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Summer Reading for Sports Coaches
Book recommendations for sports coaches
Summer is here and I have just returned from the GAIN conference in Houston where fellow sports coaches and bibliophiles shared book ideas and recommendations. Here are some of mine from this year, plus a full list of what I have read with a brief summary.
Best coaching book
I have to say that Wade Gilbert’s “Coaching Better Every Season” is the best practical book on coaching a team or group that I have read. It has more useful information in it than I learn in my MSc of Sports Coaching from Brunel University.
It is spilt into 4 parts: Pre Season; In Season; End of Season and Off Season. Each comes with guides, checklists and suggestions on how to get the most from you and your team. It is very well written and researched with great practical examples.
You can pick it up and get ideas to help your next session, or to plan your whole year. Highly recommended.
4 other good books for sports coaches
Track and Field: Athletics Training in the G.D.R. (East Germany). Editor G. Schmolinsky. Very detailed technical handbook from 1978. Ingrained with socialist principles at the beginning. The sprints, throws and jumps sections are good, the middle distance and endurance are ok. The preparation and specific and general exercises are excellent.
- A Dynamic Systems Approach to the Development of Cognition and Action: Thelen & Smith. Excellent book about how thought and action are developed together. Looks in detail at infant development of reaching, grasping and walking down slopes. Very well written and explained.
- A Manual of Tumbling and Apparatus Stunts: Otto E. Ryser. 1964 guide to gymnastics for boys/ men. Lots of very good ideas in there for the keen recreational gymnast and for coaches who want their teams to be more agile.
- Dynamic Groups at Work: H. Thelen. Superb book looking at how groups of people operate and how leadership can influence, shape and learn from this. Written in 1951, it stands up very well today. At some point the cult of the leader influenced thinking, this was very freshing.
(H Thelen was Esther Thelen’s father-in-law, just coincidence they had the word dynamic in their book titles?).
Tsundoku is the Japanese noun describing a pile of unread books. Mine had got down to 8 books before I received my annual mystery parcel from Castle Books in Beaumaris. It now contains an eclectic mix of fiction, education, comedy and history.
Having this keeps my perspectives broad and unlimited by group think of just “fad books“. Many of these books are out of print now, but full of interesting ideas.
Full list of books in 2017.
Here is the full list of what I have read so far in 2017 some of which may be of interest for down time and reading on the beach.
- Meditations: Marcus Aurelius. Thoughts on Stoicism and dealing with being an Emperor. In depth and insightful.
- Shame The Devil: George Pelecanos. Exciting crime caper based in Washington by writer of The Wire.
- Coaching Better Every Season: Wade Gilbert.
- Jello Salad: Nicholas Blincoe. Graphic and twisted London crime novel.
- Reading: Frank Smith. How children learn to read despite the best efforts of programmed instruction, phonics and other interference. 1987 copy, but resonates today.
- The Pat Hobby Collection: F Scott Fitzgerald. Humorous set of short stories about an aging Hollywood script writer and his struggles.
- Track and Field: Athletics Training in the G.D.R. (East Germany). Editor G. Schmolinsky.
- Finches of Mars: Brian Aldiss. Interesting SF novel about humans having to evolve to survive on Mars. Philosophical underpinning about future of our planet.
- Horus: Manuel Santos Varela. SF novel based on Egyptian mythology and gene splicing. Short and interesting.
- The Teaching Gap: J.W. Stigler & J. Hiebert. Review of a study about Maths teaching in Japan, Germany and the USA. Insightful look at how teachers can and should develop their profession, rather than listen to academics who lack context.
- They Marched Into Sunlight: David Marranis. Account of one day in October 1967 when US troops were ambushed in Vietnam and anti-war riot at University of Wisconsin. Very well written and researched.
- Zorro: Isabel Allende. Light fiction, little depth.
- The Faltering Economy: The Problem of Accumulation Under Monopoly Capitalism. Ed. J.B.Foster & H.Szlajfer. Series of essays written in 1981. Heavy going, but enlightening insights.
