Turning Fear into Fun
Here's a shot I have missed so many times
I cringe whenever I get something like it.
The cue ball is frozen to the side rail.
The 8-ball is just off the foot rail.
In order to get the cue ball to come back
for a shot on the 9,
it needs left english.
Since only top spin is available (frozen to rail)
and hitting down with top left
will cause the cue ball to curve
it's a real judgement shot as to how much curve.
Last night, after one more painful miss
in the presence of El Maestro,
he forced me to look deeply into this shot.
I must have tried it 50 times
before I started to "see" the shot,
and sense the curve.
An alternate way to shoot this is with top right
and come off 2, 3 or 4 rails
for shape on the nine,
but that would violate the rule to
"minimize cue ball movement".
I have committed to practice this shot
until all fear is gone,
and until, when I see this shot in a match,
I smile with anticipation of the win!
Reviewing the Misses
Over the past year I have kept a "Game Log"
which includes some of my more memorable misses.
El Maestro showed me how to make these shots,
and I kept notes on the details.
So far, so good...
What I didn't do is to go back and practice them!
And so, in the fullness of time,
El Maestro finally requested a demonstration.
One by one, we went through the list.
And we worked on each shot until I had it down.
Nine hours later, my right shoulder was numb.
But I was done with the list.
Tony sensed my weakness
and challenged me to a race to 9 in 9-ball,
and a game of straight to 100.
I could barely laugh,
and dropped to the floor in exhaustion.
I guess I need more treadmill time!
You can get your Game Log at
Samm's Side Pocket.
But be sure to Practice what you log!
Combo or Carom?
At last night's nine-ball tournament,
the good news is that I won a couple of matches,
one of which was against an A+ player.
The bad news is that I lost two matches,
and in double-elimination format,
that's all you get...
The ugliest part of the night was my last shot.
I missed an easy 7-9 combination for the win
because I chose to shoot it as a carom.
It was a stupid thing to do (in retrospect)
because the carom was impossibly thin.
Why did I choose to play it as a carom?
Because the combination reminded me
of a much more difficult 2-9 combo that
I missed in another recent match with DC
that cost me the game/match.
There was fear in my heart,
and what can be expected of a fearful shot?
When I missed the shot,
I left an even easier combo,
so easy a child could make it.
In fact, a child did make it.
My opponent was very young,
(a level "C" player).
Isn't there a curfew for kids today?
Do his parents know he shooting pool
and terrorizing adults
so late at night?
My ignominious defeat,
due to my own stupidity, and
at the hands of a child,
was made even more humiliating
because El Maestro was watching in total disbelief.
Needless to say, I endured much ribbing for it.
So why do I bring more shame on myself
by going public with my stupidity?
To burn this moment, and this shot,
into my memory so it never happens again.
To me, or to you!
Tip Shape Tip
Yesterday at the Nine Ball Blast,
Tony introduced me to Jim DeCicco ("DC")
and suggested that we would make a good match.
He was right!
We played for about 6 hours today,
starting off with a race to 9 in 9-ball.
I came from behind to make it hill-hill
and then lost with a miss on a 2-9 combo
that was no cinch by any means,
but I just didn't see any alternative.
Next we played straight pool to 50,
and it was close all the way,
but I squeaked out a victory by 2 balls.
With such close matches,
it was obvious that Tony had our speed figured.
We could have called it quits at 1 match each,
but I think we both wanted to see if
we could earn a convincing win,
so we launched another 9-ball match,
this time a race to 7.
I guess I got lucky.
The match ended at 7-2.
Jim's a real good shooter,
and has an encyclopedic knowledge of
the San Diego pool scene
and kept me entertained with stories.
I'm sure we'll have a re-match soon.
Time well spent.
During the first two matches,
I had several nasty miscues, which I seldom do.
It occurred to me that I had my shaft
worked on yesterday,
and David Whitsell trimmed the tip down a bit,
and then I noticed that he also rounded it to dime shape,
but I prefer to play with a nickel shaped tip.
