Thursday, March 29, 2018

Negative Tourney Experience - The Danielson Series

Well, I didn't hear from Danielson again after this last tournament.  As I wrote last month, that means he probably didn't have a good finish.

And, he didn't.

Here's what happened from my point of view after hearing a few comments from him:  He wasn't happy with the tournament and therefore couldn't play his best with that distraction.

Danielson played in a tournament that he was already apprehensive about playing in because he had some concerns about how the tournament was being run. 

I can't stress enough that playing in a tournament where we feel respected, treated fairly, and appreciated for participating go A LONG way into our tournament experience.  We want honesty, openness and respect.  How can anyone have a good time if those things are missing?

Let's face it, it's already tough to compete.  We have distractions, dang mental toughness getting in the way, invisible pressure from the what ifs, distractions from home/personal life, players who shark, etc.  That's already a lot, lol!  But ADD to all that when we don't feel appreciated by the Tournament Director, makes one not even want to play.

That's a tough atmosphere to play in if you don't feel welcomed.  I'm not saying they are trying to kick Danielson out the door and I'm not saying the red carpet wasn't laid out for him (wait a minute - where was my red carpet??).  But what I AM saying is feeling comfortable, appreciated, respected, treated equally, etc., will keep us showing up even with the other distractions.

I wrote about this before back in 2011.  I highly recommend you take a moment to read that blog entry

Back then there was a group of pool playing bloggers who wrote about the same topic every month.  We called the project, PoolSynergy.  And that month we were to "write about any aspect of an event that you enjoyed and appreciated."  And I said:  "Well, for me, the best tournament experience is one where I feel appreciated and respected. That goes a long way to make the perfect tournament experience for me!"  And then I went into detail and gave real-life examples and situations.  Please go read it HERE.

How could Danielson play well under conditions were he didn't feel comfortable or respected about putting in his time to come compete?  He can't.  Well, he could - but it's super tough.

I applaud him for going to the event even though he had apprehensions and a gut feeling, because now those feelings are solidified.  And he wont have to waste money on that event any more.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Improve Your Confidence

Just a few times just in the last week or so the topic of confidence came up.  Confidence and winning go hand in hand and it's an amazing jolt to our game.

However, what if you aren't winning?

Here's a tip:  Put yourself in a position to win!

What, Melinda?

I wrote about this exact topic back in 2011.  

Bottom line is, don't play in ONLY tough-ass tournaments all the time.  Or don't join the toughest league.  Sure, eventually you will get better.  But how about help yourself improve faster and win sooner by playing in not-so tough events.  If you get beat up all the time, when do you stand up?  If you get to win, you stand up taller and stronger.


There are more details there that explains the famous saying, "Winning Breeds Confidence and Confidence Breeds Winning."  

Monday, March 26, 2018

How to Handle Breaks in Matches

One of the coolest things about blogging is I get to share answers to questions.  One someone asks me a question, first and foremost I'm honored they even thought to come to me. Second, I get excited to share the discussion via my blog because if one person is asking, many others usually have the same question.  So, we all win from these questions / answers and learning.

A couple of months ago I got a random question on a weekend.  My friend was playing in a pretty big two-day tournament and was having an issue she wanted some guidance on, so she reached out to lil ole me.

She said, "Have you wrote about taking a break during a match?  Everyone has been doing it to me because I have been up fast in the beginning of the matches."

I told her I thought I did once, but instead of searching for the link, I just kinda dumped my thoughts in the message back to her.  Poor girl.  And now I'd like to do that for you here!  Because it REALLY is a great question.  How do you handle it when people take breaks in your match?

If you can hit balls while they are on the break, that helps.

Some people take breaks because they are trying to regroup.  It's not always to throw off their opponent.  So, imho, there's two ways to look at it.  And whichever is best for you to succeed, is how you need to look at it.  Some people are like me and see the positive in things, so if someone takes a break, I focus on my thoughts only.  If you are the type who thinks they might be trying a move, then get pissed about it and punish them on the table when they get back.  Don't get upset about it and let it affect your game.  Instead, make them pay for trying to throw your momentum off.

The problem for her this tournament it seemed like every match she was up, her opponents would take a break.  On top of that, she herself never takes a break (unless she is ill) so when it kept happening to her, it really affected her.  

