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Mason King
07-15-2008, 08:18 AM
Hey guys:

Nice job with the question about washing table cloth. Here's another one — a little thornier — I just received from a reader that I thought some of you more experienced players could shed some light on:

"At what point do you stop improving? Granted, we can't all have God given talent like [some pros], but isn't there a point where our eyes, timing, strategy, etc., just simply cease? I thought I had mastered what to do and I still believe that I do, but after years of diligent practice, instruction, etc., it just has not brought me continually improving results."

What do you think?

Bambu
07-15-2008, 08:46 AM
Anyone who says they cant improve is just making excuses. You only stop improving if/when you give up. Progress comes easier for some than others, but small goals can be set and reached by anyone. If you bang balls around with no purpose you are making only tiny strides. Its better to figure out what your weaknesses are, then formulate a plan to address them. Eventually the hard work pays off, because you will have forced yourself to become a well rounded player.

If thats not working, you might need to have someone else take a look at your game, or video yourself. (I dont mean you Mason, I'm just ranting.) Sometimes we make mistakes we dont realize are happening. For some it could be a fundamental flaw like dropping your elbow or not staying down on the final stroke. For others it could be something simple as using excessive english. Center ball, center ball, center ball.

Cornerman
07-15-2008, 09:09 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Mason King</div><div class="ubbcode-body">At what point do you stop improving</div></div> May.

Fred

Deeman3
07-15-2008, 09:17 AM
Mason,

I think we can all continue to improve in certain areas almost forever. However, as we age, things common to good play will deteriorate like eyesight, hand-eye coordination. Some of us make up for it with better position or smarter safeties but in the end, youth will win out. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

JJFSTAR
07-15-2008, 09:38 AM
Pool from what I know of it is just like life. It is impossible to stay at the same level and that’s a good thing. So if you are not going up you are going down. Your pool game may spend years at around the same level; sure your going to reach plateaus every once in a while but are you satisfied with every practice session that you do and competition that you enter? If that is true then I suggest taking up snooker, 3 cushion billiards or begin to work on trick shots.

I suppose that if you can set up a nice break shot in strait pool and run 100 with some consistency and score over 200 in a game of Fargo all the time there wouldn’t be that much to work on but those two goals would take most people a lifetime. So I would say that one should be improving well into the time that the body begins to break down; for most people I would just take a random guess and say that should be sometime in their 70’s.

JoeW
07-15-2008, 10:26 AM
While there are all kinds of philosophical issues here I think that there may be an empirical answer as well.

Plot the percentage of misses per the number of shots over a period of time. Perhaps one hour would be sufficient for a game like 14.1. Doing this every week for six months would yield 24 data points (52 if done for a year). The percentage of missed shots should continuously drop.

New techniques, the benefits from instruction and new approaches to the game will all show up in the curve of progress.

Eventually the curve will flatten out. This is an indication of diminishing returns. That is, it will take substantial effort or a major change in something to improve after the flat area has been shown.


http://i135.photobucket.com/albums/q146/JoeW04/Progress.jpg

Of course one does not have to plot the progress. There are statistical techniques that can be used or one simply looks for no change in the percent of misses. When the percent of misses stays about the same for three or four weeks a plateau has been reached with the current technique.

If the percent of misses gets to zero, it doesn't get any better than that and no progress can be made !

Footnote: For those who think that the null hypothesis cannot be tested be advised that there are statistical techniques that can be used to assess "no change."

DeadCrab
07-15-2008, 10:35 AM
Most individual olympic sports depend on speed and coordination, and tend to be dominated by the young. Sports like football, basketball, and baseball, are more experience and strength oriented and reward those in their 20's and early 30's. For a variety of reasons, few athletes aren't past peak by age 40.

Pool depends on visual-spatial coordination, the ability to assume stressful postures, and experience. When you reach your peak depends on when your physical skills fail to keep pace with your cerebral skills. This can occur at any age, but you won't see many players in their 60's with their chins on the cues like the young pros.

If you are young and feel you have peaked, you may or may not maintain interest in the game. If you are over 40, then accept it, as physical limitations are likely to factor in any athletic venture you undertake. Enjoy playing while you still can!

JoeW
07-15-2008, 10:44 AM
I like this Curve of Progress idea so much I think that I am going to begin using it. The curve of progress will also reflect changes in technique, age, mental changes (such as depression, etc). If a simple log is kept about what you changed (cue stick, stance, sighting etc) the effects will be apparent in the plot. Number each point plotted and keep a note about why the point went up or down.

I use percent of misses because they are easier to chart. There are 14 balls to count on the table when playing straight pool. All one needs to do is to remember how many times you missed in each rack and add this to 14. You have the count and the misses for every rack and can note this between racks.

