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Sharing The Light – Nicholas “Nicky” Mannino

Nick Mannino

The latest addition to our line-up of Christian pool players may not be known to all, but he does have the distinction of experiencing one thing in pool that no other player has ever experienced, and most likely never will. It happened at one of pool’s most memorable events. I will leave you to discover that one thing on your own, however, as our player has elected to not reveal it in his story here.

I started playing pool when I was 14 years young. Every day after school, I would stand and look through the dirty caged windows of the Starr Street Pool Room in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. I didn’t do well in school but when I watched the guys playing, I knew I could do it. The law in NY said you had to be 16 years old and prove it to play at the pool hall. One day, Joe, the house man who ran the pool room, said to me “If you bring your brother’s birth certificate with you, I will let you come in and play.”

Within one year my high run in straight pool was 49 balls. When I was 16, I moved to the Jefferson Street pool room two blocks away. They had a 5’ x 10’ table that I learned to love playing on. I would spend all of my spare time there playing money balls 1-5. We played partners, the 1 and 5 ball became partners and if you ran the rack you would get paid double from the other 3 players. It was called a “round house”. My goal was to be the best player in the pool room, and I achieved that in both the Starr Street and Jefferson Street pool rooms. I heard some of the older guys raving about a young player at the Golden Cue on Queens Boulevard. I didn’t know where that room was, but I knew that was where all the great players played. Pool was all I thought about.

Then life got in the way and I stopped playing for several years. It was 1967 and the Civil Rights movement was in full swing. I quit high school because of the riots happening at all of the city schools. I joined the Air Force during the Vietnam War and eventually received a GED diploma. I met my wife after I was discharged and got married in 1972. We lived in Queens and I started to play pool at the Golden Cue. I would match up with someone I thought was my speed or slightly better than me. At this point the big game was still straight pool. It wasn’t until my early 20s that everyone was playing 9 ball. Some of the top players would give me pointers to improve my game. I still remember who they were and what they showed me and am forever grateful to them. I played with all my heart and managed to keep my head above water.

One time I walked into the pool room and saw a group of people gathered around watching someone practice. I didn’t know then that it was Gene Nagy practicing straight pool. I’d never seen anyone play the game like him. Minimum cue ball travel, almost never hit a rail, total control! It was a bitter-sweet moment for me. I marveled at his flawless play, but wondered how I could get my game to that level. I waited until he took a break and asked him if he wanted to play. He asked me how much I wanted to play for. I said I know you can beat me, I just would like to play with you. He looked at me and paused, then said “Nah”. I continued to watch him for 20 minutes then approached him again and said how about 2 dollars plus time. He said “ok”. I know he just wanted to see how I played. We went to the back of the room to play on the best table in the house. We lagged for the break. He won the lag, so I had to break. I played the typical straight pool opening break, 2 object balls and the cue ball must hit a rail. The right back ball hits the bottom rail and comes back to the other balls. The left bottom ball goes to the left side of the table and back to the rack of balls. The cue ball landed into the jaw of the back left pocket. There was one ball that landed next to the pack that was makeable. What came next is what blew my mind. Gene jacked up then hit the cue ball 100 miles an hour, made the ball, busted the rack wide open and the cue ball backed up to the center of the table and squatted.

I’ve never seen anything like what he did –before or since. Then he runs 80 balls, bunts a ball into the rail, so I could shoot. I ran 37 balls then missed. He ran another exact 80 balls and again bunted one into the rail so I could shoot. I ran 33 balls. That’s when I realized that this was the young player the guys at Jefferson St. pool room were raving about. Not only did Gene become a mentor to me, but a lifelong friend.

