Time For An Overhaul

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.

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Filed Under: Training

Midwest 9-Ball Tour (Feb 2013)

I haven't been feeling overly confident with my game these last few months (one of the reasons I haven't been recording matches), but I decided to head out to Olathe, KS for the Midwest 9-Ball Tour anyway. It's always a good time and it's close enough to home so it isn't too inconvenient.

I got out there Friday a little late, just at the tail end of the Calcutta, but I had a friend buy my entry into the 9-ball tournament in case I was late. After walking around a bit, I spotted the usual heavy hitters, but also a couple of names I hadn't expected: Raphael Martinez and Warren Kiamco! I grabbed the barbox in the back and started warming up with Tonya (an STL player I play with frequently, she was there to play as well). She gets called to play Liz Lovely in the first round. It's an unfortunate draw to start off with, but someone had to do it I guess. After her match, we grab a big table and play 10-ball for a while. I'm playing decently, but not overly great. I finally go check the bracket since I hadn't heard my name in either of the first 2 round of announcements. There were a 140 players this time! I discover that I play Saturday at 1:15 for the first time. I also read that my opponenent is Chuck Ralston! He's a well known regional player and has every chance to win any of these events.

I stay at Shooters until around 4am unfortunately, so I don't get nearly enough rest, although I think I had subconsciously already lost the match the next day. I get to Shooters just after noon and jump on a table trying to warm up. I feel sluggish, though I'm pocketing balls well. My match gets called and it was for the streaming table! Ugh. oh well. I don't mind really, I just hope that I don't dog anything too easy.

I can't say that I did anything wrong, necessarily - I missed a thin cut early in the set, I missed a safe somewhere. Chuck made a couple mistakes, I won a couple games - but he did win 9-2 with three break and runs of his own and 3 run outs from my dry break (or failed safety on the 1). We chatted a few minutes after the match and each wished each other well in the next round(s). It was nice to finally meet him in person, after hearing his name for so long. (Another nice benefit to attending these regional events.)

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Filed Under: 9-Ball · One Pocket · Tournaments

2013 Derby City Classic Review

I'm not even sure how to try to write a review on the DCC. I can summarize it easily: AWESOME. But to go much beyond that could prove quite the challenge. ...
I just dont think I could wrap it up any better than listing things I experienced or thought as they happen, so... here's my review of the DCC:

Two of my league-mates and I rented a car and made the short 4 hour drive over to the Horseshoe Casino Thursday morning (Jan 31st). Once we got there and checked into our rooms, I was giddy with excitement. In the lobby, we stood behind John Brumback and my "holy crap there are PROS here!" amazement began. I think it's a first-timer thing. I generally don't get all star-shocked when I see pros or musicians out and about; but the sheer number of them was a bit overwhelming. My leaguemates aren't as up on the pro scene so they were entertained by me walking and pointing and listing off who's who.

I didn't bother anyone though. I never knew who was about to play or who just lost or what their opinion of being approached was - so this time around, I just amused myself by observing. With one exception. Friday night, after a few drinks, we were waiting for the finals of the Bifoot 10-ball and Billy Incardona was alone for a moment, I walked over and introduced myself and then thanked him for all the commentary he does. I explained how informative it is and how much I've learned by listening to him talk about one pocket strategies. We chatted a few minutes longer about the event and then I excused myself so as not to overstay my welcome. He was incredibly cordial and I relieved by that. Rumors and all. Sadly, I never got a chance to tap Danny DiLiberto for the same conversation. He was rarely alone though.

Aside from watching all the action, I spent some time playing on various 9-foot Diamond tables. Which is always a good time. I never really played all that well, but it was with friends, so it's all good; even though I went home with lighter pockets. The highlight of my playing though was when we got to play on the 10-foot diamond. I have about 3 hours of footage of us playing a 10-ball ring game. Here's a short little montage I threw together just for fun:

I averaged about 3 hours of sleep, it felt like for the 3 days I was there. Each night I crawled into bed just after sunrise and woke just before noon to try to hit the last of the breakfast buffets and see the first round of the day. I felt like I was there for a week. The hotel/casino had enough space and variety that I didn't have to set foot outside the building (except to smoke in the garage if I didn't want to walk all the way to the casino-proper after the smoking restaurant closed). I realized sometime during the 2nd day that I hadn't had a hot meal yet. So far, my diet had been coffee and Cliff bars I brought along. I was avoiding the snack bar in the tournament area; while also avoiding the $50 steak option at the nearest restaurant. I love steak - but I am on a limited budget. :/

On the trip back home we tried to pick a favorite moment from the trip. It's tough to do that with so many awesome things happening everywhere. For me, it was entering the tournament room the first time. Seeing all those tables, each with a player I knew by name on it. Getting to feel like I was finally part of the event I had watched online for 3 years, read stories about, heard stories about. It was such a surreal deal, I can't imagine what actually playing in it would feel like. I have a year to prepare for it. heh ;)

Watching Corey Deuel finally win a Derby title was really amazing. Watching Dennis Orcullo play Neils Feijen on the bigfoot table for the final was simply incredible. The 9-ball finals with Alex and Shawn was just awesome. So many little caveats everywhere. I didn't spend any time in the action room - mostly because it was standing room only and I had already been standing for 12 hours by the time the tournament finished up. I did see some regional players, Joey Gray, Liz Lovely, Nicole Keeny, Chip Compton were usually together on the action floor somewhere (and I'll see them all this weekend at Olathe); but I only saw Nicole in action, never the others; which seemed extra odd - but like I said, I wasn't there a lot. Meeting Jeanette Lee and watching her do her thing was as entertaining as I had heard.

I already can't wait for next year; and while my game didn't automatically go up ball from being surrounded by champs, I'm highly motivated to earn that ball on my own. I'm going to make it a personal goal to get to where I want to be this year. I've been stagnant for too long.

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Filed Under: 10-Ball · 9-Ball · General · One Pocket

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