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socrates
11-26-2002, 01:03 PM
I recently had a question posed to me by a student that led to an interesting discussion and some reflection on a possible appropriate answer. I hope to put some thoughts together in an article regarding this topic. Part of my answer includes addressing why professionals or players who consistently win more games from us are able to do so. My anlaysis identified three broad categories.

1. Execution - Simply put, they can do things that we can not.

2. Consistency - Given that the same shot is within both ours and our opponents skill levels they will be sucessful with their efforts more consistently than we will.

3. Knowlege and thinking power. Better players will either see or play the correct pattern more times than we will.

It appears to me that all three are interdependent on each other. That is, an opponent may play the better pattern because of their knowledge, because of their ability to think through the entire rack, because they will stay in line more consistently than us or because there is a shot in the pattern that they can execute and we can not.

My question to the CCB board is - Are there any additional BROAD categories that should be identified as to reasons better players or professionals will consistently win more games from a weaker opponent?

Looking forward to your thoughts and comments.

CarolNYC
11-26-2002, 01:17 PM
Hey Socrates,
(love that name:)-another factor may be their practice time-as you know, to be good at anything depends on time spent doing it-I know some pros who practice ~10 hours/day-so its like a fulltime job!Just a suggestion!
Stay well!
Carol

stickman
11-26-2002, 01:21 PM
I think a positive, can do, never quit attitude is another common trait of winners. Just my personal observation. /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif

heater451
11-26-2002, 02:52 PM
You might place it under your "Knowledge and Thinking Power" column (experience), but you could consider confidence as a factor.

Many times I've missed, and witnessed misses, where the shot is common, but the pressure of missing the shot and position will probably sell out the game. This undermines the confidence in one's skill, causes a loss in focus, and usually results in a miss.

I suppose that "Consistency" might cover this as well, now that I think of it, but I am trying to show a difference in the 'outer game' (mechanical consistency), and the 'inner game' (mental/emotional toughness). Again, you may still slide it under "Thinking Power". . . .



=======================

smfsrca
11-26-2002, 02:56 PM
Desire!
What are you willing to give up and is it worth it!
Where do you fit and is it enough?
The best in your house?
The best on your block?
The best in your town?
The best in your state?
The best in the country?
the best in the world?
Steve in CA

SPetty
11-26-2002, 02:56 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote socrates:</font><hr> My anlaysis identified three broad categories.

1. Execution - Simply put, they can do things that we can not.

2. Consistency

3. Knowlege and thinking power. Better players will either see or play the correct pattern more times than we will.<hr /></blockquote>Hi socrates,

re Execution: Are there really many things that they can do that we cannot? I believe that they know more, and so are able to call upon different things, but they can physically do things that we cannot? I always believed they can do those things because they know how, not because they are more physically capable. Hope that distinction is making sense... So I'm not really sure I'd agree with this one as stated.

re Consistency: Yep.

re Knowledge and thinking power: Is that the same thing as experience and practice time? I believe they gain a great deal of knowledge from the hours and hours of experience at the table, as well as the capability to see the patterns (wish I even knew what that meant!) I'm not so sure how much thinking there is at all when you get to that level - they've seen so many different ways to do something, and they know how to do it, and they just do it. Sounds simple, eh?

I would have to believe that practice/table time/experience is the key factor between pros and us. I truly believe that if almost any of us had 10-12 hours a day to practice, we could each achieve pro or near pro status.

Oh, I also believe that a knowledgeable mentor or teacher is necessary. I would suspect that all the pros had someone to help them up. Are there any that claim to have done it by themselves all alone without help?

BillPorter
11-26-2002, 02:57 PM
There are those players who will find a way to win, even in tough situations, and others who will find a way to lose, even when they must snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. We all have a portion of self-defeating tendencies, but top players who make a living from the game have mastered more of these tendencies that most of us. Maybe no one is 100% winner or 0% loser, but the pros have a lower percentage of "loser" in them. They have won more of those inner battles against choking, losing, giving up, etc. that most of us. Just MHO.

