided which trophies needed to go (yes, I didn't chunk them all - I saved the biggest one, lol), I was going to recycle them and not just throw them away (of course).  Then I looked online to see if places accepted trophies and sure enough the place I order the Omega Tour plaques from welcome used trophies and reuse them for teams and sports of kids who can't afford trophies and prizes.

How cool is that???

So, I'm not just de-cluttering and being green, I'm also paying it forward to help others.

Now, let me point out that every plaque and acrylic statue I have are still on my shelves.  I'm not de-cluttering my whole pool life away, just the trophies that, well, are collecting dust.  lol.  The plaques and acrylic standing plaques are from State and National events and I LOVE seeing those on my walls and shelves.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Reflecting: Collection of Team Shirts

Well, I wrote a whole long blog entry about team shirts.  It wasn't pretty, I admit.

I wrote how it used to be really sweet when a team wanted to get together and order new collared shirts for State or Nationals.  But then I went into a venting session with my 'old lady hat on' and explained that it actually wasn't all that fun the last few years.

In the beginning, it was cool and fun to try and find the perfect shirt the entire team loved, fit perfect, and then get them all embroidered.  Nothing was sweeter than opening that box of newly embroidered shirts and handing them out to all the team members!

But after 20+ years of doing this, it became a chore and really no longer fun.

While I was venting about having a stockpile of embroidered shirts I don't wear anymore and don't know what to do with (as I mentioned before I'm de-cluttering), I need to also point out that I'm being a hypocrite!

Snapshot of some team shirts in one of my closets.

I buy several tops/blouses from Ross Dress for Less at least twice a month.  Who I am to complain about team shirts that sit in my closet, when I prolly have shirts with tags on them still from Ross Dress for Less??

Further, I should be more positive about this.  I should reflect that part of this horrible (lol) issue of collecting so many team shirts over the years is because of several, in reality, awesome factors that I need to be realize and feel more grateful about.  (1) I have been playing on leagues for a LONG time,  (2) I was on several different leagues each season so needed more than one team shirt each season, and (3) I joined new teams over the last several years because I was asked to join top teams.

Instead of venting about this "problem", I needed to be honest and more reflective.

And the truth is. it IS cool to have so many team shirts.

Now that I'm no longer playing leagues, I guess I felt comfy to bring this "issue" up.  But turns out. it's a pretty cool issue to have.  :)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Emily and Harry (video clip)

Pretty dang cool when pool makes mainstream, right?

My friend and professional pool player, Emily Duddy, was on the show "Harry," which is a daytime talk show hosting by the hot singer/actor himself, Harry Connick Jr.

Here are two clips from the show of the episode she was on just this week:


I unfortunately first met Emily in a match at BCAPL Nationals in Vegas, lol.  I thought I would get to shoot more, as every time a tough shot was in front of her, I knew I'd get another chance at the table. Well, I was WRONG. She made tough shots and had great outs.

But I enjoyed meeting her and it has been so cool our paths have crossed throughout the last 8 years, where we get the usual selfies and hugs.

It's also been cool as fellow female player to see her rise to stardom.  I am so proud of her accomplishments on the table and in the media (she has been on other tv shows as well and in print magazines a lot).

Show her some love over at

Or, follow her and other pros at the WPBA US Open THIS weekend!  All six tables are being streamed live.  Check it out.

Congrat's, Emily, on being on the show!

Friday, April 14, 2017

From Things to Memories

I'm going through my house with a fine-toothed comb right now.  Sounds easy, except imagine I moved my parents' house into my house over 9 years ago and so combined it has over 40 years of "things" in it.

I'm getting ready for a neighborhood garage sale, even though after the last 2 I told myself I would never, ever do a garage sale again lol.

Last one.  (I promise?)

But, I am going through a phase in my life where I'm moving away from keeping everything to more towards realizing memories are more important.

I collected and kept way too many things all my life (now don't call the cops, I'm not THAT bad, I don't need to be on that tv show Hoarders), and it had not been easy to make decisions on my parents' things all these years, either.

But now - I am realizing that "things" (even from our past) don't provide us inner peace.

But I digress....

So, as I'm going through every inch of my house, I see some items tucked behind a desk. One of the items is a huge piece of rolled up paper.  What the heck is that?

