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frankncali
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How good can one become?? - 03-15-2005, 06:12 PM

Whats your thoughts on how good any one person can become.
Do individuals have a ceiling?
Can anyone if they practice enough make it to a certain level?

What makes Pro players Pros? Is it just practice or is it something they just have?

What is it that Pros have that others that are topped out dont have?

I have read numerous times in interviews with Pros that they practice
X number of hours per day. Most of the time its high. I have been around many top players and can not ever remember seeing them practice that much.
Anyone around a top player that does practice alot and what is the practice consisting of? Anyone helping? Are they playing or shooting drills?


I know theres a lot of questions and thoughts here but someoe asked me why some players are Pro and not more. They could see Golf and some other sports because of physical skills but not pool.
Does the majority of the public think that pool can be mastered because its
not a physical sport?
  
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03-15-2005, 06:37 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by frankncali
Whats your thoughts on how good any one person can become.
Do individuals have a ceiling?
Can anyone if they practice enough make it to a certain level?

What makes Pro players Pros? Is it just practice or is it something they just have?

What is it that Pros have that others that are topped out dont have?

I have read numerous times in interviews with Pros that they practice
X number of hours per day. Most of the time its high. I have been around many top players and can not ever remember seeing them practice that much.
Anyone around a top player that does practice alot and what is the practice consisting of? Anyone helping? Are they playing or shooting drills?


I know theres a lot of questions and thoughts here but someoe asked me why some players are Pro and not more. They could see Golf and some other sports because of physical skills but not pool.
Does the majority of the public think that pool can be mastered because its
not a physical sport?

There is a ceiling most people would reach if they played 16 hours a day 7 days a week (including tournies and gambling) and for most people that level is below pro. For some people with the eyes, the feel for the game, confidence in themselves outside of pool, commitment like that turns into pro level pool.

Humans dont all think the same, they dont all have the same intelligence, some have brains that are very keyed in to the arts and can draw an amazing picture and find it simple, some excel at math and can understand with ease compicated systems at a glance, some pick up a cue and put in a few hours and start to take off. You can go into any pool hall and find guys that put ten hours a day into the game for ten+ years and dont shoot that good. There are also those guys that started playing pool 3 years ago and already win tournaments and are one of the top players in their city. Some people fly past the crew of people in a pool hall and get far better playing the same tournaments (only they win) and gambling the same hours after hours (although they rapidly progress through the players to the top).

Dave Martin was a top player in Calgary behind only Bernie Mikkelsen at 20 years old, he simply had the touch and skills and self confidence to excel at the game past other people that played just as much pool as he did. There is little money in the game to interest him but if the money were huge he could have been at the top with a huge time commitment. On the other hand I know people who have just as much if not more commitment to the game but they are nowhere near Dave's level and never will be no matter what they do.

Another thing that is hugely important is starting young, those early years in life (4-5 years old and up) are HUGE in getting truely awesome at a sport. A kids brain at that age is a open book, they absorb the information of angles, the muscle memory, the speed of shots, the reactions of the balls, FAR more then if you start the game in the later years like your teens. It is ALOT harder to get to the pro level from starting past 10 years old. We dont have our Tiger Woods yet, the kid that is bred to play pool from the time they are born and was playing great already at 6 or 7 years old. You have to get lucky, it takes the fluke of the kid having the natural ability that would make him one of the fast progressors if he started later in life, and then instead of letting him start later in life getting him into the game from the time he can walk. By the time the kid was 14 years old when alot of us start shooting pool and getting good the kid would already be shooting near pro level pool and running multiple racks.
  
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03-15-2005, 07:09 PM

the truth lies somewhere in between but closer to "pure talent" that seperates the pros from everyone else.

pros are not great because they practice, pros practice because they are great. they practice to hone what they already have. playing, practicing,,,,,it's like breathing to them. they simply DO.

some players love to play,,,,pros HAVE to play. it is their blessing, it is their curse. they are merely being what they are meant to be.
  
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03-15-2005, 07:57 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by frankncali
Whats your thoughts on how good any one person can become.
Do individuals have a ceiling?
Can anyone if they practice enough make it to a certain level?

What makes Pro players Pros? Is it just practice or is it something they just have?

What is it that Pros have that others that are topped out dont have?