I became a Christian approximately thirty-five years ago, 1-2 years before moving from NY to Pennsylvania. I was discontented with how I was living my life, between my lifestyle and playing pool constantly took away from spending quality time with my family and put a strain on my marriage to put it mildly. I confided in a close friend of mine concerning my situation and he invited me to bible study. We had both come from the same neighborhood in Brooklyn and we both went to Catholic school as children, but I didn’t know he had been going to bible study. I didn’t want to go to the bible study, although I grew up in a Catholic environment as did my friend, I was skeptical because as Catholics we never read the bible. I worked for the Post Office driving a 5-ton vehicle delivering bulk mail. I didn’t show up the first week he told me about the bible study. The next week, I was driving my truck to pick up mail at JFK Airport around 1 or 2 am and I spotted something in the road. As I got closer, I could see it was a book right in the middle of the road. I moved off the road and got out of the truck and picked up what was a bible. I thought this must be a sign that I am supposed to go to bible study. When I look back, I am convinced that God used my worldly superstitions to get me to the bible study. (Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.)

I went to the bible study held in someone’s home. It was the first time I ever read the bible. I continued to go every week without missing a week. The people there were wonderful and loving. (Galatians 5:22 the first fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control against such there is no law, only grace.) We studied scriptures the whole time we met. I accepted Christ in my life which changed everything. It took a long time to realize that it wasn’t about me and is still difficult to be humble but we know as Christians to rely on Him in everything we do and He will guide us with the Holy Spirit. Psalms 46: 10-11 “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Living in the city was draining me spiritually. I began to pray for God’s help. Approximately a year and half later I visited my cousin in Pennsylvania for the 4th of July weekend. Her husband took me for a ride in his pickup truck through the mountains and down into an orchard. Set in the middle of the orchard at the bottom of the mountain was a brick house with a for sale sign on it. I got out to look and the door was open. I walked into a modest but beautiful interior with wood floors, plaster walls, a fireplace and 4 bedrooms upstairs. I went outside and walked to the back of the house and began to pray. “Dear Lord if you give me this house I’ll want for no other house.” My wife and I agreed to bid on the house and we bought it. It felt like a gift from God and a confirmation that the Lord was working in my life.

Becoming a Christian gave me peace of mind. (Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything let your request be made known to God through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving and the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.) During pool tournaments, I would pray while I was in the chair and it gave me peace during the game. Not only did becoming a Christian give me peace of mind, but it changed other parts of my life. I no longer gambled or hustled. My priorities changed and I valued God and family above pool.

After moving to Pennsylvania, I started to enter local events in Maryland. It was at one of those events where I met George Breedlove. George and I traveled together to the US open, Massachusetts and many other events. In 1992, I started playing on the Pro Tour at 42 years old when I should have been retiring. I still regularly visited and connected with Gene. He showed me how and when to release the stick, letting the stick do the work which made for a consistency in position play as well as a complete follow through which led to more accuracy. It brought me to another level of play.

I had many conversations with Gene through the years. One of those conversations was about God. I shared with him about my faith and becoming a Christian. In 2005, when he was in Wyckoff Heights hospital, I drove Gene’s aunt to the hospital and visited with him. During our visit he said, I think you’re right. I knew exactly what he meant. It was about accepting Christ. I drove Aunt Jeanie back home and then returned to Pennsylvania. I learned that Gene died that night, July 13, 2006. It is my hope that we will meet again. Backer Larry Gross shared at Gene’s funeral that Steve Mizerak told him he never saw anyone play the game as good as Gene Nagy. I believe that God placed Gene in my life and I will always cherish our friendship.

The best I did on the pro tour was 4th place at an event in St Louis, MO. The format was 9-ball race to 15. Much to my surprise I felt more comfortable in a longer race. I played using the techniques Gene taught me and I prayed when I was in the chair. I won my match with my Christian brother, George Breedlove, 15 to 13 and my next match with CJ Wiley 15-12. I was in the zone. After my match I walked into the hallway of the pool room and The Magician, Efren Reyes, put his arm around me as we were walking and said with a big smile “Nickeeee.” That was the best trophy I ever received.

