Monday, December 30, 2019

Stop Checking Our Score - The Cueist Project

I'm still catching up from my long list of blog topics. But this month is due for a Cueist blog post, so let me get right on that today!

The Cueist (the pool player of The Cueist Project section of my blog) described a match from a regional tournament he played in last year and I wanted to chat about it. I know, you all are soooo surprised!  lol

Here it goes:

"I had to play my next match against a guy who I lost in the 1st round last year, so I wanted revenge. I got to the table early, hit balls, and was ready to play. I jumped out to a 4/1 lead and he broke and ran. Then he took a potty break, and during this potty break, someone asked me what the score was. Now with that one little question, my concentration was gone. Poof! Just like that. I don't remember anything that happened in that match prior to that question [i.e. he had been in the zone]. And no matter what I did, I couldn't run out after that. My opponent came back to beat me hill/hill and I was deflated, devastated, and wanted to be drunk right then and there. I was SO upset with myself and my mental game that I've worked so hard on. And to top it off, as a result of the loss, I was going to have to face last year's winner, ugh!"

I can completely relate to what The Cueist shared.

I don't like to ever tell anyone the score during my match. Why? If I'm down in the match, I get embarrassed. If I'm up in the match, I sometimes get cocky or start thinking too much.

As a matter of fact, when I used to play in state and national tournaments where you would mark your wins on a piece of paper, it would thoroughly distract me when someone would come up and look at the score.

For friends and loved ones and well, everyone, I think it's important to think about what happens to the player when you are checking out the score or when you whisper to them, "Hey, what's your score?"

OMG I'm playing a match! Don't talk to me. Don't distract me. I have enough of a hard time to remain mentally into a game, lol.

Because this exact situation has caused me to lose focus as well a-many-times, it has changed the way I check the score on other player's matches. What I normally would do if I wanted to know a score of a match was instead of walking by and trying to sneak a peek without the player seeing (and trust me, they ALWAYS see you no matter how stealth-like you try to be!), I would ask people sitting near the match. Or, even better, text them, "Hey, you are close, what's their score?" without even moving NEAR the match, lol.

I never wanted my friends to see I was curious about the score because it's sharked me so much in the past. I didn't dare want to take a chance to accidentally shark them.

So I can relate completely with what The Cueist went through - and oh, I feel for him!

You might think that this means we're not mentally strong. Wrong!  That's really not the case at all. It's more of an unfortunate jolt and distraction that kind of throws off our momentum.

Sometimes we can recover, and unfortunately sometimes we can't.

I know what you are thinking... sheesh, Melinda, I can't do anything around my friends while they are playing.  Come on, that's not what I am saying!

Let me put it to you this way, if your friend was shooting free throws in key basketball game, would you be sitting in front of the basket?  No. You'd be doing all you could to sit like a statue on the other side of the room, maybe even hold your breath so he doesn't see you breathing, lol.

So, help a sister and brother out!

I'm sharing this and suggesting (okay, maybe begging) that you please don't go check people's scores or make it obvious that you're checking their score. This will help your friends out!

Friday, December 27, 2019

Seeing Improvement in an Unexpected Way - Project Hunger Games

I received a message from Katniss (the pool player of the Project Hunger Games section of my blog) last month, and as usual, I was super excited to hear from her!  Usually that means a blog topic will creep up in our discussion and I will get to write about it and share it with you all!

She said, "I’m not sure if you watch many pool matches online, but there are these two guys playing a race for $500.  It's on FB Live.  I see some awesome blogging ideas."

Hey, wait a second!  Is she telling me I should write about a certain topic?  WTH, I thought that was my job?


I told her, "Let me know the topics!"

And she shared, "Too much body movement while making their shots. On guy especially is the worst. I have to give them props, though, for matching up and recording it."

Of course I had to dig deeper (you all know me!)

"What do you mean exactly, please?"  

She laments, "That guy just lets go of a shot, and then his body moves. Kinda like he is willing it to go in...  with his body.  The other guy is missing, also, while moving.  His misses may be from nerves, too?  He's missing more than usual.  They are both missing badly."

I told her, "Interesting."

She continued, "I’m just not use to seeing them play so badly like this. It also didn’t help that I was watching the Mosconi Cup warm-up matches. I was watching pro’s play with great form and technique before I was watching these local players play lol."

I could go on and on and on about the importance of staying down and staying still, but like I said recently, I'm trying not to write novels so I can blog more frequently (so here is a link to a previous blog post about the importance of "stillness").

Instead, what I really REALLY want to point out is:  how much Katniss is improving!  You see, let's say a player named Cindy (made up name) is not working on her game or trying to improve, Cindy would never have noticed such an important part to our pre-shot routine of staying down: being still.

This tells me SO much about Katniss!

It tells me just how far Katniss's game has come. Cindy may be watching the gambling match because it's fun and exciting to watch. She is most likely watching to see if they are winning or not. But, is Cindy noticing the shots or patterns they are trying to make?  Did she notice they are moving their body a lot and maybe that's why they are missing?

If she's not trying to improve or work on her game, the answers are no.

When you notice things such as stance, body movement, not staying down - that's an extremely good indicator of your own game improving!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Running Tours Differently

I saw this post from FaceBook the other day and as par the course for me, I wanted to blog about it!  (smile)

This post shows a couple of photos of the committee members of the DFW 9-Ball Tour, "getting ready for season 2020."

(click image to enlarge)

The reason it stood out for me was because there is roughly 15 people around that table, working on the Tour.

As you may all remember, I ran the Omega Billiards Tour for 7 years in DFW.  When I stopped running it, the DFW 9-Ball Tour was formed.  I was SO thankful a tour was going to continue in the area for the players!  Relieved, actually.  So, it was a Godsend the DFW 9-Ball Tour came to fruition... for the players!

The difference is, I was a one-woman shop.  Don't get me wrong, I had a few advisors I would bounce ideas off of, and I ALWAYS spoke to the sponsor of the tour (Mike Hoang of Omega Billiards) to get his suggestions and/or confirmation of ideas.

Because I helped run the Ladies Tour in Texas for nine years, I was very seasoned and felt very comfortable in the role.  Further, I am extremely conscientious (maybe too much) and therefore updated the website and put out FB announcements routinely, frequently, and often.  I also was on top of writing the articles, taking photos, running the tournaments, etc.

I always worked hard to get the calendar ready early for the next year - the players were anxious to know the dates. I would call and try and confirm locations, which took a ton of time, and also ensure the dates didn't conflict with other big tournaments. Every October when the last location/date was confirmed for the next year, I'd throw my fists in the air with such happiness and satisfaction! I would be ELATED! It's such a big thing to get finalized, whew! But, all this was done by little 'ole me.