So toward the end of the straight pool match,
I ground the tip down to nickel shape,
and that was the end of the miscues!
9 Ball Blast
Instead of my normal Saturday lesson with El Maestro,
today I became a spectator
(or a "sweator" in pool lingo)
and watched Tony do his magic
at the APA 9-Ball Blast.
This is the playoffs to determine
which teams get into the City Championships.
As always, the host location was
The Hungry Stick.
Tony's first opponent was David Couch
(who eliminated me in last year's Swanee tournament)
and David started out hot,
but Tony cooled him off fast with
some tight safeties
and then ran 50 points to Dave's one point.
It was an amazing sight.
Dave and I talked after the match,
and agreed that we would play again someday soon
so I could get another chance with him.
In the second match of the day,
Tony was up against a guy who was banging
them in with reckless abandon.
It seemed like there was no way to safe him!
At the finish, they both needed only 2 points each.
It was a real squeaker, but El Maestro won!
That was the Good part.
Now for The Bad and the Ugly.
The pool tables were pure garbage.
The cloth needed to be replaced 10 years ago!
It was revolting.
Whoever owns that pool room
is sure milking the place.
I haven't seen a dime spent on maintenance,
and it has been that way for 28 years!
Why does the APA continue to play there?
Between Tony's matches,
I got my new modified Predator 314 shaft
(look it up!)
by David Whitsell
who was on site for repairs and cue sales.
Check out his Quality Billiards website.
Dan S. again made the long drive
to Mikie's Fun House
for some Friday night pool
but this time I had a special surprise for him:
El Maestro himself!
Instead of the three of us playing 9 ball,
which would have been Dan and I alternating
while Tony kept possession of the table,
we were treated to some of the games
Tony played while growing up in Honduras.
First on the list was "chibollita"
(pill pool for the rest of us)
where you draw a numbered pill from the bottle
and try to sink that ball to win.
The kink in this game is that
you must hit the closest ball to the cue ball first.
Try it, you'll like it!
After a dozen games of chibollita,
we played the Honduran version of pool.
According to Tony,
it's really the only thing they play.
It's 15 ball rotation,
but instead of starting with the balls racked,
the one ball goes on the foot spot
the two ball on the foot rail inline with the one,
and the 3 thru 15 on the rails
frozen at the diamonds, like this:
This is a seriously challenging game!
Safety not allowed. No ball in hand.
Play fouls where they lie.
Scratches get ball in hand behind headstring,
and must shoot forward.
If you hit a ball out of rotation,
you get "bad points" equal to the ball you hit.
Same penalty for missing the lowest ball.
I should take a line or two to thank Dan.
He always brings some tasty treat
that goes perfectly with a coffee break
midway thru the session.
In addition, this time he brought a book
for me to read.
It's a non-fiction thriller 628 pages long.
It didn't take me long to see thru that gambit.
If I'm spending my time reading,
I can't be practicing my pool game!
Dan's cunning plan will never work.
All I read is pool books.
Aye, 'twas a good day at The Fun House!
El Maestro showed up around 1 in the afternoon
(after putting in 8 hours at work)
to get me in stroke for my match with Ken K.
You don't get any warmup shots with Tony.
He racks them right away and says
"Nine Ball. Race to 7."
Somehow, I got off to a great start.
I was up 4-0, and then
he started chewing away at my lead.
But I still won 7-6.
Yeah, I don't believe it either,
but it's true.
We start right into another match
and we played to an identical result.
How may people do you know
who beat El Maestro 7-6
two matches in a row?
I think he was getting my confidence up,
in preparation for my match with Ken K.
Ken shows up at 4:30
and we start into a game of straight pool.
He said he didn't want to keep score,
but I wouldn't let him get away with that!
Tony was the official scorekeeper and referee,
and that freed my mind to focus on the game,
which I won, 75-63.
The score doesn't tell the whole story.
Ken had one run of at least 18 balls
and made some excellent break shots
so he's a dangerous player.
I had to play him real tight.
In summary, it was a very good day.
Undefeated against 2 excellent players.
I have been developing two favorite strokes.
