View Full Version : Talent or Technique

03-14-2002, 02:09 PM
A poll:

Given the amount of time you spend at the table, whether practicing or playing, what do you think is the most important factor in your development as a pool player, your core talent for the game or the fact that you learned the techniques required to shoot pool?

Notice that a player can practice a lot and develop his or her skills without actually learning the proper technique of shooting pool. It's often mentioned that the pros do not always do things the right way. Notice also that one can learn the techniques necessary to execute a shot but fail often to make the shot due to a lack of talent. The poll refers to what you can and cannot do and what you believe to be behind it all.

Your comments are most definitely welcome. Thanks.


Chris Cass
03-14-2002, 04:33 PM
Hi Steve,
This word talent always throws me off. To me the game is split up in two main areas. First if your talking natural ability? Yes, you must have good hand eye coordination. Having said this, You have to be able to execute a shot, with a consistant stroke. You have to be able to control your adrenilin, to keep your stroke consistant. Second, and most importantly you have to have knowledge. Knowledge, is the key word here. You have to see a shot, to learn it. Then you must practice the shot to make it consistantly.

So, I break it down to 25% ability and 75% knowledge. Knowledge can far exceed ability, in many players. This makes the 25% ability harder to master. Most players below the "B" status, lack enough practice in their ability to execute. This doesn't make them any less dangerous but, it puts them at a disadvantage. Their lack of knowledge about the execution and the ability to see some shots that are available, hurt them in a game against the "B" and above.

The "B" and above, (below pro status) problems lie mainly in the ability, to consistanly execute a shot. This is where the basics are so important. They must be the master of their own mechanics. They must be so confident in their ability to execute shots, to overcome their adrenilin and to be able to assess any situation and control it. They might not be able to see what areas they need to improve in. That's where the instructor comes in. This person can assess and repair the things the player cannot see. In any level, they're the way to go. Even pros need this assessment from time to time.

This is strickly my opinion.
Best Regards,
C.C.~~sorry so long winded, I felt like talking.LOL

03-14-2002, 04:55 PM
Your missing another option....."A player with a lot of Heart".

03-14-2002, 05:00 PM
Heart helps, sometimes it helps a lot. But, skill, resulting from whatever source, is decisive in most cases, I believe.



03-14-2002, 05:11 PM
Like almost everything in life, What makes a great pool player is many many things...not just one. Everbody has a local player who reaches a great skill level but fails to progress because he will not play an opponent of equal or greater skill.( Hence....Lack of Heart). Some key ingredients in a great pool player are Talent,Technique,Heart, and a true Love of the Game. Just my 2 cents worth.....Drake.

03-14-2002, 05:29 PM

Thanks for taking the time to tell us in detail your thinking on this matter. I, and others I'm sure, appreciate your effort.

I tend to agree with you about the role knowledge plays in shooting pool effectively. I know this because I often feel constrained by my limited knowledge when playing a match. How to get from point A to point B - sometimes I'm at a loss as to how to accomplish what I know is possible. On the other hand, I must constantly fight my tendencies to revert to bad habits during a shot. I'm very much aware that stroke problems limit my ability to learn how to play the game because my stroke has been too inconsistent to develop effective run-out strategies.

I've also noticed that some just 'have it,' with 'IT' being talent, and others do not. A nice, smooth, powerful stroke seems to be a birthright for these individuals while I must constantly fight my natural inclinations. It is the same for others. For those who have 'it,' the task is to refine and to learn, not to battle their bodies with its faulty motor coordination.

I came up with this poll because I wonder how others deal with and have dealt with this problem and what they feel is most important.

Thanks again.


03-14-2002, 06:43 PM
I have to agree with you that when it comes to the stroke some people naturally " have it " . But if you don't the sooner you recognize and start correcting them the fewer bad habits you develop. A real strong reason to take a few lessons early on if you want to learn the game.

03-14-2002, 08:47 PM
Sorry about preaching from the soap box. It just really irritates me to see so many good players that have no heart. Now, Back to your original question. Proper technique is everything. I was fortunate to have a good local player teach me all the basic fundamentals when I was starting. I was lucky. .....T.Drake.

