This week I didn’t feel like I did so good. I shot a 54 in “198” and a 46 in “220.” I know I won’t get into the money with either of those scores! I was kind of moping around afterwards and DW said, “At least it must feel good that a crappy score for you is in the mid-40’s now. That is a lot higher than a year ago!”
I thought about that. It’s true; I’ve improved. When I started, my average was a miserly 28. Scores in the 30’s were a delight. A year ago my average “220” score was 34, and scores in the 40’s made me happy. Today my average hovers around 50 and if a score doesn’t venture into the 60’s I’m disappointed. The numbers demonstrate I’m improving.
Today, I break better. I shoot sharper. I control the white ball better. Now I look at managing the table, instead of looking to just put balls in holes. I fight the table less. I anticipate ball routes better. I see patterns better and plan better. Oh, sure, I still miss shots I shouldn’t and struggle to put the cue ball exactly where I want, but overall my runs clearly go a little farther than they used to.
The other thing that has grown is my knowledge. My understanding of the culture, the etiquette, the history are deeper. I know more about the equipment, the environment, and the conditions that affect performance. I know that there are a thousand solutions to every table spread and that none is right; that the solution depends on the moment, the skill and mind of the individual. I’m comfortable walking into a room now. I’m not afraid to ask questions because I know that everyone struggles with this game.
I’ve also learned I have a key limitation. For all the physical skills that are getting better, the one thing that hasn’t grown much is my emotional maturity; the internal control. For instance, as my scores have improved, so have my expectations. When I don’t perform up to those expectations, I get frustrated and disappointed in myself. That affects my time at the table. As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, my concentration and focus are weak. It doesn’t take much more than a little whispering on the next table for me to abandon what’s right in front of me. I need to be able to control what goes on in my own mind if I intend to elevate my game. I need to learn to accept minor failures. I need to control my emotions. While I start every match with confidence, I need to understand that confidence is not made of thin glass that shatters with any setback. I need to learn mental strength and tenacity. I can’t control what happens around me, so the ability to control what happens between my ears will allow the next quantum leap in the improvement of my game.
Maybe I didn’t do well this week, but there IS a silver lining. If I step back and look at the big picture, it’s clear my pool abilities have grown significantly through my participation in the BTRT. At my level, there’s no other league or tour or other pool-based vehicle/venue in the world that can clearly measure or demonstrate that improvement. I have a long ways to go, but I am getting better. The numbers prove it!
Old “220” Average: 48.90
New “220” Average: 50.45
Goal “220” Average: 70
Old “198” Average: 70.80
New “198” Average: 68.33
Goal “198” Average: 90