I traveled to Hull, England in 2001 with Steve Lillis’ Gospel Trick Shots (GTS) reaching people with the word of God through the creative use of amazing pool trick shots. We visited a church and participated in a 9-ball tournament. I have many fond memories of playing artistic pool with all of the players. We traveled to Kiev, Ukraine for an event. I enjoyed the atmosphere and comradery of the guys on the Artistic tour, which were my all-time favorite events. After the tournament the people holding the event took us on a tour of Old Kiev, we had a wonderful time. Thank you, Tom Rossman and the guys. Many of the players on the artistic tour were also Christians. We would sometimes meet before tournaments to hold bible study and pray.

In 2004, I won a local tournament in Hagerstown, Maryland. I was at the top of my game and I attribute that in part to praying in the chair when I wasn’t shooting. About a week later, I traveled to Destin Florida to play in a pro 9 ball tournament. I remember Mike Davis driving me

to the hospital. I was in great pain. I had a heart attack which ended my competitive pool career. I believe the Lord had other plans for me.

The Roman Road to Salvation:

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.”

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 10:13 For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 10:9-11 That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and believe with your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture says, whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

5 Ways To Achieve “Dead Stroke”

Whenever I ask my students to describe their mental state during their best pool matches, they all say very similar things, such as:

The state that these players are describing is synonymous with “dead stroke”. Ironically, it happens when you least expect it. But what usually follows is the question: “How can I play like that more often?” Most of us just accept that this optimal state for pool performance is something that only happens at random, and we can’t do much about making it happen.

However, we can train ourselves on and off the table so that “dead stroke” can be accessed more readily and more frequently. In this article, I’ll give you 5 strategies that will help you “get in the zone”.

1. BE engrossed IN your pre-shot PROCESS
My best students measure their success by the quality of their pre-shot process, not the outcome. Process goals tell us where we need to place our attention and with practice, we can make it a habit. Trust in a good process will keep the conscious mind quiet and allow the stroke to be more subconscious, resulting in better shot execution.

2. Play In The Present
One of the things that players describe when they achieve “dead stroke” is being very “present”. This means they’re not preoccupied with the past or future. You’re not thinking, you’re just being. Learning how to be more present or more “mindful” is a skill, that you can get better at it with practice. In fact, if you notice yourself getting distracted, just bring yourself back to the process and use your senses to engross yourself. Over time, you’ll notice that your focus will improve, and you’ll be able to play longer without being distracted.

3. Feed Off of PRESSURE Situations
Ask any pro player whether they would rather be slightly nervous or completely relaxed and they will probably tell you “slightly nervous”, the reason being is that they are great at channeling their nervous energy to perform better. When playing in high-pressure situations with an uncertain outcome, the human body triggers a “fight or flight” mechanism. You will identify this as nerves or jitters. However, this nervous energy can serve as a powerful performance enhancer, provided you can keep your mind in the present. Often you will have increased focus and higher sensory awareness. When given the choice, choose to embrace being out of your comfort zone, it can raise your game to a much higher level.

4. CHALLENGE YOURSELF
Have you ever wondered how you can make great shots that seem impossible, and miss a super easy shot during your very next game? This is an example of how challenge can induce focus. On the more difficult shots, you are more challenged, and you give the shot your upmost attention. The key to playing well is to make each shot a challenge so that you will attain a higher level of engagement on every single shot.

5. Don’t worry about how you look
Self-consciousness interferes with your overall performance. When players describe playing pool “in the zone” there’s no worrying about how they look to others, they’re immersed in what they are doing. It’s very important to never get too wrapped up with the outcome and how your play makes you look. The desire to avoid a bad outcome creates too much pressure on every shot.

Most of us just accept that “dead stroke” is something that only happens at random. However, the best players in the world train themselves on and off the table so that “dead stroke” can be accessed more readily and frequently. With the right practice strategies, you’ll be able to achieve this optimal state too. Embrace the 5 strategies listed above and you be playing in a state of “flow” more often than ever before!

Embrace Your Weaknesses, Don’t Run From Them

When it comes to pool, what gives you the most trouble? Consistently making balls on breaks? Long cut shots? Position pool? Playing successful safetys? Most people have both things they do very well, as well as parts of the game that they find challenging.

