Friday, June 29, 2018

Tongue Lashing After a Loss

I find it interesting, (well, actually disappointing and sometimes shocked is better terminology), the way people act when they lose.

And I don't really mind people slamming fists on tables or snapping their cues (although I feel bad for the cues, lol).  But what I'm really referring to is the tongue lashing a player may get because they defeat someone.

One of my friends (I'll call her "CJ") was playing in the masters division of a national tournament once.  She decided to see how she would fair among the top players, as before she was kinda timid about if she really deserved to be there or not in that division.  The irony of her reason to play or not and the story I'm about to share about what happened to her, is truly astonishing.

In her first or second match, she defeated her opponent (another friend of mine, who I will call "Suzie") and instead of shaking her hand nicely and just walking away, "Suzie" said something to like, "You shouldn't even be in this division.  What have you accomplished to be here?"


When I heard this, I knew immediately the only reason "Suzie" said that was because she lost, but that doesn't mean it was right at all that she was so rude and mean.

The thing is, it stung to "Suzie" that she lost.  And yet, it stung to "CJ" when "Suzie" said that crappy comment.

But I was shocked the one thing she decided to say was about why 'CJ" was in the division anyway. Why would that even matter?

I know both ladies well and both are super sweet.  But it shows how the game can really bring out the worst in us when we lose, especially when we feel we shouldn't have lost.

Let me explain a little further.

I happened to walk by that exact match and I noticed there were friends of "CJ" watching their match but also talking too loud and being too talkative.  So, I think "Suzie" reacted that way not just because she lost, but because she also had other negative things going against her that upset her throughout the match.

BUT STILL.  Doesn't mean it was right to chew her out for winning.

So many people do this.  It's not unheard of, unfortunately.  People even do this in relationships, or with people they don't even know.  Take for instance someone who gets irate at bad service at a restaurant or standing in line too long while their blood boils from frustration.  The waiter or cashier gets chewed out.  It's the same concept:  getting really upset or embarrassed or pissed and taking it out on someone else by snapping at them.  But, doesn't mean it's right.

I actually grew up being verbally abused and I didn't even realize until my mid 20s it wasn't right to yell at someone.  Yes, really.  And then it took me 10-15 more years finally stop being that way through much help from loved ones.  Seriously, 10-15 more years to stop, even after I knew it was wrong.

So, I can understand and relate.  Still.... doesn't mean it's right.

"CJ" was mortified and hurt, and it really made her feel badly her opponent was so rude to her.  It's tough to feel elated to win a big match when someone chews you out right after.

BTW, "CJ" ended up in the money and she proved to herself she does indeed belong in that division; no matter what "Suzie" thought.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Game of Skill

I was talking to an out-of-towner back in late April.  We were having dinner, mostly talking about our friend Dave Faver and the options ahead of us (his close circle of friends) to help Dave with his quality of end of life care.

This friend used to go on the road with Dave back in the 70s and has kept in touch with him all these years.  It was a very tough dinner, but one we both needed as we were both leaning on each other for comfort, advice, and friendship about the man we both adored.

After a while, he asks me, "I don't even know this, but do you play pool, too?"

I looked at him funny, How do you not already know that?  I'm famous!

Instead I said, "Yea, played pool about 25 years and also ran a couple of tours for about 15 years total."

He said he could never really get into the game as much as Dave was, but still loved it (and occasionally still plays league).  And then he shared,  "You know, there's not another game with such high skill, that pays so little."

Amen to that!

Monday, June 25, 2018

While You're Learning

Back in the mid to late 90s, my dear friend and top player, June Hager Walter, suggested I read a book entitled, Mental Toughness Training for Sports.  I wasn't sure why she suggested I read it at the time, but now of course it makes complete sense:  I needed some help with mental toughness!  It turned out to be a REALLY good book for me to read.  And, it was at the beginning of my pool journey and it was an enlightening book for someone who had never competing in sports before.  But it's a great book for all competitors, no matter where they are in their sports journey.

The bonus to this book was there is a section in it that explains how to "get in the zone."  I have consequently shared that concept with many people throughout my life, to help them in upcoming big tournaments.

