Archive for January, 2013

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

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My life is a long series of flukes. Not the fishy kind – like on the back end of a whale, but the accidental kind.

I can’t say I’m ridiculously successful because of them, but admittedly I’ve been pretty lucky because of them. Not lucky in the lottery or raffles or things like that. In fact, I think I’m pretty unlucky when it comes to things like getting free money or prizes. I never win raffles. I’ve never walked out of a casino with more than I walked in with. Some might say that’s just because I’m stupid when it comes to gambling. Which might explain why I’m constantly being asked by my buddies to play a little poker.

My flukes are more like being in the right place at the right time. A good example is my wife. I met her in my last year in college. By a fluke, she lived right above me in the apartment my buddies and I lived in. Through another weird fluke, she seemed to tolerate my odd behaviors and embarrassing, stupid comments. By a couple more awesome flukes, we ended up with two healthy, smart, good looking kids.

I like to be active, be involved in stuff, so I’m often exposed to “circumstances.” But by a series of flukes I’ve never seen the wrong side of prison bars, never been in a bar fight, never seen the business end of a gun. Some would claim I’m an unabashed coward – I can accept that. I’ve never been in a serious accident, never been badly hurt, never been in a life or death situation. (These may be flukes, but I’ll still knock on wood here. No reason to tempt fate at this point!)

How does all this relate to pool? Well, by the grace of two giant flukes, my name sits in front of two world records on a worldwide pool tour. They are listed on the Behind The Rock Tour (BTRT) website. “Total Balls on Break” (24) and “High Aggregate Score” (213) have my name next to them. The TBB record had a “sub-fluke” associated with it because it happened to occur when I was being recorded, so you can see the video on the BTRT website.

Do I deserve either of them? Candidly: Nope. I haven’t even come close to matching either of them since. At the time, both of the records were set when I had a “220” average of less than 40. Only a fluke could allow a guy with my sketchy skills to shoot a raw “220” score of 106. As a demonstration of my real skills the record shows I’ve only broken 70 a few times since then. As for the TBB record, that was just dumb luck, another fluke.

Records are meant to be broken. While they are only flukes, the records are currently mine, and I’m kind of proud of them. They are my flukes. So when they eventually do get broken, I hope they are done by worthy people whom I appreciate. For now, you can add both of these records to the long list of flukes that have defined my life.

I suffered a couple poor performances over the holidays, but I did well in the first week of the new year.

Old “220” Average: 50.44
New “220” Average: 49.80
Goal “220” Average: 70

Old “198” Average: 70.98
New “198” Average: 68.33
Goal “198” Average: ??