Saturday, July 21, 2007

Getting Creative

Practice makes perfect, right? If you are struggling with cut shots, it makes more sense to get on a table and shoot cut shots for an hour than it does to wait and "practice" them when they come up in a game. When they come up in a game you want to make them not practice them.

Similarly, if you are a competitive player, you might encounter situations, not just certain shots, that will require practice. In the quest to consistently get the best performance out of yourself that you can, it is helpful to train for some of the specific situations and adversities that you routinely face.

Here is one situation that I have been struggling with lately: At WPBA events I am sometimes scheduled to play a match that starts at 10 pm and doesn't end until after midnight. The problem is that I am very keyed-up and full of adrenaline after playing and it is very hard to change gears and fall asleep so that I will be fresh in the morning. Even though I am careful about how much coffee I drink in the afternoon and I try to do relaxing things before bed, I inevitably toss and turn for hours and sleep fitfully. The next day I try my hardest to stay positive and focus but I am usually dog tired and produce a sub-par effort.

Since there are only eight pro events each year, I can't afford to "practice" playing under these circumstances while at the tournament. So, it is time to get creative and to recreate these playing conditions when I am training at home.

Here is what I have been doing (only once a week so that I get enough sleep) : I take a short nap in the afternoon followed by a couple of cups of coffee. I play some sets from about 9 pm until 1 am. I use visualization to try to get as "intense" and full of adrenaline as I would be at a Pro event. I come home and practice relaxation exercises before trying to go to sleep. I inevitably toss and turn for hours and sleep fitfully. I get up in the morning and practice visualization to energize myself and become "intense" again. Then, I go and play some more sets.

It is a strange comfort to me that I also play terribly when I recreate this situation at home. Instead of beating myself up for "dogging it" at the tournament, I realize that these are some new skills that I have to learn and practice. I also know that once I have conquered this situation in practice, I will be more familiar with it and will have more confidence in my ability to deal with it at tournaments.

I'm going back to bed now,

Photo courtesy of William Fuentes


honeywest said...

Hi Liz,
I understand your dilemma as I have the same problem. I do have a suggestion that may help. Unless your adamantly opposed to drugs...I have found sleep-tylenol or sleep-advil very helpful. I am not big on sleep drugs either, but on those occasions as you described it can be a lifesaver.
Just give yourself enough time to really wake up, as they do have a groggy effect in the morning. Another thing that helps me, is getting blood to your brain (a yoga thing I learned) so, if I find myself getting tired during a match. I will take a break and find a place to stretch a bit and bend over and touch my toes for about 30 secs) to get some blood to my does help!

Good luck at the Open...
=) Lara
(Your Mudhoney captain, incase you weren't sure)

Liz Ford said...

Hey Lara,
Thanks for the tips! I am a regular yoga-doer but I hadn't thought of doing inversions specifically to make me more alert. It makes sense, though, and I will try it.
OTC sleep pills don't work for me, but Ambien does! Unfortunately it makes me too groggy the next day.
Good to hear from you,

Everyone else: Keep the sleep tips coming!

vagabond said...

Inability to fall into sleep after your 10pm match may have been due to hyperexcitabilty.Hyperexcitability may be due to flooding of thoughts.U may consider meditation to reduce such flooding.If that does not work you may have to consider some medication that agrees with your system and does not cause unbearable side effects.

JJ said...

I recommend that you meditate on a fat spliff. Word.

Liz Ford said...

I am certain that I have no idea what you are talking about.

"The Other Hammer" said...

Drive the NJTP that will make you sleep... :)