But, that is not the topic of this blog post today.  Sorry!  Maybe I'll share "how to get in the zone" tidbit someday here in my blog, OR maybe you can read the book yourself :)

The other huge thing I learned from that book was, if you played your best, you gave your best effort, then you should not be upset at yourself if you lose.  I learned from Mental Toughness Training for Sports that if I played lazy or didn't give 100%, then I needed to accept that I didn't play my best.  This advice helped me from getting frustrated or depressed about my play.  I loved that info!  It was very helpful for me.

But the point of this blog post is something not even related to what was IN the book, but what I did while I read the book.

For whatever reason, I decided to stop practicing while I read the book.  Back then I was hitting balls several times a week.  But I wanted to focus on the words of the book and take the time to read it thoroughly with dedication.  So, I didn't hit balls the entire time I read it.

I mentioned to June in the middle of reading the book that I stopped hitting balls.  She confided that was exactly what I was suppose to do.  What?  I asked her, "Then why didn't you just suggest that to me?"  She replied she wasn't sure I would really do that, if she suggested it, lol.  But, it was kinda crucial to stop trying to improve my physical game while I read that book - I suppose so I could focus on one thing at a time.

While we can for sure multi-task (or so we think - check this out), it was imperative for my absorption to just focus on reading the book, and not also trying to improve my physical game at the same time.

Btw, the author is James Loehr.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

I'm Baaack!

It's not like me to take a hiatus from blogging.  I actually had a couple of people tell me they missed me.  How Sweet!   Oh wait, they missed my blog posts, not necessarily me lol.  :-/

Well, what was up with me?

As I shared before, I only blog after work hours at my desk.  So, if I'm not blogging, there is a DIRECT connection to that.

Most of April I was with my friend Dave, mostly visiting him after work because he was not doing well with the affects of brain cancer.  And then in early May I was with him every day while he was in hospice.  He passed away on May 7th.  Pretty tough time.

May 10-19th, I was in Vegas helping out at ACS Nationals.

When I got back in town, around May 29th, I was the lucky soul who got an infected root canal.  Fun times!  I do NOT recommend it.  I was out most the rest of the next week.

The infection didn't go away with the first round of antibiotics, so they had to put me on a stronger dose.  I had no idea that strong antibiotics causes one to feel ill.  So, I didn't stick around work to type up blogs while feeling horrible and lethargic.  Sorry!  I know, where is my dedication??

Then I went to Maryland for work for a week, which again kept me away from my blogging desk.

So, finally, I am feeling well enough to hang out after work and blog for you peeps.  Did you miss me??  

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Playing Badly in the Middle of a Match

So, you may be wondering (or not, lol) if I watched any pool matches while I was helping out at ACS Nationals in Vegas in May. 

Well, the Admin desk was right outside the large convention room of pool tables, and I had to make a few announcements at the Tournament Desk, which one could only get to by walking by the extremely LONG row of pool tables, so yes, I watched some matches, lol.  I would mostly stop in my tracks and watch matches of friends as I passed, just to see how they were doing.  Or, a few times I would watch the Master players, just because I like to compare my choices with their shot selections.

I probably didn't even watch an hours worth of matches, honestly.  If I was down at the convention area, I was working.  When I wasn't working, I was off to New York New York casino or Harrah's casino to gamble/eat!

At one point though, I did go see how a close friend and her team were doing.  I walk up, and she's at the table.  Two teammates tell me something like, "You need to talk to her, something is going on.  We feel bad for how badly she's struggling and feeling."

So, I sat down and watched her play that game and could tell she was playing timid, which can be a sign of negative thoughts or embarrassment concerns. 

What she needed was a boost of confidence!

After she lost, she came outside the playing area and I got up and hugged her.  She didn't really want to talk to me, much less anyone else.  She was SO upset with herself for playing badly and she felt horrible for her team that she wasn't playing better for them.  As I hugged her, she started to cry - that's how much this bad play was affecting her.

