Archive for April, 2012


Posted: April 27, 2012 in Uncategorized
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 My eyes blinked open this morning ending a critical moment in an amazing dream.  Evidently I had invented some important product that would revolutionize the planet.  The only thing was, it had to be proven out in space, but once that easy test was done I was a hero and wealthy beyond my dreams.  I would want for nothing ever again!

 The space craft people were really nice and helpful as I put my space suit on and made my way up the massive rocket to the cabin.  They chatted all the time during my preparation in the cockpit about how whatever it was that I invented was really going to make a difference in their lives and they were looking forward to it.  As I was being strapped in all I could think about were the things that could go wrong.

 The captain of the voyage gave me the responsibility of flipping the switch that would ignite the rocket engines sending us skyward to the stratosphere where I could do the rudimentary testing.  After a fair amount of time while he was going over a bunch of checklist stuff that I could not comprehend, he finally turns to me with a thumbs up and a smile and says, “OK, Professor!  Light ‘em up!”

 My gloved hand slowly moved over to the switch, I lifted the clear, plastic cover and just stared at the single red toggle.  So many negative thoughts were going through my head as I hesitated.  The captain waited patiently, but eventually, he leaned over and asked, “What are you waiting for?  Are you afraid of success?”

 And I woke up.  I peered into the waxing light of the morning and pondered the ephemeral moment I’d just escaped from.  Am I afraid of success?  The question echoed.

 I think most of us are all afraid of real success because it brings change.  We are creatures that have evolved to avoid change because it involves risk.  Yet, compared to all the other creatures on this planet, we have a comparatively startling capacity to adapt to change.  While deep down in our guts we may abhor change of any kind, success is available to anyone with the courage to grab hold of change and wield it to their advantage.

I thought about this as it relates to my pool game.  (It is “remarkable” only in that it seems like I might have thought about how this applies to other parts of my life!)  I’ve struggled to improve my pool game for several years now, and the road has been interminably long and slow.  Sure, the hours I’ve spent leaned over the pool table have improved my abilities a modest amount, but I would still be classified as an intermediate shooter garnering little to no respect in the pool room I regularly play in. 

Part of it is lack of ability, some of it missing knowledge or experience, but most of my problem is between my ears.  Negative thoughts and lack of commitment to a course of action undermine whatever pool ability I might hold.  If anybody was ever privy to what went on in my head they’d recommend a lobotomy just to quiet the cacophony of thoughts bouncing around in there.  At the very least a daily session with a shrink would be highly encouraged.

Someone said somewhere, “If you keep doing the same things, don’t expect different results.”  If my pool game is going to improve, it requires a change beyond banging balls around a table for an extra 15 minutes.  It requires a change in my attitude.   Pool requires discipline and commitment.  It requires attention to all the things that go into developing a consistent stroke, a sharp eye and a keen sense of my abilities and limitations.  It requires me to develop mental habits that keep me focused and a belief in myself.  To change my pool prowess requires me to change who I am.  With that change will come success.  I can keep playing in the Behind The Rock Tour tournaments with my old skills and tools and mental habits, but I won’t be successful.  I’m sure I have the guts and perserverance necessary, but it comes down to one simple question, am I afraid of success?

Are you?



BTRT Tri-Annual Tourney

Posted: April 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

DAMMIT!  This weekend was the special tournament event for Behind The Rock Tour. (They hold them three times a year, hence the “Tri-Annual”.) I was really looking forward to this one because my game has been improving recently. I’ve been working on my stroke, controlling the cue ball, and especially working on my break. (In my mind the break is the most important part of each game because it sets up the slate.  A lot like the drive in golf.) My recent scores showed I was improving with numbers in the 40’s and 50’s (OK, I admit, I’m a low Open Division player – but one with aspirations for greater things!). I felt I had a 60 or 70 in me for the tournament which would put me in the money. I was jacked up for this one.

The BTRT Tri-Annual Tournament has three phases. The first round is two matches played by every player. The top 75% of the scores (raw score plus handicap) advance to the Sudden Death Round. The Sudden Death Round is one match and the top third of the participants from that round go to the Final Round. If you make it into the Final Round, you are into the money, then its just a bloody fight for the cash. You get two matches and the best net scores pull down the loot.

I show up early for the Saturday matches and get warmed up. Nothing is falling as I’m warming up, but for me that’s good. I think it means I’m getting the garbage out of my system; at least I tell myself that so I won’t worry so much. I’m focusing on my follow through and speed of stroke. I’m not worried about balls in holes just yet. Eventually the other competitors begin to wander in and I relinquish my table to let someone else warm up. Pretty soon we are playing matches that count.

I know I have two chances to make a decent score to get past the first round, so I’m relaxed and comfortable. I know if I come in with a low score in my first game I have a second chance to get to the next round. This calmness unfortunately translated into a lazy effort resulting in a miserable beginning, but a late surge produced a cut game that I followed up with a Cut Option Executed that resulted in a Snap Game.  I salvaged the match with a 58, about 16 over my average.  I thought that would at least get me through to the Sudden Death Round.

Now that I feel like I’m in, I’m really relaxed.  My next match starts good and ends OK.  I roll in 15 off the break and include a Snap Game and toss in a Cut Game for a 65.  Even better!  I’m in for sure!  It’s after noon now, so I figure I better keep my energy up and have lunch.  I decide to celebrate my good scores with a Mocha Death beer and a bacon cheeseburger with fries.  Not exactly the health-conscious fare I should be pursuing, but what the heck!  It was DELICIOUS!  The cook at Malarkey’s rocks.  But, oh Lordy, I was stuffed!

Sure enough I make it into the Sudden Death Round with no problem owning the second best score in the tournament.  The good news is my lunch is downed giving me the sustenance I need to continue, half a beer has me relaxed, and my prior good scores give me solid confidence.  I’m psyched to put up another lovely score.  The bad news is, my belly is stuffed with a half a beer and a scrumptious bacon cheeseburger.  It appears to be affecting my stance or something because my stroke is off a shade.  I don’t feel right at the table.  But this time this is Sudden Death and I only have one chance to make a good score.  I’m worried.  And I should be.  My break is way off and nothing is falling.  The end result is a dismal 38, enough below my average to assure my day is over.

So I learned a good lesson yesterday.  Pool is a very delicate sport and physical and mental condition are vital to earning a good performance.  You wouldn’t expect any professional athlete in any other sport to pound down half a beer and a massive bacon cheeseburger with fries in the middle of a competition and expect him/her to excel.  Neither should any serious pool player.  I’m not a professional athlete, but I want to perform my best in a big tournament.   The moral of this story was: take care of yourself in any serious competition.  That means the physical part, the mental part, and the emotional part.  There is a fine balance and if you mess with one, you muck up the entire person.  So take care of yourself.  Prepare for the competition by practicing, eating well, and resting, then take the rest of “competition day” seriously after that.  Leave the burger and the beer for the celebration when you win!  I’m old enough to have learned this lesson before, but it was never learned in pool.  Now I know.