Monday, May 21, 2018

My Experience Helping at ACS Nationals

I thought I'd share my experience when I helped out at ACS Nationals in mid May.  How does it compare to running a Tour?  What are the differences?  Similarities?

Well, the main difference is this is only once a year, compared to the Omega Tour I ran for six years, which became monthly.

The other differences are obvious, too:  more days (8 days compared to 2), more players (100 versus 1500), more tables (over 100 versus 12) and players from ALL over the US and also Canada (not just Texas and surrounding states).  The location is the same ever year, while the Omega Tour traveled to dif spots every month.

The similarities were normal, usual suspects as well:  higher players kept their spot in the winner's circle, players complained about handicaps, players who lost vented to the tournament directors, all levels of players had a great time competing at the game they love, etc.

My friend Janet asked me to help this year and the first long day I was WORN out. I ensured to just get more sleep every single night the rest of the week. Her and I were a great team. We bantered in front of the players, we were great roomies, and we got to spend quality time going to a couple of shows and eating together.

The main difference for me personally was I didn't run the tournament, like I did at the Omega Tour.  Instead, I helped at the registration desk for ACS Nationals.  I checked players in, passed out checks, answered related or unrelated questions about everything from where the parking lot is to what table are the mini tournaments on.  I helped with making team changes, answered rule questions, helped recover several lost cell phones, took photos of the winners with their trophies, etc.  We kinda are the go-to people here.  But, I didn't make any major decisions about players, didn't work on the payouts, didn't even work on the brackets at all.  I guess I was mostly Admin, BUT... the face of ACS Nationals all week.

Because I was not dealing with high-stress issues, I was able to concentrate more on being super friendly to the players.  I was smiling a lot, joking, making them laugh, telling them silly things, asking them questions to keep them engaged, etc.  Janet said after the first long day, "Thank you for being so bubbly."  Awwww.  And then on Thursday, two players went out of their way to thank me for how I handled situations / questions / players always with a smile.  It really meant a lot to me! 

One said specifically, "You take it as it comes, no matter what it is... you handle it well and with a smile!"

The feedback really meant a lot to me.

For some reason, this atmosphere allowed me to really let my personality out.  I truly feel being the face of ACS Nationals (ie, the first people the players see when they come to the convention area), is important not just for ACS, but more so for the players to have a great time with a welcoming attitude.  

And for some reason I really turned up my personality and was more bubbly and happier than usual.  I again, think it's because I was helping with the admin part and focusing on the players happiness, and not dealing with the many stressful parts that can come with running a tournament and interfere with trying to be bubbly.  John Lewis was the one who handled most of the complaints and issues.  He's the Executive Director of ACS.  And Gary Benson was the Tournament Director.  So, I was able to get paperwork things done while interacting with the players, and focus on THEM.

I am very good at compartmentalizing.  I lost one of my best friends to brain cancer literally days before I flew to Vegas to help out.  I had been with him in hospice for a week and a half.  So in Vegas I was a mess at times.  At night and in the mornings I was in tears, or sleeping a lot because I was grieving, but during the day I pushed that aside completely so I could be the welcoming face and smile for all the players.  I think the trip to Vegas was perfect timing to help with the major loss losing my friend Dave Faver.

I still need to figure out what to do now that I am back home and not around people, but helping at ACS was a blessing for me, as well.  Want to thank Janet for the awesome opportunity and invite!

Here I am trying to be funny:

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Trust Your Game

Confidence, pressure, trust in your game, nerves..... there are so many things that can affect how we perform in our pool matches.

One of my friends said during her team event here at ACS Nationals in Vegas that she just doesn't have the confidence in her game.

I told her we all have nerves, feel pressure, wonder about confidence etc. 

But, how do we overcome those thoughts to still perform well under those conditions to have faith and trust in your game.?

That's the key word:  TRUST.

The top players all have nerves, feel pressure, etc.  But what separates us from the amateurs is trust in our ability.   

When we have that, that's when we play our best.  Sure, we might think about who we are playing, what we are playing for, that the team we are playing is suppose to win, but those thoughts and feelings don't get as much in the way when we have trust in our game, in our ability.

Trust your game, peeps.  You'll be surprised how much better you perform with this concept.  Try it; you'll like it.  I promise.  :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Top Players Have Pressure, Too

Katniss of Project Hunger Games has already, in just two weeks of being part of the blog, has cross-pollinated with The Danielson Series!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Danielson's confidence increasing because he's found himself in a new position lately - as one of the best players on his new league.

Katniss read the blog entry and shared she really liked the topic. I told her, "I thought of you too, actually.  Because you help some of your teammates and also because you are a top player in your league - so you have the same feelings of confidence because of those things, right?"

She said, "Yes ma'am." (she's so polite lol), but also shared, "But in my case I feel pressure at times, also.  Because everyone thinks so highly of my game, I feel pressure sometimes keeping up my performance at that level all the time.  That's not possible, though, and so I looked at that as a failure and take it harder than anyone else."

I shared with her I used to also have the same feelings of positiveness and pressure at the same.  Although we gain confidence, being a top player can definitely lead to pressure, too.

It is actually really weird dynamics to have confidence, but also feel all on eyes are on us which adds pressure, lol.

Katniss added, though, something really awesome: "But over time, I have learned that with each bad performance is an opportunity for a great come back to show my peers that I too am human and can have bad days.  It's all part of the learning process.  :)  "

I was so pleased and happy to hear she sees some of the tough times as a learning experience because that is one of the best tools in our toolbox!

