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A Review of: Sports: The Complete Visual Reference
by Olga Stein

Whether you're a serious athlete, a dabbler, or someone who likes to watch sports on tv, you'll appreciate this beautiful book. Containing essential information about 120 sports, organized within 19 categories (Track and Field, Gymnastics, Strength, Aquatic, Nautical, Equestrian, Precision and Accuracy, Multidisciplinary, Ice Sports, Snow Sports, Mountain Sports, Aerial Sports, Ball Sports [small ball], Ball Sports [large ball], Racket, Combat, Sports on Wheels, Motor Sports, and Bodybuilding) the book packs volumes of visuals and text into its 365 illustrated pages. An index listing sports, terminology, movements or techniques associated with every sport, plus famous athletes, makes it easy to find the desired portion in the book.
Just to give you a taste, in the diving section you learn how the sport originated (plunging from a platform dates back the 4th century B.C. and was practiced by the Vikings 12 centuries later, believe or not), how it evolved, and what it currently entails as an Olympic event. You are shown the pool, the diving tower, with its various platforms, the judges box, and scoring table, even the positions of the Table leader and the Referee. A series of illustrations breaks down the key movements and body positions of a diver performing a dive in pike, tuck, and straight positions. Other sets of illustrations show the reverse dive with a twist, the forward somersault with a twist, and the forward three-and-a-half somersault in the tuck position. Every illustration appears with a detailed caption describing each movement's requirements.
Turn to the rugby and football sections. Ever heard the terms Ruck', Set scrum', and Maul'? Ever heard of Gaelic football? Get the book. You'll read about all of the different variations on the game and rules, the terminology, and you'll see every part of the playing field clearly labeled. Importantly, for every type of football-be it Australian, American or Canadian-you're shown the playing field, so that it's clear how, for instance, the playing field for American football differs from the Canadian one. In addition to learning about the Blitz' and the Cornerback blitz', I'm now able to interpret the official's hand signals thanks to six illustrations and text.
My favorite sections are the ones dedicated to the martial arts sports-karate, jujitsu, judo, aikido, kung fu, and tae kwon do. Having practiced karate for 8 years, I especially appreciate the historical information which tells the reader about the origins of the sport ("Modern karate is derived from Chinese combat techniques and from Te, a bare handed combat art practice on Okinawa Island."), and distinguishes between the various most widely practiced styles of karate. The 4 pages devoted to karate feature superb, accurately drawn images of kata positions, and basic defensive and offensive techniques. Whatever your sport, you'll find it in this excellent book and you'll enjoy learning something new.

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