A month or so ago, I played in a weekly handicap 9-ball tournament. I'd promised myself a "pool-free" weekend, because I was burnt out from so much league play. I was a little frustrated because although I didn't feel like playing, I knew that it was the kind of thing I needed to be doing to meet my goal of playing better big table 9-ball. So, I decided to not let my "league fatigue" get in the way, and played the tournament. I only won 1 match, but I did feel excited about pool again. I resolved to play more tournaments.
Last week, I woke up Saturday morning, realized it had been a month since I played a 9-ball tournament. A few more weeks of league under my belt, I was feeling even more resistant.
Earlier in the week, one of my teammates and I had been discussing the value of league v. tournaments. He was pretty emphatic that league is a tough way to improve. There's just too much non-play time compared to a tournament or practice. But tournaments are more expensive. His advice was:
Teammate: "Play more tournaments, and keep track of how much money you win, and how much money you invest in entry fee."
PM: Well, I don't really play these tournaments for the money. I'm just playing for the experience."
Teammate: "That's a bad attitude. You gotta go into these tournaments believing you can win. If you're just playing for the experience, you're not really getting any."
Hmmmm....I realized he was right. When I first started playing competitively, I always believed it was at least possible for me to win, no matter what the match up was (even if I may not have acknowledged it outwardly). I'm not sure when or why my attitude shifted, but I could see that I had stopped thinking that way.
Anyway, last Saturday, I had decided not to play.
Then, I thought about my teammate's comment...
I asked myself,"If I thought I was going to win the tournament, would I play?" The answer: "Hell yeah!" I grabbed my cue, got on the bus, said goodbye to the sunny day, and headed down to the pool hall.
Did I win the tournament? Nope, but I could have. I finished 3rd, and walked out with $100. Most importantly, it felt good to be honest with myself again....believing in myself and playing to win, is part of the experience I'm looking for.