Coaching Books: Always Learning and Growing
If you ask any good coach that has been around the game long enough (regardless of the sport), they will tell you that one of the biggest keys for success is to always be learning and growing. This constant state of being willing and ready to learn is going to allow you as a coach and as a person to be the best version of yourself.
There are multiple ways to learn and grow, basketball websites, clinics, videos, etc. One of the easiest ways to learn and grow though is reading books. Whether it is an audiobook while you are driving, an e-book on your tablet or reader, or sitting down to read an old-fashioned physical book with pages, you can get so much knowledge and wisdom from reading. That is why we wanted to put together this list of our favorite coaching books.
Some of the books will be very basketball specific, while some on leadership and other important coaching qualities, some are even going to be written by coaches who coach a completely different sport than basketball. All of the books though will help you become a better coach and overall person.
So look through this list of our favorite coaching books and find your next great reads. If you enjoy listening to audio books, make sure that you sign up for the Free Audible Trial through Amazon.
Having worked with some of the best athletes to ever play the game of basketball, trainer Tim Grover is going to detail what it takes to be unstoppable. In this book, Tim is going to highlight 13 different traits that he has observed from some of the intense competitors that he has worked with over the years. Having worked with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and many other great athletes, Tim Grover is going to be able to provide a unique perspective in the area of working towards greatness.
Not a basketball specific book, Measure What Matters is going to help you better define what is important to you. OKR stands for Objective Key Results, and they are used for setting, communicating, and monitoring goals. John Doerr and his book will help you make sure that everyone in your program knows what is expected of them, and then will also teach you how to maximize what you are able to do with your team.
With forty plus years of experience in the game of basketball and being a part of some really great teams and coaching staffs, Kevin Eastman is going to take you on a behind the scenes tour. In this book, Kevin Eastman is going to allow you an “up-close look at how and why the best are the way they are.” If you have a desire to be great in everything that you do, this book is going to provide you with some great insights and tips to accomplishing this goal.
Having won 11 NBA championships as a coach, this book by Phil Jackson shouldn’t need much more selling than that. In Eleven Rings, Phil Jackson is going to talk candidly about his different coaching experiences with arguably two of the top three players to ever play the game, different struggles and successes, and so much more. Winning is challenging enough, but consistent winning is extremely rare. For that reason alone, this coaching book is definitely worth the read.
If you have ever listened to Jay Bilas commentating a game or doing an interview, you will quickly realize that he does not mince his words. In his book, Toughness: Developing True Strength On and Off the Court he is no different. This book will take you through his playing time at Duke under coach K to his time coaching at Duke as an assistant and then finally covering his time with ESPN and College GameDay. If you are true fan of college basketball you do not want to miss this one.
Sum It Up: A Thousand and Ninety-Eight Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective (link)
Starting her head coaching career at the University of Tennessee when she was only 21, it is safe to say that Pat Summit learned a good amount from the beginning of her career to the end of it. Her wisdom from 38 years of coaching is going to benefit all levels of coaches regardless of level of experience. Outside the lines Coach Pat also had some tough trials with health and other issues, and in her book she details how she dealt with those struggles as well.
Have you ever wondered what separates the great coaches from the rest? This is a question that sports journalist Seth Davis often thought about. This is what lead him to write Getting to Us: How Great Coaches Make Great Teams. In his book he is going to “probe and prod” the minds of some of the best coaches in sports. He interviews coaches like Dabo Sweeney, Geno Auriemma, Brad Stevens, Mike Krzyzewski and more looking to unlock the answer to this question.
You can’t talk women’s college basketball without quickly arriving at Geno Auriemma and the UConn women’s basketball team. Coach Auriemma has had some of the most dominant teams in all of sports, not just women’s college basketball. In his book, In the Pursuit of Perfection, you will get a very personal look into what makes Geno Auriemma tick and what has allowed him to have such a successful coaching career.
There is a reason that people today are still following and studying John Wooden, and that is because he not only won, but he did it the right way. The Wisdom of Wooden was the last book that John Wooden wrote and it is going to talk about his life “teaching, guiding, and serving others.” You will be able to get a look into what allowed coach Wooden to have such a successful coaching career and life.
Coach Calipari has a unique coaching style that has allowed him to draw in highly talented kids on a yearly basis and have championship success. This coaching book is going to talk about his first years at Kentucky and how he was able to turn around the program and compete for national titles. In his book he is going to breakdown what is most important to him, the players. It all starts with the players and coach Calipari is going to show you how he is able to consistently put players first.
Your mindset is going to determine so much about what you are able to accomplish in coaching and life. So if you are able to approach everything with positive energy, you are going to allow yourself a great chance at being successful. Jon Gordon and The Energy Bus are going to provide you with 10 rules that you can use to fuel everything that you do in life.