Sid_Vicious
11-26-2002, 03:05 PM
They know they are supposed to win whereas the rest of us strive for it and yet still have some level of "not totally sure." Add to that, they have reliable shots they make all of the time, and continue to make when the pressure is on...sid

TonyM
11-28-2002, 12:42 AM
"I truly believe that if almost any of us had 10-12 hours a day to practice, we could each achieve pro or near pro status."

I've heard this one so many times!

I think this is false.

Sure practice time is important, but imo, so is talent. Many of the top players were a prodigy when they were younger. You and I (and most mere mortals!) can never get as good as they are. Like Tiger Woods. Do you really think that all it would take to play on the PGA tour would be the neccessary practice hours? I think not.

The same argument can be made for music as well. Not everyone's brain is wired for music.

I think that you can be wired for pool as well.

Tony
-talent, you know it when you see it....

TonyM
11-28-2002, 12:50 AM
I'd say mental toughness is another important difference. The best players are really hard to break down.

To paraphrase a quote "The average man looks at everything as either a blessing or a curse, while the warrior looks at everything as a challenge".

The best players don't waste a lot of time lamenting their bad rolls, they move on mentally, and excecute the best shot at hand.

It's a real mental skill to be able to do this, and it takes years to develop.

All the mental skills are more evident with the best players. Desire, heart, and the will to win.

And let's not forget the will to improve!

You know the old adage that: "the amateur player will practice the tough shot until they finally make it, while the champion will practice the shot until they finally stop missing it!"

Tony

Chris Cass
11-28-2002, 01:11 AM
Hi Steve,

Once your past the mechanical portion it's the mental you must master. You have to judge yourself in realistic terms. Know your limitations, master your inadiquacies, practice to overcome your inner self, and above all have the desire to succeed. First you must accept defeat as most of the time you will lose more than win. Look defeat in the eye and strive to overcome this. It's not enough to know the game, the table, your equipment. You have to know yourself better than anyone else. Once you do you become confident and willing to accept any outcome. It's then, you can win. It's then, you become dangerous. Your opponent can't know you better than yourself. JMHO

Regards,

C.C.~~my .02 worth....

bluewolf
11-28-2002, 02:47 AM
Thanks for the topic. I believe some talent is needed in every sport. I know we could debate this until 'the cows come home'. Since I am just beginning my pool career, I draw many of my thoughts from other sports.

In Karate, I had a little talent, but mostly what I call heart. That is that unbreakable, indominable spirit that keeps trying, practicing and trying out new things that those more successful are doing that made me good in that sport. I did not become a national champion but I became good enough to feel that I had done my very best, I was competent and proud of my achievements.

So in pool, starting with just a little talent but willing to put the time on the table and take lessons and work heard, I believe I will be pretty decent one day. One person suggested that if I advance one sl every six months, then that would be excellent progress. I may never be as good as the women on the cat tour, but plan to be as good as my somewhat limited talent and hard work will take me.

I get a lot of stroke advice and other advice here that has helped me alot. I dont't know who said this about hiked up shots, but I think it was Chis Cass who said let your stroke out. I tried this last night and I got more ball speed which has been a problem.

In the meantime, there are many I look up to here and thanks for lots of good ideas.

