Black Friday

The day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday, the big shopping day!  I live in a small condo in a residential /retail community named Santana Row, located in San Jose, California.  There are many benefits to living in a planned community.  Within a five minute walk of my front door, there are over one hundred restaurants and retain shops, and there’s rarely a need for me to drive my car.  There is one drawback however: Traffic.  Holiday traffic to be exact.  This morning, cars and trucks started arriving between 5:00 or 5:30 as bargain hunters descended upon our little neighborhood looking for big discounts on electronics and other household items.  I’m happy to see that shoppers are out and about, which of course is good for the economy and our community, but between the shoppers, the spotty California rain that arrived earlier today, and the traffic I would have to fight to drive anywhere, I think I may just stay in.  No problem for me; I’m still recovering from yesterday’s gluttony and I’ve got plenty of work to do here at home.

As I sit here at my kitchen table with a pot of hot coffee brewing, I’ve been thinking a lot about my match with Octavio on Wednesday at the California Billiard club.  There were two shots off the rail that came up at least twice during our match.  In all four instances, I missed the shot, and as a result, Octavio ran out.  See Figures 1 and 2 below.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Borrowing from Daniel Coyle’s concept of Deep Practice, I’m going to dedicate my next practice session to these two shots.  I will set them up and shoot them over and over again until I own them.  I will shoot them until they don’t present me with any fear or trepidation.  I will shoot them and shoot them and shoot them until I can make them in my sleep.

My concern with this type of repetitive practice is that there is a danger that the monotony could lead to laziness and a lack of concentration.  How do I address that?  Maybe I will imagine there are two or three people watching my practice sessions closely, judging me on my performance.  Maybe I will enforce a thirty second wait period between each shot.  This will force me to slow down and take time to think before each shot.  Yes, that’s the plan.  A thirty second wait period to force me to evaluate my stance, bridge, and stroke between each shot.

So that’s it.  Tomorrow I will travel down Stevens Creek Boulevard to Santa Clara Billiards.  It’s a great place to go if you want some quality solitary practice time at a table.  The pockets on table number two are triple shimmed to make the pockets extra tight.  This forces you to be more precise in your aiming and helps to increase your accuracy.  After shooting on a triple shimmed table, the pockets on a regular table look like bushel baskets.  I’ll work on these two shots, focusing my efforts on stance and stroke, and also do some work on my bridges.  I’ll give you a report tomorrow.

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2 responses to “Black Friday

  1. Nice! I love the idea of focusing on skill development instead of just playing. At some point you need to move to synthesis as well, but identifying deficiencies in your catalog of skills then focusing in is terrific.

    Have you ever read about the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreyfus_model_of_skill_acquisition

    Very interesting way of classifying where one is on one’s journey. I thought it might be a useful tool for you to think about with regards to each specific skill you’re practicing, as well as on a meta-level with respect to your whole game.

  2. Thanks John for the link to the Dreyfus model. I’ll look into it. It may be a good tool for me to use to evaluate certain components of my game, and provide an indication when I should move on to other skill development areas. Thanks!

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