I told her I also don't take breaks either (unless I have to pee badly).  I've never in my life taken one to try and affect my opponent.

But I told her again:  either don't take it personal and see it as they are trying to regroup, or punish them.  And then I reminded her to focus on what she can control.  That's important too.  We can't stop them from going to the bathroom or trying to shark us.  So, control yourself, remain calm, and control your pool game.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Follow-Up about Nancy

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about a friend who asked my opinion if he should play his Nancy gambling anymore or not.

If you don't know who Nancy is - read about her here.  Real quick though, Nancy is the generic name of players we all have who we think we can beat, but we can't for some reason.

So, I suggested to my friend he should NOT continue to gamble with his Nancy.  At first I said he should because his opponent is a good gambler and he can learn from the guy.  But when he told me his confidence goes way down after he loses, and then he plays badly for days, I suggested he shouldn't play him after all.  To me, that's a no-brainer and you stop playing the guy.  My friend said another player gave him the same advice.


"Don't play him, not worth it if it lowers your confidence."

"Oh, hey, I'll do the exact opposite!"

Omg people, then why ask if you are going to be a rebel and go against suggestions?!?

Just kidding!  He can keep losing money and confidence - no skin off my back.

However, his report was pretty awesome:  He beat the guy!

Being nosey, I asked him what the difference was this time.  Why could he beat the guy now and he couldn't just literally days before?

"I knew I was supposed to win that game getting that spot.  I was so frustrated with myself for how I played against him that I had to overcome it." He added, "So, I just grinded it out."

He played the guy for two days straight (one day it was a 14-hour marathon).  

Although he didn't listen me at all or his other friend, lol, I am so glad he still played the guy!  He overcame a huge mental block/obstacle.  AND!  His opponent now wants weight!  My friend lost over 4 times to him and he never asked to adjust.  And now this guy is whining and wants to adjust the weight.  Btw, I warned my friend the guy would want to adjust if he finally lost (so, hey, I was right about something!).

Congrats to my friend on the wins!

Monday, March 19, 2018

March Interview in Billiard Buzz Mag is Out

I mentioned at the beginning of last year that I am now a contributor to the online billiard magazine, Billiard Buzz

My column is dedicated to interviewing people.

It's been one of my top 3 joys lately in the pool arena!  I just love conducting the interviews and getting to know others while I get to share their stories with you all.  We are so blessed we get the opportunity to learn from each other :)

I usually post the interviews all on one page each month, which one can get to from the top tab of my blog.  It's labeled, "Billiard Buzz Columns."

Looks like this, in case it's not obvious (see second tab):

Well, the March edition of Billiard Buzz is out and it's quite frankly too impactful for me NOT to give it a separate, dedicated blog entry.  This months interview is THE most moving interview I have conducted.  As the editor of Billiard Buzz (Mike Howerton) stated, "We dare you to keep dry eyes while reading Melinda Bailey's interview with Charlie Smith."

I want to thank Charlie for agreeing to let me delve into his humor, learn more about his loving wife Nancy, and share boldly the many tough times they have been through. You will be surprised, I promise.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

I Get Distracted When Reading

I mentioned in early March that Mike Howerton interrogated me on the new American Billiard Radio broadcast show.

Interrogated, inquisitioned, whatever.

If you don't have time to listen to the podcast (like I don't lol), I thought I'd share a little from that broadcast.  Why?  Well, because Mike asked me questions I normally don't get asked and consequently hadn't thought of to share.  I know what you're thinking, damn she shares a lot already!  But, Mike really probed me (ahem, verbally) and I realized the other night when I couldn't go back to sleep, that some of the answers I've never written about in my blog.  Blasphemy, I know!  So, I'm going to resolve that today for you.  Why?  Well, my name does start with "Me" and so it makes sense to talk about myself, right?  (I know, lame excuse).

One of the things he found fascinating (my word, not his) was that I try to blog 10-15 times a month.  Ask anyone, that's a lot!  He then was intrigued:  how do I come up with so many things to write about?  And I shared this tidbit I hadn't shared with anyone before:

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I share articles from magazine (online or in print) about things that I relate to pool.  However, it's not just online articles or magazines, it's anything I read.  And that kinda gets in the way of me getting through a book. 

