Is there such a thing as natural talent? Some say yes, I do not think there is?

Guy Manges

Registered
I believe the some of the premises stated are incorrect.

Yes, practice is necessary for ultimate success. But is it sufficient soley in and of iteslf?

I am a 5'5" male. I am under no delusions that I can run as fast as a man 6'2", assuming we both put in the practice and training appropriate for our bodies. It is simple physics: given otherwise similar conditions, the longer stride of a taller man will provide an unassailable advantage. Take it to the extreme: a 50' man walking can beat a 6' man running. Let's see an ant outrun a human being.

I stated once here on AZB that as a drummer, no matter how much I practiced, I could not attain the speed and precision exhibited by jazz great Buddy Rich. My physiology did not permit it. Mr. Rich said he never practiced. He was not a good sight-reader. He didn't have to be. He could hear an arrangement once and know how to play drums to it immediately. My brain is not wired to command my muscles to drum like Buddy Rich. My brain is not wired to hear a composition once and remember its intimate details.

Some people are born with eidetic memories. I am not thusly blessed. I propose that something like an eidetic memory can be an advantage to a pool player in that the many instances of a particular very similar shot can be approached using infallible recall on how the shot was hit in the past, based on a sufficient amount of practice. Also, the communication between muscles and the brain, the so-called "muscle memory", just as physiques can greatly vary between humans, so can also similarly vary widely.

I interpret "natural talent" as the brain's innate ability to learn, internalize, and command muscles to act in a specific way. In some humans this connectivity is simply better than in other humans. Yes, the difference can be narrowed with additional practice, but while practice is a necessary component, IMHO, it is not sufficient. There needs to be the innate component to fully leverage the practice, and in some, this "natural talent" is stronger than in others.
Absolutely Wright, I don't know of how it could be said better, I'm glad you posted this... Guy
 

Guy Manges

Registered
Talent is for suckers. No one on this forum has ever been capped by their talent. Maybe if we talk about what separates the #1 and #10 player in history we could theorize but it’s still a debate. People who point to stories of quick or slow learners are talking about short time durations with a small subset of skills, not an overall career. In reality none of us will ever be limited by anything by other than our own attitudes and effort so I believe in focusing exclusively on what we can control. Almost all champions believe this and I’m glad those who don’t are my competition.

In my case--which is not pool--I knew at my 5th grade BD party that I wanted to become an Electrical Engineer, and by 8th grade that I wanted to specialize in digital electronics (this was 1965 before many people even knew computers existed.) in 11th grade I built a calculator (Add and subtract only) about the size of a attaché case which won various science fairs in my state.

In my case, I did not really have a choice of what I wanted to do--but I chose to pursue what I was good at.

By the time I arrived at Carnegie Mellon in 1971 I had built 4 short wave radios, innumerable slot cars, and the calculator. Before my first course in EE at CMU, I had a touchy feely relationship with transistors, tubes, inductors, capacitors and resistors. The first EE class was a large lecture hall filled with about 275 students. An old white haired gentleman walked out on stage and started the lecture as follows::

"We are going to teach you the 2 laws of electrical engineering. If you do not happen to agree with these laws, find them too difficult, or have any other issues with these 2 laws, I suggest you find a different course of study."

And true to his work I spent 4 years learning Kirchhov's voltage and current laws. Linear algebra, differential calculus, integral calculus, differential equations, smith charts, Laplace and Fourier transforms,..... ALL pertaining to those 2 laws. Working innumerable problems.....

On thing special about CMU was the testing procedures--it was all open book--but the tests were designed such that if you had to look up anything other than getting the sign right, that you would spend too much time reading and not enough time writing. Oh, and on each test there was a problem specifically designed to provide insufficient information to be solved. Here the only correct answer was "insufficient information".

Except for being Electrical Engineering it was almost identical to "The Paper Chase" movie.

We lost the class at the first semester boundary, another ¼ of the class at the end of the first year, another ½ the second year, and I graduated in a class of 71 (starting at 275).

{Back to pool}

While in school, I joined a Frat House and played pool for 3-5 hours per day. I got pretty good (at least as good as anyone in my house)
my eye was sharp, my body displined, my mind sharp, and in many respects I could play better in 1975 than today.

Then "life happened" and I did not play for about 35 years. (Not exactly zero but never enough to maintain anything)

Then in 2006 I moved to an area with a local bar that happens to have a couple of bar boxes, and I started playing a bit again. After a year I started to remember how I played back in college, and I dedicated considerable time to playing/practicing pool.

I was unemployed at the time, but not looking for work as I had enough money, so I wandered around the Austin pool scene and ran into some of the better known locals, occasionally getting to play a few games.

