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P O O L    S H O O T E R

The Adventures of FastMikie
in search of Truth and Beauty in the art of pocket billiards.

Friday, February 16, 2007


APA team 8-ball night again...

All day long, I'm thinking I'm going to lose,
because all day long I'm thinking of excuses.
I'm actually thinking of writing a list
of all the excuses that apply to me, personally.
I almost convince myself that it would be good therapy.
Just once.

As game time approaches,
I realise that I absolutely MUST pull out
of this negative thinking downward spiral.
The only way to do that is to
force myself to think positive thoughts.

Before I start with the positive,
I visualize all the excuses,
written on a list,
and I burn the list,
and watch the smoke disappear
with all my excuses...

This is a technique of
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).

Now back to the positive thoughts,
I focused on the reasons why I should win.
I think of a few things like experience and knowledge
and skill and intelligence, and the I wonder if
the first letters of those words spell anything,
so I arrange them in different orders
until I come up with a good one:

S - K - I - E - S

That's easy enough to remember.
(for an open cockpit biplane pilot like me)
So, over and over in my head
I'm thinking SKIES,
and saying the words each letter represents
and filling my head with the thoughts of a winner.
Soon, I'm thinking of other reasons why I should win.
Track Record.
Life Experience.
But enough about me...
And I need to keep it simple and focused.
SKIES is good enough for now.
It's the best I can do on short notice.

Tonight, Seth was out to get me.
Same skill level.
Quiet, methodical, good shooter.
He will be a tough opponent.

Or would he?
Does the competitor really matter?
I have been coming to the conclusion
that the opponent is irrelevant
and therefore not to be feared.
Do not look in their eyes.
Give them no power.
It's nothing personal.
Their role is simply to re-arrange the balls,
when/if I miss or need to play safe.

My focus has zero to do with the opponent,
and 100% to do with the table surface, rails, and balls.

The game of pool is all about green and gray.
The table's green cloth & the brain's gray matter.
Eliminate all other elements
and you have the recipe for success.

These are my thoughts,
over and over.
I'm breathing deeply to relax.

At the lag for break,
I lay the ball within a half-inch of the rail.
But I lose the first game.

I hate when that happens!

I win the second game. We're even.
He wins again, and now leads 2-1.

I'm thinking I need to bear down...
I win the next 4 games and the match, 5-2.
There was a break and run in there somewhere.
That felt good.

I feel good that
my techniques for dealing with excuses
and for positive thinking
seem to have worked tonight.

After one of the last games in the match,
I felt that I was ahead, but was unsure of the score.
I wanted to check with the scorekeeper,
but El Maestro's teaching came back to me:

Ignore the score.
It is irrelevant.
If I win, someone will tell me.
If I lose, someone will tell me.
There is no need to know the score.
How can it contribute to my game?
Will I play better because I know the score?
Focus only on the table.

El Maestro was right.
(What else is new?)

A note about skill levels:
I'm currently listed as a 6 in 8-ball (7 is highest).
The APA uses some secret formula
which takes into consideration all sorts of stats
like matches played and won,
number of innings, runs, safeties, and
the skill levels of your opponents
and who knows, maybe the phase of the moon.

My goal is to achieve the highest skill level.

(blog top)

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Blogger Robert Johnson said...

You will be a 7.

I have heard many times to "play the table, not the opponent", but I do not entirely agree. Wouldn't you be able to win easier if you knew your particular opponent's weaknesses and strengths, and take advantage of that knowledge?

Suppose you are playing a skill level 2 in 8 ball, where the race is 6 (or 7) to 2. One of the most likely wins your opponent could get is for you to inadvertently sink the 8 early or in the wrong pocket, or for you to forget to mark your pocket. So, avoid risking those scenarios when playing a 2. For example, if you need to kick at the 8 to make a hit, but have a chance of the cueball deflecting into a pocket, consider instead just handing the cueball over, or even better, tapping one of the opponent's balls away from a pocket to a rail, or into a cluster.

One of the weaknesses that lower skill players have is they like to hit their ducks in before going for the hard shots. Another weakness is they rarely think of hitting their ball to a pocket as long as your ball "owns" the pocket. A higher skilled player might combo the opponent's ball in to steal the pocket back.

Sunday, February 18, 2007 1:29:00 PM  
Blogger Michael McCafferty said...

Interesting points you make...

My inclination is to play my own game the best I can regardless of the skill level of the opponent. I have zero control over what the opponent does, and to assume that a lower skill level opponent would behave according to my expectation might be an error on my part.

Tony has many times suggested that it is very difficult to play a lower skill level because we let our guard down and take winning for granted.

It is always possible that the lower skill level opponent will get good coaching advice, or get inspired, or lucky.

I feel that it would be better for me to play as if every opponent is of the highest caliber.

Sunday, February 18, 2007 1:58:00 PM  

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