Let’s Talk About Sex

menversuswomen

At a recent dinner, the topic was ‘women in pool and why the top women players don’t beat the top men players more often?  Are they not as good?’

Tony started by saying there is nothing PHYSICALLY that gives either sex an advantage.  Pool isn’t about strength, height, or size.  The ‘break’ came up and we all agreed this is the only area women have to work harder than men because men can rely on their strength to break the balls hard while women have to learn a technique to hit them hard.

Tony then went on to say if the elite women competed in men’s tournaments more often, elite players like Alison, Karen, Jasmin, etc WOULD win tournaments competing against the best men.  He believes there is no talent difference between Johnny and Alison, but because women don’t throw themselves into the male circuit more often, he feels this holds the women pros back from reaching that higher level more often.  The stronger competition would only improve their game. It’s not a lack of talent or ability, just application. 

Male and Female BrainsI agree, side by side I don’t think women are at a disadvantage physically when it comes to pool. It’s the inner workings of our brain that really separate us. Given pool’s more a mental sport rather than reactionary, I think it’s women’s thoughts & emotions that give us more obstacles to success.

I was reading some stuff online that separated men & women’s brains.  I’ll go through them below and apply them to pool. 

Please note, I’m aware that this doesn’t apply to ALL men and ALL women.  I’m simply summarizing the generalizations I’ve read & seen & providing a theory about men and women in the sport of pool. 

Now that I’ve provided the sexist disclosure, here goes….

Men are Single Processors, Women are Multitaskers:

Let me give an example … Tony is USELESS when he’s watching TV. He zones in and that’s it. There could be a 4-alarm fire going on and as his shirts singes, Tony would still yell out, “Simon Cowell is such a Scumbag!” If Tony is on the phone, he CANNOT do anything else but talk on that call.   Meanwhile, when I’m on the phone, I often flatiron my hair, watch the news, review emails, cook & I’m probably drying my nails too…..

In business and at home, a woman’s ability to multitask is a great asset, but I feel in pool it’s a hindrance.  Pool demands focus, uninterrupted focus.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed a shot because I’m shooting while thinking about cleaning the apt, finishing up a tax return, the tournament chart, an open table next to me, etc.  This is BAD!  

Men can often focus on one task, one goal, one project, and give it their all.  For some men, it’s their career they focus on, others, it might be their sport of choice, restoring a car, pursuing women, a video game.  This deep concentration is an awesome compliment to pool. 

Are Men faster Analyzers than Women but less Thorough or Are Men just more Impatient & Women more Indecisive?: 

Multiple articles discussed the shopping habits of the sexes, channel surfing, & driving styles to showcase the differences of the sexes.

Women assess, then decide.  Men, do. 

It made me think about women vs. men in a tournament setting.  Is this why women are often the slower matches in a tournament?  Women analyze, and analyze, make a decision, then analyze their decision, weigh the pros and cons, then shoot. 

Men shoot. 

A man’s assessment begins the moment their opponent missed the shot/plays safe & once they’re behind the cue ball, they have often already made their decision on how to play the table ….  Think about the two sex’s shopping style…. 

Women often are review checkers, price comparison shoppers, they weigh their options before a purchase. Men want it right now. 

In pool being a smart pool player is GREAT but over analyzing can also KILL your rhythm game.  Find the groove.  Everyone should play smart pool, but any real pool player will tell you they play their best when they aren’t really thinking about playing good pool, it’s just coming naturally.

Men’s compartmentalize their emotions, Women bask in them:

You just got dumped. 

What does a woman do? She’ talks, she cries, she emotes.  Consumed with emotion, the ability to concentrate on anything can be difficult.  A loss in life or in pool tends to linger more with women then men.  We often sulk.

Men on the other hand repress.  They avoid.  They call up the guys, go to the bars, drink and seek quick fixes/distractions to their pain, and even quick replacements.  The ‘man up’ factor seems to help men get over a loss more quickly, or some may use plotting revenge as a means to feel better, thus finding success that much sooner.  Men are also better at being selfish…no offense.  They don’t focus a lot on their own feelings so sympathy for their opponent’s emotions is even more rare.  

