Friday, August 31, 2018

Lessons From Another

Back when I lived in Jacksonville, FL about 19 years ago (man, where does the time go?), I was at The Players Championship, one of the four major tournaments in golf.  It's held at Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, at Sawgrass, which isn't that far from Jacksonville. If you can't picture the golf course, you'll prolly recognize the famous 17th hole:

As my boyfriend and I were walking around through the dense crowd, he sees someone he knows.  We barely have time to chat because of the moving crowd but he quickly introduces me and then shares, "This is the guy who gave me those golf lessons."  Being the nice girlfriend I am, I engage with him and compliment him, even as we are whisked away in separate crowds, kinda shouting, "Nice to meet you!  He said he loved the video you did of him - really helped his swing!"

My boyfriend then tells me when, "omg, that wasn't THAT instructor, that was a different instructor.  Now he knows I got lessons from someone else and I like the other guys' style."


My bad.

I have mentioned in my blog I have given lessons myself (on pool, not golf) and been doing so for several years.  Well, something similar happened to me the other day.

One of my past clients got lessons from someone else.  My opinion is the guy who was giving the lesson and I are about equal in the knowledge of strategy and so I was curious how the lesson went, wondering about his teaching style compared to mine.  You all know me, I like to learn, too!  My past clients' response was, "It was similar, but it was like you set me up for higher learning!"


I let it sting for a couple weeks (kidding, it didn't hurt, lol) and I was able to ask again about the difference.  They said again it was very similar, about strategy.

Hmm.... but I prodded, as I sensed it was a tad different type of lesson.  Like I said, I'm all about learning too, so I was interested in what would help me when I give future lessons.  They then shared it had been a while since I gave them a lesson, and so with this guy it was like a refresher lesson.

Then they finally added that he was teaching English.  Ahhhh!  That was the difference!  Yes, I only teach strategy and not how to shoot a ball or English.

I want for all my clients and friends to get better lessons and learn so much more than I can offer!  It's all about improving our game to the highest potential.  So yes, factoring in he was teaching not just strategy but also English and shot making, oh yes, that's definitely a higher level!

I felt like that instructor we saw briefly at The Players Championship. lol.  Ouch!

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Ear of a Better Player - Project Hunger Games

Katniss (of the Project Hunger Games series of my blog) played in a tournament a couple of weeks ago and the Saturday of the tournament was a really long day.

However, she had a HUGE positive spin to her long day.

She got to experience something I truly love and appreciate SO MUCH!  She got to sit next to a seasoned player the entire day who talked about shots and the reasons why (or why not) the players shot the right (or wrong) ball.

My heart is racing with excitement as I type this I'm so excited!

I can't begin to express how cool this is!  As we watch a match together, their knowledge and experience is being shared with us about what is correct and why or why not.  It's like your own personal training video right in front of you, but it's live and you can ask questions and/or see right away what is best (or not).

Some of my most memorable big tournaments were not ones I played in, but ones I sat in the stands next to a seasoned player where we discussed shot selections.  I am SO excited Katniss got to experience this!  It's a HUGE learning experience.  Almost a private coaching lesson in itself, right?  To talk about shots, why they should or shouldn't break something out, etc.  Many of us who really love the cleverness of the game are already thinking to ourselves about shot selection, so to be able to have a discussion about shots is truly a gift.

I'm so happy for her!  Damn, I wish I was sitting there, too!

If you have the opportunity to sit next to a seasoned player, lean over and ask, "Hey, what would you do here?"  Ohhhh, the things you learn!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Great White and Billiards

Pro player, fantastic billiards instructor, and previous Mosconi Cup team captain, Mark Wilson, posted something on Facebook that caught my eye the other day.

He went to see the rock band Great White.  If you don't know who they are, then you are just too young anyway and should stop reading (just kidding!).

This is what Mark shared:

"Great White lead guitarist, Mark Kendall, is a terrific pool player and I was not sure if I could beat him, so I brought along some extra firepower, World Champion Nick Varner."

Here they are with the band and check out how excited they are to be next to Nick Varner (I mean, we all act that way, but still):

Mark Wilson went on to say that two guys in the front row recognized Nick Varner, "And it was priceless. They displayed facial expressions of shock, bewilderment, and delight, while trying to play it cool. We all fist bumped 👊🤘."  lol

I didn't know the guitarist played pool - love hearing that!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

RIP Dennis Dieckman

Dennis Dieckman passed away in late July of this year.  He was a cuemaker, or as some have said, "The Cuemaster."  