For instance, I tried in January to read the recommended golf book, "A Good Walk Spoiled" and I couldn't concentrate!  By the 4th page I had around 5 things I could blog about that I could relate to pool that I read in the book!   Gosh, I get so distracted when I read books.  SO many things cross my mind, "Oh, I could write about that" or "Oh, yea, that reminds of this I could write about."  Even leadership books/articles from work - I will read a few pages and start using my highlighter like I'm on crack:  I underline or highlight so many things!  But, the highlighted sentences aren't for me to remember something that would be helpful at work, noooo, they are about things I want to write about in my blog!

Yes, seriously.

The other thing I shared with Mike (and the fans who listen to the podcast) is that I do not have Internet at home.  So, that means all the blog posts, all the interviews, and all the broadcasts are done from my work office after work hours.  Eeek, that may imply I have no social life, lol, but not having Internet at home is the reality I live in.  The homeowners have recently begun the process of a petition to get Internet in our area, but it's been this way for a very long time and I am used to it.  But, it's a little fact of the Melinda Bailey life lol.

I'll share more things like this in the future.  Strap your boots on!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Be the Example

I mentioned the other day I am giving lessons to a new client.  She is good player and it's a joy to see her kick my butt!  

She is very similar to my other main client and is a quick learner, so I appreciate that a lot, lol.  Further, she also asks for clarification of my shot selections or questions a suggestion, which is really cool to be able to provide reasoning and further details of the whys.

The one area she needs to work on, which we talked about, is she tends to poke at the ball.  I don't see it all the time, just off and on, but if she could stay down and follow through more and consistently, she would be even more of a force to be reckoned with.

We talked about some tips to help her follow through more often, but following through and staying down is really something one has to figure out on their own what is the best thing to help them accomplish that.  I explained that staying down and following through on tough shots is really a beautiful feeling.  Yes, a feeling.  It truly is.  No way for me to explain it except when you have that smooth stroke, taking your time, following through, it feels, well, beautiful.

So, I find myself in a lucky situation!  It took me over 20 years to finally stay down and follow through and feel that beautiful smooth stroke, but I can always use reminders :).  So when her and I spar, I tend to exaggerate staying down and following through.  I do this so she can see for 3 straight hours someone consistently and steadily staying down, taking their time, and following through well.  I have proudly shared that watching those EXACT things for a few years on the Omega Tour on Sundays from the top players elevated my game because I started to emulate them and the effectiveness of staying down so well.

I want the same for her. 

It also proves that when staying down well, I make more of my shots.  (weird coincidence, huh?)  So, while I am staying down longer on my shots to help her, it is also hugely helping me re-instill this key component of my game.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

That One Player We Can't Beat - Nancy

When you play on a tour or often in weekly tournaments, you find yourself always running into Nancy.

Who is Nancy?  Well, Nancy is the generic name my friends and I gave to a player who always beat us.  ALWAYS.  We thought we were better than Nancy, but she still would beat us.  It was VERY frustrating!

Everyone's Nancy is different for each of us.  And Nancy isn't the top player on the tour or someone who is well above our level - she is just an average player we think we are better than.  But for whatever reason, she always freaking beats us!

I remember being at a tournament in Austin and one of my friends left the table, then came back and said, "Dammit."  I asked, "What?"  She said, "I have to play Nancy next!"  (again, the players name wasn't Nancy, it was the generic name we gave to each of our own nemesis's)  I asked her, "Why did you even check the chart, you know you aren't suppose to look ahead."  "I know," she replied, "But I was curious."

I would remind my friend to play the table, not the opponent, but let's face it - we can do that all day long but this Nancy person will still beat us.  Damn you, Nancy!

And Nancy never even knew she was a nemesis.  She was just enjoying the tournament and playing pool.

Several years would go by and our game would sharply improve and eventually we would beat Nancy!  Highlight of any tournament is when one would finally beat her.  The devil herself who always seemed to somehow beat us - except that day!  And then we'd beat Nancy again.  And eventually, some of us didn't have a Nancy anymore.  We improved.  We conquered.  We kicked Nancy's butt!