The strong shot has maximum confidence.
Hit hard enough to go about 3 lengths without opposition.
Usually with low english, or stop, or float.
I like the sound of a clean hit at that speed.
The other favorite is the finesse shot.
Usually with follow,
and sometimes with english enough to throw the object ball,
arriving with just enough energy to drop,
into the pocket.
There is peace and beauty in slow motion.
Elegance through Simplicity.
Shoot With Confidence
During a time many months ago,
when I was shooting poorly,
El Maestro told me: "Shoot With Confidence".
Of course I wanted to shoot with confidence,
but how do I do that if
I have been missing shots frequently,
and I am not sure the shot will work as needed?
I had learned this lesson many years ago.
At that time the lesson was in a business setting, not pool.
I didn't think to apply this truth to my game.
I just needed El Maestro's reminder.
The amazing answer is to just do it.
Shoot "as if" you were shooting with confidence!
A confident stroke will follow through.
A confident stroke will be natural.
A confident stroke is a thing of beauty.
Even if you are not confident,
act as if you are!
The results are truly magical.
"The result cannot be achieved
unless the experiment is made."
Google Video - Huge Business Opportunity
As reported on this blog earlier,
Google is now in the video business.
They offer unlimited, free
storage, indexing, and downloading of video.
For all of Internet History,
the big drawback to the growth of video
is the cost of bandwidth used to deliver the stuff.
Now those handcuffs are off.
The business opportunity for the pool industry,
is to take Google up on their offer and to
store and distribute the enormous amount of
pool videos now in existence
and the ever growing rate of new pool video
with content from tournaments, exhibitions,
product demonstrations, interviews,
lessons, ON A GLOBAL SCALE,
in one simple step.
Google will pay your operating expenses of
warehousing and distributing your product
and will even handle the transaction of
collecting pay per view, if needed.
All for free.
Google will also index your videos
with keywords you select
and your videos are featured
in relevant search results.
So they are doing the advertising for you too!
The marginal cost of distributing video product is zero.
Which means pure 100% profit on every additional sale after breakeven point.
Google is paying the storage and shipping costs
for everything video sold.
This creates an enormous opportunity,
especially right NOW.
Check www.Video.Google.com right now
search on "billiards",
and there is a virtual vacuum begging for content.
Of course, it will be growing at a rapid rate,
so get in on the ground floor now.
Sorto String - Proof
El Maestro and I got to talking the other day
about the fact that all my problems are in my head,
that I have the ability to make the shots,
and I have the knowledge to win,
but that I need to learn to control my mind and emotions.
In making his point,
he mentioned that I am the only person he has ever seen
successfully complete "The Sorto String" challenge
(other than himself).
Click Here for Sorto String challenge rules.
Today I got to thinking about that,
and realized that I never posted PROOF of it here,
which seems like a major oversight on my part.
So, better late than never, I offer you the proof.
Click here for the video file on youTube.com
showing my run from the 1 through the 9.
It was several days after this video was taken (9/22/2005),
that Tony came by the Fun House,
and I showed him the video,
but he wanted to see me do it with his own eyes,
and like the trained seal that I am,
I did it again, and even went beyond the 9
into the advanced section (not shown), through the 11.
He says that there have been one or two people
who have claimed to have done it to the 9,
but when Tony was there watching,
they couldn't get very far with it.
The reason for posting this now is because
I was doing some further reflection on my
pool achievements during 2005,
some of which, like this one, were not in my original Goals.
It was a good feeling to have conquered this challenge.
It was the result of persistence, focus, study, experimentiation...
It did not come easy.
Now that it has come,
it is almost effortless.
It reminds me of
when I was learning to do a headstand in yoga.
When I finally got it,
after sweating bullets in
a bunch of training sessions,
it became effortless.
It was a discovery
more than an achievement.
New Year, New Goals
Looking back at 2005,
I made some notes on my goals and achievements and
what needs to be done to continue to improve.
Click here for 2005.
Looking forward to 2006,
I am shooting for the stars,
and improved the plan to get there.
Click here for 2006.