03-15-2002, 01:17 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: jimWNY:</font><hr> I have to agree with you that when it comes to the stroke some people naturally " have it " . But if you don't the sooner you recognize and start correcting them the fewer bad habits you develop. A real strong reason to take a few lessons early on if you want to learn the game.



I've avoided lessons so far for whatever reason (besides the cost). I'm largely settling down to one basic stance-bridge-stroke combination for most shots. It seems to be working out well. It's taken me about eight to nine months of serious practice to arrive at this point. I realize I might have gotten here earlier if I had taken lessons. On the other hand, I feel that I have achieved something by developing on my own. At some point, I may take a lesson or two to fine-tune things or to solve a problem I've encountered. I'm certainly not a master shot-maker! All help is welcomed here. Still, I'd rather work with a given technique in which I have confidence than to have an instructor build a stance, a bridge and stroke from scratch. Others may feel differently, of course. I do have friends who take about one lesson per week. They are doing well also.



03-15-2002, 01:51 PM
If your going to train yourself and given the information freely available nowdays I would think one could become and excellent player assuming your disciplined in the correct fundamentals. What are the correct fundamentals? Hey, your on line do a Goggle search /ccboard/images/icons/smile.gif

03-15-2002, 02:23 PM

Well, I mostly rely upon P. Capelle as a tutor once removed. I also read forums like the CCB! Books and anecdotes seem to have been sufficient so far.

Still, I've thought about dragging a camcorder to practice; but the thing is large, obvious (it needs a tripod) and I live in NYC and travel by train! I agree that self-instruction is possible given the resources available today. On the other hand, it's difficult to observe oneself as one shoots. I have enough trouble getting it right without also bending over backwards to see if I'm properly aligned! It's not only me: Even Tiger Woods has a swing coach, or so I've heard. It helps to have someone put one into whack when one gets out of it!



03-15-2002, 03:22 PM
I don't know what your play and/or practice situation is but if you are frequenting the same ph for these months I'll bet you've been noticed by the operators as a serious young player and if you boldly and honestly approach these people and ask for help; perhaps you could just pay the table time. I'll bet you would be pleasantly suprised how helpful they maybe. Every pool hall has pool lovers more than willing to help the young but serious new blood.
Your right about having someone look you over to tell you how your set up. It's as true for pool as it is in golf. Once you get the fundamentals rock solid in pool you can move on the great part of pool 'the mental game'. I wish you the best in you journey. Do ask for help though. You'll find a mentor that you'll remember for life.

03-15-2002, 04:55 PM
Perhaps if I were still young! It's $40.00/Hour otherwise...



03-15-2002, 05:00 PM
HOLLY MACKEREL @ $40p/hour I'd have to quit the game.

03-18-2002, 09:53 AM
Spend the $40. It's money well spent.

Talk to JJ at Amsterdam Billiards/Eastside or Chris @ Amsterdam Billiards/Westside

Both clubs also offer clinics periodically, for something like $12. I think one is coming up very soon on fundamentals-

call 'em at 212-570-4545 (east) or 212-496-8180 (west)


03-18-2002, 11:39 AM
all the good players i know have good technique

03-18-2002, 11:58 AM
I believe talent is a prerequisite to becoming a professional-level player. But I also believe that knowledge is a key to the development of all other players' games.

It's noteworthy, in my opinion, that "knowledge" is a pretty misunderstood concept. Most players that believe they know what they're doing really don't. I've seen strong players (though not pro-level) play the most wacked-out shots, shots that could not possibly work. And I've done it myself, where other players must be looking at what I've done, shaking their heads in disbelief as to how I thought *that* could possibly work.

The most important thing we non-pros can do, in my opinion, is understand that we have a lot to learn. While knowledge alone won't make us win the US Open, it will improve our games dramatically. Most mistakes we make cannot be attributed to a talent issue; rather, why did we have that long shot to begin with?

