Poolsynergy Gift Ideas

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! 

The Talent Code

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!

The Pro Book

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.

Predator 14.1 World Championships

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.

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9 responses to “Poolsynergy Gift Ideas

  1. cool recs michael. now i have to come up with some money . . .

  2. Great choices. The debate between nature and nurture – talent vs. practice will never cease but one thing is clear – while there might be a some people who are freakishly gifted most people get to Carnegie Hall through practice.

    I also liked Bob Henning’s work. I am too lazy to work though the Pro Book but if I had of then I be much farther along than I am now.

    • Thanks! Even though I’m a drill nut, I have to admit working through the shots in the book was challenging for me mentally. That’s why I could only to it for an hour or two max at a time. In retrospect, the effort was worth it, but it was not easy.

  3. Nice write up and great choices – do you also have the Advanced Pro Book? If so, what are you thoughts on that one… is it a good follow-on/companion to The Pro Book, or is it something different altogether?

    • Gary: Yes, I also bought the Advanced Pro Book. I recommend it not only because of a review of the fundamentals concepts that are included, but also because it provides very useful “kicking maps” and “banking maps.” Bascially, these are rail based systems for kicking and banking to and from anywhere on the table. I adopted some of what I considered to be the most useful maps, tested them empirically, then memorized them. Now when I do most of my banking and kicking, I’m using the “maps” that I memorized, although I slightly modified them to fit my style.

  4. I recommend Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. Covers much of the same ideas, but only a little about the myelin. You’ll love it, and it’s available in paper. I’ll have to look into the Pro Book. I’ve thought about getting it from your previous mentions of it, and now will probably have to get off my butt and hunt down a copy.

    Best to you and yours for the holidays.

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