Laura

CarolNYC
11-28-2002, 04:54 AM
Hey Tony,
How are you? I believe talent is a factor, but more so is knowledge and love of the game(the heart) ,also- PRACTICE-after placing 3rd in Valley Forge Amateur womens event, I thought I was hotstuff-I drove to my first NEWT regional event in Binghamton,like 6 hours,UGH,and you name the pro,they were there! Well, I got my a$$ kicked,literally-I was so determined,I came home totally disgusted ,cause I wasnt what I thought I was, and started practicing 10hrs. a day-the next 6 tournaments I placed in top 8 and in the money,so practice ,truly has alot to do with it-I know a very well-known hall of famer ,whos father, use to to throw wingballs out on the table and every time she shot it in the pocket-she got a little matchbox type of car or something-well,she got the WHOLE set!
Have a nice Thanksgiving!
Carol

CarolNYC
11-28-2002, 05:25 AM
Socrates,
I just wanted to say one more thing-the ability to either point out the error of a player or the player themselves knowing their error and being able to correct it is VERY important!
Happy Thanksgiving!
Carol

OnePocketChamp
11-28-2002, 07:13 AM
I believe the intangible of the really good player to consider is his/her confidence in their ability. They have ingrained this level of confidence into their game though many hours of practice, brought that stroke to the table and won with it. They know they can make the shots when they need too and have the ability to block out any negative thoughts from their pre-shot routine. And as a bonus, this confidence level manifests itself into their body language which their opponent can read making his game even harder. Hope all of our post have been helpful and good luck with the article.

socrates
11-28-2002, 11:38 AM
Carol - Your post reminds me of the quote:

"Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again."

Franklin P. Jones

socrates
11-28-2002, 11:45 AM
Thanks to all for your input. I appreciate it. Some very interesting points of view and many items I had not considered.

Have a great Thanksgiving and remember the three types of giving to enrich the lives of yourself and others - Thanksgiving, Selfgiving and Forgiving.

cuechick
11-28-2002, 01:10 PM
Hi also believe that all top atheltes have another important trait in common. An ability to focus or concentrate better than their peers. I remember years ago reading an article abotut gymnast Nadia Comaneci and her coach said it was her best quality, what set her above the rest. Watching top players, I always get the feeling a bomb could go off and they wouldn't hear it.
I know when i have had my best tournamnets, I have been completly free of distractions, all I see is the tabel. Unfortantly it is something I have to really work on. I have the perifeal vision of a horse! /ccboard/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

Tom_In_Cincy
11-28-2002, 03:08 PM
I think you left out "Heart" The aspect of the great pool players desire to win. Some may call it "The Killer Instinct" or "Blind Determination"

I think it has to do a lot with the love of the game and the stubborness it takes to be the "Very Best" you can.

Once Willie Mosconi was interviewed and asked how did he become a World Champion? His reply was, "I practiced every day for 8 hours for the last 30 years"

Yes.. it takes a lot of "heart" IMO..

CarolNYC
11-29-2002, 03:29 AM
Socrates(Steve),
Love those quotes-they seem to stick in your mind-heres some others:
"Success is the result of good judgement,good judgement is the result of experience and experience is the result of bad judgement"

"Making a decision is committing to achieving a result and not accepting anyother possibility"

Everyone possesses the power of concentration when we focus on a single area in our lives"

And my favorite,by "Hannibal"
"We will either find a way or MAKE IT!
You stay well and good luck,once again!
Carol:):):)

SPetty
11-30-2002, 11:16 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote TonyM:</font><hr> "I truly believe that if almost any of us had 10-12 hours a day to practice, we could each achieve pro or near pro status."

I've heard this one so many times!

I think this is false.

Sure practice time is important, but imo, so is talent. Many of the top players were a prodigy when they were younger. You and I (and most mere mortals!) can never get as good as they are. Like Tiger Woods. Do you really think that all it would take to play on the PGA tour would be the neccessary practice hours? I think not. <hr /></blockquote>Hi TonyM,

I understand what you're saying, but I'm not saying everyone can be the TOP of the pile (ala Tiger Woods), but I do believe that you can be part of the pile. If I'm not mistaken, there is more than just Tiger Woods that play in the PGA tournaments. (I don't watch golf...)

Of course talent is important, but again, I stand by my statement that "almost any of us had 10-12 hours a day to practice, we could each achieve pro or near pro status." I did not intend to suggest that any of us could beat the top pros just by practicing a little...