It was the FIRST state title tourney I won!  Wow - look at that!

I actually had to look up the year:  2011.  That's the year I won the ACS Texas State Women's Singles!  Here is my long recap of it.  It was an extremely emotional win for me for many reasons and extremely memorable.  I can picture the last shot and my reaction of falling to the ground as I type this!

The bracket is actually very large.  See a pic of me holding it near the bottom of the recap.

But, after I took the photos of the paper bracket for this blog article, I then placed it snugly in my recycling bin.   

This action shows how things change.  I kept the bracket because it was so dang amazing and memorable for me, and yet I found it dusty behind a desk.  Unrolled for YEARS.  I didn't even realize or recognize what it was.

That amazing win still means the world to me and I enjoyed re-reading the recap today.  However, the physical paper copy of that bracket is now in the recycling dumpster.

I still have my memories.  :)

(and it's cleaner behind that desk)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Time and Place for Social Media

I have written before how being on social media during a tournament can be detrimental to your game.

You need to focus.  Not read crappy comments, or even future-type comments like "Get that Title!"

Athletes do their VERY best by staying IN THE MOMENT.  So, reading even positive comments can be pressure-ladened.

While you may think, 'here she goes again with her weak mental attitude talk,' LOL, let me share I'm not the only one.

When I spoke to Tina Malm about her thoughts about streaming, I mentioned I was surprised she got on Facebook during tournaments.  She quickly pointed out, "I post about the stream, then get off.  I don't read comments or even look through Facebook during tournaments."

And here is my friend Tam Trinh:

I love how she handles this.  She will post info (brackets, stream, event, etc) and then add, "No questions please or messages about the event.  I need to stay focused."

She will update the post with scores and results, but she gets on and then gets off.

She, just as Tina and myself, is very aware to stay focused on the tournament at hand and not spend her time on social media and be distracted.

We want to still share with our friends where we are playing a tournament, but we don't engage very much online during the weekend because we are dedicated, focused, and concentrating on the tournament at hand.  Afterwards, we are all about responding to comments and looking around social media lol.

Point is:  Time and place.  And tournaments are the time to concentrate and focus!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Billiard Buzz Interview: Rachel Hurst

It's very unfair to play favorites and be biased between the first 3 interviewees of my column in Billiard Buzz this year, but I have to say after reading the most recent interviewee's replies to the questions, hers made me cry and so she is currently in first place if I had to rank them.  (sorry Robley and Tony!)

I ALWAYS knew if I got this idea/dream to interview people off the ground into reality, that I wanted to approach Rachel Hurst to see if she would be interested in being interviewed.

As I have stated before, I wanted to interview people who have overcome odds.  And I think you will be surprised what happened to her, and her rebound to who she is today.

Btw, instead of just simply asking her if she was interested, I wrote all the questions, then sent them to her as a carrot along with my request.  I guess I was trying to twist her arm so she would hopefully say yes lol.  And we are SO lucky and blessed that she did!

I can't express enough to please take a couple of minutes and read her amazing story.  She not only has an amazing life from near death to different paths to where she is in her life right now, she also has a way with words that I could not wait to read.  And let me say I was not disappointed and her answers actually went way beyond any expectations.  I really did cry after reading her answers.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Crowd is Not Against You

I have written before that one of the things we finally figure out in our pool journey is when the crowd is cheering for your opponent, try not to take it as them cheering AGAINST you.

I admit, though, it's very easy to think that way, especially in the heat of the battle.

You are already playing your little heart out and here are people rooting against you!

Well, Grasshopper, they aren't really doing that - the people who are clapping are simply just cheering for your opponent, not against you.  But damn, it sure feels like it, huh? STRONGLY feels like it in fact.  Especially if you are down in a match or not playing well, it really STINGS when the crowd cheers excessively for your opponent or only for your opponent (and not you at all).

It's so tough not to take it personal.  I have to talk to myself, "They are just rooting for them, not against me."  I literally have to remind myself because it can be hard to fade.

Pool is already so mental, so that distraction can hurt us, and we need to counter those negative feelings with the realization the cheering isn't against us personally.

At one of the Omega Billiards Tour stops this year, a couple of local players came in early Sunday evening to watch the matches and they had been drinking.  Okay, they were on the drunk side, lol.