Additionally, most people like to spend time on the things they do well, and do all that they can to avoid doing things they don’t do very well. Applying this to pool, many players will spend extra time practicing parts of the game they find fun and do well, while rarely working on the frustrating parts of the game that they struggle doing successfully. If this is your approach to the game I’ll be the one to state the obvious: You’re doing it wrong (but the good news is help is on the way!).

Accept the challenge
If the goal is to continually improve your pool game, then you must ac- cept the challenge of improving upon your weaknesses! Ignoring the parts of your game that need the most work will result in you continuing to play about at the level you are right now — it’s like the old saying, “if you keep on doing what you have always done, you’ll keep on getting what you have always got.” Sure, practicing is a lot more fun making the shots you know you can make, but how will your game ever improve using that approach?

Instead, try to develop a regular rou- tine that pushes you to practice the aspects of your game that cause you the most anxiety, then open your mind and roil up your sleeves and get after it! Will this be easy or fun? Truthfully, it might not start out that way, but you have the power to make this way of practicing an exciting challenge to overcome.

Make a decision best for you
If you are the kind of player that just likes to bang ‘em around and hang out with friends, then embracing your weaknesses probably isn’t the approach for you. On the other hand, if you are truly committed to maximizing your game, then you already know that you have to become proficient at the toughest parts of the game as you know these situations will absolutely come up in play. Furthermore, if you continue playing up against better competition, more talented players will readily see your areas of weak- ness that you have ignored working on, and you better believe they will exploit those weaknesses. Start to- day by writing down the areas of your game that need the most attention, keep your attitude positive, and com- mit to working on these challenges each and every day.

Ten Things I Love About Pool

I recently started keeping a Gratitude Journal. This means that each night, I commit to reflecting on the positive thoughts from that day that I am grateful for. This can be anything from winning a tournament to having a wonderful, loyal dog to being thankful I have internet access. No matter how tough life may seem, there is always something we can be grateful for. That’s the objective of the journal, to train your brain to reflect on the positive, because it can get so easy in life to only remember the negative.

Keeping with the theme of “Gratitude” here are ten random things that I love about pool and why I’m grateful for the game. I encourage you to make your own list.

  1. I love the sound of the balls hitting the back of the pocket! There’s no other sound quite like it. It makes my heart smile.
  2. Making a plan and following through with it gives me a great sense of accomplishment. It’s a great feeling to choose your pattern and execute it just as you intended.
  3. Sharing the game with others is incredibly rewarding. I love that I am able to teach and share the good word of pocket billiards with so many players. And, when I see their improvement, it’s very gratifying.
  4. I like cracking the puzzle. One of my favorite games is bar table 8-ball. I love working through the rack and solving the mystery. Many have compared it to a chess match.
  5. Getting dirty can be fun. After a long practice session, I can measure how hard I played by how covered in chalk my hands and clothes become. I love practicing in white for this reason.
  6. I am a performer. Like an athlete or musician, I have worked very hard to polish my skills and am extremely proud to be able to perform for myself and others. I do not take this opportunity for granted.
  7. Break out shots make me happy. I love nudging the balls right where I want them. What can I say? I’m a straight pool player. Blasting that break ball can also be quite exhilarating.
  8. I love my equipment! I couldn’t be happier with my Chris Byrne Custom Cue and Jim Murnak Case. If you’re privileged enough to have good stuff, you want to use it and show it off. 
  9. I’m always learning. It never ceases to amaze me how much there still is to learn about this game. I’m constantly discovering new things about my abilities and about the history of the sport. It’s a wonderful thing to keep your brain stimulated.
  10. Meeting other pool nuts! One of my favorite things about being so deeply involved with pool is meeting other players that are also as passionate about the game as I am. It certainly is an amazing bond that we all share.

Once you put your list together, keep it in your case. The next time you lose a match, miss an 8 ball, or just feel like retiring your cue, take out your list and remember why you’re playing. Remember the ten things you love about pool. 