- The Heat’s On: Chester Himes. Harlem crime novel from 1966. Page turner, descriptive and atmospheric.
- A Dynamic Systems Approach to the Development of Cognition and Action: Thelen & Smith.
- The Gold Standard: Mike Krzyzewski. An account of the 2008 USA Olympic basketball team’s journey to winning the Gold Medal by their Head Coach. Lightweight, but one for fans only.
- Jack: A.M. Homes. Entertaining novel of a teenage boy coming to terms with family break up.
- Border Country: Raymond Williams. Classic novel about the emptying of Welsh villages in the twentieth century. Told through story of one family, very moving.
- Pax Romana: Adrian Goldsworthy. Interesting overview of how the Roman Empire was created and maintained over the first 3 centuries of its existence.
- A Manual of Tumbling and Apparatus Stunts: Otto E. Ryser.
- Eagle in the Snow: Wallace Breem. One of the best historical novels ever. Set on Roman frontier at the end of the Empire, action, character and poignant tragedy.
- How Children Succeed: Paul Tough. Well laid out and organised book looking at case studies of children and environments that have overcome adversity to succeed. Great read for parents, teachers and coaches.
- Dynamic Groups at Work: H. Thelen.
- The Confusion of Command: Lt. Gen T. D’Oyly Snow. Brief memoirs of the Commander of the 4th Division at retreat from Mons and 27th Division at Battle of Ypres. Shows how chaotic things were and ill prepared the BEF were in 1914.
- The Way We Die Now: Charles Willeford. Gritty crime novel based in Miami, interesting characters with a rambling plot.
- Classical Literary Criticism: Aristotle, Horace & Longinus. Thoughts on poetry, creating the sublime and drama from these three ancients.
- The Reluctant Fundamentalist: Mohsin Hamid. Short, interesting, relevant novel about a Pakistani man trying to find his identity.
- Lillian: David Emery. Biography of this British athlete from 1960s. Coached by her Dad to an Olympic medal, she died of cancer at a very young age.
- One Knee Equals Two Feet: John Madden. Simple, but entertaining guide to football. Has some genuine nuggets of wisdom in there.
- Creating Innovators: Tony Wagner. Case studies of people who are innovators in their field. Good for first 100 pages, but then repetitive.
- Iron and silk: Mark Salzman. Enjoyable account of an English teacher spending 2 years in China in early 1980s.
- The Heart of a Leader: Ken Blanchard. Quotes from his previous books with a brief explanation. Short but useful.
- Stanley.The Impossible Life of Africa’s Greatest Explorer: Tim Jeal. Dense, detailed story of the famous Welsh/American/English Victorian. Reveals much that had been misinterpreted and is extensively researched. Amazing stories.
I am currently reading Peak Performance by Steve Magness and Brad Stulberg, which I will review when finished.
Thanks for reading and sharing ideas and the books. Thanks to the Hayridge Centre in Cullompton as usual for being a great library and to Mandi Abrahams of Castle Books for sending me the good stuff.
If you have any other book recommendations or suggestions, please leave a comment below.
I had the pleasure (I think !) of working with James for a year or so focused on getting my Triathlon times down. Its amazing what was achieved in the space of an hour before work. What stood out for me is the constant variation of exercises and his ability to set the difficulties levels just right. His sense of humour and competitive spirit always helped when my energy levels were not quite there. I can attribute his structured training to my eventual success competing in the World Triathlon championships (age group) in Hamburg.
14 Oct 2017
Level 1 Strength and Conditioning Course – Horsham. 14th -15th October 2017 Venue: Christ’s Hospital, Horsham, W. Sussex, RH13 0LA. Assessment Day: Sunday 3rd December 2017. Cost: £280 including materials and access to online resources. To book send a deposit of £100 here. The deposit is non refundable. Once the full balance has been paid and your place […]