This may sound like a dig at men but it’s not meant to be, men are just better at getting what they want without being distracted by emotions.  Men attack the game of pool with, “What do I have to do to Win?” That’s their goal.  WIN.  They don’t complicate it with thoughts about politics, their opponent’s feeling or personal life, friendships, family complaints or other outside nuisances. 

Their girlfriend says, “I don’t like you playing pool.” And either they leave her at home, bring her to the pool hall to watch, or break up & find a girl that doesn’t mind.

In pool, the ability to be selfishly devoted to your game and being a champion often means blocking out the world and solely focusing on your yourself … well, a lot of us women REALLY struggle to achieve this level of Selfish nirvana.   Women instinctually care for others.  Nurture the family, nurture friends, nurture the world, even worse, nurturing a struggling opponent.  Men generally tap into their cutthroat pool style more quickly than women. Men see winning and that’s it.

“Mercy is a DISEASE.” ~Mika Immonen

Kill the BunnyEmotionally, women are inherently more maternal, loving, sympathetic & considerate. We reach out to people in need. We feel empathy for someone struggling. Women often internalize other’s emotions thus allowing it to alter our own emotions. 

MANY women I know, including myself, have given into the “OH I FEEL BAD FOR MY OPPONENT,” the kill instinct dies, and oops, you lose because you didn’t go for the kill when you had the chance!  This is HORRIBLE for a pool game, and women often struggle to release this demon in their game more than men. 

Women REACT.   MEN ACT.

Desires in Life:

What do you WANT in life?

www.williamfuentes.comAs a kid, think what were your fantasies of adulthood … Men often think of a great job, money, success.  Women fantasize of their wedding, children, a nice home. 

Part of a man’s macho DNA measures success by their career status, money in the bank, ability to support a family, sports/competition of any kind.

Women measure success more through emotional achievements.  Satisfaction at work, happiness in a marriage, children’s accomplishments.  These are emotional goals.  You can’t touch them, you feel them.

The life of a serious pool player gives little room for a family or even financial stability and men are just more comfortable with this sacrifice than women.  They zone in on the goal of becoming champion and don’t surrender for ANYONE.  Women, find life’s priorities a bit harder to score.

Women must choose between the world of pool and ALL the things they fantasized about as a kid & the desires of loved ones around them. If their man doesn’t like them playing pool, a women’s willingness to sacrifice is often more flexible than a man’s. The want to make HIM/THEM happy …women eventually find their loved one’s needs are more important to them than their own needs and wants. 

Society Factor:

Society’s demands on women influence women in pool too. Women have a biological clock that ticks like a BLOWHORN once you’ve reached your ‘goal age for kids".’  In a woman’s 30s, if they want children, they MUST entertain the idea of children and how to balance them in their pool careers much, much earlier than men have too. 

How many of you girls have your mom, dad, grandparents and all saying, “Are you gonna have kids before I die?”  Us 30-somethings have heard it Loud and Clear thank you!  No pressure, sure!

Ally & IThese sex separations are obviously not true for all. They aren’t absolutes.  Obviously this isn’t ALL Men and ALL Women.  In fact, the woman we went to dinner with admitted NOT feeling the emotions I offered up when generalizing the female dynamic.  She is also one of the most successful business women in the world, holding a position in the investment world that is usually dominated by a man so perhaps she’s more of an anomaly for women. 

And I think the current successful women in pool are also examples of anomalies. They break many of the stereotypes of women.  They have more “boy” tendencies and viewpoints.  Many of us women in pool were tomboys growing up.  I played sports with the boys most of my childhood and I was better than a lot of the boys!  

But I feel these MENTAL demands of the game make a woman’s road to success in pool more challenging than a man’s.  And it’s all the more sweeter to succeed in spite of them.  Whether that’s the lion or the lioness in me, I don’t know.

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~ by g2 on March 15, 2012.

8 Responses to “Let’s Talk About Sex”

  1. *Excellent* write-up Gail. And to further your point, how many articles that try to explain the differences between men and women say just the facts and that’s it – were written by men? Here you (a woman) have presented an argument, outlined how it related to the topic, gave examples and analyzed the cause/effect relationships.

