Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Things I Learned in Belgium and Holland - Part 1 of Many

I have been having trouble organizing my thoughts about my trip.  I am working on posting some of the assessment and training drills but they aren't ready yet.  There is so much that I want to share... in the interests of expediency I am going to just start writing things and not worry so much about the big picture.

1. Johan is a fascinating person and it was my pleasure to get to spend the week with him and his family.  It felt like the week was one long conversation that was primarily focused on pool but touched on many of the important aspects of life - music, religion, politics, family, philosophy and humor.  Johan has played every sport known to man and his life has had many, many incarnations so far (he wouldn't have it any other way.)

2. Pool in Holland started in the Coffee Shops.  Not sure why this surprised me at all.

3. I can't believe the lengths I will go to while playing pool to avoid my weaker shots.  My problem shots? Cutting the ball without English, using stun (especially near the rails), and draw with speed control among others.  My patterns are many times geared so that I can avoid the things that I'm not as good at.

4.  Europeans treat the break shot in Straight pool like a break shot.  Break shots are left at a slightly shallower angle and are hammered in using stun, stun follow or stun draw.

5.  The Dutch think it's weird to put too many things on a sandwich.  I taught Johan's kids that Nutella and peanut butter on the same sandwich is not bizarre, it's tasty.

more to come...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

European Update and Liz Ford, Writer? (Me make good words)

After five days of training, I am going to spend the next two in match-ups with two European players, Tamara Rademakers and Katrine Jensen.  Johan will be acting as my coach during these sessions, helping me warm up, helping set my mental state before each match, making me take a break if I need it and completing some post-match analyses.

I'm not sure what it's going to be like as I've never had a coach, only instructors.  The closest I've come to on-site help is working closely with a few of my scotch doubles partners.   I've always been envious of Jasmin and Xiao-Ting for having coaches that travel with them.  I'm sure it is good at times and annoying at times, especially when you are losing or you have a bad attitude (a pool-player? never!)

I'm pretty excited, but I have inputted so much information into my brain in the last five days, that it is going to take me some time to be able to collect and summarize my thoughts.  When I get back to the U.S. I hope to write formally about my experience over here as it has been illuminating, to say the least.

 Columnist Liz is serious, but cuddly.

Speaking of writing, I am now a resident columnist over at PoolDawg.  My articles will be geared toward newer players in the hopes of getting more people interested in the game, all from a place that is south of cheeky and north of snarky. Hopefully, that is nowhere near Stfuland.  Is that where the people who WRITE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS live?

It is getting later and I am getting weirder, so time for bed and hopefully dreams of something other than pool.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ugh, Hello from Belgium...

Just a quick update to say hello from just south of the Netherlands, in Belgium.

It is day two of my training with Johan Ruysink and my weaknesses are being revealed to me one after another.  It is pure torture...

I have hit so many balls in the last 30 hours that I've lost my feel entirely and now I am starting to lose my mind.

I think this is all part of Johan's plan.  He has alluded a few times to "breaking me down" and I think he might be achieving his objective.

I long to be a lazy American again :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mint Salon

I wanted to give a plug this morning for my two favorite ladies of hair over at Mint Salon, Allison Burr and Charlene Dougan. Allison cuts my hair and Charlene keeps me blonde (it was her idea in the first place.)

They are offering my readers $50 off cut and color (first-timers only!) Just tell them Liz Ford sent ya. Women and men are welcome.

I have been a regular at their salon since they opened and they were kind enough to help style me for my photos. I never feel more like a New Yorker than when I go to their all-white loft space in Hell's Kitchen. Sometimes I go there just to hang out on the couch :)

This is a picture of their handiwork:

I am off to The Netherlands tonight and I will be keeping everyone updated on how Johan Ruysink does as a drill sergeant.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Picture Preview

Okay, so I had way too much fun making some new pictures...
Even though there is more work to be done in Photoshop, I thought I'd post a preview.

I chose the image above as the picture that is going to be included in my $60 contributor thank you package (also includes $10 PoolDawg gift certificate and a lesson dvd... still available pre-sale for $50... just click the donate button to the right.)

I want to take a minute to thank, profusely, the people responsible for making this shoot happen:

Photographer: Sam Muglia
Hair: Allison Burr and Charlene Dougan of Mint Salon
Make-up: Willow Mayor
Creative Consultant: Elke Dochtermann
Clothes Stylist: Jennifer Barretta
Production assistants: Greg Thrasher and Haley Deckle

I am getting ready to go to The Netherlands tomorrow night. I'm excited but still in a little bit of denial that I will be leaving the country for nine days. I spent the weekend in Atlantic City at the Blaze Tour finale. I finished one round out of the money, but I was playing very well.

I'll be checking in all this week with updates and some more pictures.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Photo Shoot

Tomorrow I am going to be taking some new promotional pictures.  I have enlisted the help of all my friends to help push me towards a more "marketable" look. 

Hmmm, marketable...

I am going to suck it up, quite literally, and push myself to up the sex appeal a little. Just a little, hopefully remaining cute and not at all desperate.

True to form, however, I'm sure that I will find a way to put some humor into the pictures.

The best advice I've gotten so far?:

"Bah, you shouldn’t even worry about it.  You’re not going to look desperate unless you decide to really skank it up, and even then you still wouldn’t look desperate.  Just have the photographer do a variety of different poses and avoid the sweaters and cardigans."
 - Anonymous

I'm not sure I know what anonymous is talking about...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Netherlands Adventure is on Deck

I'm the one in the picture, I am crazy...

I made the decision a few days ago to book a trip to The Netherlands.  I will be going there to work with Johan Ruysink, the official head coach of the country.  I met him while I was in Shenyang, China for the World Championships.

I have always admired, what has appeared to me, the European commitment to training and athleticism. My only gauge of this is through the European players that I've met: Physically fit, disciplined, and most importantly taking themselves and the sport seriously. Not coincidentally, their countries take them seriously, too, often paying for them to attend tournaments around the world.

For a long time I've been curious to take a closer look at what players are really doing over there: How do they train? How do they view the sport and their contribution to it? What do they think the future holds for pool?  Mosconi cuppage aside, there is no question that a generation of proper training and attitude has given the European players a great advantage over the rest of us stateside. 

When I found myself on an airport shuttle with Johan, I saw an opportunity (ie. a captive audience) to do a little investigating.  After hearing him talk about a philosophy of training already proven with a cache of champions, I decided to go experience it for myself.  Ten hours a day for five days is what I'm set to do next week.

So, why am I crazy?

I am going to be paying for this experience out of my own pocket, with some help from some gracious supporters, but mostly on my own.  I'm not sure I know anyone else who decides to do stuff like this, that's why I have to figure that I'm the crazy one.

I take myself and this sport seriously, even as WPBA events have dwindled and the BCA has withdrawn support for players to travel to world ranking events.  I would like to set an example for other American players to take themselves seriously and maybe the rest of the country will catch on.

I am still seeking contributions to help fund my insane campaign of seriousness.  In a few weeks I will be pimping a $60 contributor gift package including a sexy pic, a ten dollar PoolDawg gift certificate and a DVD lesson given by me. It isn't ready, yet, but anyone who donates $50 or more now will receive the package.  Call it a pre-sale.

You can contribute by clicking the "donate" button under the Holland thermometer, please make sure to include your mailing address and any special message you like on the picture.

Help me start dragging our comatose sport towards the light...