I'm so glad she's a great learner and see's such positiveness out of it all.  :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Pool at the Pool

I was asked to help at ACS Nationals this year.  Before the long, full days started at the admin desk registering all the excited players, I was able to sit by the pool one day to catch some rays, soak in some sun, decompress from things back home, and get a good Vegas tan.

As I get up to affix my towel better on my lawn chair, I notice a cool thing from the corner of my eye - a pool table!

So, of course I took pics for you all, to capture the blue-felted table sitting among the beautiful Tropicana swimming pool.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Puppy Love at ACS Nationals

Grace Nakamura has her best furry friend, "Eightball," with her all the times, even selling raffle tickets AND playing in tournaments!  She placed 3rd in her last event with Eightball literally by her side!

Here they are at the ACS Nationals selling raffle tickets for Jacoby Custom Cues.

Eightball was a huge it with the fans! 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Confidence in Scotch - Project Hunger Games

For the first edition of Project Hunger Games, Katniss talked me about a scotch doubles tournament she played in.

I hope that players who play scotch doubles really listen to this to get the best possible play from their partner.

Katniss played with a really strong player, but in the very first match in the middle of one of the games, he told her, "I really thought you were going to shoot the 14 ball."

So, let's think about this.  At this very moment she isn't thinking, "I am shooting good and really like playing with XXX."  She is pumped up, happy, confident and sitting up straight in her chair ready to shoot again.

NOooooooo.  She's now second guessing herself, starting to feel defeated, losing confidence, etc.  

A few games later, he says it AGAIN.  "I thought you saw the 5 ball, thought you were going to shoot that."

Katniss is now mentally out of the game.  She's frustrated, wondering what she should do, confused on choices, losing her confidence,and going straight downhill.

She confided to me (and you readers) not only did her confidence go down during the rest of that scotch doubles tournament, she also felt unconfident the rest of the week at her leagues.

You see, scotch doubles players need to be lifted up, not shot down.  It may seem like his words weren't harmful, but they WERE.  If he wanted her to shoot something else, or a better shot, he could have gone over them AFTER the tournament was over.  But to raise doubt in her game in the middle of a match and the middle of a tournament did the exact opposite.  

A lot of scotch players do not realize the most innocent of comment can derail a teammate.  We start second guessing everything, wondering if we are shooting the correct shot, and then we play timid, unsure, and scared.

When my scotch partners have shot at a ball that I did not set them up for or I didn't understand why, the very LAST thing I did was lean over and say, "Uh, what are you doing?"  lol.  I didn't want them to think I was judging their decision or second guessing them.  I wanted their best from that point on, not a partner who was wondering what they are suppose to do, just because I asked a question.

The VERY best scotch doubles partners are the ones who make me laugh, never question my choices during a match, but also might show me shots after the match/tourney is completed.  Let me play my game, in order to be your best partner.  If you make me nervous about wondering what you expect me to do, I can't play my best at all.

And as a reminder, the effects can last way after the match.  So, I'm begging scotch partners to tread lightly, have fun, enjoy the chance to play together.  Then go over shots later.  :)

Monday, May 7, 2018

Playing Better Because of Confidence - the Danielson Series

Wanted to chat a minute about Danielson and his new boost of confidence from an unlikely source.

By joining a new league!

His APA teammates see him as a higher-ranked player because even though he may not be a top player (yet) he is still a better than most of his teammates.  He's often the one the call on when they take a time out. 

I can't begin to express enough how much this is a confidence booster!  And his recent finishes are starting to show that.

He played well in a regional qualifier and then placed 2nd in an APA weekend tournament.  I asked him why he thought he was playing well. 

He responded laughing, "Probably cause they think I play better than I think I play.. LOL"

"Well," I stated, "That doesn't really explain why you are playing better lol."

He responds, "It might... they treat me like the DFW Tour treats Rick Stanley."  (Rick Stanley is one of the top players on that tour.)

I asked Danielson to explain further.

"Well, the way they talk to me or talk about me makes me feel better about what I'm doing.  And I think it translates into me actually playing better.   It's a very weird dynamic.  And definitely not one I'm use to. "

I asked him, "It's a huge confidence booster, right?"

"Yeah.. and I'm getting the results of feeling better."

You see, Danielson is going through a normal part of our pool journey.  When we start to be the one people come to to ask questions, or people start to talk about us - the feeling it gives us is confidence and it radiates directly to our pool game.  We feel better, we shoot better.  Goes hand in hand.

I can pinpoint exactly when this started to happen to me.  Ironically I had joined a new league, too (a women's league) and I found myself being looked up to because I was one of the top players all of a sudden in the league.  The other leagues I was on was full of master male players who had been playing for years and years, so on those I was a little fish in a big pond.  But on the new league, I became the player people wanted on their team.  Me?  It took a while to get used to, but as Danielson shared with us, it's a huge confidence booster.

Getting to this point in our pool journey is a very amazing place.  Danielson is correct - it's a very weird dynamic, but also is huge step in our progress; just as Danielson is seeing/feeling.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Sweet Surprise

I love when I visit places and get to see an unexpected surprise. Like the other day when I went to a neighbors house for a meeting with the Home Owners Association committee that I am on.

I walk in and see this!

Pretty cool, huh?!  I love home pool rooms!

The few pool tables I had throughout my life, I never had a separate dedicated room - we just put the pool table in the largest room (usually the living room).  So, to see this was a treat!