Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cruel summer

9-Ball Break & Run/Break Cue Challenge: Week 1

After setting up my challenge of having a 9-ball break and run before Vegas, I realized I needed to set a few parameters, or I could end up chasing my tail, trying to run unrunnable rack after unrunnable rack, and just wasting my practice time.

So, here are the rules: I can count any break & run in a league match or any other friendly match up. During practice, I get only 5 attempts per week. I can try to run as many racks as I want, but I have to choose, before the break, whether its a challenge rack.

During league, I played well, but none of my breaks produced layouts that were likely to earn me my break cue. No patch. No break cue. Maybe during practice.

Last night, I practiced for a bit, and was feeling pretty good. I hit one practice rack of 9-ball and then started on my 5 challenge racks. First 3 racks, I make a ball every time, control the cue ball, I have a shot on the 1, but either the 2 or the 3 is in a bad spot, so I don't get very far.

Rack #4, I get a good break. The balls spread out evenly. The cue ball centers itself nicely. The 1-ball stops just short of rolling in the side pocket. Dry-break. Grrrr. I go ahead anyway, thinking maybe I should count runs off a dry-break. After all, you're actually pocketing one more ball, right?

I focus on each shot, and get pretty much perfect on each one, until the 6. Of course, I actually put the cue ball where I wanted it. Then I walked to the other side of the table and looked at the shot and thought "What was I thinking. This shot sucks." Fortunately, the 7 was a hanger, so I make the 6,7,8. I'm a little steeper and closer on the 9 than I wanted, but still very makeable.

This could be it.

I start writing in my follow up blog post entitled "Well, that was easy."

I'm lined up. It looks right. I think about how I wrote in my last blog post that I run down to the nine and miss. I think this time is different.

So, what happened?

Did I:
a) Go ahead and pull the trigger.
b) Stop myself. Realize this was for a break cue. This was like a $200+ shot. I had a little too much stream of consciousness going on to be fully focused on making this $200 dollar shot. I got up again. Centered myself and nailed it.

Do I really have to say...the answer is A!

Get up. If you're not sure, if you're not committed, if the shot matters, get up!

Rack #5. Make a ball. Center the cue ball. Shot on the 1. The 3 is completely buried and I don't see a break out.

This is a great challenge for me and I feel like I'm learning a lot, just from the 5 racks I shot last night.

Obviously, I really need to bear down on the 9 more, but my break needs a lot of work. Not sure why the making a ball tends to go with a clustered rack. I've noticed that before. When I break dry, I usually leave my opponent an easy rack.

I haven't spent a lot of time on my break, because I was advised early on, that until you can run out, its not the best use of your time. If I'm going to stick to my original goal of an actual break and run, now may be the time.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My new break cue....

A few weeks ago, I posted about my search for a new break cue. I looked both high and low, with contenders ranging from the Icebreaker, Mezz Powerbreak to the J&J. I was very tempted by the high end, but I just couldn't spend that much money on a cue I hadn't tried, especially if it was a luxury item.

I was about to go for the J&J when a friend of mine offered to sell me his cheap sneaky pete for $25. I've always liked this cue. Its nothing special, but for some reason I always seem to play well with it, and it breaks fine. Plus it can double as a playing cue when I'd rather leave my regular cue safely at home. It was a bargain I couldn't resist.

(Incidentally, a few days later the BCA announced they were banning break cues with phenolic tips, so it will be interesting to see what happens to the break cue market).

I haven't given up the idea of getting a nice break cue...but I did decide that before I spend that kind of cash on a pool item, that it shouldn't just be an impulse buy; it should be attached to reaching some kind of meaningful milestone.

I've had a few break and runs in 8-ball, but I have never, ever, not even in practice, run a rack of 9-ball. I've come close, running down to the 9, getting great position...and every time, I've dogged it.

So, here's the plan...if I get my 9-ball B&R by the end of August, when I'm in Vegas for APA Nationals, I can do a little shopping.

So, here we go, sixty days and counting.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

V is for.....

Booking my tickets for end of August. Woohoo. Go team go!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Still taking a break

Okay, in case it isn't obvious, I'm taking a little break from blogging. Between work, pool, and making sure I have adequate rest, I just haven't had time to put together a coherent post, and haven't felt like I wanted to just ramble. After next week, I should be able to get back into the swing of things.

So, a few random things that have happened recently, and I'd like to blog about:
* I actually had a dream where John Schmidt told me that I was doing okay, but it would be a good idea for me to set some goals. I was looking for my shoes, and he was playing straight pool with Nick Varner, and stopped to come over to talk to me just to say that. He returned to his game, and I kept looking for my shoes. I guess I need to set some goals, and perhaps organize my closet.
* I've been re-reading "Mental Toughness Training for Sports by James Loehr. And have some different reactions to it the second time around.
* I took the PAT 1 exam. I wasn't feeling particularly well, and was trying to keep my table time down, so I rushed a little bit. I ended up with 444 out of a possible 1549. (Hey, I never claimed to be anything but a D Player). But I think on a better day, with a little practice, I could score as well as 600, (maybe...). (800 is considered passing). I was actually pretty pleased.
* I have been playing pretty well in matches when it matters, but I'm trying to keep my feet on the ground and remember all the times in those matches that I got lucky or where my opponent gave me a second chance. We're in the middle of league tournament season, and its no time to get over-confident. Even if I'm in stroke its still just one ball, one game, one match at time.

I guess I just rambled, but in an efficient, almost tidy kind of way. I can live with that. Anyway, wish me luck over the next week!