Something is broken. Aside from my confidence, that is. After the Masters match,which I lost 3-7, I played (and won) the standard APA match the following Wednesday, against a 4 (I’m a 7). I never broke and ran – cuz I’d blow shape something fierce. The next night is Masters, where I lose 0-7! Whatever. Skip to the 29th, Monday. It’s the start of the Cue & Cushion league. I can’t make two balls. I get beat 3-9. Skip to last night, I play 8-ball, lose the lag by a centimeter, then proceed to lost the match 0-5, each in 1 inning. I’m a 6, playing a 7. He gave me one chance each rack (except for when he snapped the 8) and in each of those chances, I made maybe 2 balls before hitting something right into the rail. Immediately after that I have to play a Masters make-up – against the same guy. He was kind enough to buy me a shot before we started, as I was already at the bar in line for one. He again wins the lag by a centimeter and calls for the break. I decide to play 8-ball, hoping something would change (insanity definition?). It didn’t. He won the first 5 – making him, for the night, 10-0 on me. We switch to 9-ball and he flubs late in the rack a few times and I was somehow able to win 4 racks before he got his last 2. Still, I lose 4-7.

So, to recap, in the last 3 weeks, I’ve lost 10-38 in rack-counting games. WHAT THE F***?!?! I’d like to blame it on my playing with my break cue, but that’s not the case. I played really well with it overall, at least in bar-league (9ball). Besides, I got my regular cue back Monday, all shiny new-finished and everything. Still can’t play a lick.

I know it’s something to do with either my stance or my head placement, because I would bet all the money in my pocket I’m lined up dead perfect to make this ball – but when I pull the trigger, this happens:

So, clearly my eyes aren’t telling me the right thing, as I think I’m lined up center cueball to edge of the object ball. But I’m obviously not. It’s like… It’s almost like my dominant eye has switched. I feel like I’m in the same position over the cue every time. I adjust a little to the left/right based on the angle – which I’ve always done – and when I was playing really well, this happened without me having to think about it.

In addition to that, I know my timing is way off in my stroke. I have NO idea where this issue came from and it’s even more disturbing. I’m “finishing” my stroke way early – sometimes before I even hit the damn cueball – but like the sight picture, I feel right when in my pre-shot routine. Then I’m totally confused as to what happened. Sometimes, I can feel my stroke arm being pulled under my torso, so there really is a stance/alignment issue happening.

I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out what has changed recently to cause this. The only thing that’s really changed is that I’ve started working out again. I’m not sore when I play, I don’t feel [any more than usually] tired. I’m hydrating properly, eating well, same as always. I’ve only been back at the fitness for around 2 weeks, not enough time to add any kind of bulk that would be interfering with my stroke. The only thing I can think of is that while I’m not any larger, the muscles are becoming less fluid and so when I move I have more things working (or in the way, in the case of the lats/shoulders) which is causing this slight stroke issue. I’m going to have to try and work on this tonight and tomorrow if I want to have any hope of playing well in the the Top Gun tournament this weekend.

This has to be resolved, I have zero confidence these days, as evident by my demeanor at the table, and the results I’m logging. I keep trying to ‘fake it’ by not slothing around the table, making sure I walk with a purpose, put on the game-face, slight furrowed brow, focused eyes. I exact my pre-shot routing, picking the exact spot for the cue ball… but nothing is pulling me into the zone nor are any balls dropping.