I always needed a couple of helpers at the events and luckily had some great help all those years - couldn't have run such successful events without them.

To see such a large committee for the new tour tells me a few things.  One, each person probably brings a certain talent to the group, which is great for a business.  Two, it's great they are planning things together - the success of a committee is to ensure all have input and know the vision of the business.  Three, that they are taking the responsibility of the Tour seriously (which of course I LOVE).  Four, I shouldn't have ran the tour with so little help all those years.

Number Four is the reason I wanted to write today.  I remember when I announced I was stepping away, one of the players told me they wish they knew I was burnt out and they could have helped me, so that the Omega Tour could keep going. He and another player even offered to help me, and I immediately felt anxiety and stress... I didn't want to even be "just an advisor," they reassured me.  By then, I was way too ready to stop being a Tournament Director, a Baby Sitter, and down right exhausted.

Do I wish I had a committee of people to help me?  Actually, no.  lol.  While running the Tour solo was in reality not a good idea, lol, but in the end - it was what was meant to be.  It allowed me to remove myself completely from running a tour and to step away about 1,000,000 miles, lol.

I am a FIRM believer that everything happens for a reason.  I am extremely thankful Mike Hoang and Rusty's Billiards believed in me, which helped start my dream to run a Tour in DFW for the players. While 7 years later I stepped away, it allowed for another Tour to jump in and continue the dream.

Me stepping away was beneficial to so many people. For myself, I now have more peace and happiness away from the pool room. For the committee members, the DFW 9-Ball Tour is allowing for new people to gain experience and/or showcase their talent/experience. For new pool players, a Tour continued in the area. And most importantly, for all the players and businesses in DFW, a Tour continued in the area and that is the best gift ever!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Stream Treat!

I caught a match or two from the Royce Bunnell Memorial tournament over the Dec 14th weekend. It was cool to see some of my friends play on the stream.

But then check this out!

What a treat!  Four of the top players in the tournament on ONE screen!

Juan Parra playing Gary Abood, and Randy Staggs playing Shane McMinn.

I screen-captured it for you all as proof, lol:

Rackem TV provides a really great stream - you might want to subscribe to their YouTube channel if you like watching matches.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Reveal: Blue or Pink?

If I can share something with you all (in confidence of course, right?), I do not understand the gender reveal thing that has gone viral the last few years.  Maybe if I was in my fertile age wanting to have kids, it would make more sense to me.  Or, maybe if I had any friends who were prego, I would understand more.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's interesting and different, I just grew up in a different era where this didn't happen.

I have seen car smoke colors, release of balloons, cake cutting, etc, but I have to admit that when I saw the gender reveal of Sky Woodward's child-to-be with his girl Ashlee, it got me excited!  So, maybe that's what was needed!  A connection to something I love (pool) to make sense about the reveals.

I thought that was super cool!!  What did they do?

Check out the photos!

Congrat's to Sky and Ashlee - baby boy coming in April 2021!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Payout Woes of Pool and Poker

Well, I have to admit I didn't see this coming.  Poker players complaining about payouts?  Whhhaaaat?

I thought poker was a breathe of fresh air, embraced with big, open arms, and a rising sport loved by all.  Turns out poker is more like pool than I thought!

I related pool and poker many times in my blog, but I always wrote from the persepctive of a competitor - same mental toughness needed, dealing with crappy opponents, etc.

Today, is a whole new flavor of comparing the two sports.

Turns out poker is getting the same complaints as pool in regards to payouts.  Here is the article I am referring to:

In this article, poker pro Maurice Hawkins talks about several things, but here is the section of the article that reminds me of pool.  Does it for you, too?

Too Many Spots Paid

"I think the biggest concern with many people who are playing the WSOP Circuit, which is paying 15%, is that you have to get in the top percentile in order to actually min-cash or double your money on the Circuit right now," says Hawkins.
"Basically, you have to get in the top seven percent to double your money. While that may not be problematic to the people that are playing it, the reason the numbers are going down is because the likelihood of doubling your money is slimmer."

Hawkins believes the circumstance is creating a dynamic in which people cannot be equitable playing poker unless they are elite players — in other words, one in which the recreational player will never turn a profit.

"Therefore, we're going to lose that player forever," Hawkins believes. "We need to get the payouts to where it's double the buy-in back to 10 percent. You can take the extra five percent along the bottom end and increase the top a little bit more."

"The allure of poker was when the top prize was life-changing. It's just not working for a player to travel for a week when you're not even doubling your money when you min-cash. With overhead, it's a negative-equitable situation for you. I feel like it needs to be said. I know it probably can't be changed this year, but they need to get back to what made poker beautiful," he says.

Maurice Hawkins is expressing the exact complaints billiard Tournament Directors hear the most from the pros and top players: payouts!

I could go on and on (and on) about my thoughts and experiences regarding payouts from the point of view as a Tournament Director and an amateur pool player, but I am going to try and stop writing novels (which is keeping me from blogging more). So, I deleted 4 paragraphs (yes, four, lol) and will shorten this baby up for you all so you can get to other things in your day.

The one difference with what Maurice states above, is in regard to recreational players. While he believes poker players will NOT keep playing because the money they may win is not a lot.  IMHO, recreational pool players love if we even barley tip-toe into the prize fund.

And that is because he is correct about poker:
"The allure of poker was when the top prize was life-changing. It's just not working for a player to travel for a week when you're not even doubling your money when you min-cash. With overhead, it's a negative-equitable situation for you."
Alas, this is opposite of pool.  I mean, we WANT it to be life-changing payouts, but billiards is not.

And, the majority of pool players do not break even when we go to tournaments, right?  gas, food, hotel, entry fee, beverages, and if we do cash... did we even turn a little profit?

Enjoy your day, folks!  P.S. Get your holiday shopping done!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Lessons Are Valuable

I was skimming through Facebook the other day (something I don't do that often anymore), and something caught me eye.

It was this post from Joey Gray:

Hopefully you all remember I interviewed Joey (and his best friend Chip) in Dec 2018.  In that interview he mentioned he gives lessons.

But what caught my eye was these two kids in the photo and what Joey said about them (click the image above if you need to enlarge it). He said, they are both "checking their elbow alignment" (as both kids are looking behind themselves while in stance).

Checking their elbow alignment?


This is a perfect example to let you know how valuable lessons are.

You see, I don't know anything about 'elbow alignment.'  I mean, I kinda remember a few people throughout the 25 years of me playing pool saying something about it, but it was never something I worked on, really knew about, or learned about.

These kids are learning this important part of their stance and stroke at such a young age!  And as person who never took lessons, can you imagine how much sooner my game would have improved and also how it would have helped me throughout my entire pool journey if I had?!