I have read numerous times in interviews with Pros that they practice
X number of hours per day. Most of the time its high. I have been around many top players and can not ever remember seeing them practice that much.
Anyone around a top player that does practice alot and what is the practice consisting of? Anyone helping? Are they playing or shooting drills?


I know theres a lot of questions and thoughts here but someoe asked me why some players are Pro and not more. They could see Golf and some other sports because of physical skills but not pool.
Does the majority of the public think that pool can be mastered because its
not a physical sport?
Pool is not that hard of a game. Most anyone who wants to put in the time will become a very good player. You see it all the time with someone whose father has a pool room and grows up playing. They may not have natural talent but can play. Some players are naturals like Dennis Hatch. Then others are a result of a lot of work. I have known lots of very good players who had little natural talent but worked hard.

Last edited by macguy; 03-15-2005 at 08:04 PM.
  
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03-15-2005, 08:15 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by macguy
Pool is not that hard of a game. Most anyone who wants to put in the time will become a very good player. You see it all the time with someone whose father has a pool room and grows up playing. They may not have natural talent but can play. Some players are naturals like Dennis Hatch. Then others are a result of a lot of work. I have known lots of very good players who had little natural talent but worked hard.
Im gonna go out on a limb and a little against the normal thinking and say sometimes I believe those that dont have the natural ability may go farther than some of those naturals.

It seems to me that some people with natural talent get good very quickly. But once they hit a level that is going to take work to get past they are spoiled by their quick improvement and unwilling to put in the work to progress. Not all of them of course, but its true of several.

I think most people can get better than they really think they can if they are willing to get good instruction and put in some work.

Woody
  
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03-15-2005, 11:04 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by woody_968
Im gonna go out on a limb and a little against the normal thinking and say sometimes I believe those that dont have the natural ability may go farther than some of those naturals.

It seems to me that some people with natural talent get good very quickly. But once they hit a level that is going to take work to get past they are spoiled by their quick improvement and unwilling to put in the work to progress. Not all of them of course, but its true of several.

I think most people can get better than they really think they can if they are willing to get good instruction and put in some work.

Woody
I agree that someone without natural ability can
become very good at pool with practice and
dedication.

I am firm believer that many players are limited
by their minds, negative thoughts and such. I've
seen many players that practiced very hard and
attained a good degree of skill just become
disillusioned when things got tough and quit
practicing.

I think the key is to stay positive and never doubt
yourself and put into it whatever it takes. I heard
someone once say that John Schmidt used to play
the ghost in 9-ball sometimes for 8 straight hours,
most people simply won't do that. Another example,
Steve Davis the great snooker player is said to
have practiced an insane amount of hours. He would
practice the drill of hitting the cueball the length
of the table and back to his cue tip for over an
hour! That's dedcation.
  
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03-15-2005, 11:48 PM

You don't have to start young, you don't have to practice a lot, and you don't have to be a natural. I started at 45 (54 now), I rarely practice, and it didn't come naturally. I have won over 200 tournaments (mostly between $100 and $200 but as much as $10,000) of 9 ball and won a lot more $ at one-pocket but not in tournaments so much. I am still getting better and I am hoping to make a break through in some pro tournaments this year. My key is that I always have a desire to improve and I am always looking for ways to get better and I try to always do it a little more at a time. I love to be in competition but I've tried to never go far out of my league. As I got better I looked for better competition and I always hated getting spotted but have never minded giving big spots to get a game.

Now if I can only take the time to actually practice 9 ball patterns (I think I've only practiced 9 ball a total of about 20 hours in my life) and get up the interest to match up in 9 ball I think I could do some real damage.

Wayne
  
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03-16-2005, 01:26 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by wayne
I started at 45 (54 now), I rarely practice, and it didn't come naturally. I have won over 200 tournaments (mostly between $100 and $200 but as much as $10,000) of 9 ball and won a lot more $ at one-pocket but not in tournaments so much.

Wayne
Uh huh. You have been playing for a total of 9 years after starting at 45 years old, you rarely practice (and practice includes playing tournaments and gambling BTW, shooting pool is practice) and yet you are near pro level with no natural talent to boot. I am sorry I dont buy it. If you truely are near pro level after 9 years starting the game at 45 and never practicing you have a natural affinity for the game whether you want to believe it or not. I also think your "rarely practicing" statement is not taking into account a ton of pool you play. You may not do drills or sit and play by yourself but getting into gambling sessions and playing in tournaments against other top players is practice, it is some of the best practice you can do.

