Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Just Merely Six Years Ago

Facebook has this scientific algorithm thingy that shows you "memories on this day."  I admit, some memories we may not want to be reminded of (wow, did I really date that guy?), but there are some that are super cool to reminisce about.

Like this one, for example:

I am quite astonished that was 6 years ago!  Six years?  Wowser.

At this point in my pool journey, I had been playing pool in tournaments for about 23 years.

But, I really only started to improve noticeably and consistently about 3 years before that post on Facebook.  A few times over the 20 years I had a good finish here and there, but nothing like the strong, consistent years I had from my "finally" solid pre-shot routine from 2010-2015 and knowledge of the game.  In those 5 years, I shyly but proudly admit I was a super star in the leagues I was on - it was pretty cool to see my own game go up so much people were begging me to be on their teams :)

While this second place win wasn't the initial catalyst into the realm of me earning more titles, it DID help catapult me into the winner's circle consistently more often for the next two years to come outside of league.

That second place finish was a position on a Ladies Tour stop I never thought I could be in.  And then I ended up the year in 2nd place in the rankings of the OB Cues Ladies Tour!  OMG, that was even MORE of a place I never thought I would be in.  Just about a year later in March 2014 I DID finally win the coveted title I always wanted to win - BCAPL Singles Texas State Champion.  And then in May of 2014, I would become a National Champion.  I never, ever dreamed of that possibility!  And to top it off, at the beginning of 2015 I earned the "Amateur Pool Player of the Year for 2014" title by Phil Capelle.

I still finished strong in most events I played in in 2015, but by the middle of the year, that was when the thoughts of retirement started to occur.

My point of this blog post is to share this:  Don't wait 20 years like me to figure out this game.  Start taking lessons NOW.  Start playing in more tournaments NOW.  Start expanding your experience NOW - playing against tougher players, bigger tournaments, more team events, etc.  Start reviewing videos and reading more NOW.

Check this list out I wrote back in 2011 about the Top Ten Things I wish I knew 10-15 years ago, and DO THEM.

Here's what I know for sure:  I LOVE my pool journey.  And I actually love that it took me 20 years to be as successful as I was because I learned so much along the way, went to so many tournaments and met a ton of people, gained great friendships and have amazing experiences and memory-makers.  However, my advice is to not be like me (lol) and take the long route and have fun for years (and years), but instead start to make the changes you need to make NOW to improve your game faster.  :)

(but, if you want to take the long road, I'll be right by your side cheering you on!)

Monday, January 28, 2019

No-Pressure Playing Well

So when I spared that second time this month with my client/friend/student, I mentioned in a previous blog that I was playing really, really well.  I mean, REALLY well.  I have to admit that I am super surprised how well I am playing, for someone who hasn't played pool for an entire year.  But it shows that my pre shot routine and mechanics that I honed-in the last few years of the height of my pool journey I definitely instilled in me.  But, I also didn't just "show up" - I prepared to play my best and also ensured I was comfortable; no matter how well my mechanics are still, preparation is still part of playing your best.

But during my jam-up session, lol, I mentioned to her that maybe I should play in that scotch doubles tournament that I was invited to play in.


However, I already knew the answer was really no for me; maybe I just secretly wanted to point out to her that she wasn't the only one playing good that day (she was playing jam-up, too!)

But, I wanted to chat real quick about this here in my blog.

I've expressed numerous times already that it took me a very long time to (1) get the killer instinct, (2) to become mentally strong to not let things distract me when I'm playing pool, and (3) to get my pre-shot routine down firm.  I truly feel the reason it took me so long is a direct correlation of me not playing sports in school.  But that's for another blog topic.  :)

The bottom line is, I know myself and based on my past attempts the last few years at playing in tournaments, I already know that I am only mentally strong when I'm consistently competing.  Once I stopped competing, that mental toughness definitely went away for me.  As a matter of fact, I noticed it was the first thing that went away for me.

Even though the brain is a muscle, for me my muscle memory in my arms and in my pre stroke routine are still there, but not in my mental toughness.

So, back to the discussion with my friend....

She said, "You are playing really good.  Maybe you should go play in that doubles tourney?"

My response was flatly, "Yea, but I'm playing well here because I have no pressure."

