________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 16 . . . . April 4, 2008

cover

How to Improve at Basketball. (How to Improve at...).

Jim Drewett.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $11.95 (pbk.), $21.56 (rlb.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3588-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3566-3 (rlb.).

Subject Heading:
Basketball-Training-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Gregory Bryan.

*** /4

   
cover

How to Improve at Golf. (How to Improve at...).

Peter Parks.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $11.95 (pbk.), $21.56 (rlb.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3589-2 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3567-0 (rlb.).

Subject Heading:
Golf-Training-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Gregory Bryan.

*** /4

   
cover

How to Improve at Karate. (How to Improve at...).

Ashley Martin.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $11.95 (pbk.), $21.56 (rlb.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3590-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3568-7 (rlb.).

Subject Heading:
Karate-Training-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Gregory Bryan.

*** /4

   
cover

How to Improve at Soccer. (How to Improve at...).

Jim Drewett.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $11.95 (pbk.), $21.56 (rlb.).           
ISBN 978-0-7787-3591-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3569-4 (rlb.).

Subject Heading:
Soccer-Training-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Gregory Bryan.

*** /4

   
cover

How to Improve at Swimming. (How to Improve at...).

Paul Mason.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $11.95 (pbk.), $21.56 (rlb.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3592-2 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3570-0 (rlb.).

Subject Heading:
Swimming-Training-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Gregory Bryan.

*** /4

   
cover

How to Improve at Tennis. (How to Improve at...).

Jim Drewett.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $11.95 (pbk.), $21.56 (rlb.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3593-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3571-7 (rlb.).

Subject Heading:
Tennis-Training-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Gregory Bryan.

*** /4

excerpt:

You should understand that you don't need to concentrate for every minute that you are on the course. In fact, to concentrate for such a long time is almost impossible.

You only really need to concentrate when you are about to play a shot—you'll need about one minute of concentration per shot. If you play 80 shots in a four-hour round, then you need to concentrate for about a quarter of the time, or one hour.

If you tried to concentrate continuously from the first tee to the 18th green, you would be mentally exhausted long before you finished the round! (From How to Improve at Golf.)


             

Crabtree Publishing Company has a well-established reputation for quality informational book series. They continue to solidify that reputation with the new "How to Improve at…" series of instructional sports books.

     The first six titles in the series are How to Improve at Basketball, How to Improve at Golf, How to Improve at Karate, How to Improve at Soccer, How to Improve at Swimming, and How to Improve at Tennis. As this range of titles indicates, the series encompasses a range of well-known sports, played indoor and outdoor, and by males and females.

     Each book in the series is 48 pages in length and contains a glossary defining words specific to each particular sport. The size of the glossary ranges from a low of 17 defined words in the soccer book, through to a high of 37 defined words in the basketball book. Each book also contains a table of contents, an index, and an explanation of the rules of each sport. The books have a sturdy hard cover and strong binding, which makes them ideal for library circulation.

     Each book is illustrated throughout with numerous large, colourful photographs. The information-rich pages contain considerable white space which, when combined with the large print and user-friendly layout, make the books easy to read. Similarly, the detailed photographs and systematic instructions are easy to follow and seem almost assured of providing assistance to young sports people.

     Jim Drewett wrote the text for How to Improve at Basketball. Drewett is the author of three of the series' six titles. How to Improve at Basketball contains step-by-step basketball practice drills on dribbling, ball handling, passing, shooting, rebounding and defending. As with other books in the series, the focus of the drills contains an appropriate balance between both offensive and defensive skills.  

     The cover of Peter Parks' How to Improve at Golf features the image of arguably the most famous sportsperson in history—Tiger Woods. The text and instructional photographs are presented from the point of view of a right-handed player. As is the case in the other books where a dominant side might be an issue, left-handed or left-footed readers are reminded of the necessity to bear in mind that the illustrations and instructions are the opposite to what they should use. Novices will enjoy learning about the distinctions between, and different uses of, irons, wedges, putters, and woods. I was interested to see particular emphasis given to the importance of one's mental skills in the game of golf. The text contains advice on concentration and on maintaining a positive attitude, even after a poor shot.

     In the book How to Improve at Karate, it was interesting to me finally to learn about the various karate belts and what the different colours signify. The photographs and text focus on punching, kicking and blocking. Ashley Martin is the text author, and we learn that karate started in Okinawa, which is today a part of Japan, but the sport has strong Chinese and Japanese origins and influences.

     Jim Drewett is the author of How to Improve at Soccer. Once again, there is a strong balance between skills of attack and defence. I was especially pleased to see so much attention given to drills for goalkeeping practice.

     The author of How to Improve at Swimming is Paul Mason. This book contains instructional text and photographs designed to help young swimmers improve their freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly swimming. How to Improve at Swimming also includes photographs and written details on diving, racing lap turns for the various strokes, lifesaving, and water safety.

     How to Improve at Tennis is another of the Jim Drewett books. The instructions are given for right-handed players. Newcomers to the sport will benefit from the instructions regarding tennis' unique scoring system. There are instructions and drills regarding fore- and backhand groundstrokes. There is also a focus on serving, volleys, smashes, lobs and drop shots.

     All of the books in the "How to Improve at…" series contain useful warm-up stretches to help young and old athletes to minimize the risk of muscle strains or other injuries. Each book also contains a section entitled, "How the Pros do it" (the karate book entitles these pages, "How the Experts do it"). This section includes information and tips regarding the elite performers of each sport. All of the books include information regarding the equipment necessary to participate in each sport. There are also tips regarding a healthy diet likely to maximize one's performance. These books contain a wealth of information and, although introductory in nature, the books cover a significant amount of territory.

     Crabtree is known for extensive book series in some cases featuring over two dozen separate titles. As such, I expect the "How to Improve at…" series will soon contain a number of additional titles. Children will be keeping an eye on the series to see when their favourite sports are covered. At $21.56, individual families are not likely to purchase more than one or two of their favourite titles; however, schools and public libraries will find that the series will prove a useful addition to elementary and middle school library collections. I expect the "How to Improve at…" series of books to be a popular resource for children eager to develop their talents at a range of sports.

Recommended.

Gregory Bryan teaches in the University of Manitoba Faculty of Education. Not unlike his childhood bedroom, the walls of his university office are adorned with the images of sports heroes.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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