Wednesday, October 7, 2009

When Rhinos Attack (Damn Nature, You Scary...)

By rhino, of course I mean rhinovirus.  I just got dressed, which is farther than I got yesterday.  I spent all yesterday in a replica of the bathrobe that Brad Pitt wore in fight club (only blue, not purple...found by my mother-in-law on ebay.)

All this lying about has given me much too much time to think about the little mini-slump in which I've been.
After playing quite a bit lately (some match-ups, some tournaments) it has become apparent that I have trouble getting out of the "simple" racks.  I know that nothing in pool is simple, by "simple" I mean racks where the balls are lying well and it is completely within my capabilities to get out.  Routine runouts.  Since this was brought to my attention a few weeks ago, I have started to pay attention to it and unfortunately it's true: If I could get out of all the simple racks, I would be beating a hell of a lot of people. 

There is a lot of hope in this realization because there are so many difficult things that I am doing well.  My break is much better, as is my safety game.  I am skilled with difficult recovery positions and with power strokes.  I am getting the jump on my opponents but not consistently finishing my job at the table.

When I was in college I majored in Cognitive Science and I still enjoy reading on the subject.  One of my favorite authors is best-seller Malcolm Gladwell.  After reading "Blink" and "Outliers", I just finished his first book, "The Tipping Point."  In "The Tipping Point", Gladwell examines the properties that cause ideas, behaviors and trends to cross over ("tip") from obscurity into the mainstream.  He reveals that small and often simple changes in message, messenger and context cause things to "tip."  While his writing only concerns how information is passed between people, I think that his premise that small changes often cause the largest differences can be applied to my pool game (of course I always find a way for everything to apply to my pool game!)

It is not a bigger break, kicking like a champion or table-length draw that is going to "tip" me from low-level pro to elite player, it is the management of the small, everyday things like being able to draw the cue ball six inches and not three or twelve.

It is with an eye on this that I am preparing for the Pacific Coast Classic.  Even though it might take a while to change, acknowledgment of the problem is the first step towards fixing it.


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