    I’m sharing this. 🙂

  2. fine insight Gail……….and I definitely luv the pic with you and Alison………..she’s my fav……………………….

  3. Thanks for a great article Gail. Recently I was reading an interesting scientific article about the differences that take place between baby boys and girls while still in the womb. If I remember correctly, it is either the end of the second trimester or the beginning of the third trimester, a boy fetus’ brain is “washed” in a hormone mix that does not take place with the girl fetus. Studies have shown that this “wash” causes the boy fetus left and right hemisphere’s of the brain to function together differently than girls. Thus when born, a girl’s left and right side of the brain synapsis is more equal and neurons pass back and forth more consistantly. Boy brains are naturally more inclined towards left-brained dominance. This is the more logical, analytical and objective. http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/awc/97-104.pdf

  4. Nicely done, Gail! Oddly enough, just yesterday we posted an article on NYCgrind.com written by Jan Mohlman (a new contributor of ours who is a psychologist and plays at Amsterdam) about whether physiological differences in men and women can effect how well they play pool. Here’s a link for those interested:

    http://dev.nycgrind.com/the-latest/shot-shot-sex-differences-dynamic-spacial-tasks-billiards/

  5. As a woman pool player, I have thought often of this issue, hoping that the days are coming to an end when the best men outperform the best women because I agree that the physical demands of pool really shouldn’t account for any significant difference. I think that partially, the emotional/ psychological differences, some of what you mention are not inherent qualities but rather, how boys and girls are raised. Boys from incredibly young ages are taught not to cry (“there’s no crying in baseball”) but rather to put on the brave face and get back out there. While that may stunt their emotional growth, there’s no question it improves their ability to compete, to dust themselves off and get back in the ring after a blow. But I think you missed out on an issue I’ve noticed between not just men and women, but between countries and cultures and pool. There are so many great pool players from the Phillipines, more than statistically there should be considering their relatively small number in the countries representing the world pool scene. But from what I’ve heard, pool is watched on prime time network television and played by everyone. If the players with natural talent play from a young age and are encouraged, they will end up performing the best. Much like a musician who plays their instrument from a young age, most of the best (men & women) pool players were playing young, growing up in a pool hall. At least in the United States, you rarely see young females playing seriously. A lot of women who do perform well in pool were raised in competitve environments, with sports as one of their primary focuses when younger. I think the part of the brain that prepares emotionally for the drain of competition, the adjusting of one’s attitude under pressure and a champion’s ability to focus on one moment with everything they have when competing is something available equally to both men and women, but our culture encourages it with boys, and almost discourages it with girls. Girls are trained to be nice and think of others, to dance and do gymnastics and ride horses, where boys are expected to crush their opponents in sports, and coached to do so from very young ages. I think the reasons for the current pool scene isn’t how men & women’s minds differ, but the fact that you rarely see young girls playing competitive pool or gambling (at least in the U.S.) and that’s what will raise the level of the game. Most of the women phenomenons coming out of Asian countries were raised in pool rooms and coached from young ages and I believe will be beating men on a regular basis in the future. But as long as pool remains a sport that’s not quite respected as a safe, healthy, socially acceptable environment for young people (particularly young women) in the U.S. I don’t think you’ll see any American women champions competing at the highest levels, which is unfortunate.

  6. General question.

    How bad is it that you ripped your share of the bet?

    I ripped a 20 becausre I was on the 8 & got bumped on my stroke. Scooted the cue & scratched. I lost!!! Patron was to drunk to know what happened. My foe, kept on talking crap. Saying it was good. I felt the like “HELLZ NO!” I got called , by him. I ripped the 20 & said, recover 90%of it & the treasury will redeem you.

    I knew I was wrong for flipping out, but it was not of my fault. I got bumped on my stroke.

    Do you have any advice? I don’t flip out, but I did. I’m like the mayor where I’m at. Which makes me feel bad. I’m a happy go lucky guy!

    Oh & 6/23/12 Will be my 2 yr anniversary playing pool. Thank you & all your friends in ABC for keeping me pumped. Just joined APA just a couple of weeks ago. I love all the players that cross my path. You can learn from them all. Either thier cool or douche bags, still can learn.

