Written by Coach William Flow

Over the last year I have focused on the career of John Wooden.  Coach Wooden and I share some commonalities; well, just a few things.  We both taught English and we both coached basketball, the comparisons pretty much stop there.  Coach lived a fascinating life and by the power of books we can study what made him a great coach.  Wooden, along with other authors or players, published thirteen books.  Subsequently his players have written multiple recollections of the historical coach.  Just by reading one book you can delve into one of the greatest coaching minds in sports history without ever visiting a practice.

The #CoachesBookshelf can be a great key to expanding knowledge, escaping the daily tasks of running your program, or make your office walls look very sophisticated.  My focus for this post will be to give you a few of my favorite reads, show you how to find great books, and give you a few tips outside of the bookshelf on how to expand your knowledge.

I cannot give you a favorite book out of my collection, just like none of you can tell who your favorite player is, but you know who they are.  Throughout this post I will have links to each book, and I will identify my top books based on category.  A few tips before we start…

Best of the Best

Best Team Building Book:

  • Jeff Janssen “How to Build and Sustain a Championship Culture
    • Janssen gives a step by step blueprint on how to create your team. As I stated earlier, I do not have a favorite, but this is a MUST for any coach.  His culture tips are second to none and can really help transform your team, and your own thinking.  Janssen also sends out an email with tips on culture and building mental toughness.

Most Entertaining Book:

Best Thought-Provoking Book:

Best Book About a Coach (Terrible name):

  • Pete Carroll, “Win Forever: Live, Work, and Play Like a Champion
    • Does a great job of chronicling how you might not be great in one position; but, if you work hard and have patience, someone else will believe in your goals. Carroll also documents their practice mentality of compete at everything, you can see why he has been so successful after his initial failure in New England.

Best Book for Coaching Girls:

  • Tony Dicicco, Colleen Hacker, and Charles Salzberg, “Catch Them Being Good: Everything You Need to Know to Successfully Coach Girls
    • I am a firm believer that there is a difference coaching girls and guys. After being a head coach of both I have noticed some differences.  This book is a great example of how to work with young women, and really focus on getting them to reach their true potential.

Best Self Help Book:

Along with books there are other ways you can increase your coach’s library.  Multiple colleges send out a basketball newsletter each month.  There are usually filled with plays, small team write ups, quotes, and sometimes articles to read.  The ones that I receive are (all of these are the men’s programs):

One thing I am going to try this year with my players is a book club.  This past season we gave them a book, and had the author come in to speak with the team.  When Tami Matheny, “The Confident Athlete” showed up only a few of the guys had read the book, so I am thinking a book club might hold them a bit more accountable.  Also, we have an offseason point system, and I might start adding points for books read throughout the offseason.  Thank you for reading my post, I wish you and your teams nothing but success in the future.  Please feel free to send a message to williamflow@gmail.com if you want any more ideas of great books to read, or if there is something that you read that was great that I should add to my collection.


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