Archive for 'Mental / Theory'

First Lesson of the Year

Posted on 02. Jan, 2016 by .


I was told the US/Canadian boarder is roughly the 49th parallel. I was pretty close today.



Continue Reading

Achieving Dead Stroke: Drumming Up Inspiration

Posted on 03. Jan, 2013 by .


I love music. There’s something about the way a musician is in total command of his or her instrument that I relate to my pool playing. It reminds me of that scene from “The Hustler” when Paul Newman explains how the cue feels like it’s part of his arm.

Stephen Perkins is probably best known as the drummer for Jane’s Addiction. I couldn’t name a single one of their songs, although I’d probably recognize a few of their hits. I’m not a huge fan of The Who, but I can appreciate their place in rock history and know that each of the four members were highly skilled musicians — basically they were one of the first super groups. As a tournament player, I’ve heard The Who’s song “Who Are You” hundreds of times at the Riviera Tournaments in Las Vegas and in dozens of pool rooms.

Stephen Perkins channels Keith Moon of The Who. StephenPerkins600px

Perkins has clearly spent many, many hours listening to the original recording and practicing the piece. He’s not in a tribute band. He’s not doing some one-off Keith Moon memorial concert. I’m sure he’s a sponsored musician by Drum Workshop and possibly by Guitar Center, but he’s obviously doing what he loves. Perkins is making an appearance inside the Hollywood, California Guitar Center as a promotional event. There’s a fair sized audience strewn about the store, but I suspect he’d be playing with just as much vigor and joy if it was just him and the afterhours janitor rocking out.

I recommend you plug in headphones or watch this on a PC/Mac with a good audio system. And turn it up pretty loud.

Watch out for these highlights:

0:04  Stephen Perkins takes time to tell the small audience what to look for in the performance and I suspect what speaks to him about Moon’s drumming in the song. He hasn’t simply made a technical breakdown of the drumming. He’s broken down the song, identified themes, and alludes to struggles that the band and Moon were going trough. You get the sense he could talk about Keith Moon and percussion in songs by The Who for hours on end. He’s genuinely interested and appreciates the ground broken by them in rock history. The song is now over 35 years old and Perkins is currently 45 years old. He has a sense of history.


1:16  The kick drum shakes the tripod supporting the camera. Sheesh, it must be LOUD in the store!

1:57  The first fill. Speed and accuracy right out of the gate. He seems to be in dead punch like a pro from the word go.Moon450px

2:44  Supreme control of his whole body. An awareness and intimacy of every piece of his drum kit. Although the equipment looks beautiful, it is the product or the sound that matters. If it sounded great, I don’t think he would care if the drums were as tattered as his torn T-shirt.

3:15: He’s not bothered that he’s lost his china cymbal. No panic or agitation is apparent. The show must go on and this simple equipment slip up has now made this performance unique and memorable. I imagine he’s sort of glad that an unexpected challenge is going to force him to flex his improvisational muscles or find a way to get back on track. It’s returned to the podium and immediately put into service. At his first opportunity, he makes an adjustment so it’s positioned to his liking. The cymbal drop episode ends with a thankful smile to the helper. The smile to me says, “Thanks! Yeah, we’re rocking. It ain’t any fun until you’ve broken something!”

3:41  The quiet section of the song. He takes such care to feather the cymbals and head rings to accurately reproduce the track note-perfect. He’s got range. It’s not all about power.

4:35  With the mallets, he seems lost in the song. He’s not playing to the audience or putting on a show. He seems lost in the music and coaxing the exquisite sound for his own satisfaction.

7:25  Another smile as if to say, “Oh, I forgot you all were here. Wow! Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed that as much as I did.”


So how does this help my pool game? I appreciate the dedication, passion, and attention to detail that Stephen has put into his drumming. He switches his snare on and off and switches from sticks to mallets and back to sticks. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. No panic or fumbling. I feel like he’s done this Keith Moon breakdown and tribute almost as a labor of love. The passion and joy he shows stands above all. He seems like he’s playing it as if it’s the last time he’ll ever hear the song and he wants each strike to be remembered. It inspires me to dig deeper into learning certain pool shots or techniques. It makes me realize that watching some great pool player with a unique style might get me to think creatively and devise new skills or attitudes that I can incorporate into my game.