The percent of misses is the number of misses divided by the total number of shots when you are done playing. Some standard minimal time should be used such as 30 to 60 minutes. This minimum time will allow for a reasonable assessment of the current progress (or lack of progress). One could also note the total number of shots in any session next to the plot 20/100 means that there were 20 misses for 100 shots. The percent of misses is .2 or 20%

For those of us who are continually attempting to improve our game with new tools and techniques, this log would yield an answer to the question, "Does X work for me?"

skin
07-15-2008, 10:53 AM
Constant improvement can be made in the mental aspects of the game even if the technical ones are at a standstill.

I am returning to the game after a long lay-off and relearning almost everything. The shot making, etc. is coming back, but in fits and spurts. The mental side, however, more than the physical is setting the pace. As I relearn how to quiet the mind and thus control interior distractions, the shot making skills and consistency get better. I missed an easy shot the other day and when I recalled what was going on in my head afterwards I noticed one of those subtle little ripples of extraneous thought had crossed me up, a thought about getting my flat spare tire fixed!

So, my suggestion is to look into what your mind is doing while you're playing and see if an improvement there can advance your game.

As Yogi Berra said about baseball, "Ninety percent of the game is half mental." I think something like that is true of pool - a lot of the game is simply self-mastery of one's own mind which, if not under control, can cause you to dog even the simplest shot; and if it is, can allow you to run racks without an error.

JWasson
07-15-2008, 10:55 AM
Although I can understand where you guys are going with this, I must also add that I think the results of this type of this little discussion would likely be different for each player. Although I agree that there would likely be a time when no further improvement may be noticed, I do think that would be at a different age for each individual player. I believe that while some players may reach their peak at an early age, say maybe as early as 20, others may not reach that same level until possibly 50 or even later in life. I am now 50 and I have played my entire life and I can honestly say I am playing my best games in my life right now and continue to improve each time I shoot. I know of much younger players that have improved to a level that is higher than the level I play at now. I really don't think there is any consistent pattern. there's my feedback for what it may be worth.. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/confused.gif

JoeW
07-15-2008, 11:18 AM
I'm with you, at 64 I am still improving because I keep learning new things. But I think that without further study one will hit a wall.

KellyStick
07-15-2008, 11:22 AM
I used to shoot pool with an older gentlemen I would run into at the pool hall that everyone called Mr B. He struggled greatly with age, he shook, soda pop eyeglasses but he still had fun. I could tell he knew his banks but obviously age had caught him some time back. I beleive he is gone now. He always thanked me for playing with him.

I'm 44 or so and I beleive I am shooting is good now as ever. I had a bit of a loll there for awhile where I lost some interest and also had a bad shoulder thing as well. I took some lessons from Scott Lee and that also helped. I did not adopt everything I could have from that training but I learned three things that I did not know before and those three things have proven to be extremely helpful. Recently I have been focusing on focusing with greater intensity. Trying to get back the intensity I almost naturally fell into several years back. This too has helped a lot. So at 44 I'm not old but am still improving and hope to do so as long as I keep interested. That perhaps is the key. And even then I think smarts can carry one a little ways even after the body starts to falter. I'm guessing we have all won games with an agressive more physical style as well as less agressive strategic style. As we age perhaps we may have to lean towards the latter.

BCA Master Instr
07-15-2008, 02:00 PM
When we are dead!....SPF=randyg

JWasson
07-15-2008, 07:15 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: BCA Master Instr</div><div class="ubbcode-body">When we are dead!....SPF=randyg </div></div>
I like that response.. a lot! /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/wink.gif

pooltchr
07-16-2008, 04:35 AM
Do we stop improving when we are dead....or do we just die when we stop improving? /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/wink.gif
Steve

Fran Crimi
07-16-2008, 10:44 AM
I think that barring any serious physical issues, as long as we can still think, we can still improve. The real question I think that person needs to be asking is what is he still doing wrong in his game that he hasn't been able to figure out yet?

Fran

Paul_Mon
07-16-2008, 04:00 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Cornerman</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Mason King</div><div class="ubbcode-body">At what point do you stop improving</div></div> May.

Fred </div></div>

Same here. I get better in September and peak around April.

Eric.
07-17-2008, 08:53 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Mason King</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Hey guys:

Nice job with the question about washing table cloth. Here's another one — a little thornier — I just received from a reader that I thought some of you more experienced players could shed some light on:

"At what point do you stop improving? Granted, we can't all have God given talent like [some pros], but isn't there a point where our eyes, timing, strategy, etc., just simply cease? I thought I had mastered what to do and I still believe that I do, but after years of diligent practice, instruction, etc., it just has not brought me continually improving results."

What do you think? </div></div>

I think the amount of improvement and when you plateau has a lot to do with where you are in your game. For example, if you've been a lifetime recreational player and decided to take the game seriously at 50, I see no reason why you cant progress to a fairly high amateur level.

On the other hand, if you get to a high amateur level at a fairly young age(20's), ther is a good chance that you are at a plateau and may not have the talent to progress further, and might drop off some if you aren't practicing constantly.


