Let’s Talk About Sex
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.
I 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.
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
Emotionally, 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?
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’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!
These 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.