I tried to give her some advice.  But as we all know, offering advice or opinions when someone is emotional is not usually the best time and your words aren't received very well, lol.  But, I still wanted to try, even though I could tell she just wanted to walk away from me so I didn't see her tears.  But, I was persistent and wouldn't let her go.  I told her that just acting confident, makes us confident.  "Scientific tests have proven this with actors," I shared with her, not that she cared, but I didn't want her to think I was just spouting off stupid anecdotes lol.  I told her the way to resolve this the best is to sit up real straight in her chair during her matches, even exaggerate her back being SUPER straight, so her body could FEEL like it's confident.  This act alone does wonders.

I also told her to take deep breathes.  Really breathe in, HOLD, then don't let the air out until she can feel her blood pulsating from her veins.  Then let the air out slowly.  This is THE best way to slow down our adrenaline.

I looked at her and she wasn't deep breathing at all.  "Are you breathing?  I don't see you holding your breath at all," I told her jokingly, but also being serious.  She tried to take a deep breath for me, as I still saw some lingering tears run down her cheek.

She was up again and off she went.  I sat and watched and sure enough, she lost another game.  BUT!  I could tell she was playing a little more confident, just happened to not win.

She was up right away again and I walked away, as I didn't want to be THAT parent who is eagle-eyeing her kid.  But I was still watching... and she ran out!

You could see how pleased she was and she was finally smiling!  I was so proud of her and was happy she overcame her bad/nervous/embarrassed play and started to play pool again!  Such a proud Momma I was :)

So, being the person I am, I asked her later that night or the next day with my chest out proudly, "So, uh, did my advice help you?  I helped you, right?"

She replies, "I dunno."

WTF.  What do you mean you don't know??

I mean, she was playing better right away after I gave her a pep talk and was more confident right away.  Did I not the SAVE THE DAY??!

hahhahaha.  Actually, all funniness aside, I don't think it was my golden words of advice at all.  I honestly think it was more so I let her get her emotions out by crying and that was a release of stress and emotions.  THAT is what I think helped her.  Not my experienced words of advice that can move mountains.  hahaha

I think the key here is for players to recognize when you are having a "break down" or whatever you want to call it.  For guys, the cure/help may be to go to the bathroom and splash your face with water, or for them to go outside and yell real quick.  For me, I would have done some jumping jacks in the bathroom to literally snap out of whatever was going on.  Any type of release for whatever is interfering and causing your bad play.

Of course, the other solution could be all about mental activities to help you.  For some people it's a physical solution, for others it's mental activities that can help reverse our negative thoughts.  Deep breathes, filling you confidence flask, remember to love the game, etc.

So, let's be clear.... I'm not suggesting players cry, but I am suggesting to be aware enough that SOMETHING is going on and then you need to do something about it.  Whatever your "something" is, do it so it helps you snap out of your bad play hopefully in time. 

Good luck, Cry Babies!  Just kidding :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Fun With Team Names

I mentioned before when I helped out at ACS Nationals in Vegas in May that I was more talkative and more friendly than usual.  I really turned "up" my personality and smiled more than normal.  I explained that the reason was because I wasn't dealing with stressful issues so in return, I was able to focus on being bubbly for the players.

Sounds silly, right - I should have been bubbly at all times running the Omega Tour, but I cannot handle well some issues with a smile on my face, lol.  I'm not that good at acting.

Anyway, one of the main things I did to help run the Admin desk at ACS Nationals was I would create checks for the players who placed in the money.  So, with about 20 different divisions, it was chaotic at times lol.  Eventually we transitioned from individual to teams and then I had fun with the team names!

Here are a few examples:

One team came up and said, "We need our check."

I needed their team name so I could find their voucher.  I would ask, "What is your team name?"

They replied, "Don't Hold it Against Us."

I replied, "Okay I wont."

hahah - get it?  Their team name was Don't Hold it Against Us.

Another team, this one in the men's 8-ball team division needed their payout check as well.  "What is your team name?" I asked.  "8 Balls a Fire," they responded.

I asked them if they wanted to split the check or want one single check?  They said split the check.  So, I got all their names and realized they had 5 players.  I kindly informed them their team name should instead be, 10 Balls A Fire.

get it?  lol

At one point Tournament Director John Lewis asked me, "Can you make a check out for These Fine Ladies, please?"