Last edited by Celtic; 03-16-2005 at 08:10 AM.
  
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03-16-2005, 06:30 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by wayne
You don't have to start young, you don't have to practice a lot, and you don't have to be a natural.
Wayne
Spoken like a true natural.

Jake
  
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03-16-2005, 06:53 AM

This post made me start thinking about my progression as a player. I have said it many times that I played some of my best pool on the road as opposed to playing tournaments. I spent many years scratching my head wondering why I couldn't break through at the top level. I played at their level, but there was something missing, that special ingredient, and it can best be described as knowing that you belong there. If there is any doubt in your mind at any level, in any tournament final as to whether or not you belong there, then you don't. I spent many years trying and scraping my way through tournaments before I realized that I had a gift for teaching this game. There was time when I was unaware that I had the ability to teach and pass along the knowledge that I had. After that, it took a long time for me to accept my place in the pool world.

Not all of us can be Efren Reyes, not all of us can be Allison Fisher, not all of us can run tournaments like Jay Helfert, Scott Smith, or Steve Tipton. Not all of us are George Balabushka or Gus Szamboti. It does not mean that the quality of our work is any less, or means less. We all love this game and it takes all of us to make it great. It takes all of us to give it variety. If you truly love this game and there is a fire that burns in your heart and soul, do something every day to keep that fire strong. If that fire warms your heart, then it won't matter what level you play at, or what others think of your abilities, your accomplishments, or lack of accomplishments. All that will matter is your love for the game.

I know now that everything I experienced on the road as a player was merely preparing me for what I am doing now. I get more joy from teaching, writing, and coaching than I ever did as a player. Today I enjoy being an encourager, and I do not take that role lightly. In fact, I thank God for this road I have traveled. I think that if I ever had the success of an Efren Reyes or Johnny Archer, it would have been a great disservice to players I have helped over the years. When you understand how that works in the Universe, you also understand that all of your disappointments and setbacks are really God's way of pointing you back on the road He wants you to travel.


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On the physical side ...
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On the physical side ... - 03-16-2005, 09:06 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackjack
I get more joy from teaching, writing, and coaching than I ever did as a player. Today I enjoy being an encourager, and I do not take that role lightly.
Thanks Blackjack, I for one appreciate all your efforts in publishing material on the Internet. You are likely helping more players than you realize ...

I spent some time hanging around the halls (OK, the gym really) of our University Phys Ed (now Kinesiology) department. One of our track coaches was big into biomechanics, and with me into electronics, I was attracted to their various test gizmos. Long story short, when you measure human physical abilities you see differences between people. I recall that some of the best athletes were more precise in their motions, more consistant in their performances, and a big one was they are often faster than others, not that I think that speed and reaction time have much bearing on pool playing performance. The other physical abilities do influence how well one can play any particular game, including pool.

Another issue that one sees regularly in the gym is 'coachability'. When dealing with physical motion practice under the eyes of a coach, the athlete is often asked to change something (ie: keep your elbow steady, don't move the sholder). The better athletes can adapt their motions given various feedback, incluing being coached. Lesser athletes need to be shown more times and/or ways. Some just have this mental block and refuse to believe something is even happening (ie: my sholder is not moving, I can feel it, so I'm already doing what you asked and don't need to change anything). Many understand the feedback, try to correct whatever flaw needs correcting, but cannot differentiate the motion and as a result only partially correct the flaw.

In other words, some people are very coordinated, some are quite klutzy, and most of us are somewhere in between.

So, I believe that everyone has a 'ceiling' to their physical abilities. The rough part is that we have no way to judge where we stand in what some might call 'raw talent', nor can we easily tell where others rate. Makes for interesting competition to say the least !

Dave, who wishes he didn't apply scientific method to games playing... after all, ignorance is bliss.
  
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03-16-2005, 09:18 AM

I agree with most of the previous posts. I believe there is an inherent skill level in all players that they will not rise above. That being said, many players never reach their own plateau. I think you have to practice and hone your skills to reach your ultimate level of play.