From Little Acorns Do Mighty Oaks Grow

In pool, as in life, it is the little things you do over and over that create the reality you experience, and it is your thoughts which control your actions. You do have the freedom to choose your thoughts at all times. You must be very clear about your desired results so that you can create thoughts, and hence action, that will produce the intended outcome.

When you are faced with a shot and have already determined where you want the cue ball and object ball(s) to go, then it is time to figure out the best way to get them there. Now, formulate your approach considering the path of the balls, spin, speed, stroke, stance, bridge, equipment, humidity and so on. Next, imagine the shot happening perfectly in your mind. If you think you cannot do this, think again – you can.

Visualize the exact line and resting point of the cue ball – instead of thinking “in that direction somewhere over there.” While in games such as 9-Ball you can run out by playing area position, it will always improve your touch to pick an exact spot within the position zone. See the line or gutter of the object ball going right into the pocket – instead of “towards the pocket.” You may be playing on tight pockets or have to squeeze the object ball around interfering balls. Many times it is necessary to shoot the ball into a certain side of the pocket for positions sake, so develop clarity of purpose. Do your best not to miss a shot on account of position.

Feel your cue tip strike the cue ball. Thin, feel the cue ball roll, hit the object ball, slide, spin, jump, decelerate and stop – as if you were one with the ball, because you are, feel the object ball roll and drop into the empty space. My grandfather asked Willie Mosconi what was the most important thing in pool, and he said “touch.”

Hear the cue ball click the object ball, smack the back of the pocket, or softly drop in and roll into the ball return tray. Smell the dust swirling up from the pockets and taste what it feels like to sink a shot with perfect position, run a rack, or five, or a billion – it’s up to you. What do you think?

Big runs do not happen in one shot, and yet they do. EVERY shot is “THE SHOT.” Always keep your mind on the present shot, because that is ALL THERE IS. So make the best of it and concentrate. Every shot is YOUR PRAYER TO THE UNIVERSE, but it does not really matter what you are doing. What you are being in relation to what you are doing, makes all the difference. So be positive, confident, focused, relaxed, determined. You name it, your game can only get better. If you consistently think clear, positive thoughts, you will consistently get clear, positive results.

Feel free to discard negative thoughts at any time, and replace them with new ones, higher ones. If you should happen to miss, BIG DEAL! Be stubborn and keep your ideals. Create rhythm, remember who you are…and remember to breathe.

Think Positive!

The best pool players in the world are happier than the rest, right? But is it winning that leads to happiness or could it be happiness leads to winning?

Our society tells us that by work- ing harder, we’ll achieve more success and as a result, be happier. However, I believe we need to reverse engineer the happiness equation that we’re taught from birth. I believe that to be successful, you first need to figure out how to become happy. Champions often get there because they have a positive attitude. It’s about being calm, and seeing match anxiety as a challenge, not as something we should fear.

Positive thinking = better pool
How can this help you play better pool? Many of the habits I teach have been time tested and proven to get results. By working on these habits daily, a player will:

Achieve a more positive mindset (they will start searching for something positive instead of looking for the negative).

Be able to cope with anxiety better

Play pool from a quiet state of mind, subconsciously, which is key for be- ing able to focus and access your best mechanical skills.
Enjoy the game more.

9 POSITIVE HABITS:
1. Focus on your pre-shot routine both mentally and mechanically.

2. Separate the two routines. Don’t plan while executing the shot!

3. Don’t think about the score or your opponent.

4. Focus on the present moment and the shot at hand.

5. Deliver each shot subconsciously without thinking about mechanics.

6. Focus on your senses: Feel of the cloth as you go to deliver the shot. Hear the object ball splitting the pocket in your mind’s eye as you go to shoot.

7.Remember that all negativity comes from past experiences or fear of the future. Play in the present!

8.Don’t talk to friends before or during your match. They often will unintentionally fill your head with negative things.