Just my opinion,
Steve Lipsky

03-18-2002, 01:05 PM
I don't know about anyone else, but personally I could use better technique. Better technique has improved my game considerably. Having a higher level player evaluate my play and offering suggestions was a big help. I'm a decent shot maker but still lack technique to execute shape consistantly for my next shot. I often do well, but ocassionally find myself in a position where I don't have a clue how to pocket my ball and leave the cue ball where I have a chance at making the next shot. I have at times shot and afterwards figured out that I shot exactly the opposite english that I should have used. To me, this is the difference between me and the players that consistantly beat me. Shot making ability comes with practice, position comes with knowledge and practice. I love nine ball, and it amazes me sometimes to watch some of my friends position the ball for thier next shot. I can look at a shot and think that there's no way they can leave themselves for the next shot, and yet they do. They have a better understanding of the technique required. I'm guilty of playing too much and not practicing enough. There are no muligans in a game, but in pratice you can set a shot up again and do it over.

03-18-2002, 06:17 PM
Good eveibg:

Talent, with-out technique and professional coaching, will never be fully developed.

Dr. D.

03-18-2002, 06:44 PM
Well, having lost two straight matches because of brain-dead sellouts, I agree. Sometimes I wonder where my head is. It's so easy to know with hindsight what to do, but knowing during the match....

Thanks for the reply

Steve Z

03-18-2002, 06:48 PM
I find that, developing the touch, knowledge and the consistent stroke required by strong position play is the true challenge in pool. This is especially true given the time required to develop these capacities. Patience, I tell myself!



03-18-2002, 08:23 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Doctor_D:</font><hr> Good eveibg:

Talent, with-out technique and professional coaching, will never be fully developed.

Dr. D.

Hmmm, 'talent without technique will never be fully developed.' This claim appears to me to be true, and even uncontroversial. After all, talent may be defined as the capacity to develop or acquire right technique. Thus, the greater the talent, the greater the likelihood the talented individual will do things right.

However, the claim, 'talent without professional coaching will never be fully developed,' is a bit ambiguous and even open to dispute. There have been many great players who never received professional coaching. Moreover, they achieved their greatness despite this lack. Efren Reyes comes to mind very quickly in this regard, for he is a great player (perhaps the greatest) but also a player who has never had a professional coach, or so it is said. Who is to say that he (or another like him) would have attained even greater accomplishments if he had had a professional coach? What metric would one use in his case? More tournaments won. Greater efficiency when rolling over hapless opponents. More gambling windfalls!

I suspect the value of professional coaching diminishes in proportion to the talent of the player in question. The super talented can go on their merry way -- to greatness, if that's what they want. The rest of us have to make due with what we have and can get.

Yet, it remains the case that spending great quantities of time in the woodshed is a prerequisite for everyone!



03-18-2002, 10:47 PM
there are types knowledge applicable to different levels of player. you mentioned one. strong players who play,,,,well,,,,,less than smart.

there is also knowledge based on a player's ability to execute. ie,,,,one can only "see" what is within his ability to do. i can only play a given shot in one or two ways,,,therefore my perception of the game is limited to what i know i can do. so sometimes there is no choice in how we play, except maybe the choice of practising to shoot better, expanding our shot-making knowledge, and hopefully our strategy game.....arn

03-19-2002, 02:58 AM
talent is definitely required in order to play at the highest level. i believe you need to have the talent to be a top pro. for the rest of the players, developing your technique should give you skills to play a respectable game of pool

03-19-2002, 03:02 AM
I'm just wondering how everyone in this thread is defining "technique"? Is it simply a fundamentals issue?

- Steve

03-19-2002, 04:36 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: StephenZ:</font><hr>...It's often mentioned that the pros do not always do things the right way...<hr></blockquote><font color=red>To what extent would you speculate that bad technique has hampered the game of certain talented pros? Could they have accomplished even more had they developed better fundamentals early in their playing days? Allen Hopkins comes to my mind as a pretty successful player with a strange stroke.</font color=red>

03-19-2002, 05:51 AM
If your talking serious play in front of a milllion people watching, I'd say-NO RATTLING!ha ha ha-but basically, being able to acess your shot, commit to it and THEN EXECUTE-pocket the damn balls!:)

03-19-2002, 09:07 AM
It's difficult if not impossible to say with any assurance of accuracy that a professional has been hindered in his or her development by owning bad technique. As a group, they pocket the balls very well and have achieved real command over the cue ball. Whatever technical deficiencies they have may be largely irrelevant given their talent. Notice that no one really dominates men's pool these days.

