Before a Tournament I …

Awesome photo by Joh Sturgis Photography - Click here for more photos by JohnThis past weekend, I competed in the Super Billiards Expo Women’s Amateur Event.  Reflecting on that tournament compared to the BCAPL Women’s Open Event from last year, I recognized a stark difference in my play in these two events.  Both tournaments are big events with many entrants over a few days so I can really gage my full tournament feelings in both.  It’s quite coincidental that this month’s PoolSynergy asks us bloggers to discuss our tournament preparation methods.  I did well in both these events, but only won one of them and the reason was my tournament preparation variances. 

At the BCAPL event last year I was completely focused on myself, the tournament & my needs as a player.  I wasn’t distracted by the outside world’s requests of me.  My body was the only person I listened to.  If I was tired, I slept.  Hungry, I ate.  Wanted to relax, I watched TV or hung out by the pool.  poolsynergy4I didn’t go party with my friends or eat big heavy meals.  I ate healthy, energy packed brain food (chicken, veggies, carbs, protein, etc.) throughout competition days.  I was a pool player with a mission and nothing distracted me and I was happy with these choices.  I didn’t force myself to be responsible, I WANTED TO BE. 

You have to want it for yourself.  No one else.  I believe the reason I did well was I was at peace.  Mind, body & soul.

Fast forward to the Expo.  Last week’s events were very difficult.  Ginky’s passing has been difficult and draining.  I ate little, slept little, and practiced none. I arrived in Valley Forge 2 hours prior to the tournament start.  GG Vegas - John Yee - BCAPLI was running on 4 hours of sleep.  I played, won and instead of going to sleep, I stayed up to watch Tony play.  Went to sleep around 4am, played again at 11.  Fought through my body yelling at me, droopy eyes, lack of focus, jittery, etc.  Made it through day 2 by the skin of my teeth and lots of caffeine.  By day 3, I escaped two hill/hill matches by sheer luck & pulling from clutch experiences of past to make it to the semi finals.  And then, I had no more.  I’d been running on fumes and the tank was now bone dry. 

I tried to fake a focused look, a killer instinct, a commanding walk, but try as I may, I simply couldn’t find the desire to even be there.  I yearned for my opponent to run out.  I’m a fighter, but here I was hoping she’d break and run and put me out of my misery.  She did.  She played awesome!  I can’t say that at 100% that I’d have won, but I’d have given her a better run for her money, that’s for sure. 

Tip #1: Take care of your health.  While practice is obviously important, you won’t win a tournament simply practicing for a week before the event.  That’s like cramming for a test the night before.  You may pass, but you won’t be at the top of your class.  All the practice in the world can’t help you if you aren’t feeling well. 

It’s the physical & emotional preparations that will give you the best chances of performing well.  Pool is so mental.  You must be MENTALLY prepared to perform.  Rest, Serenity, healthy Fuel and Inspiration.

Jon Ginky GG - Valley Forge 2010Tip #2: Be Inspired.  Despite my poor preparation this week, I think I performed well because I was inspired by the passing of a dear friend.  The reminder that life and the people we love can be taken at any moment — I believed that threw me into a determined motivation. 

I kept saying….  Ginky would tell me to “stop F**king around and win this shit!  Don’t use me as an excuse boss lady! You’re better than that!” …. His voice resonated in my thoughts much of the tournament.   

Tip #3: Be There In That Moment! I’ve played in tournaments where I was excited and eager to run balls and find the zone.  And other tournaments, I felt it was my obligation to play rather than my joy.  Most of the time I feel the latter when I’m stressed out and exhausted.  I never perform well in these tournaments. 

GG - John Yee Photo - Valley ForgeMy good friend Ron Mason sent me a text before the Empire State Championship that read, Make sure you are Gail the pool player today and not Gail who helps Tony & Finnegan run the tour.  They can handle it ok?”  He was right!  I’ve performed so poorly in the past Predator events because I’m not focused.  I’m distracted by the draw, the sign ups, this player’s complaints, the payouts, the room owner’s needs, blah blah blah. 

That event, I took 5th out of 108 and it’s because I respected myself and my game enough to ignore the world outside of the green felt.  It was my highest finish ever on the Predator Tour.  Thanks Ron.

When you are at the table, nothing else should exist.  It’s just you and the table at war.

Tip #4: Mello Out Dude!  Get Rest. De-stress yourself with a good workout, an inspirational movie, a walk in the park, a relaxing dinner with loved ones, hell, good sex!   Find a way to release the world’s weight on your shoulders before you compete. 

Last Tip!  FEED ME!  Feed your body food that will help it perform well.  My favs:

  • Eggs!  (Omelets are my staple before a tournament)
  • Chicken
  • Nuts & Dried Fruit (I carry these in my purse at all times)
  • Apples & Bananas (Apples are like coffee w/o the jitters)

Hope this helps everyone! 

God Bless us all and George, Rest In Peace Dude.  Love you always, Boss Lady. 


~ by g2 on March 15, 2011.

5 Responses to “Before a Tournament I …”

  1. so that’s how a good player preps for a tournament… 😯

    btw, that first pic is scary! enough to drop players down at least a couple of skill levels. 😛

  2. […] […]

  3. As always Gail, well done!

  4. Just wanted to thank you for blogging — I love reading blogs about pool and I’ve read yours several times over the last year or so. You played my friend Tara in the finals of the BCA Vegas last year, and I watched the second set (and you played beautifully). And I read this particular post and appreciated it, as I compete in tournaments regularly as well and I found it very helpful! I read it this year when preparing for Vegas myself. So thank you.

  5. Thank you so much Jennifer! That’s really nice of you to say! 🙂

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