This day I had no outside influence, no people watching me, no worry about invisible status, I did not have to worry about what people were thinking about me, or wonder who I *might* play next, etc.

You see the difference already?

If I was still competing, I'd be mentally strong and those worries wouldn't even enter my mind.  Instead, I would walk in the room confident with my head held high, chest out, strutting a little bit (lol), ready to play.  

So, yes I was playing really solid that day, but I also had no pressure because I'm retired.  :)

Friday, January 25, 2019

Prepare to be Comfortable Playing Pool

I know I keep mentioning I sparred this month, but you have to realize I haven't played pool for an entire year, so these two sessions have given me many topics to talk about lol.

Even though I haven't played pool in a year, I still wanted to bring my A-Game.  And the best way I know how to do that is to prepare for it like I would like I was going to a tournament or playing league.

So, I needed to figure out everything that made sure that I felt comfortable.  Because I know that I play my best when I'm comfortable.

So, I had to think about things I hadn't thought of in a year, lol. Let's face it.  If we are getting ready for work or to go out shopping (as an example), we don't really think too much about how comfortable we need to be in all aspects of ourselves.  Sure, we need to make sure our clothes aren't too tight or our shoes are comfy, but when we are going to compete (no matter the sport), we need to prepare for all aspects of comfort so that we aren't distracted and instead can play our best.

So on these two afternoons I was going to spar, I had to make sure of my "comfortableness."  That means a comfortable pair of jeans and also wear a shirt that was long enough that it didn't ride up in the back, lol.  Additionally, it was kinda cold so I needed to wear a light sweater, but one that was light enough to keep me warm but not too heavy to where I was hot.  I can't play good pool when I'm too hot.

The next two things might seem girly and trivial, but in reality they're not if we our goal is complete comfort.

I have talked before how being comfortable is key.  There's nothing worse than pulling at your shirt or your hair being in your eyes while you're trying to play pool - all that does is distract you from focusing on the ball in front of you.  This is why I pontificate about comfortableness a lot in my blog.  I have lost matches because I was too worried about a shirt or shoes or pants, etc.

And so one of the other things I had to think about was that I changed my moisturizing routine on my face in the last year.  You might think, "What does that have to do with pool?"  And quite honestly every one should ask that, lol.  But the reason I mention it is, when I was competing I would use a certain moisturizer that did not get oily throughout the day.  When you play pool, you do sweat a little bit and I recognized that particular moisturizers made me feel like I was sweating more than others.  Gosh that's distracting!  So, that morning before I sparred, I had to think, 'would my new moisturizer withstand a session of pool playing without being a distraction?'

Additionally, in the past year I kinda figured out how to put my hair up in a bun, which is affectionately known as the "messy bun."

Here's a picture of me with a messy bun:

As I was getting ready that morning I was thinking to myself, "Should I put my hair in a messy bun or not?"  The reason why is (don't laugh) because I've never played pool with my messy bun, and I have no idea when I got down on a shot, if my hair would come out of the bun, lol.  I have to admit I'm not very good at the messy bun yet and so even if I shake my head some of the strands come out. So the last thing I want to do is try to play pool and strands fall down and get in front of my eyes.  Distracting!

The other thing I had to think about (which I've discussed numerous times in my blog) is when/what should I eat. The pool room opened at noon so I had to figure out when to eat; I always tried to eat at least 2 hours before I played pool.  But I also couldn't have a huge lunch.  If you don't recall - if your stomach is too busy trying to process food, then that takes away blood from the brain which takes away from thinking best.  However, you have to have energy and food is energy, so I couldn't go in without eating anything that morning.

It was so weird to think about all these things I hadn't thought of in a year!  But, I wanted to bring my A-Game.  And my A-Game involves preparation.  :)

I hope you are also planning for complete comfort when you compete, also!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Ask Why, Then Decide Solutions

I shared in my previous blog post that I sparred with one of my clients/students/friend over the weekend.  It was actually the second time we sparred this month - we met up two weekends before that.  But otherwise, I have not played pool for an ENTIRE YEAR.  The last time I played pool was January of 2018.  

Yes, seriously.