This particular match was deep in the tournament between two top players.  One player, let's call him "Tony," made the 9 ball and the two guys start clapping.  Tony wins again, "Good job, Tony!" they yell out clapping loudly.  Clearly on Tony's side and clearly been drinking, lol,

This may not seem out of the ordinary, but let me set the stage:  There had been no clapping or cheering the whole tournament - none at all - not even in this match.  The place was quiet with fans watching, but not jeering going on.

So, it was definitely out of place all of a sudden.

As a Tournament Director, I can't ask them to stop cheering for a player - they weren't being rude or vulgar - but I think everyone in the room felt bad for the other player, let's call him "Rick," who was obviously not being cheered for and left out of the accolades.

They continued to cheer only for Tony and I could tell Rick wasn't bothered by it, but he was aware of them of course.

At one point Rick is racking while the guys are still clapping and verbally congratulating Tony on another notch in the race.  Rick looks over at the guys and then turns to his opponent and declares, "Wow, you have some fans in here."

Rick wasn't being rude, he was just really pointing out what we all were witnessing.  And he did it in a very tactful, funny way.

And what do you know, the guys then started to root for Rick, too!  I don't know if they sensed it or realized it, but when Rick won the next few games, they finally cheered and clapped for him lol.

We can talk to the crowd or make out-loud comments, and it can sometimes help.  I don't recommend it all the time, lol, but sometimes we are too hurt or affected and our emotions cause us to speak up.  I did this once when my opponent was favored in a match in Florida by all her friends and fans.  I was the outsider that was beating her.  I would win another game, nothing,  She would win a game and the crowd went wild (not wild, lol, but clapped for her).  I made a good out and heard nothing.  I said out loud, "I thought that was a good run?"  Looking at the crowd, asking them, sincerely curious, lol.  And they nodded and then clapped.  And thereafter they clapped for the both of us the rest of the match.

I didn't think they were rooting against me, but it still bothered me I wasn't given credit also just because they didn't know me personally.

The point is to NOT let the cheering for your opponent get to you.  I admit it's not easy, but it will help you in the long run when you are in these situations to just realize they are rooting for your opponent, but not against you.  I promise you'll thank me.  :)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Using Distractions as Opportunities

Sometimes you are tested during a match.  Sometimes you are getting bad rolls, dealing with a lot of distractions, frustrated, etc.

I have a suggestion!

Use those tough situations to your advantage.  Don't just get upset about them, and then lose your match and be pissed you lost because of things out of your control.  Or, are they really out of your control??

How about instead, you fight?  How about instead of getting upset, you use it as an OPPORTUNITY to test your mental toughness?!

Wouldn't it be a glorious day to use all things that seem against you in a match as an opportunity to try and overcome what is happening?

A friend of mine recently found himself down in a set and battling against a lot of bad rolls.  THEN, a crowd formed to watch them (he had been playing several sets with the same guy).  So, he was battling the bad rolls and fading the crowd, too.

He was able to overcome BOTH!  He had played for hours and hours and in the end he broke even.  It was a GREAT test for him and a GREAT opportunity to "practice" not letting the crowd get to him and to "practice" overcoming the bad rolls and instead just focus on playing the best he could.  He overcame the negative that can come to our mind with a lot of bad rolls.  And as time went on, he realized eventually he was able to somewhat ignore the crowd, instead of bother him like in the past.

Use the negativeness of matches to your ADVANTAGE.  Don't just take the bad beats, use them as opportunities to try and overcome the negative emotions and tame your thoughts and feelings.

Don't waste these opportunities.  Please!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Tourney Payouts Discussion

A friend of mine is helping run tournaments at a place on Sunday nights.

At first, the owner was paying out a normal 3 places for about 16 people.

Word got out (as normally does, lol) and with the extra added money from the place and hearing there is a Calcutta, more players started to show up.

One night they had 40 players!  But, the owner is too new at this and still only paid out 3 spots!

To say the least, the players were taken aback lol.

My friend asked me what he should use to figure out the payouts, as he wants to help the owner and the players.  I told him he can use the app "Payout Calculator" and that will help.

He thanked me and then said, "I also explained to him that he can't have 40 players and just payout 3 spots in a Pool Tournament.   It's not like a prize contest or Potato Sack race."