By "us", I mean the CCBers. By "pro or near pro status", I mean that we could accomplish the goal of not going "2 and out" against the community of pros every time. Again, that's if we had 10-12 hours a day to practice.

As for PGA membership, there'a whole pile of prerequisites per their web site, but the Playing Abilities Test part of it states "...you must achieve a 36-hole score within 15 shots of the course rating. This competition is normally conducted in one day. For example, if the course rating is 72, the target score for the 36-holes would be 159 (72 x 2 = 144 + 15 = 159)." Yes, I think that would be doable for the golfer who had 10-12 hours a day to practice.

TonyM
11-30-2002, 01:07 PM
I understand and appreaciate what you are saying, I really do. And of course, while not everyone can be a Tiger Woods, or an Effren, there is still room for the journeymen.

However, I really think that you either underestimate just how good Pro or Pro level really is, or your definition is far different from mine!

I've taught many people from all walks of life, and a variety of skill levels, including many children. Only a few ever had what I would call "pro" potential. It's hard to define. It's a mixture of talent, desire, dedication and the right sort of mind for pool. It's a rarer combination that you could imagine.

Pro level pool is not simply about not going two and uot in a tournament!

It's about acting and playing like a pro. With the requiste skill level, and mental toughness.

A very, very small percentage of players can ever aspire to reach this level.

That doesn't mean that we can't all improve, but that the ultimate level of play that we can achieve, is often determined by more than practice alone.

Tony

John G
11-30-2002, 01:45 PM
When the average person witnesses a dedicated pool player, or for that matter any committed athlete experience a loss in tournament play or gambling there are very few that come close to understanding the anguish that individual suffers. To understand the magnitude of the commitment one must first recognize and acknowledge the divergent personalities that incorporate winning and losing. Though seldom admitted there are those who enjoy losing. It gives them an excuse to feel sorry for them selves. There are also those who, although they would like to win, out of fear of failure or embarrassment never make a complete commitment of their abilities. And then there are those that lay their heart and soul on the line with every shot, with every bet. They expose themselves to their very core for all the world to see. For these people losing is painfull beyond normal
understanding. So then winning, is not an option, itís all there is.

landshark1002000
11-30-2002, 03:06 PM
This is a great question.I've been writing about this and wrestling with this very problem for several years now. The answer in my book will run for 300 pages or so. But the simplest description goes like this.
Each player uses two roles to play pool.
At the table we are like a footsoldier. We depend upon our 'basic training' in pool technique to lead us. We manage this part of the game via our shot routine.
But the decision-making, which ball and why, comes from 'the General'. This strategic role oversees the mental game.
The problem for most players is keeping the two roles separate. 'Thinking' ruins the footsoldier and his shot routine. So decisionmaking often leads to the necessity of separation from action. Few players can work without error when joining the two roles at tableside.
So the two issues are: physical skill and decisionmaking. The limits of our physical skills have been well discussed in earlier threads. But each player faces his/her ultimate skill limit every day. And the only way to compensate for our human skill limits is by our decisions.
Another way to see this: If you believe that who wins is the player with the most skill; then your game is limitted by your belief. But the decision to win despite difficulty must be an option. And if so, then strategy can overcome the problem. Strategy encompasses the physical and the mental game. --Sorry for the length of this.

SPetty
12-01-2002, 07:53 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote landshark1002000:</font><hr> Sorry for the length of this. <hr /></blockquote>Hello landshark1002000,

Don't apologize for the length, it's not long enough! This is a really good way of thinking about things. I understand about doing your thinking standing up, but I like the way you've put it - the general and the foot soldier. Great first post - keep 'em coming!

