I met with a friend of mine over the weekend to shoot a few games of pool. Between games, we talked about pool in general and how the industry was doing. I mentioned that I was writing an article for the March edition of PoolSynergy, where I laid out my thoughts on what I believe is holding pool back from becoming a mainstream sport in the U.S. I also told him a little about my blog, my intent to educate and attract more people to the game, and my goal to become a professional player in two years. His response was immediate and harsh: “You know you are doomed to failure, right?” I was surprised by his quick sharp response. “What do you mean?” He paused for a second, collected his thoughts, and delivered the following analysis.
“You see, there are only two possible outcomes to your mission. In the first scenario, you work hard for a couple years, you make great progress, but you don’t reach the skill level required to play competitively at the professional level. In this scenario, you fail to reach your goal, but that’s okay, because everyone will say that your goal was too aggressive. Everyone will say, ‘See, I told you so. You’ve got a very long way to go kiddo. Keep at it, and come back again in five or ten years.’ That’s scenario one. Here’s the alternative. Scenario two. In scenario two, you work very hard, make meteoric progress, and achieve the goal of being able to play competitively at the professional level. In this scenario, the reaction from the general populace will be, ‘Yeah, he’s a pro, but he didn’t do it in two years. He probably had worked on his skills for years, was already knocking at the door, and just needed a very slight improvement in his skill level to get over the edge. Big deal.’ You see, in scenario two, you reach the goal, but everyone yawns because they think it was rigged from the start. Either way, you fail.”
I thought about his comments for a moment, and realized there was some truth to it. It is true that technically I’ve been playing pool for many years; however, I never took the game really seriously until the last few months when I started this blog. So the question is a valid one: What was my skill level when I started this journey at the end of October, 2009? It’s really hard for me to describe where I was at in the broad spectrum of pool talent, but let me try. About ten years ago, I was a member of the APA in the Atlanta, Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee areas. While participating in their eight-ball leagues, my handicap settled around a high ‘5’ or low ‘6’. Since moving to California ten years ago, I switched to nine-ball and have played occasionally in the USPPA with a skill rating somewhere around a 50. If you’re not familiar with either the APA or USPPA rating systems, this roughly equates to a player who on average can run 4 or 5 balls, but that’s about it.
So there you have it. That’s my full disclosure. That’s where I started from when I began my journey in October 2009. As you can see, I have a very long (but fun) journey ahead of me.