    How’s the shoulder?

    Arthur

  7. I just want to say this about pool..men and women…and pretty much all of life. we are products of our environment. Whether we rise above a bad environment or thrive in a good one, either way…if we are in an environment long enuff…we either have to figure out how to swim..or we will sink. Pool is like this. have you ever heard people talk about–dealing with leagues and rankings..”a 3 in ny is much different than a 3 in idaho” thats because of their environment. the caliber of player is much higher in ny—so the bar is set much higher….and people progress much faster. If there was no gender differentiation in pool tours or leagues or pro tours then we would find the bar for everyone raised.. and I say this because I believe players like Allison Fisher, Gerda, Ga Young and Jasmine Ouscian–or however you spell her last name—would elevate their game and be as good or not better than the men which would push the MEN to elevate their game. its all just who you play on a daily basis. When I am living in a city where I am playing great players my game elevates cuz I seek out those very good players to bark at, match up with and play. Now whether they play or not is up to them but I am always going after players because I am always trying to elevate my game as I make a living. Sliding Handicap systems and gender based bigotry has ruined pool along with the people who run this game and own this countries poolroms. It seems to be an epidemic as to the rate at which this game is degenerating at dispite the attempts numerous people seem to make to help it. I have been watching how pool is going and it seems that the same people are just changing masks and still are the same people at heart when it comes to running things. I actually thank GOD there is a WOMEN PRO TOUR because THEY ARE THE PEOPLE WHO GET TELEVISED! lol yeah the quality of play is less than a mens pro event BUT THEY DRESS SEXY, HAVE GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP AND GET THE DAMN AIRTIME THAT POOL NEEDS SO MUCH MORE OF! So in my eyes….thank GOD there is a gender separation…but when it comes to SKILL LEVEL AND PERFORMANCE OF PLAY—THE BEST MEN PLAY AGAINST THE BEST MEN FOR YEARS>>>AND ALL THE TIME–the rest of us either get to play them very few times or are scare shitless to even play them at all—and at the same time—some of those MEN are scared to give up a fair spot so us players comming up trying to get better dont just get stone cold robbed with no way to protect our money! I came up with a saying….”If you want to find a flock of heartless vultures who still live breathe and fly around every day…go to the nearest pool room.” all you find nowadays are babies, cowards, action killers and vultures..(lock artists some might call them). The people I grew up around would run those people out of the poolroom..or worse…beat their ass all the way to the door. they kill pool…they kill business…they kill action…and they kill the people who play for a living… and not all people who play for a living are champions or lock artists. I know a few of them that gamble good and hard…dont try and rob noone…match up fair…and just find ways to win more than the other people. They make a fair and honest living playing pool…through tournaments and gambling. Never dumped, nor robbed the helpless blind. These are the people that elevate the game in poolrooms and give others role models to look up to. when you kill their game—you actually kill pool as a whole. So my point is–although I tend to ramble—-is that its all just the environment they play in every day. If they are playing men who are better than them….they will get better and used to playing men. If they never enter into the MALE ARENA—they will always be held back by their environment. and since they are not playing Allison, Gerda, Ga Young and Jasmine every day…. when they meet them on the table…theyll fall just as dead as if they met Tony Robles, or Mika, or Johnny. because they will be totally unfamiliar with not only the territory…but with their inability to produce top level pool that they have never either witnessed…or played against enuff of so that they may duplicate those performances. I ahve always said if I ever got the chance to play those pros every day it wouldnt be long before Id start beating them… women should feel the same way about the men.. except they have the opportunities I dont..they just dont choose to take them…while I fight every day for them.
    -Buffalo

  8. I’m so messed up, but I don’t care. I started, to not start. I was scared…now I don’t care! Let’s get it on! 1st season to run, I’m running. Who cares, who I play! I just know I play! All comers lets play!!!

    Arthur
    Fort Lee, NJ

    P.S. Gail, I love you & your game. I learn the game, U & all keep me tuned!

    Gail, Tony, Jen, Emily!

    .

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