Friday, June 28, 2019

Helping Others Helps Yourself - Katniss

I thought it was really cool the other day when Katniss (of the Project Hunger Game Series section of my blog) shared that she went to a tournament because "she wanted to support it."

She had a very full plate that weekend at home, but she still found time to support this local tournament.

I discovered the tournament is near and dear to her heart and she wanted to show the tournament directors and the pool room owners that she cared about what they were doing for pool players, and so she went to play. Some people visit tournaments to show support by stopping by to say hi to the TD (as an example, which is really cool!), but Katniss showed her support by playing in the tournament.

What's also cool about this is, indirectly she will also gain additional experience by playing in yet another tournament.

As reminder, every single tournament you play in, you learn. Every single match play, you are learning from. So even though she was going there to show her support, she also gained something by going - more experiences to add to her repertoire!

Also, her decision to play in the tournament just to show her support, shows how big a heart she has. Normally we all go to tournaments to play pool. Yea, we might like the people running it and also the pool room owners, but many of us aren't there for them. We are there for ourselves. We are there to play pool, right? Go show support "just because"? Who does that? lol. hahaha.

Very sweet of her.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Upset at Captain Decisions

One of my friends recently emailed me and shared how his team placed at a league state tournament.

Long story short, he's mad at his captain! Poor captain, lol.

The captain made a poor choice during a match during their state tournament and my friend believes this cost his team a better chance to finish well in the tournament. Turns out the captain is a good friend of his, so he's struggling quite a bit with being upset with him. What did the captain do that was so bad? Well, he pulled two players from the line up during a crucial match at a crucial time, so two other teammates could get to play.

Here, let me share part of his email so you get a better flavor of the situation:

I felt like he didn't have the leadership to stand firm and not try to appease everyone on playing time. And I just felt like he let us down from his captain duties. It's certainly a far cry from my previous captain who knew more about team dynamics, momentum, and when to pull players or not. I just don't feel like he has that quality, nor does he want to become a stronger captain. Am I overthinking that? Am I being selfish b/c my competitive nature wants our team to do so well given the talent on the team? What do you think?

I haven't emailed him back yet, mostly because I've been too busy and also because he wrote a freaking novel (lol) and I haven't had time to address everything in the email. But, of all the things he said in that long email, this topic is the one that's bothering him the most. So I'm going to respond to his concerns via my blog! hhahaa. Hope he reads this so he can get some closure. (wink)

I can empathize that he's upset about the poor choice his captain made against a tough team.  And yes, good leaders are VERY important; but they aren't the end-all.

So, in my opinion, I think it's unfair for him to be upset at his captain. (1) The captain didn't make poor decisions intentionally to hurt anyone. (2) The captain just doesn't have the experience.  (3) It's not really healthy to compare him to his stellar previous captain. Hey wait, isn't that discriminatory anyway!?  Just kidding, lol. But it is kind of like comparing your new girlfriend with your previous girlfriend. It's not fair to the new girl and causes problems, right?  (4) A team will not win or lose solely because of a captain. (5) And finally, it's team event; everyone is responsible.

His entire team plays REALLY well (yes, even the captain), and it just wasn't their time to win.

I think captains do the best they can with what they know. Although my friend might have had better experience and knowledge with what should have been done, the teammates did leave the decisions to this inexperienced captain. To me, that's just a lesson learned. Further, there's no guarantee that if he hadn't pulled those players during that match, that the team would have finished high.

The other key about this situation is, my friend has many experiences of first and second and third places finishes in state and national tournaments with another team with that stellar captain. So, had my friend not had those experiences, he wouldn't even have known the decisions made by his current captain were costly.  See what I mean?

So to my friend (if he reads this, lol), stop being mad at your friend.  Learn from it! But don't be mad at the guy. It's okay to be disappointed the team didn't finish further, but it's not one person's fault.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Learning Lesson about Interviews

I love learning!

Don't you?

Wanted to share something I learned the hard way the other day.

When I ask any prospective interviewee about being interviewed for my column in Billiard Buzz, I always have some questions already in mind for them. I don't ever inquire without already knowing what I might ask. That wouldn't be proper journalism, right?

Then I wait to hear back from them before I type up all the questions.  But, I learned in late May I just might need another plan of attack lol.

You see, I asked the next potential interviewee if they were interested and I immediately received a "Yes!" back. I promised her I'd email the questions by the end of the week. Work got in the way, and I also finishing up the June interview. Then, work got busy the next week (real bad), and told her I would need another week to get her the questions. Luckily for me she was very cool about it.