I’ve probably watched this clip upwards of thirty times for my own enjoyment, inspiration, and in preparing this article. I’m no drummer, but I sure do get stoked to see a good one at the top of his game. Or maybe it just took that many viewings to wash the image from my brain of CSI:  Miami actor David Caruso delivering cheesy lines and removing his sunglasses to another Who track, “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

Continue Reading

Achieving Dead Stroke: Inspiration

Posted on 02. Jan, 2013 by .


I love watching someone perform at the top of the tree in their area of expertise. Even if it’s something as simple as a guy shoveling gravel — if he’s world-class and does it every day, I will pause to marvel at his fluid technique. Spearing the spade into the heap of stones with just the right angle and depth to hoist the perfect amount with no wasted effort. Smoothly turning, slinging and releasing the volley of gravel into a mid-air suspended clump that barely disintegrates before making a solid sounding splash in the awaiting wheelbarrow. How wonderful!

How many repetitions did this man make to hone his motions? How many tons of pebbles did he move learning to perform the task effortlessly  and impossibly efficient? It’s the same kind of thing that amazed me as a teen watching the lumberjack contests. How long did it take that fellow to perfect halving a log while balancing on it and whacking it with an axe?  I’ve shoveled some dirt and chopped some trees as an odd job thankfully, not for a living. Both take me some time and if you only saw my silhouette, you’d be hard pressed to identify which job I was doing.

Professionals make it look easy. This month I will attempt to show some examples of top class performers. I’ll show instances of people “In The Zone” or having that so-called “Flow Experience.” Seeing humans excel at certain tasks sometimes speak to me and my game of pool. I’d like to explain why I make this connection and how it inspires me.

Have you ever been in awe of an expert doing his or her thing?

Mike Fieldhammer

Continue Reading

How to snap out of a slump in 5 minutes.

Posted on 03. Jan, 2012 by .


Tip # 3/31: Jump Start Your Brain and Your Stroke

This tip can be filed under the “Strange but True” or the “Your Mileage May Vary” category. Credit to the legendary local all-around player “Fast” Freddy Lamers for this unusual tip. If you’ve just shot a dozen balls straight into the rail in the middle of a tournament, you may think you’re living your worst nightmare. Perhaps you’ve just gotten stuck in a long race or knocked to the B-side and there’s still more of this living hell to come. Welcome to the quick acting, hard hitting, mid-session slump!

Please deliver me from this slump!

Please get me out of this slump STAT!

Don’t fret. Things really can’t get much worse and why not try something desperate that might shake you awake and get you back to the land of the living? Here’s what to do. Hopefully, your opponent will need to take a bathroom break or maybe you’ve got a short wait before your first match on the left side of the tournament chart. Whatever the case may be, the first chance you should spread all 15 balls out on the table and try to shoot them all in standing on the wrong side of the cue. I mean opposite handed. Righties:  pocket all the balls left-handed. Lefties: run out like other 90% do.

You shouldn’t worry about patterns or what sequence you shoot these balls. The idea is to give your brain and body a shock. It’s like getting the defibrillation paddles to your chest.

Emergency defibrillation - Shock the system

Don’t ask me how this works or how often it works. Like I said, it can be miraculous or it could blow up in your face. But you’re already looking down the barrel of a bazooka, so what have you got to lose?

My theory is (because analytical is my middle name) the unusual feeling of doing something that you do so well and naturally with your dominant hand feels ridiculous. This strange and awkward feeling gets the other half of your brain working and you’ve got to actually think about these simple actions that you normally can do in your sleep. Postulate number two is (see-analytic!) that when you switch back to your dominant hand everything feels so easy and natural that you get a quick shot of confidence and reassurance. See? You can make balls. The nightmare has ended — Now, get back to work.

Best of luck, Mike.

P.S. If you’ve got any topics that would make a nifty tip, I need suggestions! TYIA.

Continue Reading