Book Review 001 By Karl Goddard email@example.com
Title: Frank Callan's Snooker Clinic
Author: Frank Callan and John Dee
Date: 1989 Publisher: Partridge Press Price: £10.95
As this is my first book review for this site, I thought I'd make it a special start by reviewing the book that should be on every players bedside table - Frank Callan's Snooker Clinic , written by snooker's coaching 'guru' Frank Callan. With the likes of Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, Terry Griffiths, Doug Mountjoy and Allison Fisher as previous students, Callan's coaching credentials are second to none, but can he transfer this knowledge effectively to a book? Lets find out ..
After an opening chapter where veteran journalist and BBC commentator Clive Everton covers Frank's background in snooker in which, it turns out, Callan proved himself to be as deft with a cue (a century break maker and ex North-West Amateur Champion) as he is with ironing out players' technical problems, we dive straight into the 'business end' of snooker technique. Quite sensibly the first half of the book is broken down into the fundamental aspects of snooker technique - Grip, Bridge, Sighting, and Stance. Every aspect of technique, with a particular focus on the Grip (which is often only given the "Pick the cue up like you're going to hit someone with it" coverage in most books), is covered in-depth. Callan's easy style of writing makes even complex aspects of technique accessible to both the seasoned league player and the occasional player seeking to gain knowledge about the technical side of the game.
Callan continues onto the more standard topics of snooker tuition like how to play the nap of the table and how to perform screw / stun / top spin shots all standard topics covered well and informatively. An excellent chapter titled 'The Drill' is worth the price of the book on its own. In it Callan covers the key to playing consistently. How many times have you played brilliantly in one frame, then gone into the next frame and couldn't pot a ball? Every player has done this and will continue to do so unless you approach every shot in the same manner or as Callan calls it - 'The Drill'. Here he breaks down The Drill into four stages from shot selection to performing the shot itself. Believe me, this chapter will make you approach your own game with a bit more thought.
Each chapter is accompanied extensively with black and white photographs, illustrating key points that have been covered in the text. This is a welcome inclusion as I feel that a 'certain something' is lost when illustrations on their own are used. What makes the photographs most interesting is that Callan uses professional players like Davis, Reardon and Griffiths to illustrate key points. Using such familiar 'names' allows a faster acceptance of what is being discussed and gives the reader a greater confidence in Callan's ideas by pointing out the similarities between his ideas and these top players' techniques.
Probably the most uplifting part of this book is the case study of Callan's involvement with Doug Mountjoy. Mountjoy's form was suffering greatly. To prevent a further drop in the world rankings he visited Callan to seek assistance. The outcome of his visits to Callan, which is now part of snooker folklore, was a victory in the Tennants UK Championships over Stephen Hendry !!!! It clearly illustrates that having a sound technique is the foundation, on which you can build your own personal game.
What makes this book so interesting is that Callan dispels the previously widely accepted notion that there is 'one' ideal approach to technique. When compared to previous books on snooker technique by the likes of Joe Davis and Jack Karnhem which predominately professed a single way to play, Callan's approach is refreshing and illustrates a thorough awareness of the modern game. He maintains (and rightly so) that technique is unique to the individual, and what works for one, may not work for the other. You can look at the top sixteen ranked snooker players and see sixteen totally different techniques. Finding a style that suits the individual is the key aspect and Callan promotes this notion effectively.
The book is rounded off with a brief chapter about Allison Fisher and the general state of women's snooker. I felt that this chapter was more of an after thought, and the word 'filler' springs to mind when compared to the rest of the book, as it seems a little disjointed and only gets a rather brief look in.
Overall, this book is an excellent read, and I've yet to meet a player who hasn't picked one or two things up from this book after reading it. There's no guarantee that you will turn into the next Stephen Hendry after reading this book, but with a little application and acceptance of its contents you will undoubtedly have a greater appreciation of the technical aspects of snooker.
Thanks, Karl! Look forward to some more insights into your book collection soon.
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