It kinda reminds me of golf.  MANY people take golf lessons. How come we don't have the same attitude and respect toward our pool game?

Obviously, players can get well and have success without knowing about this thing called 'elbow alignment.' But, imagine how great it would have been if I already knew about this and had incorpated it in my game.

Just another blog post expressing how important lessons are.

P.S. If you want to know more about Joey and his lessons, where he will be, or contact him, check him out on Facebook at "Joey Gray Coaching."

Monday, December 2, 2019

It's Our 20 Year Anniversary!

Mike Howerton, the brains and workhorse behind (the premier online billiards website and the longest-running) and I were chatting today.

You may remember that I interviewed Mike back in November of 2018 (here is the link in case you didn't have a chance yet to read it). In that interview, I mentioned how he and I became friends:
You asked me to become a partner with AzBilliards in the late 90s when you noticed I created a website for my boyfriend at the time, a top pro. Not many people were online then and websites were a new thing so you and I were pioneers (and there were very few of us). Any regrets? Haha, seriously, I have enjoyed helping AzB and while I don’t help out that much anymore, I have enjoyed seeing AzB grow, and also our friendship!
And then I asked him, "Did you worry about the risks asking someone to join you?"

He replied,
"For the longest time, I was the only one who worked on AzB. On top of that, I have been a micro-manager all of my life and have always struggled to ask for help on things. So while uncomfortable at first, asking you to partner up made perfect sense. You introduced me to a number of top players back then. You have also became a great friend over the years. "

The reason I'm bringing this up today is because it's been 20 years that Mike and I have been friends and started to work on AzB together. So, it's our Anniversary!

BTW, the modern gift for the 20th anniversary is platinum. So, we expect some beautiful platinum goodies in the mail soon.

Yes, really! (lol)

Mike has been in Arizona and we've remained long distance friends from when I worked in Florida to now Texas all these years.

While we were chatting about the next issue of Billiard Buzz today, he shared: "You know I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing right now, if it wasn't for us working together many, many years ago. "

I asked him what he meant. He explained:
"AzB wouldn't have gotten to where it is without your help way back when. I tell people that the success of AzB was equal parts working without a real goal and getting lucky with the timing. But you were a big part of the success when it was becoming a success. You brought that connection to the pros that the site didn't really have. 
And you reminded me that they are all just people."

I was shocked! I had no idea about this and it really warmed my heart!  I told him sincerely, "Thank you for the compliment. We made and make a great team! 20 years now."

He replies, "Absolutely."

I've always found it interesting how companies start out. This is another example of things coming together perfectly!

To 20 more years, Mike! 

Thursday, November 28, 2019

That Miss is a Teacher

One of the readers of my blog, that I've mentioned before (Dave), emailed me recently about a situation he had. He wondered what the lesson could be.

What's really cool about my friend is (who lives over 1,000 miles from me in Texas and has been emailing me updates for at least 5 years), he has said my blog posts have helped him with his mental game and his journey in pool. So, anytime he emails me, it brings me joy to hear of his improvements!

Here's his situation today:

Dave shared that he missed a 10 ball that would have made him go up 7 to 2 in a race to 11.  Eventually, he lost 11 to 9. He said he "didn't make disastrous mistakes," but the loss "gnawed at him."

He confided,
"Now if someone told me that the result would have been 11-9 in his favour, I would have thought I played well. He is at the next tier above me, but not impossibly far ahead. But at the end, the result gnawed at me. Certainly not in a poor sportsmanship way. But from my perspective I knew that the 11-9 loss felt different in the way I squandered the opportunity."
He asked me and the readers of my blog, what are his lessons?

This is going to sound really profound from me, LOL just kidding, but there is really a very good point I want to share.

We have all been in those same situations right? dammit LOL.

We think about the 10 ball, we think about that we should have won, we think about the opportunity lost, etc.  Even though we didn't play horribly, we still lost because of that stupid 10 ball, right?

I believe Dave will learn from this experience a hundred times more than someone that simply played the match with no self-reflection. Not only is Dave self-reflecting, which you all know I've talked about a lot (link here) and am a firm believer it will propel us (another link here), but him writing it down (even just to email me) is going to help him reflect deeper, and help him much further.

What I feel he is going to learn is:
  1. if you miss a shot, try not to let it bother you during the match 
  2. play your best every single shot (check out this link about this).

I know it sounds simple and I know there's a lot of emotions, thoughts, feelings that go on when you're competing in a match, but what's interesting to me is he talked about the 10 ball only.  He didn't mention any other miss! So, because that is what is sticking in his mind, that's probably what bothered him during that match, as well.

However, he may not even realize it affected him.  But if at any point he thought further about the miss, or thought about what the score 'should be,' then if affected his game.

You know the scenario!  We are winning and then all the sudden our opponents jump ahead of us, and all we can think about is, "What if I would have made that nine ball....?" (or 10 ball or 8 ball) "I would be up such and such, and I wouldn't be down such and such." It's very tough to not think that way, but it's very important to stay in the moment. The only thing that truly matters is the ball in front of you.

I know I sound like a broken record, but if you're thinking about the missed 10 ball, you're not thinking about the shot in front of you. If you're thinking about what the score should be, you're not thinking about the shot in front of you.

How can you possibly play your best with those distractions in your head?

Here's a link to something that proves that you cannot do more than one thing at once. Even though I claim to be a multitasker and can focus well, in reality it's very difficult to do.

But my long-winded response and my babbling on and on is really to say that his learning experience will sit with him because he's reflecting on it, and because he wrote it down.  He will now try to put more effort into staying in the moment and he will also work on playing his best every single shot, because he saw what that one miss can cost him.

You might think that this is a bad thing that he lost, but in reality (as I've also mentioned before), sometimes a dynamic loss is really the catapult you need in your game.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Words of Encouragement - Learning from The Cueist

The Cueist shared with me a couple of years ago (yes, still behind in my writings, sorry!) that a friend of his texted him throughout an end of season league tournament and told him to just have fun. 

This friend of his also texted him the same thing while The Cueist was playing in a Nationals tournament. His friend reminded him via text to have fun as he kept winning each match.

The Cueist also shared that similarly, another friend texted him right before a big match at a State tournament and told him something like, "Dude, you have earned this spot, it's what you have been putting all this practice in for."

What I found interesting was the way that The Cueist responded. He said that those texts were helpful! Almost even divinely received at the perfect times in those tournaments, that fueled him to be more confident for the match upon him.

I am so dang timid and shy and worry so much about how I don't want to add pressure to people, that I don't reach out to hardly anyone during tournaments. Hell, I don't even sometimes text my friends before a tournament.

