The fundamental point of biomechanics, Jerome writes, is that "every human movement, from raising a cup of tea to the lips to pole-vaulting eighteen feet, is a product of levers moving through arcs." Later he writes: "Once one begins to comprehend human movement in terms of levers and arcs, the necessity, in sports, for good arcs—for true trajectories, accurate timings, impeccable meetings of subject and object—becomes apparent. It is inescapable."
Perhaps so. But between those two statements lie fully 170 pages of divagation. Before getting into a specific discussion of the various elements of sports performance, Jerome insists on taking the reader on a tour of the human body: Anatomy 101. He makes an earnest effort to write science for the layman, but he ends up with prose that patronizes the reader: too many strained metaphors and similes, too much cuteness, too little clear explanation.
When at last he finishes the anatomical tour d'horizon, the book picks up. There are enlightening discussions of the revolution in sports equipment (shoes, for example, better designed to accommodate the workings of the human foot), the use of steroids and amphetamines, the evolution of the East German sports factory, the research being conducted at such centers of sports science as Penn State and Ball State.
All of this is fine, and Jerome's enthusiasm for his subject is attractive. But his book fails on three counts. Its prose is irritating and self-indulgent. It doesn't make complex scientific information comprehensible to the general reader. And it drifts off onto so many highways and byways that it loses sight of its central subject. Too often you find yourself asking: "But what does this have to do with the sweet spot?" Any book that loses its main theme is a book in trouble.