Friday, June 29, 2007

Dearest cue.....

So while OMGWTF continues her 100 Days of Pool, I am ready for yet another pool fast. And I mean it this time!

Dearest Cue,

Forgive me. I know we've been spending lots of time together. Been through a lot. Our first, less than stellar, appearance in a Sudden Death match at the regional team tournament. Our first in the money finish in a singles tournament....and then a whole lot of one-on-one practice time, and the ocassional bar game, when you happen to be with me when I go for a beer.

Its been great....but I just feel that things are getting a little stale. I'm not willing to say the passion is gone. I know its not. But for awhile I think its time for you to be a buddha in the corner of my room and for me to spend some time with other interests. So, I'm taking a break. When I come back, I will have a new apartment, a new schedule, and a new attitude. So be ready. It will be time to dance.

Your one and only,
Pool Minnow

Dearest Blog,

Now that cue and I are taking some time off....I think its time we mix things up as well. Please be ready to hear about my other obsessions without being jealous for my dear, lonely cue. Stay tuned.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sudden Death and No Va Vegas

I did not survive Sudden Death, but I certainly learned something from it.

Two weeks ago, my beloved pool team made a valiant effort to win the Citywide Tournament but got knocked out in the first round. It was close, we should have won....but a combination of failure to execute and not choosing the best strategy let us watch a 2-0 lead slip away....and left us with no more matches and the dream of the Nationals in Vegas faded into obscurity.

The big difference between the Citywide tournament and our regular session playoffs, is that becasue its a Higher Level Tournament, there is actually a time limit. Normally, we play five matches, and it takes as long as it takes. At the Citywide, after 3 hours and 45 minutes, the format switches to Sudden Death. Any match starting after 3:45 minutes, is a race to one game. Handicaps disappear. Luck plays a greater role. The pressure is on.

We won our first two matches, which meant we needed only one more. I still had two good players. They still had two good players. I decided to play first a four and then a six against their two 5's. I was sure that we would win one of those. Our 4 is usually a pretty speedy player, so I put him up first--whether he won or lost-- it would be a fairly quick outcome. Then our SL6 could put it away in the next match. Of course it wasn't meant to be, and we lost the next two matches, and that left me to play the Sudden Death game against another SL3. (And by now I'm really kicking myself for not playing myself in that 3rd match, possibly sacrificing the match. If we lost the next one, we would have been at the advantage with a 4-3 match up.)

So, now I'm playing a Sudden Death game. I'm actually kind of excited. As a captain, I wouldn't have wanted this to happen, but as a player, I'm grateful for the experience. One game. If I lose, my team does not go to Vegas. I can win this. The other match has finished, so now the bar is filled with interested parties, all watching. I won't go through the blow by blow. So, obviously I lost. I certainly had my chances to put it away. Mostly, though, I'm pround that mentally I played strong throughout. Occasionally, I would catch a glimpse of the large crowd at the bar, all staring at me, and I just pushed it out of my mind. While my focus wasn't exactly laser sharp, nerves surely played some role, my thoughts were not filled with letting my team down, not going to Vegas or the fact that everyone was watching in the critical moment. So, that's a good thing.

As I'm writing this, I realize though, that my mind wasn't filled with lots of positive images. I've sometimes been able to pull my game together by thinking about how pleased my coach is when I make a great shot. I also didn't get the same positive support in between innings from my other teammates that I've had in the past.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Back in the Blog

Well, clearly my pool blogging efforts fell by the wayside. I have been focusing on trying to have balance in my life, and sometimes pool gets just a little too much attention. I have also wondered whether the blog helps or hurts. If it is a reflective practice that enhances my learning and enjoyment, or whether its just one more thing to do and causes me to over analyze.

After having taken this long break, I've decided that its helpful. Over the last few weeks, I've developed some bad habits. I felt like I was doing too many drills and shooting enough balls, and now I've gone the other direction. When I practice, I mostly just throw some balls on the table and shoot at them. That may have been good once or twice, but I've definitely noticed my fundamentals slipping. And the running balls hasn't had the effect of helping me be more consistent in the pre-shot routine. Anyway, I think coming back and reflecting on my practice sessions or games helps me really focus on my goals, rather than just killing time.

So here I am again.