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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.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Two tournament wins in a row, undefeated!

I won the 8-ball tournament again this week, and I guess that could seem a rather ho-hum thing if you consider how many 8-ball tournaments there are across the world, going on day in and day out, in bars and pool halls and even a few places with the top pros. So maybe my wins are small change, in the grand scheme of things.

But for me, these wins are extraordinary for several reasons:
1. I was undefeated!
2. Never even lost one game!
3. Two weeks in a row!
4. No pool at all for 5 weeks prior,
no practice at all for 6 months.
5. I might know why!

I am rather surprised (and pleased, of course) at these recent events, and being a rather introspective sort of person, I like to think deeply on the meaning and importance of extraordinary events, especially when they happen to me.

I noticed a new feeling during last week's perfect tournament. It was especially pronounced as I was breaking and running out in the last game of the finals. My head was so focused on running out, and each ball, and the position, and how to hit it, and executing, all while I experienced a massive determination, and absolute commitment. Wow! As I was feeling and doing all this, I realized that this was a new place for me, and that somehow I had arrived at a higher level of awareness.

No, this was not "The Zone" which seems to come and go of it's own will. Instead, this experience was being completely directed by my will. I was in control because I was taking control, of everything, absolutely.

In the week since that first perfect tournament I reflected that my demeanor seemed to be similar to what I sensed just the week before, when I played Monica Webb (WPBA pro who won the National Championship last year for her first win in 10 years). We played two games of 9-ball. I broke, she ran out. She broke, made a ball, nailed a safety, then ran out. She just rolled through me like I wasn't there. She never said a word and was serious as a heart attack during the entire experience, even when I congratulated her for her huge win last year, and good luck in the tournament that started the next day. It was like she never really heard me. She was already in her tournament head, and she went on to win it! Two major tournaments in a row, after being winless in a tournament for 10 years.

What is the cause of this extraordinary turn of events? What changed?

I can't say what it was for Monica, I can only say that when I reflected on My win last week, I seemed to relate to Monica's demeanor, which was the only thing I could know. I couldn't possibly know how she felt physically, or what she was thinking. The only evidence I have to work with is her demeanor: how she moved, where she looked, what she said, and how she said it, how she racked, sized up the table, pre-shot routine, shot-making, strategy, etc. From all this I can imagine a great focus and determination driving her, an overwhelming presence which dominates her opponents.

As I write these words I am reminded what Mika Immonen, when thinking of his opponents, said to himself when he was winning the US Open last year: "I want it more than you". It was his mantra. It seems that Monica and Mika were in that same place, each in their own way.

Back to me. Of course I'm not at the level of either Mika or Monica, but I think I have sensed a new level of awareness and focus and determination and what seems to be of great importance: never giving up, fighting to stay in the match even when it looks grim. Many times I have sensed that an opponent made mistakes simply because of the pressure of knowing that if they did make a mistake they would pay dearly for it. And they get that pressure from seeing that I am focused like a junk yard dog.

Two tournament wins, back to back. Undefeated all the way in both. Never lost a game. Wow.

I think I'll pour myself a pint of Murphy's to celebrate this week's win, and drop a shot of Bushmills in it, to celebrate last week's win. That might put me in a thinking mood, and I'll probably do more writing on this night of the Full Moon.


Anonymous Samm said...

Great job, FM! You deserve it! Guess all you needed was a little break, huh? See ya next week!

p.s. I completely agree about "the zone."

Friday, April 10, 2009 9:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Paul Wooten said...

Congrats on your tournament wins, especially after so long of a break from pool. I had a 14 year break due to a serious back injury, so I can relate. I had to play strictly in my mind for all those years off, but when I came back, I was better than when I quit... I had matured with the mental aspects of the game, which proved to be as critical as the stroke!

Monday, April 13, 2009 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger poolminnow said...

Congrats, FastMikie! I'm curious: How would you compare this current mindset to when you had your undefeated season in league a year or so ago?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 5:21:00 PM  
Blogger Michael McCafferty said...


Wow... what an excellent question. I didn't have a quick answer, and I had to re-read the past two posts to see what I wrote, and I noticed that the key word "Confidence" was missing. And that is exactly what was different about now and a couple of years back when I was doing the undefeated sessions with the APA.

Looking back on those APA years, I remember having very little Confidence in my game, but a whole lot of determination. Another difference is that at that time I barely understood what it means to Focus, and Concentrate.

I'm thinking that now I have a lot more Confidence in my stroke (and how to read a layout), and more Confidence in playing safe.

Focus is more natural now. I don't have to force myself to focus.

And concentration is more refined. I'm looking at a much smaller point of contact for cue and object ball, as well as more pinpoint position.

All of this is certainly the result of more Experience.

What I lacked in these attributes a couple of years ago, I made up for with sheer will power, determination, demanding of myself to never give up no matter how bad it looked. And I probably got lucky more than once because of it.

In summary: Confidence, Focus, Concentration, Experience.

Experience is a big factor. For example, a few years ago I was still experimenting with developing a pre-shot routine, and with breathing. Now, after a few years of additional practice and competitions, these things seem to come a lot more naturally, so I'm more relaxed with my stroke.

Thanks for asking such a great question!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 6:25:00 PM  

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