The big thing I noticed (this time around) was how much better my understanding of the physics transpiring on the pool table and how much worse my fundamentals and abilities (than when I was back in school) I attribute this to the development of my mental way of analyzing "stuff"
I had developed as I applied myself during my 40 year career in digital electronics. Mental rigor I did not have as a "recent graduate" was now easily available.

So, after screwing around at the bar for a few years, I joined an APA league. I told them I was about a SL6. They started me at 4 and over the course of 7 weeks it went:: 4 -> 7 ->5 ->7 -> 3(bad week) ->5 ->6 where I stayed. realistically when I was playing here I was a 6.4. I ended up getting a job in Ca and quit the APA team.

20 months later I was back in Tx, and found a BCA team. We were a upper mid-rate team and I was about the middlest player on the team.

------------

The point of all of this was::
a) Yes there is natural talent (and not everyone has it)
b) if you have it you still have to develop it and use it constantly to maintain it.
c) if your natural talent is in something other than pool--you are best advised to follow where your talent leads.

In digital electronics I have it. In pool I don't.
Excellent read, Thank you, On and on ...Guy
 

kanzzo

hobby player
There are so many leaps of logic in there that it is laughable. At 10,000 hours (or literally any other amount of hours you want to use) there is still a wide disparity in the ability level of all those people who have put in that amount of time, even when they have put in similar work and taken it equally seriously, etc. The reason for that is talent differences. There are also plenty of people who have put in 10,000 serious hours of pool with serious efforts given and have not mastered pool and become world class like that theory claims. The reason for that is they simply don't have the talent.
This is just a theory. For a scientific approach you would have to find people, that put in 10.000 hours of deliberate practice and didn't become world class in pool.

Anders Ericsson spent his life searching for "god given" talent and couldn't find any.

In his famous study he interviewed world class violinists and there were no big differences in practice time for the top trier.

Neither did he find any, that spent 10.000 hours practicing and didn't become that good.

Practicing the right way isn't easy but if you can teach it the right way, then every girl or boy you teach becomes world class.

Your theory of god given talent would mean, that to become world class you have to be chosen by God in some lottery way (say 1:10.000.000 chance), so chances for your sibling to become world class also would be something like 1:100.000.000.000.000

If it's just the right approach and practice, then with your father as coach chances for the siblings to become world class would be extremely high.

Examples for this:
All 3 daughters of Laszlo Polgar became world class. (He spent his life proving you people wrong, still believing in talent myth. He searched for a wife to raise 3 world class chess players, found a wife willing for this experiment, got 3 daughters, all 3 became world class chess players.)
Ko brothers
Oushan siblings
Williams sisters in tennis

Very little difference in achievement.Both siblings got to the top of the world. Mostly the younger sibling gets a little better in the sport. Not because he is luckier in his share of talent. But because teaching methods of the father improved after experimenting with the older and he had a better sparing partner while becoming great.
 

Guy Manges

Registered
This is just a theory. For a scientific approach you would have to find people, that put in 10.000 hours of deliberate practice and didn't become world class in pool.

Anders Ericsson spent his life searching for "god given" talent and couldn't find any.

In his famous study he interviewed world class violinists and there were no big differences in practice time for the top trier.

Neither did he find any, that spent 10.000 hours practicing and didn't become that good.

Practicing the right way isn't easy but if you can teach it the right way, then every girl or boy you teach becomes world class.

Your theory of god given talent would mean, that to become world class you have to be chosen by God in some lottery way (say 1:10.000.000 chance), so chances for your sibling to become world class also would be something like 1:100.000.000.000.000

If it's just the right approach and practice, then with your father as coach chances for the siblings to become world class would be extremely high.

Examples for this:
All 3 daughters of Laszlo Polgar became world class. (He spent his life proving you people wrong, still believing in talent myth. He searched for a wife to raise 3 world class chess players, found a wife willing for this experiment, got 3 daughters, all 3 became world class chess players.)
Ko brothers
Oushan siblings
Williams sisters in tennis

Very little difference in achievement.Both siblings got to the top of the world. Mostly the younger sibling gets a little better in the sport. Not because he is luckier in his share of talent. But because teaching methods of the father improved after experimenting with the older and he had a better sparing partner while becoming great.
Yes but to me it's all God given, This is me... Guy
 

Guy Manges

Registered
Then you have people I will call different, should never be any good at anything because disabilities.