I tried to find their voucher and couldn't find it.  Turns out they were fine ladies, but that wasn't their team name lol.

Towards the end of the tournament, the players are exhausted and as soon as they lose, they come right away to the Admin desk to get their checks.  On the final day, a female teammate came to claim their check.  I asked her the team name and she said, I Forgot.  I start looking for their voucher and again... lol.... it was a comment, not her real team name lol.  She was so tired, she did forget what their team name was, haha.

It was a lot of fun reading all the clever teams names.  I just love play on words and the cleverness of it all.  Makes me laugh and smile!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Gamblers Choice

One of the benefits to gambling (in lieu of playing in tournaments), is you get to choose who you want to play, or not play.

There is always some who gets on our nerves that we run into at tournaments.  Some players complain, some shark, some whine, some throw temper tantrums, etc.  In a tournament, we have to deal with them.

BUT!  When a player gambles, they get to choose who they want to play against and who they want to put up with.

A friend of mine told me the other day, "This guy is the WORST in the area about complaining while he plays pool.  But, I don't want to play him anymore or deal with him.  I have too many choices of who I want to gamble with, so I just don't deal with him."

I thought it was a really great point.  Because again, in a tournament we have no choice who the bracket Gods bring our way.  But when you gamble, you get to decide, "Do I want to deal with their antics today or not?"

However, I do want to point out that playing players with some sort of attitude is a great test for us in our pool journey.  We have to run into people like them anyway in many different type of tournaments, might as well make it a learning experience instead of being so pissed at them that you can't even play pool.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Discovering You're Not Alone

I write, I personally feel, quite often about personalities and such.

But, differing personalities are something we have to deal with in everyday life, and of course when we compete, too.  And if everyone had a pleasant personality, we wouldn't have much to complain about or get upset about, right?  In life and with pool, lol.

The other day I was talking to Katniss (of the Hunger Game Project of my blog).  She shared she was worried about running into her Nancy at an upcoming tournament.  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 a difficult time competing against and can't seem to defeat them for some reason.

I hadn't really asked her WHY she didn't like her Nancy, but this day I finally asked her what was up.  She was having anxiety days away about a person she may or may not even play in the tournament.

She shared, "She mentioned once that she hates playing these women that can not make two balls in a row.  So, when I have to play her, all I'm thinking about is trying to make more than two balls in a row!"

I lamented and told her, "Yea, she's a complainer.  And she talks and complains in her matches, too."

Katniss said, "Hmmm....maybe that is what she was doing: complaining and not saying that to me directly.  I need to let it go already... thank you for pointing out another side to Nancy.  I took it so personally....when in reality she probably doesn't even remember that convo!"

I shared with her, "Yeah when I used to run the Omega Tour, all she would do is talk and complain the whole time in her matches.  And yet players are supposed to be quiet when playing on the Omega Tour.  It made it really tough being a tournament director, lol!  But, yes she probably doesn't remember that she said something like that.  She complains so often about so many things, it's tough to those around her when she's playing.  So, it's definitely not just towards you.  As a matter of fact, I doubt she even realizes she does this."

Her response was, "Wow I am seeing another side to her for sure!"

This exchange is actually very familiar to a lot of us.  And we normally find such things out later.  What I mean is, sometime we go through life and run across people who may treat us rudely, are mean, say things that come across badly, etc.  We take it personal, maybe get offended and upset about how they treated us.  It's normal to feel this way.  But later on, whether it's years or months later, we find out the way we were treated was how they treat EVERYONE.  It's actually a light bulb moment for us.

For instance, my Dad used to hang up on me on the phone all the time when he would get upset at me.  I'm talking even until my mid 30s, he'd still use that gesture as a way to show he was pissed off about something/me.  At his Celebration of Life, his sister joked to her brother, "Remember when Tommy used to hang up on us all the time?"  I looked at her dumbfounded.  I had no idea he did that to other people.  AT ALL.  To learn he wasn't just hanging up on my Mom and I made me realize it was HIM and his personality, not anything I really did.

