Coaching books

It is important to keep learning about the craft of coaching so that you keep improving your delivery. There are a range of ways that you can gain information – online through sources such as google and twitter, by watching DVD’s, through observing and talking to other coaches, and by trying things out and then reflecting on the result. An older method is by reading books. Even with the range of technology available to us today, we should not forget the use of a good old-fashioned book for learning about how we can coach.

LibraryI am currently putting together a list of books that coaches should read to develop their knowledge (see the list here). I will be splitting these books into two categories – one for books specifically about coaching, and another for books that are of a more general nature. There is a lot of original thinking out there that can be applied to coaching with a bit of reflection and effort. These could cover leadership, decision making, physical or cognitive development, and a whole lot more. The challenge is to read widely and then decide what is relevant and how it can be applied to the coaching that you do.

This will be an ongoing project and once the book list is up I will keep adding to it. Help me out by using the comments section below to suggest books that you have found helpful in making you a better coach.

11 thoughts on “Coaching books

  1. General

    Mindset – Carol Dweck (Game changer)
    Noam Chomsky – Manufacturing Consent
    The Valachi Papers – Peter Maas
    Public Enemy Number One – Patrick Vietch
    Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography – Walter Isaacson


    Developing Sport Expertise: Researchers and Coaches Put Theory into Practice – Various Editors
    Motor Learning in Practice: A Constraints-Led Approach – Various Editors
    Complexity Thinking in Physical Education: Reframing Curriculum, Pedagogy and Research – Various Editors
    Perception, Cognition and Decision Training: The Quiet Eye in Action – Joan N. Vickers

    Many more, point is don’t follow a linear path of sports coaching books, read books that interest you, you’ll be amazed by the insights you get from them years after you have read them.

  2. Hi Pete, some good books on that list. Mindset definitely deserves the top spot. It is amazing how much you can learn from other areas and then apply to coaching – anything to do with leadership, emotional intelligence and communication will have implications for coaching.

  3. I read a lot of books. Most of them are basketball specific—of those, I think the following could be of use for coaches in any sport:

    The Carolina Way, by Dean Smith
    The Smart Take from the Strong, by Pete Carril
    Leading with the Heart, by Mike Krzyzewski
    A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, by John Wooden

    Books from other Sports:
    Quiet Strength, by Tony Dungy
    The Score Takes Care of Itself, by Bill Walsh
    The Art of Learning, by Josh Waitzkin
    The Inner Game of Tennis, by Timothy Gallwey

    General Coaching Books:
    Successful Coaching, by Rainer Martens
    The Art and Science of Coaching, by Dave Chambers
    Coaching Wisdom, by Mike Harrity
    Athlete-Centered Coaching, by Lynn Kidman
    Creative Coaching, by Jerry Lynch

    Sports Psychology:
    Coaching the Mental Game, by H.A. Dorfman
    In Pursuit of Excellence, by Terry Orlick
    The Sports Psych Handbook, by Shane Murphy

    Books on Teaching:
    Teach Like A Champion, by Doug Lemov
    Teaching with Love and Logic, by Jim Fay and David Funk
    Beyond Discipline, by Alfie Kohn
    The First Days of School, by Harry and Rosemary Wong

    And, finally, general books that helped me with coaching:
    Mindset, by Carol Dweck
    How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
    Drive, by Daniel Pink
    Flow, by Mihelt Csikszentmihalyi
    Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Golemen
    The Art of Possibility, by Roseman and Pete Zander

    And while I know they get a lot of flak now, Malcolm Gladwell’s books are what jumpstarted me and led me to read the many books I just listed and do many of the things I’ve done as a coach. They have a special place in my heart when it comes to books I’ve read.

    • That’s a very extensive list there Paul! There are a lot of good ones in there that have already made into my draft, and plenty of new ones for me to check out. I especially like the final section – I thought that The Art of Possibility was very good, as was the Art of Learning.

      I agree with you on Malcolm Gladwell. It is easy to pick apart a lot of his work, but still there is enough there that is quality that can still cause you to pause and rethink your position. I think that is the key: to be able to take what is valuable from a book – even if other parts of it can be discredited – rather than discounting it in its entirety. A bit like making a judgement on players based on one performance!

  4. Good point. I have no desire to read those Gladwell books again, but they came along at the right time for me. At that stage in my life, I wouldn’t have been ready for some of the books on these lists, so they were introductory pieces, so to speak. There are a lot worse choices one can make than reading Gladwell. Hell, it’s not like I was reading Twilight.

    • Interestingly, the first time I came across his work was when a coach I worked with showed me the notes he had made from The Tipping Point. Up until then I hadn’t really thought about how books from outside of coaching could actually influence how I coached. They certainly got me looking at a much wider range of books to not only gain knowledge but to also ask questions of how I view the world, and why.

  5. A few other resources to consider:
    Accelerated Expertise by Hoffman et al which looks at how we might begin to trim down the 10years and 10,000 hours. This is a detailed review of the literature and studies from multiple formats going back over the last 30 years. The authors have been part of the team that has previously published the two major books on the subject of Expertise with K. Anders Ericsson.

    Working Minds by Crandall Klien and Hoffman- Looks at how we can get at the actual cognitive processes in expert’s thinking to be able to accelerate expertise development/teaching.

    The Power of Habit by Duhigg
    You Haven’t Taught It Until They Have Learned IT- this is by one of John Madden’s players and one of the two researchers who followed Madden for a full year studying his approach and techniques. Insightful and useful.

    • Some good looking books there that I will need to check out. I really enjoyed Sources of Power by Gary Klein so keen to have a look at Working Minds. Accelerated Expertise will definitely be added to my reading list and The Power of Habit has caught my eye before. Cheers.

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