Sunday, August 24, 2008

Winner buys the nachos

I think the big take away from the APA Nationals, is just how important endurance is. I guess its one of those lessons that doesn't really hit home until you're successful enough to find yourself still in the later rounds of a tournament.

By the time the time we reached the quarter finals, I was ready to give it all I had. I just had less to give. I wasn't thinking as clearly and my stroke was becoming punchy. The possibility of a nice sit-down dinner instead of grabbing nachos at the Sportsbook and running to the next match, was starting to sound good. I really wasn't prepared to make the most of our unexpected success.

So here is my hindsight-is-20/20 review. (Its my blog, an I'll over-analyze if I want to):

  • Pacing expectations. In the first part of the tournament we did a good job of setting short-term goals. Our initial tournament goal was to win one match. After that, we just kept trying to go one round more. This was great until we reached the quarters. I was so happy that we had far exceeded our expectations, that one more round wasn't really a huge incentive (especially as we approached the dinner hour).

    At the beginning of the tournament, our odds of winning the whole thing, were pretty slim. The small goals were appropriate. But by the time we reached the quarters, no matter whether we were the best team left or not, our chances were actually pretty good. At this point the goal should have been to win the whole damn thing, not just one more round. I think that would have helped tap into those deep, deep resources and compete with the desire to eat, drink and get a foot massage. Like a marathon runner, the first part of the race you have short-term goals, but when you get near the end, you set your sites on the finish line to help push through the pain threshold.

  • Recognizing the critical shots early. Every time we were in a do or die situation, I was able to play miles over my head. I made shots I had no business trying when it came down to getting it in the hole, or ending our tournament run. We were in that situation too many times (and were very lucky to have those second chances). That probably means I wasn't seeing these key shots earlier in the rack. I need to bring those powers of concentration before it comes down to the end game.

  • R & R. The New Toughness Training for Sports, talks a lot about recovery. Now I get it. Recovery when preparing for an event, in between matches, and even in between shots is critical. I did do some meditation in between rounds, which helped, but overall, I just need to learn to relax even more during matches and trust that we will perform our best. Que sera sera and all that. This is especially true for the full team events. You can't get too wound up watching your teammates, or you're already fried when its time for you to play.
Let's hope I get more opportunities to test out these ideas.

Also, I'd love to hear any suggestions that people have for grinding it out through the final round.

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