9. When you practice self-talk remem- ber not to say negative things.

DEVELOPING A POSITIVE MIND-SET FOR POOL
1. List 3 things you are thankful for in what you are about to do (things that have nothing to do with how well you play). Things like “It’s an amazing field, I’m so lucky to get to play against all of these great play- ers” or “I’m about to play the game I love, I’m going to enjoy playing no matter what happens” or “I’m playing with my friends today, this is going to be a lot of fun.”

2. List your strengths in your mind and remind yourself of some of the great experiences you have had playing in the past. This could be previous matches or tournaments won.

3. While on the table: try to make positive mental notes about every shot. What did you do right? Don’t focus on what you did wrong. You can worry about this later during practice.

4. After your matches, keep a log about all the things that went well during play.

5. Meditate: I’ve become a big believer in this one. Like a lot of mental game techniques, it’s hard to quantify and qualify what’s working and what’s not, but I believe this has made a big difference in my own game. Meditation allows your brain to focus better on the task at hand, which is obviously a benefit during match play.

Give these suggestions a try for the next 10 matches you play and see if a more positive mind-set leads to better results. The steps above coupled with appropriate process goals will enable you to play better and enjoy the expe- rience more.

Understanding The Importance Of Focus

Basic perceptual psychology can teach us a lot about our focus, especially about how we can change and shift our focus in any given moment. Why is this important?

For pool players, successful shots and table runs require 100% fo- cus on the task at-hand, and when we allow our focus to wander and daydream about irrelevant cues (i.e. how the game is going the next table over) our minds wander and our behaviors (successfully following through on a shot) become compro- mised and not our best effort. The result? Missed shots and lost runs because of a drift in attention at the table.

Figure/Ground
Human perception is built on two in- ter-related concepts: the figure (what we focus on), and the ground (also known as the background). An easy example of this is right now – if you are reading this column the column is the figure (what you should be focusing on), and the tv in the background is the ground (something not important in this very moment if the goal is to improve your pool game). Sounds easy, right? Well here’s where things get tricky — at any given moment our figure/ground perception experi- ence changes and shifts, sometimes dramatically. For example, lets say a breaking story or funny commercial comes on tv right now and your mind wanders to look at the tv (now the figure), and begin to skim this article (now the ground). Now, instead of fully comprehending figure/ground relationships on human perception, you are watching tv and simply scanning over these words (opposed to truly learning this theory and how it can help your pool game).

Applying this to pool
When playing pool the “figure” should always be the next shot(s) and lay of the table, and the “ground” should be everything else. The “everything else” includes all your sensory experiences, including players on the next table over, the sound of a big break by another player in the pool room, and the smell of the guy next to you smoking a cigarette. As you can see, all of these things are irrelevant background distractions, and in order to truly take your game from good-to-great you must learn ways to “lock in” and build a wall around your mind so that other sights, sounds, and smells don’t take you away from your game. Is this easy to do? Not necessarily, but it is important to do and a task well worth your time trying to master if you are truly serious about being a top notch player!

Sharing The Light – Tommy “The Juggler” Kennedy

Tommy Kennedy

This month we have a testimony from one of pool’s bubbliest and most beloved players. Just read his story and you’ll begin to understand the source of his joy.

Hello pool fans and Christian brothers and sisters in Christ. Here is my brief testimony of how I got saved by The Lord Jesus Christ when I was unknowingly on my way to Hell.

It all began several years ago when I was in Orlando. A friend of mine was heavy into promoting and business. He came across someone (who most people in the business world would know) named Zig Ziglar. 

My friend told me about Zig and I was curious to hear him speak. My friend mentioned that Zig spoke much about positive thinking and how you can be a success and how you can make lots of money. That was right down my alley because all I wanted to do was be the best pool player in the world and have all of the money in the world. I didn’t care about how I made the money or how I would win playing pool because being successful meant everything, even if I had to lie, cheat, and steal to accomplish those goals. Also, I didn’t know that Zig was a professed Christian and he had a little different perspective on life. But the Christian part I really didn’t pay attention to when Zig spoke. 