Then, omg... nightmare scenario happened.

Granted, none of this would be a nightmare if I had the Internet at home, but that's not my fault! That's the fault of the companies who wont install wiring underground in my neighborhood.

But I digress....

I ended up for the first time in my life getting a sinus infection. I don't know about you, but I haven't had one before and I actually was out of work for almost two full weeks. And because I do all my computer and Internet things at my desk at work, I could not send her any questions via email as I had not prepared them yet!  And, I couldn't even drive a car - that's how bad my infection was - so I couldn't even sneak to work on either weekend to type them out.


So every week I sent her an apology email... "Next week...."

Well, that sad pattern continued for weeks of apologies - literally 4 weeks later than originally planned!

So, to say the least, I wont be making the July issue.

But, not to worry, as I'm not worrying! As you recall from my blog post last month, I'm learning to not let things stress me.  Including deadlines!

But, it's an interesting learning lesson for me.

Because actually, no one has (yet!) actually turned me down when I've asked if I could interview them. So, maybe I should prepare the questions ahead of time just in case unforeseen things happen again.  What a concept, right?!  Oh, and I just realized that will also decrease my stress because I wil already be prepared. Hmm...

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Playing Pool For Fun? Uh, no.

I was talking to a new coworker the other day, who has only been employed at my office for about 8 months, but been with our company for about 15 years. He had no idea I used to play pool and he was very intrigued because he plays golf. As we all know, the sports are very similar.  Further, he plays in tournaments on weekends and is a pretty good player for an amateur (hey, just like me!).

During our convo, he asked me something unusual, and as soon as he asked it, though, I immediately knew something about his golf game.  And when I gave him my answer, he immediately knew something about my pool game.

He asked me if I ever practiced pool for fun.

Again, I thought it was an unusual question, so I first looked at him funny, but then confidently said, "Nope."

And he replied, "Now I know you were serious about pool when you played."

And I replied, "Just by you asking that question, I also know you play a good game of golf!"

I'm not sure if I've shared this before or not, but once I became more serious about competing and also when I started to focus more on trying to make my fundamentals solid, I didn't play pool for fun anymore. I discovered it was one of the worst things I could do, was play pool for fun.

By that I mean, I either practiced with intention, or played in league and in tournaments ONLY; I no longer played pool for fun.  I wouldn't ever again, say, play for fun on a Friday night with a couple of friends that weren't pool players.

In other words, if I'm at the pool room on a Friday night and I happened to be playing pool, I'm usually doing a race, maybe gambling, maybe there for a tournament, or hitting balls to get ready for a tournament (ie practicing). But you would never have seen me in the previous 10 years just having fun with friends drinking and playing pool.


Well, when I would be out having fun with friends at the pool room, it would cause me to resort back to my old tendencies of two-stroking and jumping up on my shots. Let's face it, it had been difficult enough for me to stay down on my shots and follow through, and being in an atmosphere where there wasn't competition, I didn't even try to stay down or follow through; I was having fun with friends.

And anyway, who wants to hang out with a friend who is trying to be super serious at pool? They would rather be joking and drinking and catching up anyway.

I had put so much time and energy into my game, I didn't want to put myself in situations that set me back.

What do I mean by set me back?

Well, I found this out the hard way:

Once my fundamentals started to get better, if I went out to the pool room for fun and drinking with friends (who don't play pool), I noticed at my next practice session I had some fine tuning to work on because I had flubbed up my fundamentals. Figured it was fluke, so of course I went out and had fun again a few weeks later on another night lol. And what to do you know - same thing happened: my mechanics got messed up.

My fundamentals weren't solid yet, so any time I played where I wasn't serious, was a detriment to my game.


You see, I was finally always working on my game. You may not have seen it, you may not have known it, but if you saw me on a table in the last 10 years I was either trying to stay down, trying to focus on three-ball shape, trying to walk 'into my shots,' working on shape, trying to learn... all that type of stuff. So why would I possibly want to take steps backwards?

Okay, okay.... don't be sitting there thinking I didn't have fun lol. I did have a lot of fun! I went out a lot still - I just didn't play pool when I did go out and have fun.

I remember also that when I traveled for my job, people would always try to get me to play pool after work. It was always difficult to explain I just wasn't interested. Even if I gave the excuse I didn't bring my cue (which I didn't travel with unless I was playing in a big tournament), they would say, "Just use a house cue, come on!"