I struggle so much with what to say, how to say it, when to say it, because I don't want to affect anyone's game negatively. But what I have to realize is: there's a lot more mentally strong people out there than I was during my pool journey, and maybe a text will actually help them! Like it clearly has for The Cueist.

I need to stop being timid and scared that I'm going to affect their game. That was always MY reaction to texts - I'm being pretty presumptuous about my affect on others, huh?  lol. I just know so many times I took words, advice, texts, etc WRONG or felt PRESSURE.  Again, that was my experience because I had a 'test anxiety' complex.

In reality, maybe I will help my friends, just like The Cueists' friends helped him during crucial moments.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

A Learning Tip without Alcohol - Project Hunger Games

Katniss was sharing something with me the other day... I know, weird right? Just kidding, because as you know she's supposed to be doing that because I'm writing about her pool journey via the Hunger Games series portion of my blog.

What she shared with me was she likes to watch matches of good players when she visits pool rooms. Watching matches is one of the best ways to learn. Seeing the player's decisions, patterns, etc., will substantially improve your knowledge.

However, she made a little side comment and that's what I want to focus on today. She casually mentioned there was a lot of people around her drinking and having fun, and it distracted her. I asked her if she drinks and she said "Sometimes, but usually not at the pool room, I like to stay focused when I'm learning."

I love her thinking!


She is spot on and a lot of people don't realize that when you're working on your game and trying to improve, you really shouldn't drink while you're trying to learn/watch/practice.

I mean, obviously, you can watch matches when you're drinking, and have drinks anytime and anywhere (well, mostly, lol). But what I'm really trying to get across is people shouldn't do it while you're trying to learn. If you are having fun - go for it! Out of the tournament and hanging with friends, do it! But while learning, improving, soaking in matches, drugs or alcohol will impact your state of mind whether you realize it or not, feel it or not, or know it or not. You're not fully absorbing the great shots, completely focusing and paying attention to the great patterns and run outs, or concentrating well on the smart run outs, etc. of the matches you are watching or in practice.

Some people may think this isn't true, however alcohol may make you want to talk to your friends more (which distracts you, right?), it makes you maybe not think as clear (which obviously doesn't help you learn, right?), and if you're sitting there trying to watch shots and matches and run outs to improve your game, you want to do it with a clear, level head with no distractions as much as possible. And drinking alcohol will not put you in a state to help you learn patterns and watch pool.

I feel so strongly about this that about 5 years ago I planned to spar with a friend and give her tips. When I picked her up from her house, she was drinking a beer. I told her I wont go over anything if she's drinking (and this was back when I was still drinking). She looked at me dumbfounded. What? I can't drink a beer? I always drink when I play pool!

Well, not this time if you want tips from me, lol.

If you are watching matches to learn and you are also drinking alcohol (or maybe high on something), I'm here to put a little birdie in your head and suggest it's a disservice to yourself. You should be getting the MOST out of watching matches (or practicing) and drinking/drugs will distract you.

I'm not saying you shouldn't have fun! What I am saying is, there is a time and place for it. While you are learning is NOT the time for that. Do it after :)

So, I applaud Katniss for already following this philosophy. And glad she mentioned it so I could chat about it with you all today.

Me, having a little drink in college

Friday, November 1, 2019

Sharing Those Shots!

I still find it incredibly adorable when my friends get so excited about shots they make at league.... that they send me a text about.  With a diagram!

Makes me smile!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

When Pool Chalk Saves Your Life

My very dear friend, Julie Collins, is extremely special to me.  She's one of those friends that because of her caring actions and beautiful choice of words, makes you feel deeply loved.  She has made an impact on my life in ways I can't express - I learn a lot from her and adore her.

I wrote about her a couple of times before in my pool blog (see this link and then also this link) and we try to meet up about once a year to do something fun and memorable - me not playing pool anymore wont keep us apart!

My dear friend was in a pickle back in the Summer.

Luckily, she is extremely resourceful!

Let me set the scene and share her words from social media:

She was driving home and her A/C went out in the car.  It didn't matter she had a convertible - it was early July and it was a very hot day with not a cloud in the sky, and no wind or breeze either.

And then she ran into this:

Turns out there was a bad accident many miles ahead of her (an 18-wheeler on the Interstate was engulfed in flames), so there was a long backup.  Everyone who was driving northbound on I-35 that day in North Texas was being diverted to another highway, which caused extreme traffic (as you can see in her photo above).

What do you notice about her photo, though?  Is there something you see out of the ordinary?

Yep, she took the photo from the side of the road.

What was she doing there?

Here is her story:

 She posted this very 'soft' post on her FB page:

"Got stuck on the Interstate. The closure is due to fire. Both myself and my car were overheating. I'm being transported back to my home base by this kind constable.
If I'd been unable to get under an overpass, I might have, literally, been toast!'

The reason I say it was a 'soft' post was because she didn't exclaim or scream or overreact about the situation - she simply shared, very calmly, what happened to her, and that she was thankful for something.  I really love this about her - she shares, but doesn't overreact or even draw any unnecessary negative attention to herself (ever). Even though in reality she had been in dire straits this day!

Btw, this was her next photo, her rescuer - The Constable!

It seems like she could easily be being hauled off in cuffs in the back of that police car, lol, but no, no - instead, he saved her!

I am going to share now her exact comments to friends who commented and asked questions, so you can see what truly happened to her that day, what a scary situation it really was, and how this all relates to pool:

"He [the Constable] heard the call someone needed help and drove down the wrong side of the closed freeway to reach me."
Someone ask her how her car was: 

"The car will be fine. I stopped in that shade when I saw my situation."

Another friend exclaimed "Thank goodness you were rescued!" To which she replied and shared: 

"Yes! I'd already resorted to writing on a paper plate with a cube of pool chalk to get cold water bottles from people who were creeping by. I'd stopped in the last shade I was aware of and wouldn't risk going further, then having it stop again completely, which it did."

Another friend complimented her on being so resourceful. She replies:
"I wasn't too proud to call for help. It could've gotten bad really quick. After people gave me ice cold water and I cooled off my brainstem, I decided I'd be better off ANYWHERE else."

I asked her how she was feeling and figured it had to be scary, to which she confided openly to all: 
"I love you too, Melinda. I am feeling better, and it WAS scary. I'd gotten to where my fingers were tingling, my head was dizzy and my arms and knees were weak. It could've gone really wrong, and I'm very thankful for the folks who jumped out and handed me ice cold water bottles. I used them as cold compresses on my brainstem, and poured them over me as well, lol. Before bed I took a long salt bath to help replenish myself.

That experience really has me rethinking driving this car anywhere long distance this summer, during the heat of the day."