Eric &gt;random thoughts

1poolfan
07-17-2008, 09:01 PM
I think there are two answers, depending on which viewpoint you are coming from.

There is 'perceived' improvement, this is where one thinks they are getting better but the statistics and observers say different. From what I have seen, perceived improvement is the most prevalent type and it comes from the individual saying 'yes, I am getting better' when asked if they are improving. You find this in most people, even the pro's, in any sport.

Then there is 'real' improvement, this is where you can look at the stats and if you are beating players who have consistently beaten you in the past. This is a harder reality check as most people want to live in the 'perceived' world instead of the 'real' world. But in answer to your question; you will stop getting better when you are playing perfect pool all the time. Which by nature is not likely to happen.

Rich R.
07-17-2008, 09:25 PM
I think you stop improving when you stop trying to improve.

Let me be clear, and personal, about my opinion on this issue.

I am in my late 50's and I have no dreams about being a pro player. I play in leagues and a small weekly tournament, when I can.
I have taken some lessons, but I hate doing drills. I am a recreational player and I play for relaxation and enjoyment. Repeating drills over and over is not fun for me. I do practice the methods I have learned in the lessons, but I do that in my own way and not through drills, so any gains from the lessons come slowly.
IMHO, I continue to improve at a slow rate. I think I am playing better than I ever have and I hold my own with some of the younger guys. I will continue trying and I'm sure I will continue to improve.

I think anyone can improve if they try. The improvements may not be great, but there will be improvement.

1poolfan
07-21-2008, 02:47 AM
IMHO, many people stop improving because they don't know how to learn. It is generally thought that 'knowledge' is power and that knowledge will improve your game. I think knowledge has little to do with improvement because it has very little to do with playing. Knowledge is overrated as the way to improve your game.

Knowledge helps you analyze a table but does not help you perform the shot. Yet most people spend quite a bit of time gaining knowledge instead of working on changing their skill. Why? I think it is because they don't how to change a skill only so they resort to gaining knowledge.

So in reality, most people stop learning very early in their game because they think knowledge will increase their skill.

The game of pool, as most sports, is all mental. There is very little to no physical part of the game. So when we practice, we are actually 'training our brain' and nothing else. Since there is not a 'guide' on 'how to train your brain', most people spend huge amounts of time with very little result. This leads them to learn that spending time 'training' has no value. The pros have compensated for this by putting huge amounts of time toward a single effort. But even they stop learning at a certain point because they cannot put any more 'time' in during a day.

pooltchr
07-21-2008, 04:25 AM
Knowledge is only power when application is included!
(Learned from RandyG)
Steve

Bambu
07-21-2008, 08:36 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: 1poolfan</div><div class="ubbcode-body">IMHO, many people stop improving because they don't know how to learn. It is generally thought that 'knowledge' is power and that knowledge will improve your game. I think knowledge has little to do with improvement because it has very little to do with playing. Knowledge is overrated as the way to improve your game.

Knowledge helps you analyze a table but does not help you perform the shot. Yet most people spend quite a bit of time gaining knowledge instead of working on changing their skill. Why? I think it is because they don't how to change a skill only so they resort to gaining knowledge.

So in reality, most people stop learning very early in their game because they think knowledge will increase their skill.

The game of pool, as most sports, is all mental. There is very little to no physical part of the game. So when we practice, we are actually 'training our brain' and nothing else. Since there is not a 'guide' on 'how to train your brain', most people spend huge amounts of time with very little result. This leads them to learn that spending time 'training' has no value. The pros have compensated for this by putting huge amounts of time toward a single effort. But even they stop learning at a certain point because they cannot put any more 'time' in during a day. </div></div>

The muscles in your body also have memory, and need to be trained. So its not only your brain, its the muscles in your body too.

1poolfan
07-21-2008, 10:46 AM
If you have evidence that the cells in the muscles have the ability to 'remember' anything, I think you may have discovered something new in the scientific community.

This notion that there is something called 'muscle memory' was fabricated to explain the results of repeatedly performing an action. In reality, it is the brain that controls everything we do from walking to blinking to playing pool and any other physical sport. Muscle memory is just a common misunderstanding used over and over, but does not exist.

The muscles in the body provide strength and flexibility and maybe some other small functions but they do not have the ability to remember anything.

Once this is understood we are back to square one on 'how to learn' again. Which is why knowledge has nothing to do with learning. Knowledge is the accumulation of information; skill is the ability to perform an action repeatedly, and in the case of the pros, very well. So you have many people who are very knowledgeable in any sport but cannot perform the sport well. Some choose this mode of having knowledge over skill but most others fall into this due to inadequate training methods.

In the case of the question asked, when do we stop learning? The answer is at the exact moment that your skill stop progressing. Is there some age limit? I don't think so. I think that misunderstanding how we actually learn is the limiting factor. Any person at any age can continue to improve if correct training methods are used and the person is willing.