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

NevadaP

Active member
Here is my recent post on the topic that I think answers the question truthfully and accurately:

"The simple answer is yes, it more or less is as simple as that [that talent level makes the difference in how great you will be compared to others] if/when everybody has the same drive and is putting the same efforts into their game.

But not everybody has the same drive and is putting the same efforts into their game in the real world, which sometimes (but not always) allows those with less talent, but who want it more and work harder, to surpass those with more talent but who don't put as much effort into their game.

Those that have the most natural ability/talent will always have a higher cap to the potential level they can ultimately reach with enough work though, and will always be able to progress the fastest with equal efforts."
I agree with this totally. I tried for years to master the game of golf, and was never better than average. My son picked up a set of clubs in Jr. High School and immediately had a better swing and game than I ever mastered. If he ever chose to seriously pursue golf, he'd be better than me no matter how hard I worked at it, due to natural talent. He'd never make it to the pro tour because all of those guys have even more natural talent and chose to continue working at it. It takes work, but with natural talent you have a high ceiling and elevated floor.
 

iusedtoberich

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Here is another way of looking at it. If there was no "cap" due to individual nature, the top pros that practice all day long, would be better every year. Much better. Filler, Pia, Shane, Efren, and many more, practice 6-8 hrs a day every day. You would think with all that practice, they would now be at the level that they miss one ball per decade, rather than 1 ball every couple of racks.
 

Cameron Smith

is kind of hungry...
Silver Member
Here is another way of looking at it. If there was no "cap" due to individual nature, the top pros that practice all day long, would be better every year. Much better. Filler, Pia, Shane, Efren, and many more, practice 6-8 hrs a day every day. You would think with all that practice, they would now be at the level that they miss one ball per decade, rather than 1 ball every couple of racks.
Who’s to say they don’t get better every year, it’s just the pace of improvement that is different between players. Improvement is slow after the 600 level and probably triply so over the 800 range.

And then it also depends on whether they are practicing to improve or practicing to maintain their game. And even pros may begin practicing the wrong things and start to get diminishing returns. So pros, just like anyone else can get into a rut of practicing things that aren’t leading to results. It’s why you see top snooker players engage coaches more frequently than pool players do.

There may be a cap to how consistently you pocket balls (I’m not sure we are there yet in pool), but there are certainly other things that can continually get better.
 

Cameron Smith

is kind of hungry...
Silver Member
I think talent exists, sort of. For things like pool, it has a lot more to do with what is between your ears than what is in your blood. One of the main differences you see between long time lower level players and higher level players is likelihood of learning from mistakes, Higher level players are better at identifying and fixing errors. They are also more likely to practice properly and consistently over longer periods of time.

I think there are certain skills and personality traits attached to this. Some of which can be learned and others that are much harder to pick up, Then we also have the concept of the growth mindset, where better players believe they can learn whereas others have a fixed mindset that hinders their growth. It is worth mentioning that you can have a growth mindset for some hobbies and fixed mindset for others.

Finally opportunity is a tremendous piece of the puzzle. You don’t get to be a pro player playing in your basement and competing against bar players. I think if you explored the bios of top players you would see that they commonly had access to top level competition regularly at some point and/or were able to make the move to pursue it.

Let’s look at this way, Canada used to be a hot bed for top snooker. We had several snooker players in the top 10 and many others in the top 100. In the intervening years we have become uncompetitive on the world stage. So did Canada collectively lose its snooker talent? Or did the opportunities for growth and improvement dry up?
 

pw98

Registered
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.
How are you going to become a world class golfer if you don't have the muscle strength potential and hand eye coordination to hit drives 330+ yards consistently and with control? There are 4 types of athletes:

1. Those with 'natural talent' that practice hard.
2. Those with 'natural talent' that don't practice hard.
3. Those without 'natural talent' that practice hard.
4. Those without 'natural talent' that don't practice hard.

Only #1 gets to the top.

And of course you could break this down into subcategories of how much 'natural talent' and how hard 'practicing hard' is.
 

lfigueroa

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I believe another way to look at natural talent is that in some cases it’s pure blind stupid luck.

By that I mean a guy picks up a pool cue for the first time and by pure blind stupid luck gets down on the ball perfectly. So many players are hampered because they just can’t figure out how to stroke the ball. They are those lost souls that just play the way they play and in the vast majority of cases that’s either poorly or maybe not so bad. But not great.

But a rare few “just do it” and maybe skill has nothing to do with it. For them it’s like hitting the lotto. Some go on to exploit that luck and become one of the best and maybe others don’t appreciate what it is they can do on a pool table and move on. Pool came so easily to Mosconi he always had a certain distain for the game, once saying, “A monkey could play this game.”

Lou Figueroa
apparently not
a monkey
 

pw98

Registered
How did you m
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.