And after the many thank you's to everyone for the sincere concern and glad she was okay, she ended with: 
"Spent the day very glad that I had that cube of pool chalk!!"
Us too, Julie. Us, too.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Doing Well from Past Losses - The Cueist Project

I’m going to just copy and paste part of an email The Cueist sent to me last year, to start off this topic today:

“Quite frankly, I was majorly disappointed in the team event [last year] at our State league event. Our team consisted of really top-notch players. Even the weakest player placed 5/6th in singles!  In fact, our team was so strong, a few of the other teams saw our roster and thought that we probably had the 3rd strongest team on paper in the event! 
I know we shouldn't have, but we all had high expectations for this team with our lineup. And I think that was part of the problem. 
But, we only won ONE match the entire team event.  It left a lot to be desired for the entire team.”

While I could go on and on about how I believe expectations are unfortunately a part of the Evil Kingdom (no really!), there is actually some good that conquered that evil!

Later on that same year, The Cueist’s strong team went on to play in a larger tournament in Vegas (I believe it was Nationals or something). How do you think they did?

They sucked again!

No, no, I’m kidding! That would make for a horrible ending to this blog post, lol.

Yes, they did better - much better!

The placed top 3 in their division! Going from zero place and zero money in the state-level tournament to top 3 in their national-level tournament, was great!  What happened? What was different?

It is my opinion that they did so well BECAUSE they did poorly at the state-level tourney.

There is something to be said for situations like this.

I strongly feel if they finished well at the state-level tournament, they wouldn’t have done well at their national-level tournament.

The state-level tournament proved to them that their high expectations hurt their chances. I have written a ton of times to stay in the moment – thinking ahead or in the past gets in the way of shooting the balls right in front of you. You can’t play your best pool at all if you are thinking about outcomes, or finishes, or expectations.

Luckily, his team had The Cueist on their roster! He reminded them before the event if any of them started to talk about the future, “don’t worry about expectations, and just worry about the matches one at a time.

He shared with me in that email last year,

“We capitalized on the other teams mistakes and they didn't fire back when they had the chances to. So naturally, the guys started to wonder if we could win the event. But I reminded them to stay in the moment!  As time went on, we just kept winning. 
Surprisingly, after day 2, the guys weren't nervous or had those same high expectations. Day 2 had us in some tough matches, and we knew we had to just simply play good to win the matches.

Going into the last day of the tournament, that morning Cueist shares:
“I relayed to the guys that we needed to stay in the moment and take it all in. Who knows if we'd be there again. I'm not sure it helped, but everyone was firing on all cylinders. Which is the first match where that happened. LOL.
I'm a big believer that everything happens for a reason, and sometimes, things are meant to be. Maybe it was meant for us finish so poorly at the state tournament.  And then maybe it was meant for us to do so much better at the national tournament. The universe works in mysterious ways sometimes.”

I’m a big believer in that also – everything does happen for a reason.

Their lessons learned at the state-level tournament helped them to do well at their national tournament.

I know it seems counterintuitive - play bad one event, do better the next.  Wait, what?

But, - it's their mentality about the team event and team itself that changed.  And they wouldn't have realized that if they hadn't of lost so badly a few months before.  See what I mean?

Go Cueist! (and team :)

Friday, October 18, 2019

Cristina Delagarza Schneider Interview - Oct 2019

For the October issue of Billiard Buzz, I interviewed my friend and fellow pool player Cristina Delagarza Schneider.

If you haven't read the interview yet, I highly recommend it.

Ladies, you will understand deeply when Cristina talks about her goals, how it was tough in a man's world, and being taken seriously.

For the men, you will be appreciate when Cristina talks about what she learned from the a top pro (Shane) - and the lessons from being on the road.

And finally, if you ever wondered about the differences between US and European pool, this is a must read.  However, even if you aren't interested, it's still extremely eye opening to read the differences.

I beg you to take the time to read it - I promise you will be surprised.

When I first had the idea to do interviews, I jotted down a few names to start my list of the people I wanted to interview. Cristina was one of the first I put on it.  She is a wonderful and smart and has so much experience already.  I was so excited when she said yes to being interviewed!  I knew it would be a treat for you all.


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Additional Tiffany Hardware

Well, Tiffany and Co is at it again!

You might remember back in July 2016 when I wrote about Tiffany and Co having a sterling silver rack for sale (~$1,000).

Well, they have upped their inventory!

If you love their shade of blue, then you will love these new items!

The rack is oak with a sterling silver accent/removable sterling silver plate you can personalize (nice touch). Along with it, custom-made Tiffany Blue® pool balls.  $1,500.

And they have also added to their collection sterling silver Tiffany Blue® chalk.  Only $195 if you want to give gifts to your pool playing friends that you really really love.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Give Examples When Giving Advice - Project Hunger Games

A few months ago I sent Katniss a little tip via text before a tournament she was playing in.  I normally just say "Have fun! Enjoy playing the game we love to play!"

I never say good luck or kick ass - I just keep things upbeat and positive.

I looked online and saw that the pool room where the tournament she was going to play in, had diamond bar tables. I wondered if she had ever played on them before (we hadn't ever discussed it). I also don't know how many diamond bar tables are in her town. She doesn't live in Dallas / Fort Worth and I'm not privy to most other areas anyway.

But, I learned something that helped me exponentially one time, and I wanted to share that with her.

From a previous blog post (linked here), describing advice from my scotch doubles partner who was a pro:
"...he knew them [the 7foot Diamond tables] well. He stressed that the team who stroked the balls the smoothest would win. He showed me how he barely had to hit the ball to get it around the table."

While I don't like to give advice right before any tournament, surely not the morning of a tournament, I decided to this time. I broke my rule of thumb, went out of my comfort zone, and after I hit send on my phone, I was nervous.

REAL nervous.

Did I do the right thing? Maybe I shouldn't have done that.  What did I do?

You see, most players should already be prepared before a tournament and if you throw something at them new right before, it could throw their game off (not on).

But, I did something different this time.  Instead of just saying something like, "The tables are fast, so have a smooth stroke," I gave her an example to go along with the tip.

I told her (hold on a sec while I go look at my text, this was several months ago...…)

Okay, I'm back.

I told her: 
Goal today: have fun. And if you're playing on diamond bar tables, you don't need to hit the ball hard, just a smooth stroke to get around the table.  Picture Mister B playing on the diamond, he never strokes hard, just smooth and pocket speed.

('Mister B' is a top player in her area that she has seen on streams, that I already knew played with a smooth stroke well on Diamond tables)

She said thank you and I didn't hear from her again.

I wondered throughout the weekend.. how is she doing? Did that mess her up? Did it help or hurt? WHaaaaat?!


