Last night’s league was a very important match – or so I was told last week.  We were playing the #2 team (we are #1) and it was this match that would determine if we won first place or not.  So I’ve been trying to mentally focus on the game most of the weekend.  However, Sunday I played absolutely horrid and was kind of afraid how yesterday would go.  I did some ‘feel good’ preparations before the match to help with that.  No, nothing herbal, I just took a shower, shaved, picked out some brand new socks (extra cushy) and wore clothes that I usually ‘just feel good’ wearing.  I got to the bar about 40 mins early, started playing a little 3-ball just to get warmed up and was hitting ’em pretty good.  The other team was pretty late because they actually went to the wrong bar, hahaha.

On to my match.  I won the lag and broke dry my opponent, having just arrived from the other place wasn’t in stroke at all, otherwise he would’ve made his second shot.  I come to the table and realize I’m not getting out in this inning, I have a few minor clusters and my CB has only one path to one of my stripes.  I slice in the outer ball of an orphan cluster to get out to center table.  Realizing I still have no path to the 8, I decide to break up my other orphan cluster and play safe behind the stack.  I shoot a fairly decent safe, leaving only half a ball to hit.  We have a short safety battle before I leave just a little too much ball for him and he runs down to the 8, but leaves himself full-ball snookered.  He kicks at it, misses entirely and nudges one of my balls.  So, I come to the table with 5 stripes left.  I take my time, really wanting to start with the ball frozen on the head rail, but I also have a ball below the 8 near the foot rail, and 2 stripes very close together near the side pocket.  I look and I look, I run my eyes over the table trying to figure out how to get through the pattern that will leave me good on the 8.  Finally, I see a way.  I start at the foot-rail ball and come out to just under the side pocket, slice the first of the pair, stay under the outer ball, then use that to go up table to get the frozen headrail ball, leaving a good angle to come back for the key ball next to the 8.  This is my resulting pattern:

I was really happy with my pattern and my position play.  I took my time, I visualized each shot, both the object ball’s and the cue ball’s paths.  I got down, set, comfortable, as soon as I heard my inner voice working, I mentally said “shut up” and focused on the contact point and let my arm do it’s thing.  It was a pretty big step for me to do this in a league match.  I’m supposed to get out with BIH and 5 balls left, but I don’t always because I get nervous or rush or don’t see it, or whatever.  But I dd it this time, and with almost no big feelings of pressure.  Sure, I got excited when I made it to my key ball and had only half a pocket to shoot at, but I was able to hold it together and finish the layout.

My second match was almost a carbon copy of the first.  A few shots, then a short safety battle, which I ended up losing because I didn’t pay attention to the object ball’s path.  However, my opponent tried a riskey carom shot which left his 3-ball blocking half of the corner pocket.  Again, here I was with 4 balls on the table and my opponent with just one.  I took my time and again found a pattern that will work. I can’t remember the exact layout, but I remember the end… I came up short on a back’n’forth position shot which meant I had to shoot the 8 in the half-blocked pocket.  I hit it good as it’s final resting place was snuggled in next to his 3 ball, blocking it from going.  He played an excellent safe which put his 3 in front of the 8 and the cueball in front of that.  A lot of discussion back and forth about what I should do, and once decided, I hit it a tad too hard and left him a shot so he won the rack. *shrug* oh well.

So, with one week left of the regular session, I’m 10 and 10.  Even .500 ball.  Not great, but not terrible either.  I signed up for the summer session too, and since I’ll be a static 4 or 5 (depending on if I win or lose next week), I can play solidly and not have to worry about my rating changing from week to week.  Of course, if I play too well, I might get moved up to a 6 – and I don’t think I should be a 6.  In this local league, sure, but for the region – no way.  There are 3’s in the championships that can run out (sandbagging not withheld though).

The good news is that our team has clinched 1st place! YAY! So in 2 weeks we’ll be heading off to the team championships where every ball counts and it’s the goal for everyone to run out as often as possible.  No free games, no free giveaways.  I’m excited as this will be a really good test of my mental preparedness.

HEY ANDY! I know you read this, lets get together and shoot as often as we can to get ready for 3 weeks from now.