I didn't know Dennis, but I noticed that his passing made an impact to many on social media and so I wanted to find out more about him.

And what I found was too meaningful and inspirational to keep to myself, so wanted to share it with you all.

I snooped around on his facebook page and realized I have seen him at big tournaments before!  I hadn't had the pleasure of meeting him, but it was cool to recognize him.  I could tell right away he had a great sense of humor - several photos even he's giving us the finger, lol, which made me smile.  He also stated this on his facebook page about where he works:  "Work is something I don't do - I am an artist."  I love that!  And he had a deep love for cats (you all know I'm an animal lover, too).  He also has a website, if you care to read about his travels or would like to see photos from about 50 years ago of him making cues.

And it's obvious he touched lives - they are having a 3-cushion memorial tournament named after him in October.

I don't normally write about people I don't know, but I his last post really touched me, and I wanted to share it.  He posted this on July 3rd, and he passed away on July 27th.

This is what he said:

"URGENT MESSAGE--this is NOT Fake News
I have been told that without Chemo and immune-therapy i have only six months left on this planet and then it is back on the wheel. No problemo mi Amigo[a]s
AS SUCH: am pretty much abandoning FACEBOOK so any message sent using their platform will be ignored. You may of course phone me 24/7 [517-745-883] and I just might answer depending on mood at the time. And of course you can send me a REAL letter [ at POBOX 944, Buena Vista VA 24416 ] and I MOST CERTAINLY REPLY ASAP.
And OF COURSE i HAVE LOTS OF STUFF [from machines to sawdust ] that I need to sell RIGHT NOW IF IT GOING TO DO ME ANY GOOD. Just an other reason to call me. not cry for me [Argentina !!] but whenever you see another person in a wheel chair please ask them if they would like a push. You will meet some remarkable people doing this thang.....and it don't mean a thang, either."

See his humor?  And for someone who knew he wasn't doing well, to even write this and post this just touched me.  I also of course love his advice about helping people in a wheel chair.  I hadn't thought of that before and he's opened my eyes.

Here is some more info that is interesting for fellow cuemakers (MM):

After two tours with the Air Force in Vietnam, Dennis started building cues in 1973. He is one of many quality cue builders who trained for a time in Bert Schrager’s shop, who is another Hall of Fame member. Although Dennis built a lot of pool cues in his lifetime, it was Carom Billiard Cues that he was most famous for. Playing Carom Billiards was Dennis’ love with golf also competing for his heart. Dennis was one of the few American cuemakers that kept the butterfly pointed carom cues with wood thread joints going in the USA for a couple of decades. That was a great contribution, but his greatest contribution to our industry has been teaching cuemaking with his videos that go back to the 1980’s and his Cueniversity where he taught in shop cuemaking. One of Dennis’ students invented the Predator shaft and Dennis was involved in that. Dennis shunned CNC machinery, and instead preferred old school points, butterflies and pantographed inlays. He was also a founding member of both the American and International Cuemakers Associations (ICA). Dennis was inducted into the ICA Hall of Fame in 2008. Dennis was honored to have his cues placed in the Smithsonian Institution. Dennis served as assistant director in the ICA from 2004 until he passed away on July 27th, 2018 at age 71.

RIP Dennis.  Thank you for your contribution to the billiard community.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Interview with Toddy - August 2018 Issue

The August issue of the online magazine, Billiard Buzz, is out and this month I interview the amazing and inspiring Toddy Deatherage! You will be just as surprised as I was with this interview with Toddy. Thank you Toddy for sharing your life with us!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Yelling at Streams

I fully admit I'm not the best 8-player in the world.  But, hey, I'm not shy at all to admit I do know the game well.

Just to brag a minute to prove my mad 8ball skillzzz:  3-time Texas State scotch doubles champion, ACS State Champ, BCAPL State Champ, 2-time ACS and 2-time BCAPL Women's National Team event Champs, several State level and league level 8ball championships, etc, etc.

As a matter of fact, when I give lessons it's usually on 8ball strategy because of my enhanced knowledge of the game.  I have said before much of it is due to reading numerous times Phil Capelle's book, Play Your Best Pool (as I learn something new every time I read it it seems), but also due to the ton of experiences I gained in all the 8ball league and 8ball tournaments I played in the last 15 years.  (I say 15 years because I wasn't really paying attention to the nuances of the game for the first 10 years of my pool journey).

Because of all the above (skills, experience, and history of giving lessons), I found myself yelling at the BCAPL Nationals stream the other day a couple of weeks ago!  They were streaming some of the matches live from Vegas.