I heard from her the Monday after (that's usually when I get tidbits from her for the Katniss Project of my blog), and she shared:  "OMgosh that helped me SO much!"

Immediate relief came through my soul.

"It did, really?"

"Yes!" she exclaimed.  "It helped me to visualize him playing; helped a lot. I focused all day on the "Mister B mantra."  And I believe that's what helped me finish well in this tournament. "

I giggled at her words, "Mister B mantra."  Evidently, that's what she focused on throughout the tournament and it helped her on the tables.

I was relieved and very happy I didn't hurt her. I think the key was to share an example she could visualize.

Let me give an example (see what I did there?).  If I tell you to lower your body so that your cue is near your chin, and that will give you a more solid stance, you would think, whatever Melinda.

But what if I added, 'Picture Allison Fisher.'  The tip all of a sudden becomes more impactful because you can see in your mind her doing that.

Same for Katniss.

So, don't forget to use concrete examples people can picture in their mind, when giving advice.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Steve Lipsky Interview - Sept 2019

While I wasn't able to submit an interview for the July and August edition of the online magazine, Billiard Buzz, I did get an AMAZING interview with Steve Lipsky for the September edition.

I realize I am biased, but I promise you will also enjoy it and think it's amazing as well.

Please take some time to read this interview with Steve Lipsky! He graciously said yes when I asked if I could interview him and I am sincerely over the moon with this interview.

His responses are funny, thought-provoking, and said in a way I am enamored by. I can't wait for you all to read it - you will see for yourself why this interview is priceless.

I want to also add what a JOY it was to interview Steve. He was gracious and kind with his words as we went through the process. We had more revisions than most, only because we took more time than usual to work on it and also because every new answer promoted me to want to ask another question, haha! He was very complimentary about me on social media about working with me, and I truly feel the same about him.

The other thing I want to say is, in this interview, while it wasn't the intention at all, I asked him about several other players. It didn't start that way at all - I asked the normal questions I usually ask, but when he would answer, he would bring up someone in the pool world. Normally, I don't ask about others too much as I want the interview to focus completely on interviewee. But I recognized right away that Steve would have insight about certain people we may never know more about. Further, his way of describing his friends was interesting and captivating.

It was natural for me to ask about George (Ginky) SanSouci, as he is from New York and passed away way too young. Steve talked very highly of him and how he helped him with his game. And then Steve mentioned a poker pro (Nick Schulman) who started out playing pool and was a real good friend of Steve's before he became a poker pro (this is a truly interesting story!). 

I debated to ask Steve about John Schmidt (for those not aware, after trying weeks on end in a row, John ran 626 balls on May 27th of this year, beating the long-standing 526 ball run record by Willie Mosconi), but I wondered if Steve had any thoughts about the high run and boy did he ever! So insightful and nothing I even remotely thought of. Steve then mentioned in an answer how impactful Danny Barouty was to him (pretty cool connection and story!). But I then asked him in the interview, "You speak of Danny Barouty as if we all should know him – for those who don’t, tell us about him real quick, please." And again, his answer was so entertaining and interesting! 

Steve has a way with words. I hope you read his interview soon (if you haven't already).

Monday, September 30, 2019

Second Place is the Real Winner

I wrote about this topic a couple of years ago. But I'd like to touch on it again real quick.

I remember distinctly after I lost in the finals of a big tournament in Florida in 1998, one of the local good players told me, "Second place is the real winner." Of course at the time the sting of losing in the finals was too strong for me even hear what he was saying. 

And then of course it took me YEARs to figure out and finally understand what he was talking about.   
I hadn't really understood a lot about the mental part of pool at that time, was hardly putting effort into improving, and didn't understand all the beautiful nuances of the sport yet, to truly fathom how powerful that one sentence is.

One of my friends recently placed second in a big tournament and I was SO HAPPY for her! I'm guessing she might have felt deflated and maybe defeated because it was second place, but all I could think about was how much she was going to learn because she got second place!

You see, if she had won the tournament, she may not be as reflective as she will be now. Let's face it, second place means you didn't win the tournament, so you're going to evaluate what happened, think back on your shots. Was I staying down? Was I tired? Was I nervous? What was going on? Had she won the tournament, none of those great questions would have entered into her mind for her to reflect on and learn from.

Lessons we learn when we lose big matches are sometimes the highest gifts to our game. Second place is the real winner.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

"Return the Faver" Goes to Ohio (twice!)

The next free entry fee to a tournament has been identified for Return the Faver!

If you don't know what that is, please check it out here; this Player Scholarship Fund Award is in honor of my dear friend Dave Faver. 

I have been corresponding with Sonia, who has been holding straight pool tournaments in Ohio. Dave's friend since childhood (Joe), got me in contact with Sonia to help with this endeaver of a free entry in Dave's home-state, and I have been so thankful of our collaboration! 

A free entry ($55) was donated to the "Summer Sizzler" Straight Pool Tournament in Wickliffe, Ohio in July, and I just sent her another free entry ($65) donated to her "Fall Frolic" Straight Pool Tournament in Ohio in October!

She sent me this kind note, and I am truly thankful for her help with Dave!
"I just wanted to thank you once more for your more than generous donation to my straight pool tournament.
Again, you are awesome and Dave Favor's memory will live on!"
This all makes me so happy!

Here is the flyer, and the words on it about Dave:

"One lucky participant will have their entry fee paid for in full, thanks to a generous donation in memory of Dave Faver. Each pre-paid entry will be entered to win. Drawing will be just before Calcutta, and that winning participant’s entry fee will be refunded in cash, prior to the start of the tournament."

Monday, September 23, 2019

What do you do to Improve?

A friend of mine, Tina, has been working on her game so much so, that her persistence has paid off.  She recently won her end of season league tournament - a first for her!

Everyone has noticed her game has gone up and her stats and finishes have also soared. So, of course that led me to wonder what she was doing to improve.  But I didn't need to ask her.  If you follow her on social media, it's evident.  She WORKS on her game, works on improving, and works on learning.

Here's my question to some of you: Are you just playing pool?

First, if you are - that's fine!

But if you want to improve, what are you doing about it?

Don't be upset with me with the harshness of this statement, but:  just showing up at league or tournaments is not enough.

Tina doesn't just show up to her 'main' league and play pool.  She also plays in two other really tough leagues. Additionally, she plays in big tournaments around the DFW area, and sometimes in big tournaments in OK and other cities across Texas. She also plays on two tours (a ladies tour and a men's tour), and further, at times plays in weekly tournaments.

It's almost like she read my blog from the past where I shared many things one can do to improve your game.  I was ADAMANT many times that in order to improve, you MUST play in many different type of tournaments (yes, some tough); you aren't going to improve by just playing in league.

