Thursday, February 28, 2008

Giving up the ghost

I will not wrecklessly, lazily shoot balls in practice. I will not wrecklessly, lazily shoot balls in practice. I will not wrecklessly, lazily shoot balls in practice... I will not....

My time is too valuable to build up muscle memory for bad habits. Focus, girl. Focus.

I'll be back to play the ghost when I'm truly deserving and ready for a match up.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Practice, practice, practice

I've been very fortunate that I've had an advanced player help me practice the last few weeks. He's been incredibly helpful in not only pointing out when my fundamentals slip and in imparting new knowledge, but just doing the slog work of a personal trainer. He sets up my shots, and then endlessly resets them, so I've been able to get in some serious repetition and muscle memory. I never really thought about how much time I spend walking around the table to set up another object ball when I'm doing drills.

The only drawback is that when I'm practicing alone, I have even less patience for doing this kind of drill. So, I'm going to have to find a practice partner who is obsessed as I am and is willing to swap. Shoot for a half-hour and set for a half-hour. Having done this a few times now, I'm convinced that a half-hour of the rapid fire shooting is more effective than an hour of drills on my own. We'll see.

In league this week, I won my match. It went hill-hill because I missed an easy shot in the 2nd game, that I just shot to quickly. In the case game, I was left with the choice of a cut on the 8 with a possible scratch or a bank. Fortunately, in practice the night before I had been endlessly repeating a certain bank shot - focusing on shooting with control. This wasn't the same bank. The angle was wider, but the cut on the object ball and its distance to the rail were kind of similar. Anyway, it felt like the same principles applied - a little outside English, controlled speed, and the 8 just flowed into the pocket.

Two things were especially gratifying. One, it was great to see immediate results from my work at the practice table. That's so often not the case. And second, once I committed to the bank over the cut, I was fully committed to the shot. In my decision making process, I considered the low percentage of bank shots, but after I decided to go for it, it was the farthest thing from my mind. Now, if I can manage to do that on every single shot, imagine the possibilities.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Karma is a bitch. And Saturday she was my patron saint.

I learned a few things this weekend through observation about how NOT to compete in a tournament.

First, its a good idea not to piss off the entire draw before things start and turn the whole room against you. A good way to do this, is to not give other people a chance to warm up when the table space is limited. Wait until some well-adjusted person gives up the table to you after a couple games, and then refuse to leave until someone beats you, "because last time you checked, this is a bar and that's how it works." Its one thing to have the right to be an asshole, but you gotta be a real Earl Anthony to actually invoke that right. Works like a charm. People will hate you.

Second, when you encounter a lower-ranked opponent who doesn't have a lot of tournament experience, turn to her right before the lag and ask her, "So, are you feeling tired yet?" This mild attempt at sharking will smell like exactly what it is, fear, and you will eliminate any last remaining vestiges of intimidation she was feeling. She will also realize that she is not in the least bit tired, but energized by how well she is playing.

Third, foul and pretend it didn't happen. Wait for the right shot, and carom off your opponents ball first in order to continue your run. If its not officially being watched, you can pretty much do whatever you want. Just in case your opponent didn't pick up on the fear at the start of the match, it will be blatantly obvious now, and she will feel a moral obligation to really kick your ass.

Do these things and I guarantee. You will lose.
So, in the interest of blogger integrity, I must add a few notes.

1) Holding the practice table hostage: No notes necessary, this is pretty much how it went down. I should only add that this happened after the official start time of the tournament, so I don't even think that the normal bar rules applied.

2)"Are you feeling tired yet?" This could have been an attempt at conversation. It wasn't said in a snarky or pointed way. I actually suspect that he was in fact feeling tired. I did not have to face his "A" game. Although, others have confirmed he has a reputation for shenanigans like this.

3)Unacknowledged foul: Angle is everything when it comes to watching for fouls, and I was too far away to be sure. I thought it was a foul. The person next to me thought it was a foul. Truth be told, it was my bad for not having the shot watched. And I said so, and let it go. Really, it didn't bother me. My philosophy with this kind of thing, is that unless your a sociopath, most of us have a built in auto-karma enforcer. If he did cheat, he probably felt guilty, and missed two shots he should have made for the one he stole. But when it was my turn to shoot, and my bridge hand touched the felt, I thought "Bitch, I WILL cut you. Just in case, I am right, I need to kick your ass."

Anyway, it was a sweet, sweet victory. It only makes me sad that such a good player feels the need to mess with these kind of antics. Its a damn shame. My sense is that he is probably one of these guys who is perfectly normal, until picks up a pool cue and feels the need to become the playground bully that picked on him when he was a kid.

But maybe I'm being too nice. Bitch, I will cut you.....but I'll want to buy you a beer afterward.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Pool Minnow Wins Tournament. Hell Freezes.

I am completely exhausted, but I have many tales (well at least one) to tell about my first tournament win. So, I'll just put a little placeholder for now and record that I won my league's top shooter tournament. I'll be the first to say the rolls were going my way, but I am also very, very proud of how I played. I gave it my all and for once, kept at it all the way through the finals.

I suck at pool a little less each and every day :-).

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Blah, Blah, Blah-Blah-Blahg

I'm just getting over a nasty cold, and don't really have the energy to compose much of a post, so I'm just going to jot down a few random thoughts, observations from the week:

  • Adrenaline & Antihistamine really are interchangeable. When I take antihistamine, it makes my heart beat and mimics the feeling I get under pressure. I also discovered that after the surge of adrenaline from winning a big playoff match, as I did recently, that my cold symptoms disappeared for 24 hours. Weird!

  • I'm realizing that the the mental game trick for me is less about letting go of winning as it is letting go of the fear of losing. Looking back at it, this should have been obvious.

  • I think that even in my meek, lower-level realm of league pool, I'm actually learning to "give weight". In OMGWTF's post about Derby City, she confessed to wanting to beat the entire world in pool. After she had done that, she would spot the world and beat it again. Most of the time in my little APA world, people really only complain about spotting games and how hard it is. This past week I played a 2 who was an very good shooter, and probably should be a 3. But, still I think I was the better player, and it was fair to spot him a game. This wasn't a conscious decision, but I realized after the fact it gave me a lot more confidence to accept the handicap as an indication of actual skill (at least when its in my favor), rather than whine about it being unfair. Spotting games puts the pressure on and makes me a better player.

  • I'm starting to believe that I may, in fact, play my best under pressure.

  • In practice, I'm having a hard time focusing on drills and want to just shoot. This is an ongoing problem for me, but its especially hard as I come up on events that I'm preparing for. I'm not sure if working on the drills undermines my confidence that my game isn't good enough and I don't have time to change anything. Right now, I'm just following my gut, doing my stroke drills and working on pre-shot routine while shooting racks. I'll try to get back to shot making drills next week.

That is all. Time for more coffee.