Thursday, November 30, 2017

Complaints Can Be Validation

One thing I love is when players talk to me after their tournaments.  They share things I either hadn't thought of, can relate, or can't wait to blog about!  lol.

Here is one that came up recently in a convo that I thought was intriguing and interesting, and am very excited the player said I could share.

A player who was ranked a 4 was having his best finish yet in one of the Omega tournaments recently.  I knew he would move up to a 5 pretty easily after the event, as he was finally having a good tournament.

He joked with me that very next week, "I am going to miss being a 4!"  Then confided, "No, not really, it was kinda embarrassing."

A 4 is the lowest level of the handicap scale on the Omega Tour.  It's fascinating to me that some players who are 5s WANT to be a 4 while others who are 4s see it at embarrassing.  But that's a whole 'nother blog post lol.

As we continued our convo, he shared he knew making it into Sunday of this two day tournament was going to put him in 5 territory.  He added, "Just making it to Sunday was a huge personal accomplishment for me."

Then he confessed, "It probably sounds bad - but it felt really good that one of the players I beat complained about me after I beat him... I guess it just felt kind of validating (if that makes sense)."

It didn't make sense.  Ooooooh, what did he mean by that?

So I asked, "Validating what?"

He said, "Hmmm, I don't know, I guess that I belong."

I prodded him some more, excited where this was going, "Belong where?"

He shared, "That the work I've been putting in really is improving my game.  And that I belong in the tournament - I've been playing on the tour for so long and never made it into Sunday, and that's made me question myself a bunch of times.  I've felt like I've been on the cusp for a long time, but could never put it all together."

"Bingo!  There you go!" I exclaimed.

I loved our convo.  And I am SO happy for him to have moved beyond the cusp to valid in himself he should be ranked higher, just as he thought.

While a lot of people complain about handicapped tournaments, there is a sense of pride it can bring to oneself to move from different levels.  

I am so happy for him!!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Good Will Hunting

We have all heard of players who stop at every pawn shop they drive by looking for the elusive pool cue in the corner of the building, being sold for only $100 that is really a $2,000 cue unbeknownst to the owner?  Right?

Heck, I even found an old Huebler in a remote pawn shop a few years ago when a took a vacation driving south along the Appalachian Trail.  I bought it for $150 and sold it for $275 just a few weeks ago.  (every bit helps, right?)

Well, I hadn't thought of Goodwill stores!

I went in the other day looking for a certain colored vase (found two!) and then ran across this:

Do you see them?

Sure, they don't have tips, but pool cues nonetheless!

Monday, November 27, 2017

You Don't Choose THE Song

What I have learned along the way in my pool journey is that certain songs that come to mean meaning for us in our pool journey are not chosen by us.

We might imagine that our first big win will be to the Rocky theme song, right?  Or as our team is playing in the finals, we all hear "We are the Champions" by Queen blaring from the speakers.

Or, if we are in a bar out of state, "Turn the Page" comes on by Bob Segar or "Bad Company" by the band of the same name.

Well, those things don't even come close to reality.



Sure, we all have certain songs or type of songs that give us a little skip in our step as we play pool, but the songs that exude winning or champion do not come on magically as we drop the last 9-ball or lift the trophy up over our head for the crowd.

No, no, no.

What happens is, though, is something even cooler!

When I won my very first ladies event, a tournament on the Fast Eddies Tour way back when, I was completely in the zone and the song that was playing as I was playing with no distractions and light on my feet was Chris Brown's, "I Can Transform Ya."  Sure, I loved hip hop anyway, but I barely new the song.  But after I won, I LOVED the song.  And what happens now is pretty damn sweet:  every single time I hear that song, it takes me back to that win, that first win, that amazing win!  It's like I'm right there in the zone in San Antonio at Fast Eddies snapping off my first tournament.

It turned out to be my personal Rocky theme song.

So, while we think of certain champion songs, the ones that come to mean the most to use are chosen for us while we are succeeding.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

APA on The Price is Right

I love seeing things like this - pool showing up even in the most unusual of mainstream places!

Like this guy wearing an APA shirt on the Price is Right!

(click image to enlarge)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Acceptance of Your Level of Competing

I have wondered off and on throughout the years, what makes a person stop competing in pool?

I can recall numerous ladies I used to play with in Texas that don't play on the ladies tour anymore.  Was it because they got older?  Because they never got better and got frustrated?  Did life things get in the way (money, divorce, marriage, kids)?

I suppose for each person the reason is personally different.

And at one point, a successful player eventually isn't in the winners circle as much. What do they do then?  And how do they handle it?

Do they accept they are not as talented for some reason anymore, but yet still play?  Or do they stop competing due to frustrations?