But why couldn't we beat each of our Nancy's?  We knew we were better than her, had better finishes (if we didn't run into her lol) and worked on our game more.  Normally, anyone with a Nancy is because we have a mental block of some sort with certain players.  And it normally happens by accident.  We don't go through our pool journey trying to find our Nancy.  We just happen to keep getting beat by the same player for a long time.  Until we finally don't!  And then she's gone.  No more Nancy.

But what if Nancy is a person you gamble with?  A friend of mine reached out to me about his Nancy.  And wondered, "Since I can't beat the guy, should I continue to gamble with him?" 

To be honest, the guy had TWO Nancy's he was asking about.  Poor fella.  Hell, one Nancy is enough!

Here's the difference, in leagues our tournaments, you have no choice to play your Nancy.  The bracket Gods set it up that way.  But when you gamble, you have the choice to play Nancy or not.  So, what should you do?

Here is my take on his question if he should keep playing his Nancy or not:  My friend had two Nancy's that he thought he should beat.  One was a tough, dug-deep kinda gambler who knew a lot about the game.  The other was just an average player.  My friend kept getting beat by both of them, even though he felt he had the advantage.  My opinion was there is no reason to play the average player.  What can you gain?  Broader shoulders if you beat him?  That's about it.  They weren't gambling for enough to even brag if he beat the guy.  The real gambler on the other hand, his other Nancy, my friend could learn a TON from him.  The guy has been gambling for decades, and really knows the game well.  I suggested to keep playing that Nancy, even though it will be tough.  But at least he'll be getting something out of the beatings lol.

Then he shared, "Well, when I play the better gambler and then lose, my confidence goes way down and then I play badly for days."

Well, that sealed it, "Then don't play him," I stated firmly.  No reason to get your confidence beat down imho.  There are a ton more guys he could be gambling with.

So, who is your Nancy?  And have you beat them yet?  If not, don't fret!  You will.  Just give yourself patience and time.  Nancy eventually is just a bump in the road.

P.S.  I have friend named Nancy and this is no relation to her at all.

Monday, March 5, 2018

What's on Your Happiness List?

I have a new client I am giving lessons to.  We have met a couple of times now to spar and talk about strategy.  We go to one of the local pool rooms (Rusty's Billiards in Arlington, Texas) where they have beautiful Diamond bar tables for us to play on.

Both times we have met up, of course there are players in there that I know.

Last month we practiced on the same weekend as the new DFW 9 Ball Tour was being held an hour away in Dallas.  Someone asked me, "Why aren't you there?"  Uh, why would I be there?  I don't run a Tour anymore and have no reason to drive an hour to be around smoke and drama.  Some others  asked, "Do you miss running it?" 

"NOPE, not one bit," I exclaimed smiling.

This past weekend was the same pattern.  About four players asked me how I was doing, do I miss running the tour, etc.  I would smile and say loudly, "Not at all!"

A few of the replies were, "You look good and stress-free.  I am glad you are happy."

It was a nice reaction for me to hear.  I think most of the players are finally accepting I really don't miss running the tour.  They are also seeing on my face and in my body language how happier I am from the lack of stress and drama and all the issues I had to deal with.

Sure, I miss seeing some of my friends, but I don't miss much else lol.  Sounds rude and selfish, but it's okay to be honest.  It was a lot of work and energy mentally and physically running the tour and took a lot of time.  The lack of stress, the more restful nights, and the happiness it brings my soul to be away from drama and long days in a smoke-filled pool room is something I am very thankful to finally have had the strength to walk away from.

I am proud to have been a stepping stone for the new tour and over the moon with excitement there is a still an avenue for players to play in the area (the new DFW 9 Ball Tour).  But I am also thankful to be away from it now.

Happiness is important in life.  How many books and articles and therapists have worked so hard to try and convince us we should make changes about things in our lives that would create more happiness for ourselves.  We nod in agreement, maybe raise our fists with a "YES!" movement, and we might even make a list of the things we want to do to help our happiness.  But then we never do anything to move us to a point to check off things from the all-important list we thought was so enlightening.