So I got a series of Cassette Tapes from my friend and started listening to Zig speak. The one thing that stood out to me then, and even to this day, is when Zig said, “You gotta have goals.” My friend always expressed this point to me and I really believed it.

So I decided to be all into having goals and trying to make my life better. So I took it from there and sought out to live a better, more fulfilling life. 

Everything from then on seemed to be going great. I was so happy to have listened to Zig and to have taken my friend’s advice. I finally had a reason to live!!! (Sarcasm) But yes, I really felt I was living high on the hog so to speak with my new found faith (Lol). I was definitely deceived, to put it mildly. 

But I have to admit, Zig played a part in my search for the real truth. Zig, I feel, pushed me into a different mindset. I felt the need for a change from this evil lifestyle: the gambling, the sleeping around, the pornography, the lying and dumping matches, and just flat out stealing from people. 

Yes, this was my evil lifestyle that I came to believe had to be forsaken and thrown away in the trash for The Lord Jesus Christ!!!  So I started to search out churches. (I believe the Lord was already working on my heart to change.) I remembered when I was younger that I was Catholic, so I sought out a Catholic church in Orlando. I was really convinced I was going to change my life on my OWN!

During that time my girlfriend who I had been having sex with (this was while I was attending the Catholic Church, what a joke) ordered exercise equipment through the mail. Well guess what happened???  I received Bible Cassette Tapes instead! Amazing!!!   Talk about divine providence and really changing your life the right way. These were tapes on Ephesians 6 The Believer’s Armor by John MacArthur. 

John is definitely the greatest Bible teacher of our day and age. He is the one the I.F.C.A. (Independent Fundamental Churches of America) go to, to ask advice and settle spiritual differences. He is like Esther was when God made her for such a time as this. I could have gotten tapes from a cult or some false religion, but God made sure I had the truth and not error. The Lord Jesus Christ safeguarded my life then and for His ministry in the future.

I started to listen to John’s messages and they weren’t easy to understand at first. But for the first time in my life I had the truth, the real truth. 

It took 3 years from that point for me to give my life to Christ and be Born Again. I knew I needed Christ as my Lord and savior. I knew I was a wretched sinner on my way to Hell. I knew eternal life was only and solely through the Person and Work of The Lord Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross and in His resurrection on the third day. I knew that without HIM, and without true repentance, I would suffer the punishment I deserve in Hell forever, and rightly so. Look at all of the evil things I have done. I deserve God’s wrath and His punishment! But Christ has delivered me from His own wrath! He has set me free. Jesus said, “If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed!” 

Only through Christ and what He did for you on the cross will you ever be truly free. Only The Lord Jesus Christ can make you a new creation and create in you a clean heart and a new mind. Only by His shed blood and His resurrection from the dead will you ever know true peace and true joy and true love.

So in closing I am begging you, whoever is reading this letter, to cry out to Christ and beg Him to save you. Admit your sin and hopelessness. Admit your need for Christ and His sacrifice on your behalf. Come to Christ with a 100 percent commitment and approach Him with honesty and truthfulness about your wretched condition. Please plead with Him to save you from the grasp of Satan and from the pit of Hell!! Just commit everything to Him as your living Lord and forsake all self-reliance and all self- righteousness. Put no confidence in your flesh. You are not good enough to get to Heaven by your good deeds.

If you are sincere, He will truly save you. Quit playing games and be genuine. God knows your heart and He searches your heart and mind. He knows your thoughts and the intentions of your heart. God reads you loud and clear. No one escapes His judgment. 

Thank you everyone for reading. By the grace of God, I am what I am.  

Amen,

Tommy

Winning Posture

Good posture can really say a lot about a person.

Think about the player that’s slumped over in his chair or practically spilling over the edge of his stool. He’s looking all around the room and now he’s text messaging his buddies. What impression is this player giving you? Does he intimidate you with his killer instincts? Does he look like he’s focused and ready to snap off a tournament?