Some people can't handle the disappointment and decide to move on from playing pool.  Some people accept they will never play at the level they used to play and are fine with playing for fun.  Some players frequent the pool rooms during the week on afternoons and enjoy sparing with friends, in lieu of competing in leagues and tournaments.

As I type all these words out, I am liking my reasons for retiring (after having a successful pool journey the last few years) more and more!  I can just imagine if I was to keep competing and eventually not be relevant or a formidable opponent how frustrating that could be.  I am liking my decision to choose to stop competing rather than having to stop not on my own terms.

Whatever their flavor is behind the reason, acceptance can go a long way in feeling good about their decision.

Btw, in case you are curious why these thoughts came up this week, it was after I read this excerpt from "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" by Haruki Murakami:
"I don’t care about the time I run. I can try all I want, but I doubt I’ll ever be able to run the way I used to. I’m ready to accept that. It’s not one of your happier realities, but that’s what happens when you get older. Just as I have my own role to play, so does time. And time does its job much more faithfully, much more accurately, than I ever do. Ever since time began (when was that, I wonder?), it’s been moving ever forward without a moment’s rest. And one of the privileges given to those who’ve avoided dying young is the blessed right to grow old. The honor of physical decline is waiting, and you have to get used to that reality. Competing against time isn’t important. What’s going to be much more meaningful to me now is how much I can enjoy myself, whether I can finish twenty-six miles with a feeling of contentment. I’ll enjoy and value things that can’t be expressed in numbers, and I’ll grope for a feeling of pride that comes from a slightly different place. I’m not a young person who’s focused totally on breaking records, nor an inorganic machine that goes through the motions. I’m nothing more or less than a (most likely honest) professional writer who knows his limits, who wants to hold on to his abilities and vitality for as long as possible."

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Second Day Tourney Thoughts - The Danielson Series

Danielson, like most of us, has a more difficult time playing well on Sundays of a two-day tournament.  Why?  Because there is so much more pressure on day two!

What helped me get over that hump was to stay as ever-present as I could and not think ahead.  Experience also helped - the more times I lasted until Sunday, the less pressure I felt because each time I lasted until Sunday was another success and I started to feel more comfortable.  Experience helps immensely.  (that's why I preach to play in as many tournaments as you can)

Danielson had another great finish in the November Omega tournament and I asked him how he felt going into Sunday.  I was so impressed by this thought process, I wanted to share it.

On the Omega Billiards Tour, we whittle it down from around 100 players and bring back 24 players on Sunday.

Danielson told me, "I just look at Sundays as a new 24-man tournament.  That helps any pressure I might be feeling going into day two, as I just look at it in a different way, not the continuation of a big tournament.

"24-man tournament" - that's perfect!  GREAT philosophy.  Wish I had heard this when I was competing!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Fargo Ratings Rule!

Although handicap tournaments are more difficult to run than Open tournaments, Fargo Ratings help me out so much!  And not just to me personally as the Tournament Director, but also for the players competing in handicapped events. 

Fargo Ratings allow for more accurate handicapping which helps all the players overall.  Further, as a Tournament Director, it saves us a ton of time trying to nail down someone's true handicap.  Accurate handicaps also lead to less complaints.  And a big thank you to Fargo Rate for that!

Btw, in case you are new to the term "Fargo Ratings," Fargo Ratings are world-wide pocket-billiard ratings designed to rate every player on the planet on the same scale based on wins and losses against opponents of known rating." Check this link for further details.
Below are two excellent examples from the Omega Billiards Tour stop just a couple of weeks ago that prove how effective and helpful Fargo Ratings are. 

We had two players enter the tournament who no one knew well.

One guy was from California.  He moved to the Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) area only a few months ago and it was his first time to play on the Tour.  In the past, I'd have to ask around, "how does this guy play, who does he play like?" in order to try and establish his handicap for the tour (we use rankings from 4 to 10).  But that weekend, I just type his little name into and there he was!  He was an established player and he had a pretty high Fargo ranking - so high he was automatically an 8 handicap.

Fargo Rating  -    Omega Tour Handicap:
Above 750     -    10 handicap
700-749         -     9 handicap
645-699         -     8 handicap
570-644         -     7 handicap
515-569         -     6 handicap
460-514         -     5 handicap
below 460      -     4 handicap

THEN - another player signed up.  He was from the country Jordan, and it was really cool - he also had an established Fargo Rating!  Took the guess out for me, reduced stress, saved time, and made my job easier for sure.  :) 

This player had an even higher Fargo Rating and he was a 9 handicap on the tour (one spot away from top pro level).

The point is, it is really helpful to have Fargo Ratings for players all across not just the U.S., but the world, as well.  Even a guy from California and a guy from Jordan had an established rating and we were able to set their handicaps accurately right from the get go!   So awesome. 

