Paul Hawkins is a 43-year-old shuffler who plays out of our St Cloud Club of the Central District. He Just finished a fine Amateur Career and is about to start his 1st year as a State Am. Please join us in welcoming Paul as one of our contributors!!
Paul brings a viewpoint we believe our readers will appreciate and it’s easy to see he takes the game seriously and puts a lot into it. This is how Paul Introduced himself to Earl and me.
Paul Speaks: I’ll send you some articles when I can and when I feel inspired to write about certain topics. I probably respond better to suggestions than coming up with my own ideas, so please feel free to send me ideas to think about.
“I’ve never written anything for publication before. I have no idea how this will pan out, but I’m inspired to try it. I’m happy to potentially be able to contribute towards the shuffleboard community I’m unable to dedicate the time to be a board member at my Club or District level, but this works.
Please feel free to be critical of anything I write. I’m thick-skinned and grateful for the opportunity. I have no misconceptions that everything I write will be post-worthy so please be honest if something I write doesn’t work.”
The Shuffler invites everyone to take Paul at his word. Remember, at 43 he will think differently than most of us. COMMENTS, below, APPRECIATED!!! 2020 05 10.
The difference between tournament success and failure can often be an awareness of details that most would consider inconsequential. Perhaps you have a that you follow religiously in your preparation?
Personally, I eat the same breakfast before each tournament. Starting last season I also wear the same clothes every time I play. Not literally as I have copies of each item (3x caps, 16x shirts & 8x shorts). When I take a shot I want to be as fluid as possible as there is a risk that a different item of clothing may restrict my movement and distract me. Serena Williams is documented to wear the same socks (unwashed) throughout a tournament. Michael Jordan wore his North Carolina University shorts under his team uniform every match he played.
At draw tournaments I often joke that the most important decision I make all day is the picking of the slip of paper that tells me which court to go to and more importantly determines who my partner will be. If only I had taken the piece of paper a fraction closer to me…..
At the court there is the decision of going to the head or the foot. Every player I’ve spoken to who has an opinion repeats the same mantra that the strongest player should be at the foot. The reason being that the stronger player should be more capable of handling the pressure and make better decisions on the correct shots to take based upon the games development. This is a reasonable and rational argument; yet I disagree. The strongest player should be at the head. Most games finish at 75 points and this eliminates any foreknowledge as to how many frames will take place. The only thing you know for sure is that the player at the head will play an equal or greater number of frames than the player at the foot. It just makes sense that your strongest player would play the most frames. I love drawing black as it gives me the added advantage of choosing who I play against. Pick the right opponent and you could potentially have won the match before a disc is pushed.
You then have the process of shooting discs for speed and practice. At this stage the game hasn’t started so you’re free to communicate with your partner. I rarely see partners make suggestions or observations here to help each other out. When I’ve drawn a weaker partner I’ll often use this moment to confirm a game plan with them if the court leans towards a specific strategy. The key to these shots is to prepare yourself with a little foresight when you’re shooting for real. The shots I take are right for me, but could be wrong fo you. The court, club and opponent will all factor into what kind of game I’ll hope to play. I want to play my game and break my opponents rhythm so every shot I take before the match is one I hope to replicate. I’ll also watch my opponents practice shots like a hawk – if I can understand a courts drift through their shots, then I don’t need to replicate them myself.
My goal is to start each match relaxed and confident.
FROM PAUL HAWKINS 2020 05 10
I’ve always wondered why there were no player rankings in Shuffleboard?
Activities such as Chess, Bridge and Scrabble all rank their tournament players. Rankings represent an indication as to the consistency of a player where their ranking goes up when they win and down when they loose – the degree of which is based upon the difference in rankings of theirs and their opponents. It wouldn’t be too hard to bring such a system to Shuffleboard.
The key advantage is that it significantly helps in pairing competitors together of comparable ability. I’d argue that every tournament player is more important now than ever before, especially those amateurs venturing into their first taste of tournament play. Bluntly, we simply can’t afford to keep hemorrhaging players. How many players have we lost forever who stoped attending tournaments because they found their weekly beats no longer enjoyable?
I’ve attended tournaments where I’ve looked around at my competitors and thought that any one of us could win. At the time it felt great knowing that each match was going to be tough and if I were to win; then it wold be thoroughly deserved. On reflection it shows that this group of players had been passive aggressive in convincing other players that their attendance was futile. A player ranking system could recreate that feeling of drawing tough but beatable opponents every match. Not just for me, but for every player at every level of ability.
Imagine a situation where 80 players turn up for a tournament. We could split them into 5 groups of 16 players. The first group made up of the top 16 ranked players from the 80. The second of those from 17 to 32 and so on. Paired with a random player from your 16, you then play 3 matches with the players from that pool. After the first match you have 4 winning teams and 4 loosing teams. The second round pairs up the winners and the losers separately. Finally the third round allows the two unbeaten teams to play each other, four teams on a win and a loss play and the final pairing is of the two teams with two losses each. Of those 80 players, 70 will have tasted victory at least once that day.
Alternatively we could just drop the tournament structure. I’d still travel to host clubs for an opportunity to play other players and gain ranking points. Player rankings could be adjusted after each match and as players move up and down, the dynamics of those within each group would change. We could still play three matches a day, but each round would be independent of the other. This brings additional value in that players who physically can no longer play a whole day of tournaments could just play one match and those sharing lifts to travel longer distances would find it easier as there is a predetermined length to their day.
Moving on, clubs could start to organize weekly ranked sessions. It would build the competitive spirit within clubs and encourage more players to enter competitive shuffleboard. It would be a focal point for the week and encourage consistence attendance, whilst also boosting numbers throughout the week as players suddenly realize the importance of practice and improvement.