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Dear Jeanette
By Jeanette Lee
International billiard icon "The Black Widow" answers your questions about life, love, and everything else that happens in the poolhall.

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February 2011
Q. I've been practicing on a table in my home for a few years. But now that I'm trying to play in local tournaments, I get distracted. How can I find a comfort zone away from home?
C. Dibiase; Brooklyn, N.Y.

A. It may sound pretty basic, but just take some time to talk around the new rooms. Get familiar with the layout. Just take a look around, so you'll be ready when it's time to start playing. Ideally, you want the room so thoroughly ingrained in your mind that you can picture all the little details the day before or the morning of a tournament. Before you go to a certain poolhall to play, close your eyes and imagine how the room looks - seeing the tables, the chairs, the kitschy things on the walls, etc. While doing this can minimize distractions, you also have to prepare for what will happen during competition. Prepare yourself by imagining that you're down on a shot when someone walks directly in your sight line. Don't get flustered; just see yourself remaining calm, restarting your pre-shot routine and successfully completing the shot. Put in a little mental work before you play, and you'll be in good shape in no time.