I played some of the worst pool I’ve played in a while on Thursday and Friday last week. Thursday I lost an APA Masters match on the hill to a guy that I should’ve easily beaten.  Friday I played my teammate whom I haven’t beaten in 5 weeks, and continued to lose to again.  Though I won one of the 3 sets, and played decently, it was only because he made more mistakes than I did. A problem he corrected quickly in the 3rd set. 

I’ve been writing here about being frustrated with my game and saying that I’m going to work on things – but I haven’t really done much.  At this point, I’m sick and tired of writing that I’m frustrated with my game.  So I hope this post will finally be the kick in the ass I need to actually do something about it.  Sort of a pool intervention.

I realized a couple of things that I haven’t been doing for as long as I’ve been upset with myself:

1) I haven’t been watching any professional pool: so I’m not inspired.

2) I haven’t been analyzing my own game (watching the videos I take while playing): I’m not looking for flaws or improvements.

3) I haven’t been paying attention to my fundamentals at the table: they are falling apart – alignment and follow-through, namely.

4) I haven’t been adhering to my pre-shot routine: not picking a position route, not visualizing the shot and not executing.

5) I haven’t been excited or really cared about the game in general: I’m not giving the game it respect it deserves.

6) I haven’t been working out (physical fitness, not pool drills, though I haven’t been doing those either).

7) I haven’t been playing any other games than 8, 9 or 10 ball: I’m bored generally, even when I’m competing.

8) I haven’t been watching instructional materials: I’m not cementing existing information or learning new options.

All of which leads to the biggest reason I’m playing so poorly lately: I have no mental focus or stamina at the table.

Just a few months ago, I wrote about how my mental game had improved and I was both letting go of my mistakes and keeping emotion out of the equation. Somehow during all of the above, I’ve lost the ability to let things go, to just accept the table as it is, to not get upset when something goes wrong and am becoming a consant boiling pot of frustration and emotion which keep puts me on fult tilt.

So, Saturday I decided to watch a number of different instructional videos. All older ones, like Earl Strickland’s Pool My Way and Kid Delicious’ Clock System, Freddy The Beard’s Banks That Don’t Go But Do and Byrne’s trick shots Vol 3.  Shorter videos I knew I could finish without getting that blank stare. I enjoyed Earl’s video a lot; it was informative and also broken up with some fun stuff in between the learning (trick shots mostly). And while it’s hard to listen Danny Basavitch (Kid Delicious) talk, I really like his clock system example and will be working on that system tonight for sure.

Sunday I made myself watch some professional pool.  The Action Report uploaded a number of US Open One Pocket matches from earlier this year that I didn’t get to see at the time.  So I watched SVB vs Scott Frost and Justin Hall vs Earl Strickland. I’ve really been chomping at the bit to play some one pocket lately. I just love the creative strategy aspect of the game and I miss the learning experience of seeing shots and getting to try them out right then and there, instead of watching the pros do it.  I will find a one pocket game this week if it kills me.

In general, I am holding myself responsible for getting to the practice room at least twice a week for starters. I hope to spend at least 2 hours working on specific aspects of my game, whether it’s fundamentals or shot-making or position or speed drills. Then I want to spend at least an hour of challenging myself by playing the ghost.  I’m going to do it the proper way this time, and work my way up the ghost ladder, so to speak. Start with the 3-ball ghost, race to 9 and go from there. I need to actually do this instead of trying the 9ball ghost with a two-inning option.  I need to put in my “ghost dues” so to speak.

The drills and the ghost should help me “train” my mental game and focus.  And the nature of having to fade mistakes should help train my emotional responses.  I’ve also started working out again and while I have missed that sore feeling I need to prepare myself for any adverse affects working/defining new muscles might have on my fundamentals (this was an issue 2 years ago).

The US Open 9Ball Championship begins this weekend and I aim to buy the whole PPV event and watch as much of it as I can (though my cell reception at work terrible, I might have to figure something out for during the day).  Beyond that TAR has also released a number of older matches available for On Demand viewing (and for super cheap), so I hope to grab a few of those as well.

I’m already getting excited about the payoffs from this work I have planned and if I keep those goals in mind, I should be able to stick to my regimen.  I have the will power, I’ve done this before, physically when I was frustrated with being an overweight guy, now I need to harness my will and drive again and do it for my game. 

This blog should, I hope, return to being more of a practice and informational blog rather than a whine-o blog.