By Samm Diep © December 2010
No, seriously. Get yourself out of town and play some pool.
Once you start playing seriously, one of the best things you can do for your competitive game is to get out of town. Travel to a tournament in another town, even another state, and compete. It’s easy to become so comfortable in your own zip code that when you do finally have to leave town for an event, the foreign pressure becomes so overwhelming that you can’t perform.
You may even find that you play better because there are no expectations from others. There are no friends or family to distract you or to break your concentration during the event. You also force yourself to play under different conditions. You test your skills and concentration.
Attending out of state pool tournaments is a wonderful opportunity to meet new people with similar interests and experiences. Developing new friendships only helps our great sport grow.
Top Ten Reasons to Leave Town for a Tournament
Learning to play on different equipment and in a different environment. It’s easy to get so comfortable in your element that when you’re finally forced to step outside the box, you can’t perform. When you only leave town once a year for Vegas nationals, you may find you put so much pressure on that one event instead of realizing it’s just one of many.
Winning when you know you’re not the favorite. There’s nothing more rewarding than coming out ahead in a match when the crowd is all pulling for your opponent. It takes a lot of mental strength to fight through the feeling that everyone is rooting against you.
Competing against different players. You already know what to expect from the top players in your own town. You’d be surprised what you can learn when playing against and watching new players.
Benchmark your game. What better way to gauge your level of play than by testing your skills against new and unbiased competition? It’s difficult to truly measure your true progress when you are facing the same players in every event.
Return home a better player. Each time you prepare for a big event and play your heart out while you’re there, you always return home stronger and more confident than before you left. Learning to compete under a higher level of pressure always brings out the best player.
Change the monotony and break the glass ceiling. When you’re constantly playing against the same players over and over again, you begin to have expectations. After a while, you know who you’re going to beat and who you’re going to lose to. The get stuck at a level where you feel expected to be at.
Big fish in a little pond? If you’re the best in your town, playing against great players from other towns can give you a better idea of where you stand in the big picture.
Little fish in a big pond? And likewise, if you’re constantly losing to the same people, change things up a little and challenge yourself with some fresh competition. You’d be surprised how you’ll come back a better player.
Meet new and different people. Have a little fun.
Explore a new city. Do some sightseeing and enjoy yourself!
The next time you get the chance to take a weekend road trip to a tournament, even if it’s just a neighboring town, take advantage of the opportunity. The benefits are countless.
Special thanks goes to Dave Gross (aka “12squared”) from Fort Collins, Colorado for his contributions to this month’s article.
Samm Diep, “Cherry Bomb” (DenverCherryBomb.com)
House Pro at Rack ‘Em Billiards (Aurora, CO)
Author of “You Might Be A D Player If… (101 Classic Moves That All Pool Players Can Appreciate)”
Player Representative for Chris Byrne Custom Cues, PoolDawg, Predator, Jim Murnak Custom Cases, & Delta-13 Rack
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