In another post, I mentioned Efren Reyes as a good example of a player who does things in a non-standard way. He certainly has a very long bridge, doesn't he? It is also said that sometimes he releases his cue during his stroke. In other words, he is literally throwing the cue at the cue ball. I've done this. It seems to generate greater amounts of cue ball spin than simply stroking through the cue ball while keeping one's hand on the stick. (I've no explanation for why this works.) I happened upon this non-standard technique when experimenting with my grip. Speaking of grips, Bustamante seems to hold the cue with only his thumb and forefinger. Clearly, this grip 'works' for him but is also a bit off the beaten track. I wonder how players, like Alan Hopkins, with short strokes, keep themselves from poking at the ball. Friends who have short strokes do in fact have this trouble. The pros likely have the talent and the practice time required to keep themselves in stroke, more or less. Short strokes and long strokes may not be much of a problem for such players. It always works out for them. The rest of us must make do. I've never seen Nick Varner play (I guess I need to rent a tape) but I've read somewhere or another that his stroke is a bit odd. His stroke hasn't kept him out of the Hall of Fame, though. In fact, it put him in the 'place'!

When thinking about the difference between talent and technique and the resources the pros have at their disposal, I tend to recall something Frank Callan, the snooker coach, had to say about Steve Davis:

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote:</font><hr> Steve Davis in the early 80's, developed a good straight cue action. He held his cue with his wrist slightly bent to the right; which took the grip more into the fingers. He continued playing like that until he had won two, possibly three, world championships.

Then Steve actually straightened his hand and everything was in a straight line - wrist, forearm, elbow.

This just proved that while Steve's wrist was cocked slightly to the right, he was still able to send the cue through on a straight line. I have often been asked why Steve changed his grip if it was good enough to make him world champion. It was because, as he learnt so much about the game, he realized that if he was to become the perfect model and absolutely in line with his cue action, the one thing wrong - if you can call it that - was his wrist being slightly cocked outwards.

Steve has so much knowledge and talent that he was able to adapt without any trouble. To us lesser mortals this would have been a problem, but not to him. Everything fell into place and it was easy for him to change. <hr></blockquote>



03-19-2002, 09:14 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: CarolNYC:</font><hr> ...but basically, being able to acess your shot, commit to it and THEN EXECUTE-pocket the damn balls!:)
Carol <hr></blockquote>

Yep, it was either Willie Mays or Roberto Clemente who said this about baseball:

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote:</font><hr> They pitch the ball, I hit it. They hit the ball, I catch it. <hr></blockquote>

Baseball is not hard game at all! Pool too!



03-19-2002, 10:42 AM
To me, technique would include basics such as stance, stroke, bridge, etc., but also include position play. Knowing where to stroke the cueball and at what speed is technique. The execution is talent. The technique would do you no good, if you didn't have the talent to execute it. To sum it up, although undoubtedly some folks are better coordinated, a certain amount of talent can be developed through practice. Technique is primarily gained through knowledge, but can be learned during trail and error practice as well. Talent is developed, technique is learned.

03-22-2002, 06:19 PM
In the spirit of answering the original question, I'd define "technique" as the sum total of those things that can be "learned", and "talent" as the things that you are "born with" (ie potential). And I agree with anonymous's reply - anyone can study and practice enough to play a fine game of pool, maybe even lower- to mid-pro level. But only those with a generous dose of that inborn potential will be able to reach the top levels, no matter how hard they work.

It's a cruel fact, but I've come to terms with it and measure my improvement against last year's play.


<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Steve_Lipsky:</font><hr> I'm just wondering how everyone in this thread is defining "technique"? Is it simply a fundamentals issue?

- Steve <hr></blockquote>

03-22-2002, 06:40 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: SpiderMan:</font><hr> In the spirit of answering the original question, I'd define "technique" as the sum total of those things that can be "learned", and "talent" as the things that you are "born with" (ie potential)...

SpiderMan <hr></blockquote>

So, would you say that talent produces good (or right) technique when an individual practices? This would mean that the talented individual would have the ability to learn how to play. This statement is the same thing as saying that they can acquire the right technique because they are talented.

Thanks for replying.

Steve Z

03-22-2002, 06:49 PM
Wondering when you would show up.. welcome back