View Full Version : Direct link between ability and personality?

09-26-2010, 08:12 AM
Once upon a time, 3 friends entered a pretty big pool tournament. Everything was going great, until one of the 3 friends started complaining about the way the other players acted during the matches. The other 2 guys said, "what are you crazy? "Everybody is so nice." Then friend #1 said, "just wait until you get bumped up to the next skill level." The guys you are playing now are cool, but it's not like that in the next bracket up...you'll see." It was enough to make the first guy stop playing in the tournament. Too much drama at the table.

It wasnt long before the other 2 guys caught up, and found themselves in the same boat as friend #1. They had forgotten about what he had said, and were just happy to have been promoted. Soon after that, everything #1 said would happen in their new division, started happening(a new story every week).

The 3 friends went on to discuss whether or not it's possible that skill level is directly related to a players personality. There are many exceptions, of course. But can we draw any conclusions in a very loose, general sense? And, could age possibly be a factor? I see age and skill level(ego) as being directly related to ones personality.

09-26-2010, 09:48 AM
Personality and champions

A good review of the literature as a PowerPoint Presentation is here
Amer Board of Sport Psych (http://www.americanboardofsportpsychology.org/.../APAsymp04AIDMAN.ppt)

A basic summary of this presentation would lead to the following general statements. Physical ability is probably more important than personality characteristics in the prediction of who becomes a champion. With that said, personality characteristics are probably moderators and champions from many different sports are similar. In a sense it could be that when one has the physical ability and the desire, then personality is shaped by the experiences that a champion has. If their personality is not in some way damaged and they proceed through their competitive situations they will often show the following similarities.

By and large they are truly self assured. Their statements about their self confidence are not as useful as indirect measures of their real self confidence. This means that regardless of their public statements champions are confident of their abilities when this confidence is measured indirectly (without the athlete knowing what is being measured).

Champions are emotionally stable, achievement oriented, and mentally tough. They take direction well (are easy to coach) and tend to be trusting of others. Champions are less anxious than other people; they are less depressed, and have high levels of endurance. They exhibit less psychopathology than the general public and tend to be vigorous and extroverted. They tend to see stress as exciting rather than threatening.

The characteristics described here are pretty much as expected however these characteristics are supported by research. You can probably think of other things such as aggressiveness that were studied but not found to be related to champions.

The Myer-Briggs Type indicator does not have a sufficient amount of reliability or various types of validity to make it useful from a scientific perspective. However it is used by many people in business and there are several references on the internet to the Myer-Briggs and variations of this instrument. The scientific community would probably place less credence in this information but here is one reference for those who might be interested.

Keirsey comments (http://www.keirsey.com/handler.aspx?s=keirsey&f=fourtemps&tab=3&c=champion)

09-26-2010, 11:33 AM
Maybe it's just as simple as the higher skilled level players are the ones who take the game more seriously.


Rich R.
09-26-2010, 12:00 PM
There are jerks at every skill level but the jerks have to take more drastic action to shark players that are better and more experienced. The better players aren't bothered by the little stuff and that forces the jerks to get more dramatic.

09-27-2010, 07:08 AM
I dont see why anyone would have to act like an ahole in order to take the game seriously. But I'm sure you didnt mean it that way. Either way, I respect all opinions.

I agree more with Rich though. If you ask me, there can be something negative about being an A player in your 20's. Take a look at the same guys in another 10-20 years, and most wont act that way anymore. I guess it's tough being that good at a young age, as success can go to your head. I call it rock star syndrome.

09-27-2010, 07:32 AM
I don't know a lot about top level players except what I see of their comportment on the table during matches. And based on that, there seems to be a large variation in personalities among the better and best players.

However, maybe the table comportment more hides than reveals the true personality. I've heard that some of the players we associate with stone-cold emotionless conduct at the table are really lively and funny people, somewhat extroverted in a way they never reveal when playing.

Most sports have had champions who were very tight with their emotions in competition, showing virtually no reaction to either good or bad fortune or play. I have always assumed that this was the best personality type for champion-level play, but now I question a) whether this is really their personality at all, and b) why some champions are so emotional and wear their feelings on their sleeves.

09-27-2010, 07:46 AM
Dam dude, you made me google that word!

I really didnt mean the quiet types at all, nothing wrong with that. I dont play matches for small talk either. Theres plenty of time for that before or after its over.

09-27-2010, 10:01 AM
I've seen a lot of what you described too.

One thing to consider is that as you progress up the skill ladder, there is definitely a bit of an ego factor. It affects everybody. The only filter is how each individual keeps the ego in check. Also, the better the player, the more competitive s/he is, and the stronger the desire to win. If winning becomes more and more important to you, your pride can easily get tied to it.


Fran Crimi
09-28-2010, 03:51 PM
Bambu I think it's a pretty complicated thing and not easy to pin down to particular generalizations. I think there are certain personality traits that are common among highly skilled players, such as work ethic, open mindedness, ability to face and fix their shortcomings. However, you can have all of the above traits and be either friendly or unfriendly, shy or outgoing, nice or not so nice. Case in point, MacEnroe vs. Sampras. Both had strong work ethics and were willing to fix their errors yet are polar opposite in their personalities in dealing with others.

I do think, however, that there are levels at which players will get stuck and not progress due to certain personality traits; and I think there's a whole bunch of them in the intermediate to advanced group for various reasons. I wouldn't be surprised if your friends came across some of those stuck players. We all get stuck at some point. Some of us try to push past it and face the demons, and some of us can't, so we remain frustrated at our stuck levels.

09-30-2010, 04:08 PM
Well said Fran.
Pool has always had that "shark, in your face" stigma to it. I've found that over the years as I got better and learned to respect the game more I made the decision to change that aggressive persona that I had when I started and mellowed out. I try to be gracious when I win or lose and treat everyone the same whether they are a beginner or a top player. That was my decision and I think most experienced players adopt that attitude when they reach their potential, but there are always a few who have'nt. You learn how to act as you go.There are varied types of personalities who deal with social issues differently.

I have two friends who told me they approached Cory Deuel at a tournament in Vegas but that he was rude and walked away from them. Maybe he had a bad day, but they wern't impressed. On the other hand they found Efrom very friendly and he talked with them at length. Earl Strickland is rude at the table, but I've heard people say he is very approachable.


09-30-2010, 08:56 PM
I briefly talked to Corey one year at DCC and he was friendly and even remembered me the next year and spoke to me first.
I was impressed.

10-01-2010, 09:09 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: hondo</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I briefly talked to Corey one year at DCC and he was friendly and even remembered me the next year and spoke to me first.
I was impressed. </div></div>

Glad to hear that as Cory is one of my favorite players, I guess everybody can be down and not them selves.