Again, playing for fun when I was trying to improve and work on my fundamentals was a step backwards for me. I wasn't using the same muscle memory when I was having fun. Why? I was focused on laughing and joking and drinking with non-pool playing friends. Those nights just weren't the proper times to be working on my game.

And btw, this proved extremely beneficial to me. Because even when I play pool now, I am surprised just how solid my fundamentals are and good I am still playing, though I hardly play pool and haven't competed in over 2 years.

Now, go check your fun factor. Have you noticed the same thing? If so, just have fun with your non-pool playing friends at other spots that don't have pool tables. See? Simple solution. haha

Friday, June 21, 2019

"Return the Faver" - Another Free entry!

The next player 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.

The 2019 "JUNIOR NORRIS" Memorial Shoot Out was honored to receive a free entry into the Open 9 ball division in honor or Dave.  Sherry Glenn (Junior Norris' daughter who runs the event) chose Alex Fonseca from Cleburne, Texas! He is a Junior Player with much talent and promise for the game. Sherry and I both think Dave would be very happy with the selection!

Here is what his Dad said and shared this photo:

"This kid loved this guy, and this guy loved this kid. We will be there in hi honor! And on behalf of his honor, the kid will also be playing with Dave's cue, the one you see him holding in this picture:"  

I'm so happy for Alex and so happy for his friendship with Dave!

BTW, I wrote about this Father and Son duo before - so it's really cool to run across their paths again!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Offering Support Without Pressure (pool and everyday life)

Just as you all experience, also, our every day life overlaps with similar things we experience in our pool game.

I have stated many times I am very careful how I speak to friends before they compete. I try to not ever add pressure with my choice of words. People that say on social media "win it!" or "hope you do well!" or "you got this!" aren't way overboard pressure comments, I admit, but there are better word choices.

As a matter of fact, I actually never say "good luck" to anyone before a match or tournament.  I always try to say something like, "enjoy the game we love" or "have fun!"

See what I did there?

I didn't add pressure and I reminded them to have fun (we usually forget that, right?) and reminded them to enjoy the game. A lot times we are so consumed with trying to perform well or place well, we forget that if we just think about how much we love the game, enjoy playing, and have fun, we actually do a lot better.

You all know I'm right!

I have recently experienced this same situation wishing my supervisor at work and also my mentee at work (I'm in a mentor program through my company) good luck on interviews.
I have to say, I really struggled with what to say and how to say it.  Well, I didn't struggle per se, but I did a lot of backspacing (lol) and reevaluating my choice of words. I didn't want to add to the pressure they already felt being interviewed for a promotion.

It so much reminded me how careful I am with my choice of words to friends either in text or on social media about wishing them luck on an upcoming tournament. It's a very fine line imho.

I used to get irritated by how people worded these to me before tournaments. So, I came up with a great solution! (1) I didn't let social media friends know the morning of an event I was even at a tournament and (2) in case they did find out or someone tagged me, I stayed off social media until I was finished for the day OR until I was completely out of the tournament on Sunday. I wanted NO distractions (good or bad) so I did what was best for my mental toughness, and it was a very successful plan for me to just stay off social media until I was done and then give the great (or sad lol) update!

When my mentee was chatting with me about her interview the next day, I debated so much with what to say. I finally just said, "hey, just remember to breathe." And she loved that advice because she is an extrovert and can sometimes keep talking and talking - this reminded her to take breaths and not rush.

With my boss, I backspaced SO much on my text to him. Not good luck, not break a leg, not hope you do well, not you'll be fine, etc.  I didn't even want to tell him, "get some rest tonight" as I didn't want him to stress in case he couldn't sleep in his hotel room worrying about the interview, lol. I finally just said, "be yourself." Which even that I wondered about haha.

You have to understand that because I have test anxiety, I am more careful with my words to people before big life events, but it's also because so many times I have heard from friends who were nice-intentioned, but their words still added pressure.  So, I might be going overboard a little bit, but I know in my heart sleep better at night being super caring and aware to not state pressure-related words at all to my friends before competing or big life events.

Now, reflect: how are YOU giving advice?

Saturday, June 15, 2019

If You Can't Say Something Nice....

In early April I shared some of my most helpful tips with Katniss of things she can do when she has that self realization during a match she is having negative feelings or emotions (here's the link to the blog post).