But they improvise, adapt, and overcome. Doing things better then what normal people can accomplish.
I know this may seem off course, I believe we have a director of Circumstances and if we look hard enough we will see it... Guy
 

kanzzo

hobby player
Yes but to me it's all God given, This is me... Guy
Getting the father willing to put in the time to get you to Nr. One is definitely God given :)

If this is definition of talent in this forum (getting the right coach at a young age, best a parent) then I agree that Tiger Woods, Mozart, Williams Sisters got talent. But they won the talent lottery by having just the right father. And since their sibling gets same father, they get same share of talent.
 

alphadog

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Is it not a natural talent to observe something and then replicate it? It may require repition/practice but doesn't that require some inate ability?

Is it not natural talent to understand things -what is happening or has happened ?
 

Toxictom

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I think of all the players who were just kids when they started to win big tournaments. I was watching the World Cup of Pool last night and I think it was Albin Ouschan who said one of his big memories was when he won his Austrian state tournament when he was 10. A 10 year old has to have a huge amount of natural talent to be winning at that age IMO.
 

Jaden

"no buds chill"
Silver Member
There are so many leaps of logic in there that it is laughable. At 10,000 hours (or literally any other amount of hours you want to use) there is still a wide disparity in the ability level of all those people who have put in that amount of time, even when they have put in similar work and taken it equally seriously, etc. The reason for that is talent differences. There are also plenty of people who have put in 10,000 serious hours of pool with serious efforts given and have not mastered pool and become world class like that theory claims. The reason for that is they simply don't have the talent.

Yes, I think most people can become at least reasonably decent at most things with a lot of work. Nobody questions that work plays a huge role in success, but the fact that talent also plays a big part in what you can accomplish in what amount of time is indisputable and can be seen everywhere, and in fact is what you see 100% of the time. That all people will be equally skilled with equal work/amounts of that work has never been seen to be the case ever even once in the history of humanity so to believe that to be true is ludicrous. I honestly don't believe that anybody truly believes that talent doesn't matter for something like pool, and don't think a single person would be able to pass a lie detector test claiming that because every last one of us knows without doubt it isn't true even if we are desperate to try to convince ourselves otherwise.
LOL, no one says that anyone who puts in 10000 hours of dedicated practice will become a world beater, but people on the other side seem to be under the impression that people pick up a cue and are world beaters, lol.

No, the 10K hour thing is that it takes THAT much dedicated practice at a minimum, IF you have the ability to, to become an expert at something.

Jaden
 

Jaden

"no buds chill"
Silver Member
Is it not a natural talent to observe something and then replicate it? It may require repition/practice but doesn't that require some inate ability?

Is it not natural talent to understand things -what is happening or has happened ?
I think the confusion here requires definition of natural talent. If you're saying that natural talent is innate ability at something, then yes, it IS required at anything. If you're talking about natural talent like it's being born capable of picking up something and just doing it at top level, that DOESN'T Exist...

Jaden
 

BlueRaider

Registered
I think of all the players who were just kids when they started to win big tournaments. I was watching the World Cup of Pool last night and I think it was Albin Ouschan who said one of his big memories was when he won his Austrian state tournament when he was 10. A 10 year old has to have a huge amount of natural talent to be winning at that age IMO.
Maybe starting very young and having proper instruction and constant competition is the most important part of being elite at something.
 

kanzzo

hobby player
LOL, no one says that anyone who puts in 10000 hours of dedicated practice will become a world beater
Well, i kinda do. Exactly my point.

With the right practice and starting with the right (young) age the differences in ability will be very close. And there will be no natural talents, who get on this level of skill with significally less practice.

And there won't be any untalented guys, that put in the practice but just didn't get this good.

The difference in "talent" is "just" the motivation to put in this long hours and finding a way to enjoy the practice. And having the coach to show you the right way to practice.

The 10.000 hours isn't some magic number. It's just happens to be the amount of practice for violinists on music univetsity, that they have to get under their belt by the age of 18. (For the elite trier.)

It's also around 10.000 hours needed to become a grand master in chess. But over the professional lifespan the violinists will put 30-40.000 hours. Since competition is so high. Same for world class chess players.

For pool the level is weaker so it might be just 6000 hours by the age of 18 to get on the level of Archer or John Schmidt. And the natural talent of Wu or Filler might be just double this amount of practice by the same age.
 

Jaden

"no buds chill"
Silver Member
Well, i kinda do. Exactly my point.

With the right practice and starting with the right (young) age the differences in ability will be very close. And there will be no natural talents, who get on this level of skill with significally less practice.

And there won't be any untalented guys, that put in the practice but just didn't get this good.

The difference in "talent" is "just" the motivation to put in this long hours and finding a way to enjoy the practice. And having the coach to show you the right way to practice.

The 10.000 hours isn't some magic number. It's just happens to be the amount of practice for violinists on music univetsity, that they have to get under their belt by the age of 18. (For the elite trier.)