But, wait there's more!

If there is a stream on over the weekend, Tina has it on and she's watching. Watching great pool and patterns helps our game immensely (I've written about this before here).

side note: as I was writing the draft of this blog post last week, I noticed Tina posted this on her FB:

Proof she watches streams!

Oh, and guess what?

Yep, there's more!

She also practices.  She will either practice at home, meet up with league-mate at the pool room and hit balls before tournaments, or sometimes even go to the pool room and hit balls by herself.

Additionally, she reads.  I know, so rare! She will get out her reminders and go over them. Or she will grab a Phil Capelle's books and read some sections.

Further, she will sit herself in the front row of tournaments and watch matches while she waits for her own match to be called! I have written before about how crucial this is. And, she is taking advantage of the "free" learning lessons by watching the great matches right in front of her. She could be sitting in the corner reading a book, or drinking with her friends at the bar, or playing video games to pass time. Instead, she's using her time wisely.

See what she's doing?  She is working on her game!  She hasn't been playing pool for a long time, but for some reason, she knew in order to improve, she needed to put in work for her pool game to improve.

I can easily admit for the first 10 years of me playing pool, that that's all I did - just play pool.  I only played on some tour stops and played on a league, and then wondered why my game never went up.

It took me years to figure out I needed to put in work and not just show up to a tournament and hope for the best.  I finally set practice goals, read, watched DVDs, wrote in my pool diary after each match, practiced diligently, and played in a ton of different events. And guess what happened? Yep, my game improved. I became more successful in my tournaments, in my standings, and started to win tournaments.

What I love about Tina's journey is she knew pretty soon out of the gate that she if she wanted her game to improve, she needed to work on it. And, so she did!

Again, if you want to improve, are you just playing pool?

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Perfect Practice: The Cueist Project

I learned something really valuable from The Cueist the other day.

I have always been of the opinion to practice like you're in a tournament.

What do I mean by that exactly?

For me, what that was if you have a pool table at home, don't play in your pajamas or slippers. Instead, wear the same clothes that you would wear if you were competing.

I didn't like a pool table at home because I didn't have the same atmosphere or feeling as during a pool tournament. You can turn off the TV, put the dogs in the bedroom, you can shut out any distractions. But is that the same atmosphere as a pool tournament?

Um, no.

I've written a lot about how I love practicing in pool rooms because things will be distracting, just like during a tournament. The music may be too loud, someone might try to talk to me while I'm playing, these are all the same things we have to deal with when we are in a tournament.

So again, you should play pool in the same settings as if you were competing in the tournament.

But The Cueist actually goes further.  And I'm so excited to share this all with you today!

He says one of his preparations to get ready for tournament is to spar with a friend. But instead of just sparring, he is instead thinking of his opponent as a nemesis.

No, no, not me.

I'm not his nemesis. (wait, I hope not!)

But pretending you are playing your nemesis makes you bare down more!

He isn't just really sparring with a friend, he actually has the feelings during a tournament against the guy that is always tough for him to beat.

I think this is a very important learning experience for you all to try to incorporate!

He describes it much better:
Since I don't get to practice as much as I used to, I tried doing something else at the start of this year. A few years back, I talked to Rodney Morris about a few different things in pool. But one thing he mentioned about practice is this:

"When I was young, trying to learn the mental game, my mentor told me, 'you need to learn to play within yourself.' For me, that means practicing exactly like you play for real. When I'm practicing, I try to convince myself that I'm in the finals against whomever is my toughest opponent. I try to create that pressure situation. Because if you just practice like you're practicing, when you're playing for real, it will be different and you won't know how to react. People say practice makes perfect, but that's not true. It's perfect practice that makes perfect. So train correctly and imagine yourself in the toughest situation every shot and you'll be able to emulate that and stay within yourself no matter what is at stake:)"
The Cueist went on:
I just happened to see Rodney's message at the start of this year, and what I started doing is picturing my friend that I spar with as my nemesis. That made me bare down a lot more, and I got to the point where I am beating my friend in a race to 18, and he's now not even getting into double digits!

Aside from mentally picturing my nemesis, I also changed things up a little when practicing certain shots, or playing the ghost. I started picturing that I was back in the finals. By just picturing the lights, etc, it helps me bare down, even when doing something as mundane as practicing the same shot over and over.

Obviously, everyone is different. And this is just what's been working for me. I'm sure I'll be changing my nemesis as needed during my next practice sessions. :)
And by the way, since he has started visualizing his sparring friend as his toughest opponent in a match during a tournament, he has noticed his game is gone up a ball. That's pretty fantastic.

Learn from The Cueist, folks! 

Next time you spar with a friend, pretend they are your toughest pool enemy.  And/or visualize your surrounds from a previous tough match, and incorporate that when practicing.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Passion Can Come Across as Upset

One of the things on my "to-write-about" list is something I noticed I did back in November.  I didn't get around to writing about it yet, though. Dang it.

And then what do you know, I found myself doing it again just last week. Now I'm even more determined to write about this, as it is something I am not proud of at all.

What did I do that was so horrible?

I got on to a friend for something I am passionate about.

I know, doesn't sound horrible per say.

But, when I am passionate about something that I learned that helped me deeply and strongly about my pool journey, I tend to speak up more about it.

It's difficult to describe.

However, let me share something real quick:  I recall distinctly a friend in the late 90s telling me that my personal goal to win Most Improved Player was ludicrous.  It took me awhile to realize her point, but she was saying basically my goal was dependent on others. I had no control over that - someone else decided that "title" (and no, I did not win it, even though I came close).

So, fast forward 20 years and I kinda got on to my friend who shared with me back in November ironically that was her goal for the upcoming year. I should have listened more to her and also been kinder in my response. Instead, my passion for what I learned took over and I didn't really acknowledged her goal, just more so told her it wasn't a good idea.  I didn't want her to go through the same thing I learned the hard way. But, I could have stated it all better, as I told myself as I drove away from our outing.

Fast forward 9 months later and I recognized on my drive home from visiting with a different friend, that I kinda got on to her for a comment she made about big tables versus bar tables.

I admit when I am passionate about something or feel strongly about something that exponentially helped my game, I will speak up. But I don't need to be rude about it.  Ugh.  I pretty much told my friend she was wrong, and I kept stating all these reasons I learned why it's best to only practice on a 9 foot table, and that that will in turn actually help you when you get to smaller tables.

I even quipped, "don't you read my blog?" lol.

She laughed at the moment, but I am betting she felt badly I was so vocal about the topic.  (here is just one blog entry I wrote about why it's crucial to practice on 9 foot tables and how helpful it is to your game on all table sizes.)  (see, I can't stop!)

