I was recently asked why I play in the APA, and I wanted to offer up a couple reasons. I started playing in September of this year, and my plan is to continue to play 8 Ball in the APA for the foreseeable future. Here are two of my reasons:
1. Weekly Competition – I currently captain and play on an 8 Ball team on one night, then compete as needed on two additional teams on different nights. I try to work out a schedule that allows me to play at least two matches each week against players who are ranked skill level ‘7’ in the league. My goal is to put maximum pressure on myself to win the short race to 5 matches by as wide a margin as possible. I’m currently focusing on 8 Ball in the APA, but will add 9 Ball next season. I have several reasons for choosing to play in the APA, some of them sentimental, some altruistic, but the overriding reason is for me to hold myself accountable. My teammates look to me for leadership by knowledge and performance. If I don’t win, I feel like I’m letting my teammates down. If I don’t win by a very wide margin, I’m not living up to my own expectations. Either way, I feel the pressure every day when I practice: “Take this practice session serious because people are counting on you.” It forces me to thoughtfully assess my weaknesses and take action to improve in those areas. I understand why some people look down on leagues like the APA, but here’s my take on it: each week I play at least 1, usually 2 people who are skill level 7. I know if I make a mistake, there’s a good chance they will run the table. This provides a great testing ground for me to experiment with different shots, strategies, etc., knowing that if I miss I will likely lose the game. For some reason (probably hyper aggressiveness) I almost always lose my first game and have to fight back and win 4-5 games in a row. My goal is to never let my opponent win more than 2 games. This forces me to bear down, focus, and fight hard for the win. It has also forced me to greatly improve my safety game.
2. Teaching Others – I love the game. I want the game and the industry to be successful. I especially love teaching others how to play and improve their skills. I recently had several very positive experiences teaching beginners some of the basics. There’s nothing that can top the feeling you get when you teach someone a concept, and suddenly there’s this “Aha!” moment as a light goes off in their head and they suddenly ‘get it’. Last week I helped correct an error in a guy’s cut shot aiming system, and now the guy who previously had trouble making a standard cut shot from 2.5 diamonds away can hit cuts from 6 diamonds away…a huge improvement gained in less than 10 minutes of instruction! After the evening was over, he couldn’t wait to get back to the practice table. I love excellence, and I love it when I see someone who is passionate about improving. So for me, the APA is not just about playing and competing, it’s about giving something back and helping others find and share the same passion for the game that I have.