landshark1002000
12-02-2002, 03:38 AM
The irony of your post; the last three points in particular; is very striking to me. They are appropriate in most any competitive or sports endeavor; but resonate perfectly with CHESS. The third line is the most direct.
Pattern play is the mantra of chess tactics. And this tactical point of view dominates your three points. Pattern play is a great skill but it only represents a fractional part of the game because it only operates as an offensive weapon. But a broader view of the game's landscape will also include the opponent's table; his requirements for victory. This larger, more strategic grasp of the table creates opportunity for advantages. And all advantages need not be solely offensive in nature.
The truism in strategy is that all strategy is really indirect. A direct attack on someone who is facing you with shoulders squared and forewarned of your intentions is the most foolish of strategies. But deliver a feint which pulls the opponent off balance first; then you have an advantage.
In pool, as in all competitive arenas, the best offense is a defense so secure it requires the opponent to use risk. And risk is the most powerful means I'm aware of to separate a player from his skill.
A player's skill is a measure of their ability to repeat a performance. But as risk increases, the likelihood of success decreases. This is why we shoot the percentages. To minimize our failures of skill.And so this becomes the ideal of our strategy; to maximize their opportunity for failure.
The outward result we wait for is the win. But the means to that end is inward. What we want to achieve is the invisible, internal breakdown of our opponent's mental game.
Player's can focus on the outward, physical game of balls and pockets. They can stand foresquare to their opponent. They can press the attack; the direct, offensive attack. They can play within the scope of their belief in their skill as the measure of their game. They can play pool as if it were just an arm-wrestling match; just a matter of strength and will.
But these are all just the trappings of "footsoldier pool". Because if skill is the dominant reason for winning; then it's also the reason why their mental game fails. If the opponent has more skill then the percentages favor the opponent. And this should also hold true if the opponent has the same amount of skill as we do but also has more experience. Or they have greater willpower or their girlfriend is prettier or they drive a nicer car or....
All these comparisons are the daily fare at every tournament or competition you go to. And they all lead to the same result; mental game weakness.
The earlier point about pattern play, the tactics of chess and pool, is that they are a direct means to an end of the game... the win. But if the player's skill falters, it often leads to a loss. Winning is all about using means to gain an end. The shortest distance between two points may be a straight line. But the shortest way to a win is often the long way around. --Ted from Phoenix

silverbullet
12-02-2002, 06:33 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote socrates:</font><hr> I recently had a question posed to me by a student that led to an interesting discussion and some reflection on a possible appropriate answer. I hope to put some thoughts together in an article regarding this topic. Part of my answer includes addressing why professionals or players who consistently win more games from us are able to do so. My anlaysis identified three broad categories.

1. Execution - Simply put, they can do things that we can not.

2. Consistency - Given that the same shot is within both ours and our opponents skill levels they will be sucessful with their efforts more consistently than we will.

3. Knowlege and thinking power. Better players will either see or play the correct pattern more times than we will.

It appears to me that all three are interdependent on each other. That is, an opponent may play the better pattern because of their knowledge, because of their ability to think through the entire rack, because they will stay in line more consistently than us or because there is a shot in the pattern that they can execute and we can not.

My question to the CCB board is - Are there any additional BROAD categories that should be identified as to reasons better players or professionals will consistently win more games from a weaker opponent?

Looking forward to your thoughts and comments. <hr /></blockquote>

given that 2 players have equivalent fundamentals, equivalent proficiency at pool, and discounting luck factors such as cruddy racks and lucky rolls , the winning player will have super focus, confidence, relaxation and a killer instinct. just my humble opinion as these are the mental aspects i am striving to develop in my game.

also i think the relaxation is due in part to confidence and part to focus.

Laura

silverbullet
12-02-2002, 06:42 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Tom_In_Cincy:</font><hr> I think you left out "Heart" The aspect of the great pool players desire to win. Some may call it "The Killer Instinct" or "Blind Determination"

I think it has to do a lot with the love of the game and the stubborness it takes to be the "Very Best" you can.

