Maintaining a light grip

Apr 19, 2008

I’m finding more and more life lessons in pool. I think it’s because it’s very much a mental game. But I digress.

In pool, you need a light grip on the cue stick. Yes, the grip is very personal, but in general, any instructor or book will advise a light grip. I’m not sure the exact reason, but I think it’s to ensure that the cue stick follows its natural path when you stroke. If you grip it too tightly, it’s more likely that the cue stick will jerk and move off its natural path.

Sometimes in life, trying to have too much control isn’t good. Sometimes the more you try to force something, the worse it’ll go. It might be better to just lightly guide it, and let it take its course.

One prime example of this is in business/pr today, especially with social media. You can’t force the conversations. You can’t stop all negative reviews. If you try to, it’ll just make things worse. The best thing you can do is work on your brand, be a part of the conversations, and let the rest happen. Same for your personal brand.

Sometimes the most natural option is the best one.

What I Learned From the World Pool Championships 2007

Nov 8, 2007

I’ve been watching the World Pool Championships 2007 today. And as always, there’s a lot of things that I think can be learned from it.

I mentioned 9 ball a while back, and the lesson on positioning that it thought me. But today, I want to focus more on the trends in the tournament.

Soft breaks are a lot more common now, it seems. A few years ago, everyone was breaking really hard, just hitting it and hoping for a good spread. But now, it’s a lot more controlled, and almost everyone is going for a soft break. The first lesson it shows is something that I’ve written about before: control. Sometimes, holding back is better, because it allows you to have more control over the results.

Something interesting from the commentators as well. One commentator talked about how because the soft break gives less spread (the balls don’t fly around the table as much), there tends to be more clusters of balls, and could create more trouble. A while later, I heard another comment, this time saying how the balls are closer together after a soft break, thus the cue doesn’t need to travel as far, making run outs easier. Just goes to show how everything is a matter of perspective. The same soft break, the same result (less spread of balls), but two completely different conclusions.

A third lesson that watching this has taught me is that everyone has an equal chance, and it’s all about taking your opportunities. I’ve seen so many upsets, with the supposed underdogs pouncing on one mistake. And especially with the winner-break format, they can easily string a run of racks together to win. Lesson here – even if nobody expects you to win, you can. All you have to do is maintain your mental strength, and wait for your chance. Then make the most of it. No matter how much the odds are stacked against you, you will get your chance (I don’t think I’ve seen ANYBODY break and run out the whole match).

So there it is. 3 lessons from watching the world pool championships. The value of holding back – the control it gives, the importance of perspective and what a huge difference it can make, and how no matter how unlikely it seems, opportunities to succeed (in whatever you’re doing) will come, it’s up to you to make the most of them.

This is written as an entry to this month’s “What I Learned From…” group writing project.