View Full Version : Been BOOK Shopping, some thoughts

11-22-2002, 06:08 PM
The overwhelming recommendation of Pool books is Phil Capelle's Play your Best Pool and Robert Byrne's New Standard of Pool book

Last week i ordered both along with Byrne's advanced book from Amazon, got them in 3 days! (i'm in Australia)

Well i haven't finished reading them thoroughly yet but here are my first impressions

Byrne's book includes a wealth of information and each component is explained well enough but i thought the overall structure of the book could have been improved and made clearer. E.g. the page on what constitutes a soft, medium and hard stroke is hidden amongst other pages with various shots.

Phil's book i think is better structured.

One big thing i noticed was the appauling coverage of fundamentals ! Now both of these books have been called the Bible of Pool etc. If i had never picked up a cuestick before, i doubt i could learn to hit the ball well from these books alone. Compare this to most Snooker books including the excellent Matchroom Snooker and Stephen Hendry's Snooker Masterclass which have like 1/3 of the book coverage the basics (stance, grip, stroke etc etc) in mega detail. This does reflect the real world situation. All top Snooker players more or less have the same excellent technique. There is a lot lot more variance in the techniques of the top Pool players.

These books are totally kick ar*se for me, an intermediate player, there is a wealth of information which will prove invaluable for me. FOr an absolute beginner however, you would need to get some lessons first before picking up these books.

11-22-2002, 06:26 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote bigbro6060:</font><hr>One big thing i noticed was the appauling coverage of fundamentals !<hr /></blockquote>
Your right about this. As important as fundamentals are it is appalling. I'm tired of the so called pool book writing experts copping out with their 'this is sort of right but you have to find your own style' approach. The snooker writers have no problem saying what is the 'right' way, even if they don't agree.

11-22-2002, 06:45 PM
"One big thing i noticed was the appauling coverage of fundamentals !"

I think the general sentiment among authors of pool instructors is that the fundamentals, though an important part of the game, cannot be taught adequately from a book. And I agree that it's a hands-on kind of thing. Yes, beginners should get an instructor for such things or should try out the exercises Capelle and Byrne list as helpful for developing a good stroke. Reading 100 pages about stance, bridge, and stroke probably won't do a great deal more than reading 20 pages about it, imo.

The real difference between Snooker and Pool players' fundamental is not so much a result of the instructional materials as the culture itself. Pool players across the skill spectrum are content to stand however they feel comfortable or do whatever gives them the best results. The problem here is that comfortable doesn't necessarily mean better and the results are often the best results from the player's perspective (i.e. short-term).

However, I do agree with you that if Capelle, Byrne, and others placed more emphasis on fundamentals the pool culture would change their views.

11-22-2002, 06:54 PM
Other good books..

"How would you play this" by George Fels (or any book by Mr. Fels)

"Straight Pool Bible" "Babes" Crainfield

"The Inner Game of Tennis" and "Golf is not a Game of Perfect"

12-02-2002, 03:49 PM
Your post is on the money.
I think most writers avoid the idea of an absolute and final description of fundamentals because the most gifted champions of the last century used such widely varying techniques; many were self-invented. No one would reasonably argue that their "fundamentals" were wrong because these techniques won championships. But you can't teach idiosyncracy either. So, in my opinion, they worry over the "Master" who might prove them wrong and so the baby goes out with the bath water.
If the principles are taught then the fundamentals will be valid. The problem for writers and "fundamentalists" is to distinguish between the art of the genius and the craft of the game. The everyday, average soul is in little danger of becoming a curiosity-driven pool technique explorer. So the fundamentals for everyman need only begin with the essential principles of balance, symetry and style. The practice of pool derives from these three. Every lessonbook which delivers these principles through fundamental technique is sound. Most mortals will not go beyond these boundaries in search of more. This is the fundamental distinction between the rest of us and the great champions of the past. --I'm out of time.
--Ted from Phoenix