What a great data system!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Noticing Players' Games

I find myself wanting to help players improve more and more.  Because I give lessons now, it kinda comes even more naturally for me to see things more than usual and wanting to help.

I've actually been a very perceptive person anyway, but it's compounded more because I want to share the things I've learned from my own journey with pool.

I don't actively seek out players who might need help, I just happen to notice players, who if they had a just a few extra tips, they would be succeeding more.  I wrote about helping a friend back in 2012 just from observing her.  So, it's not like I'm seeking people out, I just happen to notice their game could improve remarkably by just a little tip or two (tips I wished I learn A LOT earlier in my journey).

I was watching a player over the weekend at the Omega Billiards Tour and he has improved a lot in just the last few months, but he's missing out on wins because of not knowing 3-ball shape.  I wanted to grab him, take him to a side table, and go over 3 ball shape with him for an hour!  LOL.

I also found myself thinking this in the middle of a tournament last month, while playing in a match, about my opponent, lol!  The guy kept missing late in the rack and it was because he didn't know about 3-ball shape.  It was quite comical to myself I thought about how I could help him improve..... while I'm trying to beat him, lol.  But, I knew if I could work with him a little bit, that his game would skyrocket.

I'm more of a strategic and mental coach, not one who teaches fundamentals or how to hold a cue.  So, the key to all these players is:  they already have a great game and set of skills.  They just haven't been taught or are not aware of 3-ball shape or strategy yet.   Once we get that down, it's amazing how much we improve and win more matches!

P.S.  The reason I didn't approach these two players to help was (1) I didn't know the one player and wasn't sure if he would be amenable to the idea and (2) the other player already has a coach I found out, and "strategy" is part of the plan in his future lessons.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Cleaning During Tournaments

We all appreciate really great, assertive waiters/waitresses, right?  Well, one over the weekend was too assertive while at the same time very unfamiliar with pool.  Even tho she was working in a pool room!

Deep into the tournament on Sunday last weekend of the 11th stop of the Omega Tour this year, one of the players was sitting quietly at her table as her opponent was shooting.  The air was a tad humid and so she put some chalk on the table where she was sitting, so she could lay her fingers on the powder and stroke the powder on her shaft before she shot so it would slide easier for her.  Several people were doing this throughout the weekend.

As this waitress gets on shift later on Sunday, she starts moving very fast to start to clean up the area.  She moved all the stools in their proper place (which created extra noise as they hit the metal tables), she sprayed the tops of the tables and then wiped them down, even if pool cues were leaned against them, and as she walked by the table with the chalk of this player, she sprayed the table and wiped away the chalk!

I cared more about the cues that she accidentally sprayed at first, but then it was crazy she also wiped away the chalk.

I think one of the issues was tempo.  We were used to the waitress who was there all day, and then this new one comes in and changes the dynamics around us.  If this was Saturday with 100 players in the area, it wouldn't be an issue and we wouldn't have even noticed her, but when you are down to only a few tables and a handful of people in the area, we see more distractions easier.  Plus, we had been used to a waitress who stayed out of the way all day.

I heard it wasn't her first day there, but I think she just hasn't been around big tournaments or something because she wasn't very cognizant that high-stake money matches were going on and instead cared more about clean tables, straightened chairs, and getting things done by walking by the matches. 

I'm not really complaining, as some tournaments I have been to you can never find a waitress or the tables aren't cleaned up all day long.

While we all appreciate her great service, there are times it's okay to leave things be until matches are completed.  It can be more of a distraction.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Way You Say Things

I think we all could be more careful with our choice of words.

Sometimes they come off harsh and rude and uneffective.  Obviously, this is true in all aspects of life, not just our pool game.

A friend of mine received some "advice" that wasn't very positive nor helpful.  It could have been said in a much softer, gentler, more effective way.  Instead, he told her, "You make things so much harder on yourself."

You may be thinking to yourself that wasn't that bad.  And you are right, it's not that bad.  But, it still could have been stated with less negativity and with more effectiveness.

Further, as soon as she told me his words of unwisdom, I told her, "Wow, now you will be thinking about that every time you have to play pool in front of him.  Darn it."

And she agreed in disappointment.

I've written several times about how the way people say things become a hindrance, not helpful.  Negative words, repeatedly from the same people, have affected me so much, that when they happen to watch me play pool, it distracts me because I get nervous about what they might say after my match.  Which, is never positive lol.  NEVER.

Luckily for my friend, her thought process is to improve so those words he said to her don't bother her.  As a matter of fact, she played in front of him at a weekly tournament full of great players and she placed 3rd!  Take those words and shove them up your a$$!  lol

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Better is a Never Ending Quest (video clip)

I love, LOVE this commercial!