And the same for Katniss.  She hasn't been around her Nancy enough to realize that this is just the way Nancy is.  She makes comments like that in general and kinda complains a lot.  It's never personal at all, it's just her personality.  As a matter of fact, her Nancy is actually a really great woman, she just complains a lot. 

And once I shared with Katniss how her Nancy acts like that all the time, it was a sigh of relief her to find out it wasn't just her.  Actually, not about Katniss at all.  It relieved the tension she felt and the anxiety she had to find out that Nancy was kinda like a, well, Negative Nancy, lol.

One of the Four Agreements (one of my fave quotes) even says not to take things personal.  But, that is SO hard to do.  But down the road we usually find out our perception was never personal - it was the other person.

Friday, June 15, 2018

SuperStar Teammate

I'm not really a basketball fan.  I mean, I have been to some Spurs and Mavericks games, but that's normally only because whichever boyfriend I had at the time wanted to go see them.  The Spurs game I went to in the 90s, they were playing the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan looked RIGHT at me, even if I was delusional from the bleeder seats.  It was awesome how our eyes connected.  The few Mavericks games I went to, were mostly playoff games because it was the hype as I lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

So, I don't know who Rodney Hood is or his background story.  But as I have pointed out before, when I read articles I usually relate them to pool.  And this was just the exact case when I read a short article about Rodney Hood and his recent struggles going to Cleveland.

Basically, Rodney was a star basketball player for the Jazz and was a top scorer for them.  Then was traded to the Cavaliers.... and he wasn't played as often.  Why?  Well, because of superstar LeBron James.

LeBron is the top player of the team.  He is played most often, has the ball the most, is normally the top scorer, etc.  Sure, it's a team effort, but Rodney is no longer one of the top players of his team like he used to be.

In the article, he states:

"I was playing at such a high clip when I got traded,” Hood said. “And then, this is my first time having "Did Not Play" (DNPs) in life. The first time shooting two times or five times in a game. Having to adjust is the toughest part. It’s a part of my growth. I’m not going to always be in this state."

I admire that he realizes it's part of his growth, that is difficult to do, as he's got to be frustrated.  I doubt he's sitting on the sidelines all happy about not playing and having low-scoring games because of his super-star teammate.

Many of us have been on both ends of this.  We are on a team that wins, but we are surrounded by better players who get played more often because they perform better.  On the other hand, sometimes we join a new team and find ourselves the top player of a team.  While that is surely a "high" in our life, that also has a domino effect on others on the team.  Those who used to play more, don't get played as often because you joined as their new superstar.  Rude!  j/k :)

What do we make of all this?

Well, it's just part of our pool journey!  Sometimes we will be the LeBron James and sometimes we will be the Rodney Hood (be a top player but not getting to show our talent because of the team we are on).  It's all part of the process and works out in the end.

I have learned through my pool journey that being on different teams provides different opportunities.  And while you may not understand the path you are currently on, eventually you will see every decision points you to the track you were meant to be going on on your pool journey.

You will see.  I promise. :)

Friday, June 8, 2018

RIP Dave Faver (and Billiard Buzz Interview)

My dear and close friend, Dave Faver, passed away peacefully in hospice on May 7th.  I can't begin to explain the impact our friendship would have on me as I helped him somewhat for the past 2 years as he went through esophageal cancer and then brain cancer.  His outlook on life was an inspiration and I was blessed to see that in a man who didn't have much, but actually had A LOT.  This will all make more sense when you read his interview that is now online for Billiard Buzz magazine.

I first interviewed David back in September 2017 - the day he had brain cancer surgery, and I would occasionally ask him clarification questions over the following eight months. He shared with me that he didn’t want me to put the interview in the magazine until after he passed away. I kept that wish (and many others), including Dave’s request that I title this “The Life of a Pool Player.”

I think you all will be very surprised by Dave's responses. Gosh I miss you, Dave!

Dave was in hospice for a week and a half and the nurses were simply amazing and so thoughtful and caring to Dave (and myself). I can't express enough how important hospice is and how impactful the nurses are during a difficult time. They were angels for sure.