You see, I'm watching these players on the stream compete in the 8ball division and I am shocked they keep making their open balls when they have other balls in clusters or can't be made.

I live alone and so all of a sudden I wake my rescue Pitbull who was napping on the floor, as I yell, "PLAY SAFE!  Omg, play safe!"  As she comes running to me all excited thinking I was talking to her lol.

I don't understand people who keep shooting their open balls in when they can't run out!  I shake my head in disbelief and want to grab them for a 2-hour 8ball strategy session on the table right away lol.

Here's the thing peeps, if you can't run out, you don't MAKE your open balls!  Instead, you punt them and move them to a better position to break up clusters or give you yourself a better chance of running out at your next turn.

The chick on my little phone on the stream was making wide open balls while her and her opponent both had balls tied up.  "PLAY SAFE!  Omg, please, don't make that... shit... she made it."  Then I asked my phone, "Now what is she going to do??"

Yep, she didn't get out, and she lost a great opportunity to be in the best position over her opponent.

Both players didn't know the true strategy of 8ball so they both left themselves with clusters of balls and now stuck with no good opportunities to break things up.  It was a train wreck for sure lol.

I will repeat myself because it's that important.  Don't make your open balls if you can't run out.  Instead, play safe by moving your open ball to a better position to help you in the near future.


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Practice Not a Home - Project Hunger Games

Katniss (of the Project Hunger Game Series section of my blog) has a pool table at home.

Yet, she goes and practices at different pool rooms before her big tournaments.

I was so happy when I noticed last year she was doing this!  As I have written one thousand and ten times (I might be exaggerating), practicing in a pool room is key because that's the same elements you will encounter in a tournament.  I think practicing at home can hurt us.  Quiet, no distractions, nothing like a pool tournament hahaha!  I do submit that practicing drills at home is okay to do (but I still prefer the atmosphere of a pool room).

So, I asked Katniss why she goes to a pool room to practice.  You know, to get validation of all the amazing tips I share. ;)


Her answer wasn't anywhere close to what I said above!

WTF.  Does anyone even listen to me anymore?  Damn.  I'm all broken hearted over here.

Her reason was her table at home is slow, and she wanted to play on tables that were faster, because her up-coming tournament was on fast cloth.

Ooooh, well fine then, use that as a reason.

She will also practice before tournaments at pool rooms when her up-coming tourney is played on a 9 foot or bar table, because she has an 8 foot table at home.

What I like about this entire post are several factors:  She puts in time to practice, she is aware of the size tables in her events and accommodates her practice, she is always aware of the conditions of tables and makes adjustment to practice on similar cloth, and she is going to many different events!

She puts in time, she does her homework, and she plays in many different types of events.

Now, what about you reading this?  Please tell me you aren't just showing up to a tournament this weekend with no preparations??  Don't disappoint me, peeps!  :)

Life Happens - Danielson Series

I played pool for 25 years.  Not just casual pool, but dedicated on leagues and traveled around playing in big events and followed a few pool tours.

So, I have a little bit of experience with what I'm about to talk about.  Just a smidgeon (sarcasm on, lol)

You see, there is a reason why I have not blogged that much this year about Danielson.  Life happens.

Yep, Life.

And life is important!  And life events sometimes keep us away from pool.

For me, life moments that kept me away from pool were all the normal "big" life things.  I got married in my mid 30s and that kept me away from dedicating myself to pool as I started my "new" life with my then husband.  When we divorced, pool was back on top of the list!  When my Dad passed and then 5 years later my dear Mom passed, both of these life events put a pause on my pool playing days.  Most recently, stopping drinking alcohol has kept me from playing pool. (one year and 8 months as I typed this, yay! :)

These are all big "life" events that make us take a back seat to dedicating our time to playing pool.  Our focus is on other things going on in our lives.

And guess what?  Yep, it's all normal!

So, Danielson recently changed jobs.  That is a big life event that has curtailed his pool playing time.  Further, he is working hard on paying off some big bills.  His priority has shifted a little bit right now and so pool is not on the forefront of his mind.

Again, this is normal people!

We all go through big life events in our pool journey that sometimes derails our quest to play pool often.  And what I found, is each time I got back into pool, I played better and was more knowledge and more mature.

It's normal for people to take breaks for life events.  I know a few guys who took like 15 years off from playing pool to help raise their kids.  And now they are back, playing good still.  Several other friends moved and/or had kids - all things that require us to take a break from pool, right?

But remember, if you are going through a life event, don't fret about the game you love - pool will come back if you want to play again.  :)