Thursday, March 26, 2009

Raising the floor

After months of struggling with being bored by my matches and disappointed in my shooting, I'm settling into a good space with league again. I've finally accepted that as one of the lower ranked players on my team, it is for now, simply my job to play the lower ranked players from the opposing team, and win for the team.

My record against lower ranked players is not that good at the moment. When I get bored, I take risks to make things a little more interesting, and end up making mistakes that, in a short race, can mean losing. So winning means I have to make some adjustments. I've decided that in league, I'm not working on pushing the ceiling, but working on raising the floor. I'm not showing up anymore with the goal to play lights out pool. I'm trying to simply be consistent. Try to make each shot. Get some kind of shape. Play the right ball. Play safe when its smart and will win the game. Nothing fancy.

On league nights, I often show up tired and even if I'm not, if I don't feel challenged, I may not be focused. Most likely, I'm not going to be able to play at the top of my game. Instead of trying to fix this, but accept it, I've been playing better. As a perfectionist, I find this almost disappointing, but I'm enjoying league again, so I'm not going to argue with it.

So, I've found some balance in my expectations. But, in general, I've realized that if there is indeed one thing that will improve my game, it has nothing to do with my stroke, my aim, my pre-shot routine. For now, my number one pool goal is to get more SLEEP.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A fresh start

Yes. I am still here. This may be the longest break from blogging I've taken since I started. I guess there were weeks when I just didn't have much to say, and then other times when I had almost too much on my mind, that I didn't feel I could get it into a coherent post, so I just stayed away.

The last couple of months have been kind of up and down. I've been dealing with some health issues and not getting a lot of sleep, which has meant I've had a hard time controlling my emotions at the pool table. If I have a lot of frustration from elsewhere in my life pent up, apparently, when I compete, it just all starts to bubble up. So either, I need to channel that energy in a positive way, find away to let go of it while I'm playing. But just when I'm about to give up and think that all my effort just isn't worth it, I have a good day, and remember that despite all evidence to the contrary, there are signs of improvement.

Anyway, I'm just going to let the last few months go and start fresh.

I now have a greatly reduced league schedule. Hooray! Which means I will not be playing matches I don't want to play, and will give me more time and energy to play more tournaments, practice and do non-pool stuff, like exercise (which really helps me be less stressed when I play).

I'm taking a week to think about what my pool goals are for the year. I saw that Trigger over at "Pool is a Journey" has taken on just one simple goal: To stay down on her shots. When its so easy to create a long wish list of things to improve, I think its genius to just pick one very important goal. If you achieve it, then your whole game improves.

I've been thinking a little about what one thing I would choose. You really couldn't go wrong with staying down, but I often wonder if I get up on shots because something else wasn't right. For one reason or another, I didn't feel comfortable or committed to the shot. In preparing for a recent tournament, a friend of mine got some advice from a Philippino sparring partner. "Just remember the 3 P's of pool: pockeTING, PREParAtion, and POCUS. (You really need the accent to get the full effect). Of the three, as much fun as it might be to have my goal be related to the most interesting sounding of the 3 Ps, (either pockeTING or POCus), I think preparation is my downfall. I really think that I when I miss, its because I haven't centered myself mentally and I've gotten down on the ball wrong, even if I see the aim point correctly....and from there everything can get screwed up.

Okay, its after 11 which means the pool hall is open, and I really, really need to get some breakast.