Next, take a look at the guy that is sitting upright with his cue in his hand, ready for action. He’s staring at the table. He’s alert and intense. He acknowledges you when you call a shot and he sits deliberately, barely moving when you’re at the table. Doesn’t he look respectful and professional? Isn’t he just oozing of poise and confidence?

Now that you have a visual of these two players, which one are you?

Take a look at my favorite player, world champion Ralf Souquet from Germany. He’s a world class player in every respect of the term and no matter what he’s doing, he’s conducting himself as such. Whether he’s sitting, standing, resting, drinking, or waiting to pounce, he carries himself deliberately. Even if he’s leaning forward, he’s not slouching. Every ounce of his energy is exerted with intent and purpose. They don’t call him “The Surgeon” for nothing. Ralf understands the importance of good posture with every move he makes.

Seven Steps To A Tournament Victory

1.BELIEVE YOU CAN DO IT

I still remember my first big tournament, the 1992 9-Ball championship in Lancaster, KY. There were over 100 players. Back then I didn’t play a lot of pool and I certainly didn’t understand the game like I do now, but I wanted to see how good the players were. After paying my entry fee, I went two and out. When I got done, I decided to follow the best players to see how my game compared. After watching them for about 6 hours, my evaluation was this: They shot straighter than I did, they played better position and they broke better than me. But I left there believing that if those guys could win, so could I. I worked on my game, and over time I got better. One summer, I watched numerous instructional videos, read books, and worked on ball running drills. Twelve years after I first competed, I made a long straight in shot to win that same tournament (with several pro caliber players competing).

2. PLAY IN THE PRESENT MOMENT

How can Mike Sigel get to the finals and not know where he stands? It’s called playing in the present moment, and it’s a philosophy all players should embrace. It means not allowing yourself to think about the score or winning until you run out of shots. Instead, you become engrossed in the process of executing each shot and you completely accept the results no matter what they are.

3. MAINTAIN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE

The worst thing you can do for your prospects of winning a tournament is to get down on yourself after a bad shot. If you start feeling sorry for yourself, you’re not focused on the next shot and this will become very problematic. In fact, it’s almost like a rolling snowball, your problems will just keep getting bigger and bigger.

4. PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE

You must make quality high-percentage decisions. Every time you have the urge to make an aggressive shot, go with the more conservative one. The moment you get impatient, is when bad things happen. It’s the patient hunter that gets the pray.

5.IGNORE OTHER PLAYERS

Not too long ago, I was working with a young player who was struggling. But a couple of strong finishes later he was feeling much better. At the next tournament he won his first four rounds. Now he’s feeling really good. In between matches a player he knows walks up to him and says: “I don’t know what you’re doing with your stroke, but that’s not the way you used to do it.” A few minutes later another player comes over: “I noticed that you aren’t coming straight through with your stroke.” Now the poor fella goes from making everything he shot at to being a total mess.

You’ll have lots of well-meaning friends who want to give you advice. Stop them before they can say a word. Their comments will creep into your mind when you’re at the table.

6. FOLLOW A ROUTINE

I tell my students to follow the same pre-shot routine before every shot. It keeps you focused on what you have to do, and when the pressure is on, it helps you manage your nerves. A good pre-shot routine helped a top pro win the U.S. Open. Afterward he discussed the final match with some of the other players. He told me they kept commenting on how “cool” he was. “They can’t be talking about me,” he said.  My heart was jumping out of my chest.” He said he just hit one shot at a time and tried not to think about what it would mean to win the U.S. Open.

7. DON’T PUT UNNECESSARY PRESSURE ON YOURSELF

I’ve seen beginners not used to competing arrive an hour before their match and start make changes with their pool stroke. They become panicked and try to change their mechanics. Pro players do this, too. I’ve seen guys come to the Derby City Classic, invite all of their family and friends. Eventually they start worrying: What if I don’t finish in the money and disappoint everyone?  Just embrace the present moment. You can’t be afraid of messing up.