Once Willie Mosconi was interviewed and asked how did he become a World Champion? His reply was, "I practiced every day for 8 hours for the last 30 years"

Yes.. it takes a lot of "heart" IMO.. <hr /></blockquote>

i said heart and so did another female player. i learned the word first spoken of chosing which siberian will be the team leader. this driver said it isnt the biggest or the most aggressive,it is the one with heart. that drive that we cannot define, that indominable spirit, undefeatable because he or she gets back up no matter how many times she falls, and still believes that one way she will win, even in the bleakest hour, that it wont always be this way,I will prevail. this the the thinking that makes a champion or at least the person becomes 100% OF ALL THEY CAN BE.

Laura

John G
12-02-2002, 05:15 PM
You wouldn't go to a gun fight armed with a knife and neither would an A player play a AAA and expect to win even up. So assuming all skills are equal it always boils down to one thing, killer instinct. Not a very popular thing to admit about yourself, that you can be vicious and mean but to win at any thing consistantly one must have the instinct to go for the juggler vein when ones opponnent is exposed. To see your foe bleeding and to open yet another wound, not in a merciful sense to hasten their demise but, to feed on their pain, to increase their pain. To be a consistant winner it's not enough to have heart you must enjoy the kill. It's called killer instinct. Anybody that was around Mosconni for more then 10 min knew he was ruled by it. All great winners have it, many just hide it well. So I say again winning is not optional. If your serious, it's all there is, losing should cut you to the very quick of your soul. Now if a person just wants to have fun and enjoy friendly competition then by all means do so but don't delude yourself into believing you're putting heart and soul into something and there won't be, and shouldn't be, a price paid with the outcome. We've done a great diservice telling people it's OK "It's just a game", "it doesn't matter who wins". It always matters who wins. It's more then that. This attitude carries over into everyday life. Mosconni said what he hated most was losing, He was extremely passionate about this. I'm not saying this is for everyone, not that everyone wouldn't like to win. But one doesnt have a right to win if one isn't willing Give 100% of ones self. We can't all be warriors and thats good. There's a need for kind people too. But playing warrior with a warrior will almost always end the same. You lose.

HOWARD
12-03-2002, 03:16 PM
Socrates,

I believe you left out the one important one. That is fitness. No you do not have to run or jump etc to play pool. What is required the stamina to hold the concentration
to hold the positive attitude, to not have a mental let down because you miss something easy or done something stupid.

Etc. etc. etc. What was called at one time intestinal fortitude now called guts.

It is all base on the length of ones strength inside and that is fitness.

Howard

smfsrca
12-03-2002, 04:30 PM
There are many adjectives that apply to the stuff of champions. Some of those have been quoted in this thread. Most of them are indeed requirements for competitive success. Here is a more complete list quoted from the book "Toughness Training for Sports" by sports psychologist, James Loehr.

Even-tempered
Resilient
Competitive
Self-reliant
Committed
Aggressive
Confident
Patient
Disciplined
Optomistic
Responsible
Realistic
Challenged
Coachable
Focused
Mature
Motivated
Emotionally flexible
Good at problem solving
Good at team playing
Willing to take risks
Skilled at acting
Strong in body language
Relaxed
Energetic
Physically fit

How do you fare at these?

socrates
12-03-2002, 04:36 PM
Thanks for mentioning James Loehr's book. It is excellent -and a great read for anyone competing or facing pressure situations.

And thanks again to everyone for their input.

silverbullet
12-03-2002, 04:47 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote John G:</font><hr> You wouldn't go to a gun fight armed with a knife and neither would an A player play a AAA and expect to win even up. So assuming all skills are equal it always boils down to one thing, killer instinct. Not a very popular thing to admit about yourself, that you can be vicious and mean but to win at any thing consistantly one must have the instinct to go for the juggler vein when ones opponnent is exposed. <hr /></blockquote>

If you read my first post, you will see I listed killer instinct. Heart is critical too, but it is a totally different thing.

Laura

John G
12-03-2002, 09:55 PM
Your dead on with fitness. What was it someone said?
Fatigue makes cowards of us all! Aint that the truth.