The first time her and I sparred earlier this month, though, I was tired towards the end of the 2nd hour, and distracted by several things.  One was the weather was nice for once and I wanted to work in my garage, lol (it has been so cold, I haven't been able to do that for a couple of months).  Two was, a few guys came in and played a couple of tables away from us and started to engage in conversation a little bit (not much, but enough to where it was bothersome).  And three, I was having some digestive issues (I know, tmi, lol).

While I played decent in the beginning, toward the end of the sparring sessions, I was definitely missing more shots.  And of course, that didn't spur me on to want to keep playing that afternoon lol.

However, we did schedule to spar again in two weeks.  

During this two-week period, it crossed my mind one day that the reasons why I played poorly toward the end was because of the typical demons:  (1) I wasn't staying down on my shots, (2) I wasn't focusing on my shots, (3) I wasn't comfortable and felt kinda tired, and (4) I was distracted.

Therefore, because these items are in my control, I was very cognizant of what I wanted to do differently when we met up again.

So, two weeks later, I deliberately ran errands before I met up with her - this allowed me to feel more "awake" and also give my body time to wake up.  I had this same routine for when I used to compete regularly.  I was also more cognizant and stayed down on my shots longer and focused on looking at the object ball last - both of these allow me to play my best.  And finally, I deliberately didn't have other plans that afternoon, so my attention was solely on the sparring session, and not thoughts of what I needed to do when we were done.

And sure enough, I played jam up and a lot better this time around!

Even though I haven't competed in an entire year, and barely competed the year before that, the problem-solving process remained.  I figured out what was off, thought about what I needed to do, then did it.

This tells me I have a good habit (in general) of figuring out what is going on/wrong, and then preparing to resolve it.  

So my question to you is, have you incorporated this into your game?  Or how about your daily life? This is a great trait to have, right!?

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Choosing the Right Words - Scotch Doubles Invite

So as we near February, every year about this time of year, the sweetest thing starts to occur:  guys ask me to be their partner in the annual Sweetheart Scotch Doubles tournament that is held annually in Dallas around Valentine's Day.

I think it's a huge compliment that some of the players even think of me, and then ask me to play Scotch Doubles with them.

And this year was no exception.

The last two years I had to break some hearts (just kidding!) and remind the guys who invited me that I just don't really play pool anymore.

This year, I thought many more players would know this, but I still received a few inquiries about playing.  Again, it's super sweet.

However, one invite *almost* got me to play.  I said almost.

Okay, okay, I didn't really almost say yes, but I do want to share that the words he chose were pretty incredible and were probably the ONLY way I would ever even consider to play.  He said, "I know you are retired, but any interest in some no-pressure scotch doubles?"

You see - it was wasn't that he remembered/knew I retired, it was that he prefaced it with "no-pressure."  He knows I play good, but he was cognizant enough to realize that the best way for a retired athlete (no matter the sport) to play in a tournament/event would be if I felt like there was no pressure.

I was quite impressed!

And then I broke his heart, too.


I played pool on Sunday (sparred with a student) and I played JAM UP.  Was that a sign I should actually play?  I even joked with her I should play in the scotch event, but it was just a joke.

But then I saw ANOTHER sign!  Here was my fortune cookie from yesterday:

I sent it to the guy who asked me to play no-pressure doubles and he replied, "See!"   lol

I will explain in further details in a future blog post for you all, but alas, I'm still not going to play.

But next time you ask someone to play doubles or on a team, chose your words carefully to make the most impact.  :)

Friday, January 18, 2019

Announcing: "Return the Faver"

I am so happy to announce this new project!!

"Return the Faver"

It took me a couple of months to get the title perfect, and to brainstorm with a couple of friends to come up with the right words to describe this project, and also to figure out some of the logistics for the first year, but basically, I am going to be giving away FREE (yes, I said "free") entry fees to several players every year in honor of my friend, Dave Faver!


I had some hesitancy to run a memorial tournament every year, so I am very thankful that an alternative idea came to mind so that I can still honor him every year.  VERY THANKFUL!

Further, this will reach farther and more places, instead of a tournament in the same one location in Texas every year, right?

Did I mention I'm excited?!

"Return the Faver."  In memory of Dave FaverFor his brave fight against cancer and his tenacity when he played pool; Never give up.

