Monday, October 20, 2008

Repacking Pandora's Box

I decided this weekend to take a drastic step. If I was really going to commit to this idea that I have enough knowledge and ability to play good pool, then I needed to clean things up a bit. So, I took a box, and rounded up all my pool books, magazines & DVD's, and packed them away. While I was at it, I thought, why not just go for a completely new start, so I added all my plaques, trophies (okay, trophy) and patches. Phil Cappelle's Play Your Best 8-Ball tried to hide out under the bed, but I found it and put it in. I know it hardly seems fair when I've barely cracked the spine, but all temptations need to be removed. Later that night as I brushed my teeth, I looked in the mirror and realized that I had been sleeping in a tournament T-Shirt. In the box it went.

After the few remaining stragglers had been rounded up, the various items filled the one box perfectly. I tied it up with string and put it in the back of the closet for safe keeping.

I'll be back for them, but for now I'm enjoying the spaciousness of a clean slate.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Enough is enough....

If I have a fatal flaw, its probably that I want to know everything. And, I want to know it now. I would happily drown trying to drink too much and too fast from the fire hydrant of all things pool related.

After the end of the league summer session, the coming and going of the Singles Regional, my sideline envy of participants in the US Amateur, I was ready to dive right in with new determination, devour knowledge, practice intensely and kick major butt.

And then something unexpected happened.

Just as I was getting ready to set up a renewed and revived schedule with Coach, he said that he couldn't coach me anymore. :-(

Suddenly, my path to greatness seemed that much harder and much less fun. Left to my own devices, I wander and digress and develop bad habits. And while there are a great many options for help, they are mostly piecemeal and not the same as having a mentor. This was very bad news.

And then I wondered:
They say that when the student is ready the teacher will appear. Does that also mean that when the student is ready the teacher will go away?

As I stopped fighting the reality, I realized that maybe this is a good thing. Coach is by far the best pool teacher I have ever had. But sometimes, I've felt that Coach pushed things a little too fast. He would repeat mercilessly within one session, but the next session he would move onto something else without going back over what I had learned last time. I'm very quick to catch on to a new shot in practice, but over time that momentary mastery seems to fade, and its then added to the list of many things that I know, that I can try, but just can't rely on.

Its like what they say, an amateur will practice a shot until they can make it, a pro will practice until they can't miss it. I'm such an amateur.

So, enough is enough. I know enough to play some very good pool. Better pool than I actually play. So, I'm putting it all away, and starting all over again, from the beginning, and learn how to make the most of what I already have.

Thanks, Coach, for all your help...but I'll be okay on my own...(until you or another teacher show up again).

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Life before pool

Okay, just keeping up to date here.....I'm afraid I can't really report on my "Do nothing" tournament preparation strategy, as I was slapped with a last minute, critical assignment at work. I was pretty furious about it, because the crisis was totally unnecessary, and it meant I wasn't able to make it to the Singles Regional Tournament :-(. I had to forfeit my $100 without getting to play a single match. :-( And we'll never know what might have been.

On the plus side, I saved on gas and hotel and driving for hours....all of which I would of gladly suffered, well, maybe not gladly. Of course, if I didn't have the job, I wouldn't have the $100 in the first place, so I won't throw my computer out the window quite yet. Just sneak out to play pool more often. :-)

Nothing wrong with first place loser, right?

Grrrr. Not much to say this week except both my teams went down in the finals this week. First night, I played like a hero to make it hill-hill, but our line-up just didn't have enough strength left to close it out against the other team's anchor. The next night, I was the one who let it slip away. First couple of games, I couldn't make a ball, but then I came back shooting strong, got to the hill, and hit my 8-ball too hard and to thin and watched it bank into the wrong pocket. What a way to go.....sorry, guys. A very inconvenient time to learn a valuable lesson.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Winning ugly

It doesn't have to be pretty, right? I think personally, I feel better when I play well and lose, but when it comes down to bringing it in for the team, yeah I'd rather win. A few months ago Samm Diep had an article where she interviewed some top pros (I'll add the link later), and they all pretty much said the same thing, given the choice, they'll take the win however they can get it. (That's not surprising, considering that's how they make their living and winning really affects their bottom line. ) So, I ain't to proud to take it anyway I can get it.

First round of play offs and I ended up anchoring. That's not what the plan was, but one thing led to another....and it was up to me to bring in the case match. I'd like to think that I can handle the pressure, but I was definitely feeling nerves. My match didn't start until after midnight, and unfortunately, the one thing that really hampers my ability to stay calm, is being tired. I get a little physically clutzy in the early hours of the morning and I guess I'm a little psychologically clutzy too. Nothing seems to work as well.

I was on the hill, I had ball in hand with 2 balls left, and got them in to set up for a pretty easy shot on the 8 in the corner. I was lined up. I could see it. I could feel it. It was going in. And then, I went to shoot it and ... Wah? I barely stroke the ball....and the 8 dribbles into the rail. It was like an opera singer on stage taking in that deep breath and preparing to start a full-throated expressive finale. They open their mouth and "sqqquueeeaaak" nothing comes out. Sometimes, you don't feel right about a shot and then you're not surprised, but this was not the case. Somehow, my mind and stroking arm were completely disconnected. I was so intent on my aiming point and alignment, I guess forgot to breathe and stroke the ball. Damn. Fortunately, it left the 8 as a makable cut, that was prone to overcutting...My opponent followed the script, missed the ball and left the 8 right in front of the pocket.

I have to say that while that was a truly horrible shot, it didn't phase me. "oh, I missed. Let's not do that again." I was on to the next shot. That was probably my best mental moment of the game.

So, next time. Focus on getting my rhythm. Seeing the shot BEFORE I get down on the table, and focusing on my stroke. I might have been trying my damndest to hit my target, but was still using all of the pocket that I could. I know that when I let my stroke lead the way, that even when I miss, I'm getting closer to finding that place mentally where the pockets all look huge and the ball rolls right in the center. Why not just let it be in charge.