12-03-2002, 01:37 AM
We were talking at work about this fundamentals problem. And the question came up; is pool an Art or a Science? And if it's one or the other, where does Craft (technique) fit in?
I'll try to summarize the conversation.
A craft (like basket weaving or knitting) uses a simple technique to create a series of segments that join together to form a basket or a sweater. This final product is an exact reproduction of the original. The purpose of craft is to exactly reproduce this original model.
The Arts (like painting or sculpture) depend upon Craft; but they use it to create a unique, original model.
The Sciences (like Astronomy or Biology) depend upon Craft to repeat a series of steps. This technique (the scientific method) is the repeatable experiment which verifies the scientific "truth".
Pool has some repeatable elements (like the fundamentals) where Craft is required. But no one has ever repeated an entire game of pool from beginning to end in exactly the same way. Ever. This unrepeatable quality of pool means it is not a Science.
Therefore, pool is an Art. It uses Craft to produce a unique model. But no one has sufficient skills to exactly reproduce the original game.
So we can describe the games' craft (technique) as best we can but the games' Art remains elusive. Another way of putting it is that technique easily explains a paint by numbers painting (Craft). --It's no more than the sum of it's simple patterns of color. But the Mona Lisa (Art) is more than the sum of it's parts. And much about the painting remains elusive and mysterious.
In fairness to those writers struggling (or waffling) about correct pool technique; here's a pool example.
Let's compare the technique of two pros. Bustamante and Strickland. Their fundamentals are not very similar at all.
Bustamante's technique is full of personality. He's wristy and flexible. His stroke is elongated. His play is emotional. His body is frequently in motion during the shot. His style is reminiscent of a bullfighter in action.
Any of that make you think of Earl Strickland? Me either.
Strickland's technique is based on the formal shot routine. He's more mechanically "perfect". His stroke is more compact and controlled. His play has emotion but he wrestles to dominate and hold back his strong feelings. His stance is classically balanced; a tripod of stability. His style is like a dignified rider trying to control a spirited thoroughbred.
The fundamentals are different. Is one player correct? Which fundamentals would you recommend?
Perhaps the fault is in the question. Would you trade your game and your fundamentals for either of theirs? The choice might not hinge on their fundamentals as much as which of these two great modern players you most identify with. And so any of us, given the choice, might decide just based upon which style we like best.
--Ted from Phoenix

12-03-2002, 03:07 PM
Although I think the first half of your argument is incorrect.
This unrepeatable quality of pool means it is not a Science.
<hr /></blockquote>
There is an area of science and mathematics called chaos theory that deals with unrepeatable almost cyclic phenomona such as weather patterns, or the flow of water in a river.
Also, billiards, is never anything other than what it appears to be. Art, on the other hand, is in the eye of the beholder and as such is almost always other than what it appears to be. My conclusion is that pool is by and far more a science than an art.

This in no way diminishes the second half of your statement. The comparison of the styles of 2 great players as a defense to the lack of commitment writers have in choosing and describing the particulars of fundamentals.
If Strickland were a writer, then he would describe what he percieves as his fundamentals as the right way. Similar to what Joe Davis does in his book, "How I Play Snooker". I assume the same would be true for Bustamonte. I have to assume that the reason today's writers don't commit themselves to a particular technique is that they don't have the confidence of a champion that the technique they personally believe in is the right way.

02-07-2003, 03:03 PM
I think being from Austrailia you should read "The Green Felt Jungle" to get an idea of American pool hustling and the dangers associated with it. Excellent book.

02-07-2003, 09:15 PM
I too enjoy Phil's books, and I also like the way it covers the fundamentals of the sport. I think these books would be of little use to beginners because they would have problems with some of the words and intrepreting(sp??) them all at once, after shooting for a few weeks my younger had little problem taking in book after book from my collection.
Will it help with his game? I guess that remains to be seen but it sure helped me out when I was his age.