There are several facets to this project, but this year I am going to try and give away 4 free entry fees, roughly adding up to $200.  At times I will choose a player myself, or a TD may draw randomly to give away the free entry fee, or I will give certain TDs an entry fee and they choose a person who could use a free entry fee.

My vision is in years to come that this be also a scholarship-type thing and players can submit applications for consideration.

Right now, I'm just starting off small.  But it's still a BIG thing to me, for Dave :)

I created a menu item on my blog for this project, but the menu does not show up on all mobile devices.  So, let me paste here the further details:

"Return the Faver"
Free Entry Fee Endeavor
In memory of Dave Faver
For his brave fight against cancer and his tenacity when he played pool; Never give up.

How do you choose who receives a Free Entry fee for the "Return the Faver" project?
  • A player may be selected randomly at tournament,
  • A player may be selected ahead of time randomly,
  • A player may be chosen ahead of time by me (Melinda) for certain tournaments.
  • Future: Players submit why they should be chosen for a free entry fee, and then a committee will choose a recipient for the free entry fee.

How many free entry fees will be given every year?
  •  This will fluctuate based on my income, but I'm thinking for 2019 (the first year) at least $200 worth of entry fee's for the year.  For example, that could be around four $50 entry fees throughout the year that is given out.

Can I contribute to the "Return the Faver" Project?
  • Yes!  And welcomed to help out even more players in honor of Dave Faver.  Paypal email is address   

Will this only be for Tournaments in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area?
  • Nope.  The vision is to give away free entry fees to different tournaments throughout the year - ie, the same tour/tournament does not get more than one free entry fee in a single year.  

A list of all recipients will be kept updated throughout the year here:

January 2019:
  • Tony Sulsar from Texas.  Free entry fee for DFW 9 Ball Tour

To find out more about my dear friend Dave, please see this link.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Tina Malm - January 2019 Billiard Buzz Interview!

WooHoo! The first edition of 2019 for the online magazine Billiard Buzz is out and this month I am so excited to share that I was able to capture an interview the awesome and amazing Tina Malm! We have been friends a long time and I have learned so much from her on and off the table, so I was elated when she said yes to be interviewed, so you all could get to know her better, also! You are in for a treat!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Extra Money for Bills from Pool?

I don't talk about my job very often on my pool blog, but I think most of you know that I am a meteorologist and that I work for the National Weather Service (NWS).

I've been with the NWS for 26 years as of this month, actually.  Pretty proud of my career :)

The NWS is a part of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which is within the Department of Commerce (DOC).  This means, during the past 3 weeks, I have been directly impacted by the "government shutdown."  Technically referred to as "lapse in appropriations."  AKA - no money.

I am deemed an "essential" employee (we can't just stop issuing forecasts and warnings!) and so I am required to come to work.  But we aren't getting paid.

I have worked for 3 weeks now with no pay, because of the "government shutdown."

If people who work for the government are affected by the shutdown, but are not deemed "essential," they are "furloughed."  Which means they aren't coming to work, and they also aren't getting paid.

One of my coworkers told me I was lucky I at least have a fall back:  I can give pool lessons and bring in some cash.

I just kinda laughed because I don't even charge enough to pay my light bill, lol!  But it does bring up an interesting point that if the shutdown goes on much longer and we aren't getting paid, we will all have to find other ways to make some money to pay our bills.  We all have talents and are smart and could find creative ways to earn cash.  Heck, a lot of us had summer jobs before going to college, and I even know how to flip burgers!  One guy is thinking about tarnishing address plates on houses for $25 each to bring in extra money.  Several are talking about maybe being Uber drivers.  Many of us are cutting out bills that we can live without during this penny-pinching time (like cable/netflix, magazine subscriptions, landscaping, etc).

The people that are furloughed (who don't come to work) could get another job during the shutdown.  For those like me who still need to come to work (which I am glad, btw!), I suppose I could get a part time job at night and on weekends while working full time if this goes on for a long time (well, I would HAVE to).

There are others (like me) who aren't married and therefore I am relying on only one income.  At least some other folks have a second income with their spouses.  But, many of us aren't sitting at home on a nest egg and we do live mostly paycheck to paycheck, which this shutdown will interfere with very soon with our car payments, house payments, electricity, etc.

