Tournament Prep

Posted on 15. Mar, 2011 by in Mental / Theory, PoolSynergy

I play a lot of tournaments over the course of a year. Some are just weekly local tournaments beginning at 7 p.m. on a weeknight while others are the US Open 9-Ball Championships in Virginia for an entire week. My preparation for almost any tournament I attend is usually the same. My mechanics and performance is pretty steady due to my active teaching career and frequent tournament play. I don’t do any kind of special practicing or preparation on the pool table for tournaments. I try to wrap up loose ends in my billiard instruction/cue sales business and spiff up the house.

Before I depart, I try to get all the small items running through my head finished or take action to let the student or customer that I’ll be unavailable until after the tournament. My goal is to avoid sitting in my chair during a match and having my “To Do List” run through my head. If I’ve caught up on my work before the tournament, I can compete and enjoy my time at the event unencumbered by distracting thoughts. Clearly, during matches I would prefer that my only concerns are strategy, playing my best pool, making good decisions, resting between matches, and having a good tournament experience. If I’ve got some important tasks to do that are hanging over my head during the tournament, a part of me thinks that there are more important things I should be doing rather than playing in a pool tournament. Sometimes those thoughts even make me feel guilty for entering a smaller tournament that might not be as financially lucrative as booking pool lessons or selling a cue. I’ve fallen prey to pessimistic thoughts and been knocked out of a tournament early so I could zip back to my office to work on those items running through my head during a match. This is the most destructive outcome of cloudy judgements during an event and the worst way to be knocked out. I must not allow myself to be distracted or feel guilty for attending a competition. Deep down, I know that I should still be playing in the smaller tournament to keep my competitive edge and stay sharp under pressure. The rewards of winning a smaller tournament are greater than just the cash prize money. Confidence and experience can be very valuable gains in each tournament.

If the tournament requires an overnight stay, I also tidy up around my house and water my plants. It’s nice to return to a home that doesn’t have a bunch of housekeeping after a grueling pool tournament. They can take a toll both mentally and physically and sometimes I’ve just got to crash and recuperate. I run the dishwasher, finish laundry, and take care of other things before I depart. If I’m gone for a week or more I stop the mail and have Nick my teenage neighbor mow, shovel, or snow-blow depending on the season.

Keeping a clear head focused on winning the tournament is the reward I get from my unusual tournament preparation. This freedom is more valuable to me than any kind of practice or other preparation I’ve encountered. Oh yeah, and I’ve got a lathe on my kitchen counter to tune up my tip and shaft before I leave the house if it needs a tune up. I’ll post a photo if you don’t believe me.

Best of luck in your next pool tournament,
Mike Fieldhammer
Billiard Coach

For all kinds of Tournament Preparation Advice, please visit Charles Eams PoolSynergy summary here.

3 Responses to “Tournament Prep”

  1. John Biddle

    15. Mar, 2011

    Great advice, Mike. Clearing out the little irrelevancies from you mind frees to to better focus on the here and now. And let’s see the pix of that lathe in the kitchen!!!

  2. p00lriah

    15. Mar, 2011

    great tips mr. fieldhammer. no wonder you’re called billiard coach.

  3. John Barton

    20. Mar, 2011

    Being in “business mode” at tournaments is something I didn’t mention and I am glad you did. Being at events and not being able to just be a player is a huge distraction. For me and you it’s tough because we are in the billiard business. For everyone else, leave work at work if you can.

    Very very good write up Mike.

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