I really need to be better at giving advice at times.  Just because I learned something that deeply helped my game, doesn't mean I need to be a bully about it. I can be kind and still make points.

I am trying to figure out why I was so vocal these two times, when usually I'm pretty calm and reserved, and actually carefully think about how I'm saying my advice. I want my learning experiences and advice it to be received well, so I normally am very careful with my word choices so they don't come across harsh.  Not sure what was going on these two times.  My apologies.


Friday, August 30, 2019

Cueist Project: That Miss - Lesson 4, Committing

The Cueist recently had learning lessons from a crucial miss. I will share each lesson in separate blog posts.

Today we will talk about Lesson #4: Committing to the shot.

Here is the story:
I'm deep in a big state tournament. My opponent is spotting me 1 game and in a matter of about 10 mins, I'm down 4/1. I claw my way to being down only 5/3, and he misses his last ball. I only have 4balls on the table and I have the break on the hill game. Heck yeah, that's exactly what I wanted! I make my first ball, stop shot. Take a breath. 2nd ball, good shape. Take a breath. 3rd ball, had to go 2 rails for shape w/ inside English. Nail it and took a breath. Last ball before the 8 ball, and I have to draw it back off of the rail w/ outside English. Well, I didn't HAVE to do that, but that was going to get me perfect shape on the 8ball. I get down on the shot feeling a bit nervous and single stroked the shot, while chicken-winging it, and jumping up at the same time. Then took a breath. LOL. Cost me the match of course.
Cueist adds:
I didn't make up my mind on where I needed the cue ball, and as a result, I didn't commit to the shot.

Personally, I think this lesson (#4) is the key to any shot.

You have to commit to every shot, and if you're not fully committed, we need to stop and reset.

I remember getting down on the shot and said to myself that it's an easy shot, but can get tricky due to the side pocket. In reality, the side pocket should've never come into play. But because of that last second doubt and indecision, I should've stopped, gotten up, and reset. You see? I hadn't truly decided yet where I wanted to be; and it cost me.

I hate this for Cueist. A little bit of nerves, a little bit of an indecision, a little bit of thinking in his head, all led to a crucial miss.

So many things can happen to us during every shot.  The four lessons we are rehashing with The Cueist (Lesson one (easy shots), Lesson two (perfect shape), Lesson three (nerves), and today's lesson (committing) are KEY.  And the bottom line is to stay down, stay calm, breathe, and focus only on your fundamentals and solid pre shot routine.  And you'll be okay!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Cueist Project: That Miss - Lesson 3, Nerves

The Cueist recently had learning lessons from a crucial miss. I will share each lesson in separate blog posts.

Today we will talk about Lesson #3: Nerves happen.

Here is the story:
I'm deep in a big state tournament. My opponent is spotting me 1 game and in a matter of about 10 mins, I'm down 4/1. I claw my way to being down only 5/3, and he misses his last ball. I only have 4balls on the table and I have the break on the hill game. Heck yeah, that's exactly what I wanted! I make my first ball, stop shot. Take a breath. 2nd ball, good shape. Take a breath. 3rd ball, had to go 2 rails for shape w/ inside English. Nail it and took a breath. Last ball before the 8 ball, and I have to draw it back off of the rail w/ outside English. Well, I didn't HAVE to do that, but that was going to get me perfect shape on the 8ball. I get down on the shot feeling a bit nervous and single stroked the shot, while chicken-winging it, and jumping up at the same time. Then took a breath. LOL. Cost me the match of course.

"So what did we learn?" Cueist asks me, lol.

Well, nerves kick in, that's a fact. Nobody has the "cure" for nerves. It's a matter of recognizing the situation, and calming yourself enough to go through your pre-shot routine and make the shot. I should've stood up and reset.

I think we've all lost matches due to nerves at some point or another. The nerves kick in, and we miss an easy shot, etc. By remembering to breath, pre shot routine, stay down when the nerves kick in, we're able to focus on the ball/shot and increase our chances of winning the game.

Cueist says is all well and I don't need at add anything! But he did:

"See, your blog entries helped me realize the importance of staying calm a long time ago. Having a good pre shot routine helps a lot. I didn't do it this day, though, because of many factors going on." (sad face)

He is referring to Lesson one (easy shots), Lesson two (perfect shape), today's lesson (nerves), and the fourth that will be posted tomorrow (gotta wait!).

It's a good reminder that most times there isn't we are trying to deal with. That's what makes this game so fun, right?!  (smile face)

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Cueist Project: That Miss - Lesson 2, Perfect Shape

The Cueist recently had learning lessons from a crucial miss. I will share each lesson in separate blog posts.

Today we will talk about Lesson #2: Trying to get perfect shape.

Here is the story:
I'm deep in a big state tournament. My opponent is spotting me 1 game and in a matter of about 10 mins, I'm down 4/1. I claw my way to being down only 5/3, and he misses his last ball. I only have 4balls on the table and I have the break on the hill game. Heck yeah, that's exactly what I wanted! I make my first ball, stop shot. Take a breath. 2nd ball, good shape. Take a breath. 3rd ball, had to go 2 rails for shape w/ inside English. Nail it and took a breath. Last ball before the 8 ball, and I have to draw it back off of the rail w/ outside English. Well, I didn't HAVE to do that, but that was going to get me perfect shape on the 8ball. I get down on the shot feeling a bit nervous and single stroked the shot, while chicken-winging it, and jumping up at the same time. Then took a breath. LOL. Cost me the match of course.
What is the second lesson?  

Trying to get perfect shape. 

Why do we need perfect shape?  Sometimes it's to show off.  You know what I am talking about!  We have all been through a similar scenario. For guys, maybe a cute girl is watching your match that you like and you want to impress her.  Or for gals, maybe some new guy is watching you play and you want to show off.  Or, for anyone, maybe a pro walks by your match and you notice they stop to watch. Who doesn't want to show off?

It's a natural thing - but remember, it can be costly. Being too confident is just as bad as not committing to a shot.  Both actions mean you are not focusing on your solid fundamentals and pre shot routine.

Cueist told me:
As I mentioned, all I had to do was make the ball and I'd have a makeable shot on the 8. But, I wanted to get perfect on the 8ball, which caused the side pocket to come into play. So I hit a drag draw shot with side spin, and it threw it out of the pocket.
You don't need perfect shape, and you don't need to impress anybody no matter how good they play! Everyone knew my opponent was probably one of the top 3 players in the building. I felt like I played good to come back, and tried to get cute w/ the cue ball. No need for that whatsoever. Just make the ball and stay in the match. Put yourself in a position to win.

He makes it all sound so easy, right?  But he's right!