Can a person train to perform a task better while intoxicated?

Let’s frame this in a very understandable way:

We will say someone that is a heavy drinker goes to a bar where there is a pool table and a pinball machine. That person plays those games, which require skill, reflexes and brain power, only while they are intoxicated. Can it get to the point where they can perform those skills better while they are intoxicated than when they are sober? In other words, if you take them to the same games while they are stone sober will their performance be sub-standard to what they can do while intoxicated? Will their physiology adapt itself to perform tasks better under the intoxicated state?

Wasn’t this an episode of WKRP In Cincinnati? Where they tested alcohol and Johnny Fever got better the reflex test instead of worse.

The only circumstance I could imagine would be a case where someone normally plays pool drunk and gets so nervous playing pool sober that he screws himself up.

But otherwise… there just aren’t any advantageous effects of intoxication. Your capabilities are being hindered even at very small doses. Anything you could do while compensating for your drunkenness you could do better while sober.

There are stories that the great pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander was able to overcome personal problems and a seizure disorder through heavy drinking and pitch better than he could have without booze, though more sober evidence suggests that he performed well in spite of his alcoholism (his most remembered achievement, shutting down the Yankees in a relief appearance in the 1927 World Series, came when he was hung over after celebrating a victory in a game the previous day).

I can vouch for the fact that a person can play superb pinball under the influence of L.S.D. (although the player was quite good when not tripping). It is doubtful that this involved self-training, unless it was a matter of convincing oneself while under the influence that the pinball machine was actually the Hut of Baba Yaga and the player a Russian folk hero.

Well, as I recall from my Drugs and the Brain class, memory is definitely tied up to your state when you learned something - that is, if you studied in a specific room, you’re more likely to recall what you learned if you are tested in the same room. I have no idea if that kind of effect works for muscle memory, or if it would be enough to outweigh the less salubrious effects of booze, but that might be a possible mechanism.

Being loosened up is a big advantage. Nothing affects supposed “skill” than your level of calm and assurance. Even if you’re not specifically nervous, simply thinking about your muscle movement can mess you up. And nothing cures thinking like…

Practicing something while drunk will improve one’s ability to do that thing while drunk. Having practiced it sober doesn’t help much, if at all, one’s ability to do it drunk – it’s like doing it drunk is a new and different skill from doing it sober. As for doing it better drunk than sober, probably not. Certainly not if one has practiced it sober.

There are some things where performance can be better after one or two drinks. The relaxation can reduce nervousness or uptightness. Get drunk enough, though, and the sloppiness outweighs the benefits of relaxation.

Back in the early 1990s I worked for a Department of Energy Lab. One of the things we did was make measurement instruments for R&D. Some of these instruments required glass vacuum tubes. The lab employed three, full-time glassblowers to make the tubes. These were not your ordinary glassblowers… they made very precise instruments and took their craft very seriously.

Our top glass blower was apparently one of the best in the country. I didn’t know him personally, but quite a few people told me that he drank a six pack of beer every morning before work. According to them, the alcohol steadied his hands, which aided his ability to make very high precision glass tubes.

I recall reading some years ago that it does work for regular memory; things studied while drunk are more easily recalled while drunk.

If it isn’t true, then various Jackie Chan movies have been lying to me.

I don’t think that was because he was drunk. In fact, it was implied that since he’d been a very heavy drinker in his youth, the alcohol he drank during the test had very little effect on him, good or bad, and he was getting faster just because he was getting used to how the test machine worked.
Venus, on the other hand, was wasted.

I wonder if this guy suffered from a form of essential tremor.

The snooker player Bill Werbeniuk claimed to have this condition, to counteract which he drank vast quantities of lager before and during matches - maybe 20 to 30 pints per day. Werbeniuk was ranked #8 in the world in 1984, so he was no dummy at the game. Mind you, the link opines that ET is inhibited by ‘a glass or two’ of an alcoholic drink. It doesn’t recommend Werbeniuk-like solutions to the problem.

That’ll be state-dependent memory/learning - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State-dependent_learning .

I can state from personal experience that this is possible. I used to hang out at a bar and get drunk and play pool. I actually got pretty good-to the point that I could play fairly well when sober too, but I was much better when drunk.

Now, ten years later, I suck at pool when sober, but can still play fairly well when drunk.

And I am sure that it was not just me thinking that I played better drunk. I could hold on to the table (beat all challengers) for hours when drunk-never could do that sober.

I write better inebriated and relaxed, but only have a few during a show, cause’ i’ll forget what i’m doing.

I have always felt that if you’re a regular Joe/Janet with a job, friends, family, etc, you absolutely can not play pool or trivia when you’re sober.

However, you can’t play drunk either.

I’m a trivia fanatic and whenever I play, I need a shot and a beer to start thinking after I just left mundane job, traffic, etc.