Welcome to PoolSynergy, a monthly collection of some of the best writing in pool. This month our host Melinda asked each of us pool bloggers to recommend one book and one DVD for the holiday season. I found it very difficult to pick just one book, so I’ll be presenting two. Also, I’ll mention a DVD that has given me the inspiration to keep going even when I had bad days and felt like giving up. Ok, drum roll please…here we go!
Book Recommendation # 1: The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle. Without a doubt, this book has made the biggest contribution to my development as a pool player…and the book has nothing to do with pool. In fact, it never even mentions pool. However, if you are serious about improving your game, I highly recommend you buy and read it. You see, a few years ago I decided to ‘retire’ from pool…I was very frustrated with my lack progress as an APA level 6 player. No matter how much I read, studied, and practiced the game, I just couldn’t break through to a higher level of play. I gave up. I had fallen for two misconceptions: (1) “I’m an old geezer and I’m over the hill. In order to get really good at pool, you have to be a child prodigy…right?” WRONG! (2) “Playing at a very high level requires that you spend at least 5-10 hours a day at the practice table, right?” WRONG! These are just a couple misconceptions addressed by the book. In the book, Daniel reviews some of the latest research into the fundamental characteristics that all world class performers share regardless of their chosen specialty: tennis player, soccer player, singer, actor, violinist, pianist, chess master…it doesn’t matter what field these people operate in…all share many of the same traits. The book also reviews the latest discoveries in neurological science that describe the physiological and neurological basis for talent development. Talent is actually a biological process, i.e. anyone can develop world class talent…you just have to go about it in the right way and approach it intelligently. Now you can learn their secrets. This book is a must read!
Book Recommendation # 2 – The Pro Book by Bob Henning. This is the best pool book I’ve ever read. It introduced me to the concept of ‘reference shots.’ Here’s Bob’s approach: Learn to execute the basic shots in this book extremely well. There are about 16 basic shots, and some variations of these, which bring the grand total to around 45 shots. During actual game play these shots come up quite often, but more importantly, almost every other shot that you encounter will be a simple variation of one of these reference shots. When I bought the book earlier this year, I spent about 1.5 to 2.0 hours every day for two months on the standard position routes and drilled and drilled and drilled on them until I ‘owned’ them. I also incorporated several concepts from The Talent Code into my practice routine…and the results were unbelievable! My ball pocketing, position play, and route planning abilities skyrocketed. Whereas I once operated at an APA skill level of 6, in just a few months I was able to progress to being one of the top skill level 7 players in APA system that I play in. Yes, I still occasionally have a bad day, but those days have become more and more infrequent. I’ve also taken the concept of ‘reference shots’ and applied it to many different aspects of the game. If you can only buy one pool book, this is the one I recommend.
DVD Recommendation – I don’t have very many pool DVDs. I’ve watched and enjoyed some TAR matches, but I think the most inspirational DVD that I’ve seen was the 2009 Predator World 14.1 Championship match between Mika Immonen and Thorsten Hohmann. Why? Straight pool is, in my humble opinion, the ultimate test of a player’s skill. It requires great ball pocketing, position play, route management, cluster breaking, and safety skills. It’s really exciting to watch a player run ball after ball, rack after rack. I’m not sure what it is, but there’s just something about the 14.1 break shot and the transition from rack to rack that amazes me. It’s like the players can control something that inherently seems completely random. Ahhhhh…real magic!
Well, that’s all for my recommendations. If you want to read about the books and DVDs recommended by other PoolSynergy authors, visit Melinda’s blog here.