D I A R Y
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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, April 06, 2007

We don't need no stinking excuses!

Last night, as every Thursday night,
was another APA team 8-ball match,
and our team "101 Excuses"
earned a strong 4-1 win.

My match was a 5-2 win
against a player with an equal skill level.
(Don S.)

So what is it about "excuses" anyway?
It seems that they have an uncanny ability
to leap into the mind at the least provocation,
and many times with no reason whatsoever.

For example, on the afternoon before my match,
the monkey brain starts chattering to me:
1. my shoulder hurts, can I break well enough?
2. my stroke hand hurts, should I take a pill?
3. if I do, will it effect my game?
4. am I due for a loss? (nice win streak going)
5. I feel bloated after big meal, sluggish
6. didn't get enough sleep
7. no pre-match time on the table
8. my opponent called me out. He's ready!
9. opponent has home table advantage.
10. etc, etc, etc...

That's just what's going thru my mind
before I ever get to the table!

Our team isn't called "101 Excuses" for nothing!

Three years ago, when I was a newbie at this,
I was a mess.
I had no way of dealing with
all the mind chatter, the nervousness,
the distractions, the excuses.

And now, I take it in stride.
I've come to expect the demons
to rise up in my mind.
I know they will pop up continuously
if I let them,
and worst of all,
at the worst possible times.

The practice of meditation helps a lot.
Meditation is the practice of quieting the mind,
by recognizing stray monkey-mind thoughts
and simply releasing them
and going back to just sitting and breathing.

With practice,
letting go of
thoughts becomes easier.

One thing I have found that
helps prevent the exuses from showing up
is actively engaging in positive self talk,
such as affirmations and visualizations.
It is extremely difficult, if not impossible,
for the mind to have two different thoughts
at the same time.

Therefore, if you busy your mind
with positive, constructive thoughts,
negatives can not pop in.

And, on those many other occasions
when an excuse will find its way into your mind,
deal with it immediately
by thinking of the appropriate anti-excuse.

For example,
today, when I thought that maybe my winning streak
might be getting a bit too long,
and maybe I was due for a loss,
the anti-excuse was to think
that each match is independent of all others,
and that previous wins/losses have
absolutely no effect on each other
(except as I let my mind have such effect).

Other excuses need remedial Action.
Gotta pee? So pee!
Feeling sluggish? Drink a coke.
Nervous? Breathe!
Shooting too quick? Walk around the table!
Distracted? Stand up, re-do preshot routine.

I have used the technique of positive self-talk
in other activities in the past,
but I credit El Maestro with showing me
the deeper secrets as it applies to pool.

As Yogi Berra said about baseball:
"(this game) is 90% mental,
and the other half is physical".

The quote: "We don't need no stinking excuses!"
is a modified form of the original "We don't need no stinking badges"
from the 1974 movie "Blazing Saddles"


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