To recap, to help curtail negative feelings and emotions, simply follow these three important things:
  1. focus on 3-ball shape, 
  2. focus on your pre-shot routine, and 
  3. stroke on your shots more.

Ironically, just about a month later, I saw a friend of mine playing on a stream and I could tell immediately just by the way she was shooting that something was off - either she was nervous or felt pressure, something was bothering her. Whatever it was, it affected her mechanics. She wasn't staying down on her shots, not walking around the table, and shooting much faster than I'm used to seeing her shoot her shots.

I reached out to her about a week later and broached the subject carefully. She was open to suggestions and then I gave her the same advice on how to calm negative emotions. (They really are great, solid tips that helped me for years!)

Fast forward only a month later, and my friend shared a story with me.

She shared that she watched a fellow female pool player (a friend of hers) playing on a stream on a Sunday afternoon.  And what do you know - she noticed and recognized right away that her friend was also not playing up to par and wasn't playing like she normally plays. Turns out she was feeling a lot of pressure and had a lot of nerves because of it.

She reached out to her friend a day or two later and passed on the advice that I had just given her a month before!

But, there is more to the story than me tooting my own horn, lol. There is actually a greater learning lesson here.

What I thought was more intriguing with what she shared with me, was that her friend told her no one had given her advice on how to solve her nerves... All everyone else did was just tell her how badly she played.

Poor girl!  Ugh, I felt so bad hearing this.

But... how powerful is this reminder!

If you 're going to bring up something to someone that is negative about them, instead of just making rude remarks, make sure you bring to the table something that is beautiful, something that they can learn from, something that is positive about the topic you're about to bring up.  Don't just dog them; help them!

Friday, June 14, 2019

My Experiences May Not be Good Advice - Project Hunger Games

Katniss (of the Project Hunger Game Series section of my blog) shared with me she played a tournament match on a stream table a few months ago.  Being the person I am who asks questions because I'm inquisitive, I asked her if she watched the match afterwards.  Well, and in order to write about her pool journey I need to ask questions, right?  haha

This is one of those situations, though, I have realized I think I share too much of my own experiences, that are not helpful to others.

You all know I have written several times about how listening to streams affected my play. Back when I was playing competitively often, if I listened to streams and if what they said wasn't positive (unlike Billy Guy who I wrote about who was not only effective, but never negative), I discovered it affected my future play on stream tables.  Sometimes they would say negative, hurtful, unattractive things about people's games.

But not only that, people in the chat hide behind keyboards and they would say pretty crappy things in the comments. It's almost like they don't even realize what they're saying is rude.

However, no matter how much they're hiding, usually what they are saying is true. But, it just happens to not be stated in a very nice way at all, right?

So, that's why towards the end of my pool journey I didn't want to watch streams. Not ust because of what the commentators said oftentimes, but also because what I read from the peanut gallery might be in the back of mind for my next stream matches.

Does that make sense?

In other words, when I was on a stream I would get nervous because I would think about the people that might be on there that would be judging me. That's the bottom line. I wasn't mentally strong enough to look at it the way Tina Malm does (which I wish I could have, which I wish I did! lol).

So, it kinda freaked me out to be on the stream. Don't get me wrong, I became mentally strong in the last couple of years of my successful pool journey, and so I won many more matches than lost on the streams, but I am not shy to admit I was internally tormented trying to not think about people watching/commentating if I made a gross mistake, and just focus on the match in front of me.  Luckily I learned and instilled many tips to keep me focused on the game in front of me, but it was still tough at times not to be distracted by my own negative thoughts of the "what ifs" about the people watching me on the stream.

Back to Katniss....

I had shared with Katniss (after she told me she hadn't yet watched her recorded match) that she should watch it with the sound off. And I also told her to not read the comments.

Now, she's a big girl she can listen to the commentators and she can read the comments - it was just my suggestion.

But, honestly, I'm not sure it was a good suggestion on my part.

I can tell that Katniss is more mentally strong and mentally tougher than I was at her spot in her pool journey, so I really don't think that she would have the same negative effects that I did.

And I need to really be careful about my advice.  I need to remember that my lack of mental toughness was my experience.  And therefore, I should not give such pinpointed advice.  Instead of suggesting to her not to turn the sound on or read comments, I should state it in another way or maybe not be so specific with my advice. Just because I was deeply affected along the way in my pool journey with this topic doesn't mean others will be.