It's also around 10.000 hours needed to become a grand master in chess. But over the professional lifespan the violinists will put 30-40.000 hours. Since competition is so high. Same for world class chess players.

For pool the level is weaker so it might be just 6000 hours by the age of 18 to get on the level of Archer or John Schmidt. And the natural talent of Wu or Filler might be just double this amount of practice by the same age.
My point was that there will always be outliers that can never get there. Mental and physical issues CAN limit the possible level to achieve. I agree that those who are physically and mentally capable, if enough effort is put in, CAN get there. All talent does is make it easier to get there.

Jaden

p.s. although you'll rarely see someone put in the effort with the thousands of hours of dedicated practice that DON'T get there, there are several reasons for this. 1) If you aren't seeing the progress, the desire to continue day in/day out just goes away. 2) Access to the right coaching/training usually requires some kind of talent or willingness to put in the effort for the same reason of #1, coaches lose willingness to teach if there's no progress either. 3) Usually the people are willing to put in the effort know that the effort will get them there..

It's kind of like the old adage, you always find the thing you're looking for in the last place you look. Duh, why in the hell would you keep looking for it if you already found it. Why in the hell would you continue putting maximum effort into something if you're not progressing at it?
 
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kanzzo

hobby player
My point was that there will always be outliers that can never get there. Mental and physical issues CAN limit the possible level to achieve. I agree that those who are physically and mentally capable, if enough effort is put in, CAN get there. All talent does is make it easier to get there.

Jaden

p.s. although you'll rarely see someone put in the effort with the thousands of hours of dedicated practice that DON'T get there, there are several reasons for this. 1) If you aren't seeing the progress, the desire to continue day in/day out just goes away. 2) Access to the right coaching/training usually requires some kind of talent or willingness to put in the effort for the same reason of #1, coaches lose willingness to teach if there's no progress either. 3) Usually the people are willing to put in the effort know that the effort will get them there..

It's kind of like the old adage, you always find the thing you're looking for in the last place you look. Duh, why in the hell would you keep looking for it if you already found it. Why in the hell would you continue putting maximum effort into something if you're not progressing at it?
Can work the other way around also:

People who don't believe in talent stay motivated longer since they know, practice will get them to their goals.

And putting in the practice makes them shine over other players of the same age so they are considered talents and get better coaching.

People believing in talent myth will find 1000 reasons to stop practicing before reaching top level.

But it's true, that we don't have data about all the people, that didn't make it to 10.000 hours of deliberate practice and their reasons for this.

We have the data for the people, who did it, and it was at least 99 % practice and max 1% talent.

There is this quote from Michelangelo:
 

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alphadog

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I think the confusion here requires definition of natural talent. If you're saying that natural talent is innate ability at something, then yes, it IS required at anything. If you're talking about natural talent like it's being born capable of picking up something and just doing it at top level, that DOESN'T Exist...

Jaden
See you earlier post #47
 

Bob Jewett

AZB Osmium Member
Staff member
Gold Member
Silver Member
Here is what Matt Syed said about "the myth of talent and the power of practice".
He makes a lot of statements that are simply false. Him speaking in a classy accent doesn't make what he has to say the truth.

While it may motivate some students to say, "You can be as good as you want to be," it's a lie. Some do not have good hand-eye coordination -- some of that can be compensated for by additional training. Some cannot remember how much to spin the ball to get to a particular place -- could be fixed by more training maybe. Some don't have the drive to practice a shot until they have it right -- hard to fix that one, maybe a gun to the head? I have had a student who had a hard time remembering that to get the object ball to go to the left, you have to hit it on the right with the cue ball.

What is true is that nearly everyone who plays pool can be considerably better than they are now with just a little instruction and practice. I'm guessing that most can't be bothered to practice. Is the ability to commit yourself to practice a talent?
 

book collector

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
To become a world class pool player or golfer takes hours and hours of dedicated practice. One can not become great on "natural talent". You have to put in the work.
I'm sorry ,I just don't believe in natural talent, long hard hours of practice are required, even for simple tasks like milking the cow, or banging on a wooden box.
 

Bob Jewett

AZB Osmium Member
Staff member
Gold Member
Silver Member
I'm sorry ,I just don't believe in natural talent, long hard hours of practice are required, even for simple tasks like milking the cow, or banging on a wooden box.
He got lucky. ;) What I don't understand is how he could already have 10,000 hours of practice in.
 

Bob Jewett

AZB Osmium Member
Staff member
Gold Member
Silver Member
One of the last times we discussed this I recommended "The Talent Gene". It looks at both sides of the argument. In particular, read about the two high jumpers it discusses.
 
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