How did you make your calculator? I assume there was no CPU in it. So you used TTL logic? I can think of two ways off the top of my head:

1. Registers and TTL logic: numbers to add/subtract are capped at 4 bits (<= 9 or whatever your keypad went up to), accumulator register is 5 bits. When a digit is pressed it is encoded and placed in a register, then second digit is pressed it is encoded and placed into a register, then operation is pressed, operation is stored in a register then adding circuit is activated, i suppose the twos complement for subtraction could be done with another encoder before feeding into the adder, then the adder, which is made of 4 chained 1 bit adders (of which each bit is basically an encoder), is fed into, results of the adder circuit go into a 5 bit accumulator register, which is then decoded and displayed via LED/LCD/nixie tubes? Of course I think you need some delay lines as well to make the timing of these stages work properly.

2. A lot of the same things as above but using shift registers to make the calculator capable of larger multidigit numbers, this is definitely a lot more complex and out of my realm off the top of my head as I'm just a CS and tend to see circuits as just a straight line.

Anyways this is very impressive to me for a kid in the 60s. The resources back then were non-existant compared to today. I didn't know how to do this stuff until my 4th year of undergrad and I was probably the best Computer Science student in my program at a state school (and probably would have been a normal student at a school like CMU).

I too am a lot more gifted at technical stuff than pool although I am over 600 fargo rate. If computer science had a fargo rate I would be in the 700s... and I definitely have put a lot more effort into pool...

Paul (BSC + MSC Computer Science)
 
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Jaden

"no buds chill"
Silver Member
Who’s to say they don’t get better every year, it’s just the pace of improvement that is different between players. Improvement is slow after the 600 level and probably triply so over the 800 range.

And then it also depends on whether they are practicing to improve or practicing to maintain their game. And even pros may begin practicing the wrong things and start to get diminishing returns. So pros, just like anyone else can get into a rut of practicing things that aren’t leading to results. It’s why you see top snooker players engage coaches more frequently than pool players do.

There may be a cap to how consistently you pocket balls (I’m not sure we are there yet in pool), but there are certainly other things that can continually get better.
Exactly, there's only so much better you can get than almost perfect... You can work on mental aspects, consistency, etc... You may fall off, you may do better. Once you're elite and an expert at something, i.e. > than 90-95% of all practitioners of something, then getting any better is exponential in difficulty and required effort.

That's why Shane, for example, kind of fell off there for a while when he was fishing more than he was practicing and then has now come back strong once he started putting more time in than any other player again.

Jaden
 

xradarx

Simple if you can’t prove it don’t say you did it.
Silver Member
I believe another way to look at natural talent is that in some cases it’s pure blind stupid luck.

By that I mean a guy picks up a pool cue for the first time and by pure blind stupid luck gets down on the ball perfectly. So many players are hampered because they just can’t figure out how to stroke the ball. They are those lost souls that just play the way they play and in the vast majority of cases that’s either poorly or maybe not so bad. But not great.

But a rare few “just do it” and maybe skill has nothing to do with it. For them it’s like hitting the lotto. Some go on to exploit that luck and become one of the best and maybe others don’t appreciate what it is they can do on a pool table and move on. Pool came so easily to Mosconi he always had a certain distain for the game, once saying, “A monkey could play this game.”

Lou Figueroa
apparently not
a monkey
It’s even more rare to find a few who recognize that natural talent/skill and accept it as such.
Seven/eight 14.1 world straight pool championship holders have, since it’s inception,
an aggregate total of fifty-five world championships to their credit.
Side arm deliveries, crab claw bridge hand grips, drop elbows, you name it, they all mostly had imperfections in their physical games, but their mental toughness, sent many back to the practice tables, trying to mimic their games.
Todays instructors would have sent them back with entirely new games to hopefully get to the top of the pool game as pros.
And, they would beat you at any game that you wanted to play.
Hell, they didn’t care how good you thought that you were, they would just run out on you from any open shot.
 

Tin Man

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
It’s even more rare to find a few who recognize that natural talent/skill and accept it as such.
Seven/eight 14.1 world straight pool championship holders have, since it’s inception,
an aggregate total of fifty-five world championships to their credit.
Side arm deliveries, crab claw bridge hand grips, drop elbows, you name it, they all mostly had imperfections in their physical games, but their mental toughness, sent many back to the practice tables, trying to mimic their games.
Todays instructors would have sent them back with entirely new games to hopefully get to the top of the pool game as pros.
And, they would beat you at any game that you wanted to play.
Hell, they didn’t care how good you thought that you were, they would just run out on you from any open shot.
True, true. One thing though. Some instructors believe fundamentals are overrated and prioritized patterns and cue ball that result in simple enough shots that one doesn’t need to be robot perfect to run out. 😎
 

MitchAlsup

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
How did you make your calculator? I assume there was no CPU in it. So you used TTL logic?

I made the calculator just after RTL logic had been introduced, TTL was still several years into the future.

I used capacitively coupled flip flops as the counter,
a 13 section gang switch to change from add to subtract,
and a binary readout system (model lights),
Each flip flop used a power transistor, 2 diodes, 4 resistors, and 2 capacitors
(I got the circuit from the ONLY book in my HS library on computers.)
And finally, the input device was a rotary phone dial.

The end result looked like a wiring nest from the insides.
 