Another thing that I haven't seen mentioned is the ability to play for pressure. I'm sure most of us have seen someone who plays extroardinarily well when there is no pressure and terrible when there is pressure. I remember an old post describing a player from, I believe it was the '60?, that played 14-1 and when practicing, typically ran 400 or 500 balls all the time but when he got into a tournament, he could win. If you can't play for the pressure, then you have to settle for enjoying the ability to play without it.


Rick W.
  
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03-16-2005, 09:41 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by frankncali
Whats your thoughts on how good any one person can become.
Do individuals have a ceiling?
Can anyone if they practice enough make it to a certain level?

What makes Pro players Pros? Is it just practice or is it something they just have?

What is it that Pros have that others that are topped out dont have?

I have read numerous times in interviews with Pros that they practice
X number of hours per day. Most of the time its high. I have been around many top players and can not ever remember seeing them practice that much.
Anyone around a top player that does practice alot and what is the practice consisting of? Anyone helping? Are they playing or shooting drills?


I know theres a lot of questions and thoughts here but someoe asked me why some players are Pro and not more. They could see Golf and some other sports because of physical skills but not pool.
Does the majority of the public think that pool can be mastered because its
not a physical sport?

You think a person who spends the majority of their free time in a poolroom is equipped to answer that question? Seriously, there is only one ceiling: Perfection. Is it attainable? That's anybody's guess.

Why do some go pro and others don't? That's a life question. Everyone has their own answer to that.


Jude M. Rosenstock


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03-16-2005, 10:25 AM

I've always been curious about the whole natural talent vs
determination question too. Maybe we can do a survey of
sorts on AZ to get an idea?
Anyone want to answer (or add questions):
1) were you considered a natural talent at some point in
time? what were peoples' expectations of you when you
started coming up?
2) how long did it take you (after you started playing
seriously) to reach the B level?
3) how was your progress after hitting the B level? did
it slow down a lot? did you keep progressing quickly? what
kind of things slowed down your progress..or what
deficiencies did you notice (speed control, stroke, eye, etc)
4) did you make it past the B level? how long did it take?
how did you improve to your current level?

peace
-Egg
  
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03-16-2005, 10:58 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Egg McDogit
I've always been curious about the whole natural talent vs
determination question too. Maybe we can do a survey of
sorts on AZ to get an idea?
Anyone want to answer (or add questions):
1) were you considered a natural talent at some point in
time? what were peoples' expectations of you when you
started coming up?
2) how long did it take you (after you started playing
seriously) to reach the B level?
3) how was your progress after hitting the B level? did
it slow down a lot? did you keep progressing quickly? what
kind of things slowed down your progress..or what
deficiencies did you notice (speed control, stroke, eye, etc)
4) did you make it past the B level? how long did it take?
how did you improve to your current level?

peace
-Egg
I can answer all those questions very simply. Many people's expectations were that pool was a fad and that I would someday come to my senses and pursue an edcuation. I have played this game at a very respectably high level since I was 11 or 12 years old. If I was a B player at any time in my development, I don't remember. I do remember setting personal goals and milestones, or preparing to play this player or that player. I learned to judge my skill on who I could match up with, rather than the label of A, B, C, or D. You are what you think you are. My goal was to win tournaments. If I won, I was successful. If I didn't win, I tried to find out why, and then I did something about it.

How long did it take? Hard to really say. What did it take? Listen up, because I'm pretty sure Keith will give you a similar response. I sacrificed a lot of time, friends, relationships, and common sense to do what I did for many years. For every plus there were two negatives. That's the stuff you don't hear about. My advice? Make friends with some of the best players. For me it was guys like Cisero Murphy,Mike Carella, Louie Roberts, David Howard, Buddy Hall, just to name a few. All of those guys played great pool, but they also had a lot to offer in the area of strategy, determination, and the will to win. Surround yourself with champions and pick their brains. Find out what they do and why they do it. You can possess all the talent in the world, but if you don't know how to use it effectively, it will nly take you so far. There's an old saying that goes, Talent does what it can; genius does what it must. From that, I get the message that there is no sure pattern for successs, mainly because it depends on your determination. That means that talent can be measured, but your heart can't. Remember that.


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“Dead balls are harder to find than they are to make." ~ Cisero Murphy

"When all else fails, try not missing ... INTENTIONALLY." ~ Steve Mizerak

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Playing Cue - McDermott D-21 w/ Predator Z Shaft
Favorite Pool Player - Joey Koontz
  
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