Another great John Wooden book, Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is going to explain how success is open to anyone, and needs to be built up block by block. This coaching book is going to come with 32 daily readings and each one is going to take an “in-depth look at a single block of the pyramid, which when combined with the other blocks forms to the structure of the pyramid of success.”
Whether you are new to the game of coaching or have been doing it for years, one thing you quickly realize is that it isn’t just about getting people to move physically, but also psychologically and emotionally as well. This book is going to breakdown the “science of communication” and teach you how to get your players to buy-in. This buy-in will allow you to create the culture of success that is required for doing anything special.
Shedding light on other great successful organizations like Navy SEAL Team Six, IDEO, and the San Antonio Spurs, Daniel Coyle and The Culture Code are going to give insight on what a great team culture looks like, and how you can replicate it with your team. “The Culture Code offers a roadmap for creating an environment where innovation flourishes, problems get solved, and expectations are exceeded.”
When you think of words that are synonymous with coaching, you can’t go very far without coming to the word leadership. Regardless of your sport or team you need to be a leader with your players and program. The Score Takes Care of Itself is a book about Bill Walsh and his legendary leadership that helped to transform the San Francisco 49ers from one of the worst franchises in sports to a championship dynasty. Regardless of the sport or level of play, this coaching book is going to provide a ton a great information on leadership and is a must read for coaches.
The second Jon Gordon book on this list, this specific coaching book is going to cover practical tools that are going to help teams “overcome negativity and enhance their culture, and then improve culture, communication, connection, commitment and performance.” Jon is going to use examples from different great sports organizations to Fortune 500 companies to the Navy SEAL’s, and all of these examples will help you to find better strategies to use with your team.
Sometimes it is easy to jump on the bandwagon of the most current winning coach of the moment. With Jay Wright though you will quickly see that he does things the right way with his team and program and is definitely worth learning from. This coaching book and the insights by coach Wright are going to cover some of the leadership techniques that Jay has used with his two time national champion Villanova Wildcats and a lot of other great coaching topics.
Written by one of the best college basketball coaches to ever be a part of the game, this book is not just geared for basketball, but for everyday life. Success is a Choice is going to provide you with ten steps that are going to allow you to be successful in whatever business you find yourself in, and life in general. You will be able to learn what has allowed Coach Pitino to have so much success over his basketball coaching career and then will be able use his strategies to also help you be more successful.
Understanding that strength does not always have to be loud and brash, Tony Dungy has always lead his teams with a quiet strength. This coaching book is going to allow you a look into Tony Dungy’s mind and what makes him tick, as well as what has allowed him to win a Superbowl and have a life that has impacted millions. Whether you are a football coach or not, this book is a must read.
Getting a true look behind the scenes at a winning program can be a rare occurrence. With Urban Meyer though and his book Above the Line, you will be able to get a very candid look into the, “game plan that was followed every day in the Ohio State Buckeyes’ championship season.” This look is going to allow you to see how Urban Meyer lead his team in the pursuit of a common pursuit of greatness.
Whether you are looking to bring out greatness in yourself or others, The Talent Code is going to give you the game plan for doing so. Daniel Coyle is going to, “identify the three key elements that will allow you to develop your gifts and optimize your performance.” Through first hand research and “cutting-edge neurology,” Daniel Coyle is going to breakdown how you can maximize the different gifts that each of us have been given.
Do you know what motivates you? Do you know what motivates others? In this book by Daniel Pink, you will be able to better learn what really motivates people and how to better motivate yourself and others around you. With forty years of scientific research on this topic, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us is a must read.
This book may be 25+ years old, but it is still just as true as ever when it comes to personal change. So whether you are looking for big changes in your personal life or always looking for ways to improve, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is going to be a great read for you. The more personal growth you have, the better you will be able to lead and impact others.
This book by Jim Collins may not be directly written for coaches, but there are still a lot of great principles that will translate to running your team and program at a higher level. If you are struggling to be able to get your team to make the jump form average to great, you may want to checkout Good to Great and the work that Jim Collins and his team of researches has put together.
As a coach it can sometimes be easy to fall into a transactional style of coaching where relationships are based on what you can get from the other person. However, if you are not able to quickly get back to the personal relationships that coaching offers, you can lose out on so much of what coaching is really about. Joe Ehrmann and his book InSideOut Coaching is a great reminder on the influential positions that coaches hold in their players lives and how you should be using this position to help better the lives of your players.
Coaching Books Conclusion
With so many great coaching books out there we are sure that there are most likely a few that deserve to be on this list of great coaching books. So if you have a favorite that you believe should be on this list, comment it below so that we can check it out and possibly add it to our list. We are always happy to promote another great coaching book!