Saturated Fats

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I think natural talent exists because of my experience at seeing the opposite of natural talent. I never realized how difficult pool could be until I saw my daughter pick up a cue and try her hand at it. She had zero natural talent, so it stands to reason that some others must have it or there wouldn't be such a large gap between my daughter and others on day one.
 

CocoboloCowboy

Cowboys are my hero's
Silver Member
Think desire to be great can be achieved with work, practice, studying, the thing most people do not like to do.

Larry Byrd the Basketball player, was work-a-holic in off season.
 

Bob Jewett

AZB Osmium Member
Staff member
Gold Member
Silver Member
Maybe the problem in this discussion is calling some of the differences between people "talent". Maybe if we called it "aptitude" we could have more agreement. Do different people have different aptitudes for different activities? Do some people have more aptitude for math? Do some have more aptitude for baseball?

If we take two people who have never played baseball before -- a 15-year-old soccer star from Germany and a 45-year-old housewife from Iowa -- and give them baseball training with an incentive to do well, do we imagine that one is more likely to do well? Will one have more aptitude for baseball?
 

tomatoshooter

Well-known member
That's why Shane, for example, kind of fell off there for a while when he was fishing more than he was practicing and then has now come back strong once he started putting more time in than any other player again.
Does Shane ever have a day when he's "on fire"? What does that even mean at his level? He misses 2 out of 100 shots on a regular day, He's have to play an entire tournament before he would notice a difference.

Some instructors believe fundamentals are overrated and prioritized patterns and cue ball that result in simple enough shots that one doesn’t need to be robot perfect to run out.
I think the physical movement in pool is simple enough that fundamentals are not critical beyond a decent baseline. Keith McReady chickenwinged his way past plenty of heavy hitters. I do believe that good fundamentals help achieve and maintain consistency. Once a player has a reliable stroke, I can see where pattern play would be a more productive area to work on.
 

pw98

Registered
I made the calculator just after RTL logic had been introduced, TTL was still several years into the future.

I used capacitively coupled flip flops as the counter,
a 13 section gang switch to change from add to subtract,
and a binary readout system (model lights),
Each flip flop used a power transistor, 2 diodes, 4 resistors, and 2 capacitors
(I got the circuit from the ONLY book in my HS library on computers.)
And finally, the input device was a rotary phone dial.

The end result looked like a wiring nest from the insides.
Ok, that is a lot more primative than I expected. I guess i come from a more modern time...not being an EE probably doesn't help either.

So it basically was a bunch of flip flops that were wired to each other through a 1 bit adder for the first bit and carry logic for the remaining bits which was triggered by dial pulses which also outputted to a decoder/encoder circuit for the lights?

Was there a decoder for the lights to display numbers or did it just show the binary? Considering the computers back then showed their whole ram contents through banks of lights I suppose that was actually acceptable...

Definitely a lot simpler than my version....which I will admit is pretty complex for such a simple task.
 
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Tin Man

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
Maybe the problem in this discussion is calling some of the differences between people "talent". Maybe if we called it "aptitude" we could have more agreement. Do different people have different aptitudes for different activities? Do some people have more aptitude for math? Do some have more aptitude for baseball?

If we take two people who have never played baseball before -- a 15-year-old soccer star from Germany and a 45-year-old housewife from Iowa -- and give them baseball training with an incentive to do well, do we imagine that one is more likely to do well? Will one have more aptitude for baseball?
Hey Bob!

Good question here. I guess it comes down to what we consider talent.

The 15 year old soccer star has presumably has developed some skills that might transfer over into pool, such as strong mental outlooks and confidence in their ability. This player has also clearly been screened to be a very driven and competitive person that is eager to put in a lot of hours. At 15 they likely have more time and energy to put into the game as they don't have to provide for a family. So I feel this player is prescreened for competitive success, has built a foundation of attitudes that lead to great results, and have the opportunity to put those prerequisites to use.

Now take a 15 year old that has demonstrated no competitive drive, never excelled at anything, and also make them work a job and take care of children, and it's possible that you'd see a more similar outcome if they both started playing leagues and working on their games.

I will admit that there is some level of basic ability required. Clearly if someone was 88 years old and needed a walker to go to the bathroom they'd lack the requirements to play baseball. So I guess we could call walking 'talent'.

Zooming out to the larger picture though I really think the answer to this question of talent or no talent is "It depends on why you ask". If someone is studying what separates the #1 player in the world with the #10-30 then I think it is scientifically interesting and there may be some factors that go beyond differences in practice that could fall into the 'natural ability' category. I'm not convinced but I concede the possibility. But when people 2-300 Fargo Points lower than the top tier ask because they want to excuse why they didn't get further in the game then I think it's a totally different question and lack of talent isn't the answer.
 

trob

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
the flip side is if you don`t have natural talent you can practice all you want and still be a monument to mediocrity.
This right here.. Willie hoppe played with the worst stroke you could hav…. A side arm stroke. No one would teach anyone to play pool like that but his natural god given talent was so great that it didn’t matter. Being great absolutely takes hard work but it also has to be mixed with a god given ability. Either you got it or you don’t.
 
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