Don't get me wrong - Katniss is her own person and she listens to advice and then decides on her own what to do and not do, so it's not like she HAS to do what I suggested. But I can help be better in these situations and be more general about things like this.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Sharing: Accolades from Interviews

One of the main reasons I wanted to conduct interviews (dream goal!) was to share obstacles pool players have overcome.  I usually always choose someone who has been through a tough time in their life, because I want us all to learn from them. And it puts a more human aspect to the player, right? They aren't just a pool player you see across the poolroom, but someone who has been through something tough, and also overcame it.

That's why it meant so much what Charlie 'Papa Red' Smith said a couple of years ago and now what another friend said about my most recent interview.

Charlie said this: (if you don't recall and we can relish together :)
"I want to thank Melinda Bailey for the article she did on me in Billiard Buzz. To be considered was an honor for me as an average pool player and individual. Melinda Bailey did a great job in asking the questions and the whole writing of the article. If you ever have the privilege of being asked to let her interview you, do it. The more we learn about our friends and their struggles in life and playing pool, makes the pool world a tighter family. IMHO. I think Melinda Bailey missed her calling by not being an Professional Interviewer.

Thanks again Melinda Bailey!"

The other player, who commented on social media about the recent Jeremy Jones interview, has been mentioned in my blog before.  Check out our discussion about the rabbit!

This is what he said this time:
"It’s amazing the way JJ has diversified his passion for pool and, for sure, deserves every single recognition that's out there.  His analysis when commentating is second to none and reflects the tremendous knowledge he has.  What he’s doing for the kiddos is remarkable, and in my dictionary, that's the difference between a regular guy and a true professional.  I’m just looking forward to read his first book: “One Pocket: table reading and shot selection-decision making process” 😎  To him and his family, my congratulations.

As for you Melinda: 99% of conversations at a pool hall are about money matches, hustling, tournament results, and tips for this or that.  If you check the table of contents of your magazine, all articles are exactly about the same topics… all, but yours.  I’ve realized about your vision to humanize the game.  Reading from you is refreshing because you go further and deeper in your interviews trying to find out the personal reasons behind their success.  Your interviews are a motivation to all those children who are looking for reasons to love the sport we are all passionate about.  We need more people like you out there doing what you do.  Keep it up lady, you're making a difference! And for all that, thank you.  "

I hadn't even thought of these two aspects the gentlemen mentioned about the interviews:

  1. "The more we learn about our friends and their struggles in life and playing pool, makes the pool world a tighter family," and 
  2. " find out the personal reasons behind their success."

It's really cool to see how my dream has led to even more benefits for the readers and our sport that I hadn't even thought of!

Thanks to both of these guys for sharing their thoughts. Really, truly means a lot.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Jeremy Jones Interview - Billiard Buzz June 2019

The June issue of Billiard Buzz is now available and I was very happy to get to interview a true representative of our sport, Jeremy Jones! Check it out today and get to know Jeremy better! You won't be disappointed; I promise.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Happy For Friends Games Maturing

This past weekend was a nice treat for those who love to watch women's pool. RackemTV, a live streaming company out of the Dallas area, streamed throughout the Jerry Olivier's Ladies Tour stop at JR Pockets in Denton, Texas.

I played at JR Pockets several years via the Omega Tour, so it was nice to see a familiar place in the background. And one of my favorite commentators was helping call plays (Billy Guy who I wrote about before), so that was an added bonus as well. When RackemTV was streaming the DFW 9Ball Tour last month from JR Pockets, Billy was not the commentator and boy was he missed!

Anyway, the reason for writing this morning is to share how happy and proud I was to see some friends play who have not just kept their game up, who have not just improved, but that their game has a maturity to it that we all hope for in our friends game!

I can't begin to put into words how happy my heart was to see some of my friends who have been playing well for years, who now play not just better, but with confidence, poise, and improved knowledge. They not only played well, they shot damn good - their games have really matured! They didn't take shots for granted, they stayed in each match whether up or down, and their mechanics were spot-on. It was such a joy to see shot after shot these few friends who I have always loved and admired their game and talent, but to see them play even more successful because of their solid mechanics, gained experience, and comfortable confidence.

I can't really put down in words what I mean.  I guess I am trying to say after years of watching them play and improve, it was nice to see their games elevated to such a level of maturity that no longer showed weak fundamentals, bad shots, or poor choices, if that makes sense. Every shot mattered, every pre-shot-routine was important and solid, and every decision was smart and confident. It was such a joy to witness!!

Awww, growing up is so much fun seeing in others!