Listen to it.  You'll love it, too.  It's very clever and can be helpful to our pool journey.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Not My Baby

No, no, don't worry - this has nothing to do with real babies, lol.  

Someone keeps telling me that the Omega Billiards Tour is "my baby."

Every single time they tell me that, I counter with, "No, it's not.  It's the players Tour, not mine."

I appreciate the kind words that the Tour has a great foundation and has momentum because of me, but it's not my baby at all.  I never once thought that.  I always and only considered it the players' tour.

I wish I didn't have to keep convincing people otherwise.  I don't brag about the Tour or even talk about it that much.  But people seem to think I need accolades or a remembrance some how for when a new tour starts.  No, I don't.  I'm just happy there will still be options for players to play in Dallas Fort Worth.  That was my whole goal and the mission of the Tour:  "To provide an avenue that allows all levels of players to play the game they love to improve their skills and where they can make some money at it, too."

See?  Not my baby.  Players' baby!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Checklists - The Danielson Series, Nov 2017

Danielson and I were chatting a couple of weeks ago and we both mentioned that all of these learning lessons are really awesome, but too bad we can't go over things right before a tournament, instead of learning after each tournament. 

Tournaments have 3 main parts:  Pregame, the game, and post game.  And yet he and I really only focuse on the post game.  How did you do?  What happened?  Why?  And what can be learned?

He said, "Yeah, before the tournament starts, it'd be cool to go over things to remember...what to guard yourself to your strengths...a little pep talk...kinda like what a football team would do."

As soon as he said that, I announced, "Blog topic!"

Poor guy - instead of telling him what he can do to pump himself up before a tournament, I make him wait to read it in this blog post, lol.

And here it is:

First of all, I can't be like a mouse in his pocket and give him a pep talk before every tournament.  We'd have to start to discuss payment options for that specialized service!  lol.

But, he does bring up a very good point of something I still do to this day that is just as helpful:     Checklists!

I am a huge fan of writing down reminders.  There is SO much we need to try and remember before our tournaments, that it can make our head spin.  And sometimes in the throws of the moment, we forget things.  It's normal.  You've been in high stressful situation and all of a sudden you can't remember your email password or pin to check your bank account, right?  It's a very surreal, sometimes scary moment.  But, if we can review many of the key things we have learned (and need to remember), we are prepared for things that may be thrown at us during matches.

In a post from 2012, I wrote about a match preparation checklist.  I wrote about this again in 2014, and shared that I reread my notes before I won BCAPL Texas State singles event.  :)

I am a huge proponent of match preparation checklists, reminders, pool prayer, whatever you want to personally call it.  It will go a long way.

Here are some examples of lists I wrote throughout the years:

Shown here are 8 checklists!  And you can see some were written on hotel paper - which means I was out of town for a tournament and going over my reminders and wrote them down to take with me to review before each match.

So, everyone, get your pin out and write your own personal reminder checklist!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Male or Female Tournament Director?

I know I talk a lot about leadership in my blog, and today is no exception!

I wanted to share a discussion I had with someone about the Omega Tour ending, and a new Tour  starting up that will be run by guys.

A player (male) shared his opinion with me that he thought that a male running the Tour would have less issues to deal with.  I guess he was saying that it's tough to run a men's Tour as a female.  And he thought as a guy, he would be able to handle the male players "better" because, as he said it, "If they start bitching, I won't put up with anyone."

I listened to his words and my first thought was running a tournament well is not about being male or female, but about leadership and how one handles players and issues.  Respect, empathy, fairness, and integrity go a long way.

In my humble opinion, it really honestly doesn't matter if you are male or female.  An abrasive female will have a difficult time handling difficult situations with guys or girls.  And a male Tournament Director (TD) with no leadership skills will not handle confrontations well.  So, it really is mostly about personality - not male versus female.

I shared with him, from my perspective, I think a female TD has a slight advantage dealing with male players than a male TD would, tho. 

Hear me out. 

If a male player is pissed and gets upset, he is going to vent his frustration to me and be vocal.  How I react and respond is key to handling these situations well.  However, if a male player is pissed and gets upset, he is going to vent his frustration more confrontational against a male TD than a female.

Most of the time, most guys are more asshole-ish with other guys, than with girls in public.  They will be more in fight mode with a guy.  With a female, when they are upset it will be a verbal argument, yes, but less confrontational.

Don't get me wrong, I have been chewed out royally by players after they lose (you know, it's always the tournament directors fault).  But I have a feeling the players would be even more vocal with a male TD.  And depending on the male TD, how will they handle it?  Will they simply argue back, or will they handle it well with leadership skills?

See?  PERSON dependent, not sex dependent.