Hmm....Maybe I should "up" my coaching appointments.  I'm just kidding!  I wouldn't do that; I would work in retail if I needed to start making side money to pay my bills if the shutdown lasts for months.  Pool doesn't bring in money - whether giving lessons, winning tournaments, or running tournaments - there's just not enough money in our sport to make a living.  And we all know this, so it isn't new information.

I gotta go - burgers are burning on the grill!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Goals Aren't Just for Yourself

I love learning!

And when I stumbled across this, I was like, Heck yea that's a great idea!

And of course I wanted to share with you all :)

Even though I saw this in October, it was more relevant for the beginning of the year.  So, I've kept it in my hip pocket for a few months, waiting for this very day in early January.  Why?  Yep, because it's about GOALS!

I saw this on professional golfer Justin Thomas' Instagram account and really, truly loved what he said.  SO glad he share this with everyone!

If you can't enlarge the photo below, here is what he said:

"Every year/season my team and I come up with goals for the year... it’s something I’ve always found important. A few goals that are very attainable, some that are going to require some hard work, then some that are extremely difficult. I ask every person in my on course team (caddie, dad, putting coach), to make a their own list. This keeps us all accountable the entire year that everybody is doing what they should be doing on and off the course to make sure we are as ready as possible every time I tee it up. Time to get started on next years list! (And no I will not share it until the season is over 😜😜) I challenge you guys to make your own list of goals and see how many you can achieve!"

Now, I would think at some point in my pool journey that at least one of my teams would have had a goal of some sort.  For as many teams as I have been on, there had to have been some goal as a team like, "finish better than last year" or maybe "up or stats" or something.  I just honestly can't remember.

But what I like MORE about what he shared was this part:  "I ask every person in my on course team (caddie, dad, putting coach), to make a their own list. This keeps us all accountable the entire year that everybody is doing what they should be doing on and off the course to make sure we are as ready as possible every time I tee it up."

Seriously, how fantastic is that?!  I just love the whole concept.  It's not just individual goals or even team goals, it's goals for each person FOR THE TEAM.

BTW, here are his results of the goals for 2017-2018:  I admire this because he didn't have to be this open with everyone, but I am glad because we are all learning from him:

(click to enlarge)

Maybe this is obvious in parts of our lives already, or maybe it's just the way he stated about accountability for everyone to be ready as part of the team that I loved.  But whatever it is about this just made me smile; and I love it!    

And, I waited until now to share it in case you wish to employ this for your pool team, work group, goals for the who family, etc, starting out the new year.

BTW, Justin Thomas' Instagram account is really cool - not all about golf, and some funny things.  Plus, he shares why he might not have won some events and should have.  I highly recommend it.  


Monday, January 7, 2019

2019 Goals

I have a written a ton of times about GOALS (okay, maybe that's a little bit of an exaggeration).

But because it's the first of the year, let's continue this important tradition (before we move too much further into January and then this becomes "old news" lol). 

First, I don't believe in resolutions, but I do believe in GOALs and feel they are very important to our improvement.  Bottom line is there are good goals but sometimes not so good goals.  Don't set yourself up for failure; set yourself set up for success!

Goals are important because they give you that something extra to strive for, to look forward to, to plan for, etc.

I like simpler goals now.  Like in matches or at tournaments:
  • Have fun
  • Stay down
  • Smooth stroke
  • Write notes after each match/tournament how I felt and what I learned

These goals below seem realistic and attainable, but sometimes they are not:
  • Get in the money every tournament
  • Last til Sunday
  • Win all my matches in league
  • Get in the top 25% of a tourney
These goals are setting you up for failure.  Sorry!  They are affected by A LOT of outside factors that you have no control over.  One time I placed 9th and didn't get in the money because the field wasn't large enough.  One time I ran into the top two players and didn't make it to Sunday.  Another time someone slopped in the 9ball and cost me a 5-0 at league.

So, as you can see, goals are only as good as you set them.

And remember, goals need to be SMART!  
  • Specific
  • Meaningful
  • Action Oriented
  • Realistic and 
  • Timely

Let's compare: "Watch more videos this year."  Hmmmm... How about:  "Watch 2 videos a month." 

See the smart difference?

Have a GREAT 2019!!