I was VERY happy running the Omega Tour for numerous years.  But once I became unhappy, I knew in my heart I needed to make a change.  It was an agonizing 6 month decision, and I cried just giving the announcement, that's how tough of a decision it was.  But now that I no longer run the tour, I have noticed I have become happier.  Did I know that would happen?  NOT AT ALL.  No idea.

What is on your list that you could do that would make you happier, provide less stress, etc?  Life is short, peeps.

Friday, March 2, 2018

American Billiard Radio Continuing

As I sadly wrote about in January, David Bond passed away.  He was the DJ and breath behind  American Billiard Radio.

Mike Howerton of AZBilliards and I decided to try and keep Dave's dream alive and so Mike is leading the podcasts now, just not weekly as Dave could do, and I have agreed to still be a regular contributor.

Mike and I talked last night and the podcast is located here.  I felt like I was in an inquisition!  But seriously, he asked great questions that I enjoyed answering (and of course I talked about a couple of recent blog articles).  We also talked about how Dave will be missed and his unexpected passing.

RIP David.  I hope we are making you proud.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Looking At Other Options - The Danielson Series

I know that Danielson doesn't do well in a tournament when I have to ask him how it went.  Otherwise, he reaches out to me right away with excitement to share how he did in the tournament.  

This time, I had to reach out to him, so I already knew it probably wasn't going to be a "happy report."

I want to share something that many pool players go through.  Sometimes when we have a really good year, and yet still don't see that we can be one of the very top players of a tour (for example), we get discouraged.  Hear me out.  Basically, if we have several years of no success, you'd think that would make one want to quit.  Well, sometimes that does happen, but more so, the lack of success makes people WANT to play more and keep fighting.

Using me as an example, until I was successful in my mind and with my goals, then it was the right time to step away.  It was surprising to myself I was successful as I had become, but I was also realistic - I'm not pro material and my day job pays my bills anyway.  So, while other people questioned my decision to not compete anymore on regional tours, it made perfect sense to me.  Had I not had those few successful years, I know I'd still be competing to try to win that coveted title or be more successful in my game.  But because I had been successful, I was able to easily step away.  Further, it felt like a natural time to do so.

Danielson is at this crossroad.  After his latest tournament, I had to pry out of him what was going on so I could write this blog post.  You know, it's all about this blog lol.  And the Danielson fans needed an update on how he was doing!  And what he finally confided was he was glad he scratched hill-hill his last match so he could go home, and not come back on Sunday.  This was two-fold.  One because it was past 1am and it would be a short turn around and the other was he is not excited right now about playing.

Sure, he had a very successful last year, but he's also thinking realistically right now (or, he just had a bad tournament experience and is venting lol).  He shared in his grumpy message, "I'm wasting money.  And even with the success I had last year, it's evident it's not near enough to be in the top 10.  With the money it cost me this weekend, I could have played in that 10-ball event in Austin.  If I'm buying an experience, I could be getting more for my time and money."  

He continued to vent, "It's a lot of time to and from the tournament location and an average of $200 to go play these tournaments... and at my skill level I have little chance of getting half of that money back.  Even the top 6 at every stop last year the average Fargo was 640...I might be wasting my time."  

(Danielson's Fargo is around 565). 

I asked him about the cost, to break it down for us.  Here is how he figures around $200-$250 cost a stop:
  • $50 entry fee
  • 1/2 Calcutta ($20-$60)
  • Eating twice ($20)
  • Twice raffle tickets ($40)
  • Gas ($20)
  • Drinks ($50)
And that's if he doesn't buy anyone in the Calcutta but himself.

So, he's starting to recognize that playing on a tour may not be the best for him right now. 

However, he's STILL very much so eyeing other tournaments and events, and still enjoying the new team he's on.  So, he's not considering quitting competing at all, it's adjusting his options of where he wants to play that would be more advantageous either money-wise, experience-wise, or distance close to home.

I had to pry this information from Danielson, and the reason why is honestly because we feel kind of sad/embarrassed/ashamed of these thoughts.  But let me shout out to you now, IT's NORMAL!

So, if you are feeling the need to step away from a tour, or league, or "expected" event - realize that these are normal, natural feelings.  You aren't going far, though, rest assured.  Just maybe taking a different path to your next pool table.  :)