After my previous 2 weeks of playing quite strongly after derby and especially while at the Midwest 9Ball, I have totally fallen apart. My Wednesday league was less than pretty and my Friday league was utterly embarassing. (Thursday was cancelled due to weather). After league Friday, I took some time to figure out what was going on. My eyes told my brain the shot was right, but the results showed dramatic a difference than the expected outcome. I soon realized my stance was off. As in, my eyes were in the wrong place. A shot on a frozen ball on the rail looked perfect to me, but the results were that I’d hit the ball 1/2 or sometimes 3/4 full! Clearly, this is a sighting problem. My stroke is straight, I checked that first, plus I’ve spent the most time ensuring that I swing straight – and when I don’t, I know it immediately as I can feel when that’s wrong.

If any of you follow me on twitter, you might recall a recurring theme over the last few months: I’m tired of giving away games. I do this so often I hate to even mention it because it’s just so damn frustrating. My running joke now is that I can give the 7-ball ghost a real run for his money. The joke being that I can’t finish a rack since if I can run to the 7, there’s so reason in the world to not be able to execute 2 more shots. But, sadly, that’s the case. I will solve all the problems wonderfully, with finess and precision, but once the table is open and I’m off to the races something happens. It’s easy to say that I take the rack for granted (which at some point I do); it’s just as easy to say that I lose focus (which I also can do). It’s easy to suggest that I’m thinking too much, trying to ensure that I’m focused – thereby getting my brain in the way. It’s possible to say that I’m rushing, and not giving the shot the respect it warrants while trying to keep my brain out of the equation. It’s easy to spot all the reasons why I can’t finish. The problem is finding positive reinforcement during this time.

The real problem is maintaining just the right amount of focus. Somewhere that allows me to stay in the game, yet still guard against the frustration or fear (like when I’m just having fun and shooting lights out). I’m reminded of X-Men: First Class when Xavier is helping Magneto, “True focus lies somewhere between rage and serenity.” It’s that point I need to try and find – and once I do – hold on to it and live there. Enjoy the run out, but not shoot at flyers or take a full-table-cut for granted. Play smart, but fluidly. That’s where I’m at my best, I think.

I ran across some older posts from some of my pool bloggers that can/will help. Amazing to think it’s been so long since I’ve read up on them. John Biddle wrote this article about what he calls Dead Focus as compared to Dead Stroke. The always insightful akaTrigger writes about how to Refocus Your Focus in this blog entry.

Each author has a multitude of entries worth reading but I’m only linking the ones that started me traversing their archives to save space here – and also to encourage any of my readers to do the same. I’m going to settle in with the US Bar Table Championship tonight on the big screen and catch up on some of my reading on the little screen.