Play Your Best 9 & 10 Ball
Phil Capelle is basically the godfather of written instructional material on the game of billiards. He has authored more instructional books on the sport than anyone and is very highly regarded in the industry, considered the #1 instructional author . He is extremely knowledgeable and has been writing on the subject of pool for over a decade. He has authored many books including play your best pool, break shot patterns, Capelle on 9-ball, Capelle’s practicing pool, play your best 8 ball, play your best straight pool and a mind for pool (and yes, I own them all).
At the time of this writing, this book, Play your Best 9 & 10 Ball is his latest work. As the title suggests, it is focused on the game of 9 and 10 ball. Combining both games into a single instructional book makes a lot of sense, given the large similarities between the two games. This provides additional value over his prior “Capelle on 9-ball” book, which only covers the one game.
There is a lot of content in this book and it is quite a large tome, at a dense packed, 514 pages of material with a very good mix of written content as well as illustrations. The book is entirely black & white, so his illustrations don’t pop as much as some of the other instructional books done in color. He covers an enormous amount of content, including shot making, the break, position play, pattern play, cluster management, reading the table, pushing out, safety play, Kicking, strategy, and practice play. He also goes over the competitive aspects of 9 and 10 ball. One really cool thing he does in this book is he uses illustrated examples from pro matches to reinforce his points. I found this to be a differentiating factor that I have not found in other instructional books and it made the book interesting by bringing in these practical examples from these matches. While the focus of the book is 9 & 10 ball, it would be a challenge to find another book that covers as many aspects of the game as this book does.
If you haven’t read Phil’s other books, I should point out that Phil’s writing style can come across as complex and might be intimidating and tough to follow for the beginner. Here is an example of a page that illustrates the point I am making.
Phil has a deep understanding of the technical aspects of pool and that shows in his style of writing and instructing. Expect to see a lot of technical articulation in his exhibits and explanations.For example, it is not uncommon to see language in his instruction such as “13 degree cut” to describe the way one should contact the object ball. He will also contrast multiple paths and options in a single concept / explanation, which in this style of writing, can further add to the complexity of the reader absorbing the material. Having said that, for the advanced player who has an understanding of the technical aspects of pool, this depth and way of precisely describing the techniques is extremely valuable as it is so precise. It sometimes reminds me of reading instructional books on chess where the instructor will describe the chess board in various notations and various illustrations in “chess speak”. To the beginner, it is a bit difficult to get through, often requiring re-reading the topic several times vs. the advanced chess player understands it completely. I must admit, I consider myself a student of the game and while not a pro (or even semi-pro), I do have a solid understanding of the technical concepts that Phil describes and I often find myself having to really concentrate to absorb certain instruction in this book. It is a bit tough to get through and a bit tough to use as a quick reference to quickly lookup something that you might want to work on.
Overall, this is a very good book, but I might suggest it is more suited for the advanced player. If you are a billiards enthusiast, you cannot go wrong with having this, or any, of Phil’s books in your library.
A good compliment to this book is the True Angle Protractor, which you can use to setup the shots based on the way Phil describes them in degrees. You can check out my review of the True Angle Protractor by clicking the following image: