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How to make Pre-Season Training Interesting, Relevant and More Fun
June 19, 2018
I Hate Pre-Season TrainingThis is often the thought of players who are forced to undergo various fitness tests and long slow runs as part of a pre-season fitness programme.Doing repeated doggies, shuttle runs and various circuits, with barely a ball in sight is enough to put most players off.It doesn't have to be this way.
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Best books on coaching and teaching 2017

Reading highlights for coaches and teachers

best books for coaches

5 great books

Here are my top 5 books from 2017, plus a synopsis of the other books I have read this year. It is easy to jump on the “It’s new and shiny, you must get it” bandwagon. Hopefully you will find some alternative ideas in this list.

Top 5 books (no particular order)

  1. Coaching Better Every Season: Wade Gilbert. Comprehensive guide to best coaching practice throughout the year. Research and practice based with excellent examples and guides.
  2. best athletics book

    Technically rich

    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.

  3. 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
    dynamic groups at work

    Superb book

    slopes. Very well written and explained.

  4. 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 refreshing.
  5. 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.
best book for p.e. teachers

Wade Gilbert and me.

Some of these I have added to the recommended reading list for coaches and teachers  that has accumulated over the years. There were 3-4 others which were very close and are included in the full list below.

You may have noticed some sticky tags in the books and also notes on the front page. This was to help me remember what I have read, Wade Gilbert gave me the index tip.

The Full List of 2017 (so far), including fiction, biographies and history books.

  1. Meditations: Marcus Aurelius. Thoughts on Stoicism and dealing with being an Emperor. In depth and insightful.
  2. Shame The Devil: George Pelecanos. Exciting crime caper based in Washington by writer of The Wire.
  3. Coaching Better Every Season: Wade Gilbert. Comprehensive guide to best coaching practice throughout the year. Research and practice based with excellent examples and guides.
  4. Jello Salad: Nicholas Blincoe. Graphic and twisted London crime novel.
  5. Reading: Frank Smith. How children learn to read despite the best efforts of programmed instruction, phonics and other interference. 1987 copy, but resonates today.
  6. The Pat Hobby Collection: F Scott Fitzgerald. Humorous set of short stories about an aging Hollywood script writer and his struggles.
  7. 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.
  8. Brian Aldiss rip

    Sad to lose Brian Aldiss this year.

    Finches of Mars: Brian Aldiss. Interesting SF novel about humans having to evolve to survive on Mars. Philosophical underpinning about future of our planet.

  9. Horus: Manuel Santos Varela. SF novel based on Egyptian mythology and gene splicing. Short and interesting.
  10. 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.
  11. They Marched Into Sunlight: David Marranis. Account of 1 day in October 1967 when US troops were ambushed in Vietnam and anti-war riot at University of Wisconsin. Very well written and researched.
  12. Zorro: Isabel Allende. Light fiction, little depth.
  13. 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.
  14. The Heat’s On: Chester Himes. Harlem crime novel from 1966. Page turner, descriptive and atmospheric.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Jack: A.M. Homes. Entertaining novel of a teenage boy coming to terms with family break up.
  18. Border Country: Raymond Williams. Classic novel about the emptying of Welsh villages in the twentieth century. Told through story of one family, very moving.
  19. Pax Romana: Adrian Goldsworthy. Interesting overview of how the Roman Empire was created and maintained over the first 3 centuries of its existence.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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 refreshing.
  24. 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.
  25. The Way We Die Now: Charles Willeford. Gritty crime novel based in Miami, interesting characters with a rambling plot.
  26. Classical Literary Criticism: Aristotle, Horace & Longinus. Thoughts on poetry, creating the sublime and drama from these three ancients.
  27. The Reluctant Fundamentalist: Mohsin Hamid. Short, interesting, relevant novel about a Pakistani man trying to find his identity.
  28. 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.
  29. One Knee Equals Two Feet: John Madden. Simple, but entertaining guide to football. Has some genuine nuggets of wisdom in there.
  30. Creating Innovators: Tony Wagner. Case studies of people who are innovators in their field. Good for first 100 pages, but then repetitive.
  31. Iron and silk: Mark Salzman. Enjoyable account of an English teacher spending 2 years in China in early 1980s.
  32. The Heart of a Leader: Ken Blanchard. Quotes from his previous books with a brief explanation. Short but useful.
  33. 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.
  34. Peak Performance: S.Magness & B. Stulberg. Easy to read book about getting the most from your day and life. Useful anecdotes illustrating underpinning science.
  35. D:Day The Battle for Normandy: Antony Beevor. Detailed and vivid account of the invasion of France. Compared to a similar book I read 30 years ago, it is more critical of the British and of the mistakes made by all sides. Tragic loss of life.
  36. Timequake: Kurt Vonnegut. Half autobiographical, half satirical novel. Very well written and funny.
  37. Cannonball Tennis: Mike Sangster. Hidden gem from this British number 1 from 1965. Very pertinent coaching tips and enjoyable stories from this Devonian.
  38. Seven Theories of Human Nature: Leslie Stevenson.  Brief look at different word views and a critique on their rationales. Great place to start and uses critical thinking on Marxisim, Christianity Freud and more.
  39. Foxcatcher: Mark Schultz.  Autobiography of sorts, dealing with the murder of his older brother Dave Schultz. Interesting to see behind the curtain of this apparently successful Olympian.
  40. Barbarian Days, A surfer’s life: William Finnegan. Superb biography from this well known writer. Enjoyed it without being a surfer.
  41. Three Cups of Tea: Greg Mortenson & David Relin. Account of one man’s mission to provide schools to remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. A bit evangelical and sycophantic in parts, but mostly inspiring.
  42. Four Tragedies and Octavia: Seneca. Ancient Roman text revisiting some classic stories. One of the Stoic philosophers and has summary at the end.
  43. A Century of Humour: ed P.G.Wodehouse. Huge collection of short stories in this interesting collection from 1935. Some sublime, others very dated.
  44. The Wrong Side of Goodbye: Michael Connelly. Harry Bosch detective novel, still not a return to original form, but good holiday read.
  45. Sunset Howe: Lewis Grassic Gibbon. Outstanding  novel of rural Scotland in early 1900s. Characters jump off the page and draw you in.
  46. Cloud Howe Lewis Grassic Gibbon. Part 2 and follows the move from rural to urban areas.
  47. Grey Granite Lewis Grassic Gibbon. Part 3 and echoes the demise of Scotland with industrial unrest.
  48. The Dead Zone: Stephen King. One of his SF novels which is topical today with the rise of a psychopathic US politician.
  49. The World of Jeeves: P.G. Wodehouse. 34 short stories that feature the emminent valet and Bertie Wooster. Supremely crafted and still entertaining.
  50. The Talent Lab: Owen Slot. Some interesting ideas in this book, but quite a PR stunt I think too.
  51. Brain Rules: John Medina. 12 rules to help use your brain more efficiently. Well laid out and gives evidenced ideas from neuroscience.
  52. The Gunslinger: Stephen King. Collection of short stories that form part one of the Dark Tower science fiction series.
  53. The Classroom Society: H. Thelen. Dense text full of extremely useful insights and applications for teachers and coaches.
  54. Instant Replay: Jerry Kramer. Inside look at the1967 Super Bowl season of the Green Bay Packers. Very revealing.
  55. The Originals: Adam Grant. Interesting look at how people think differently and maybe become more creative. How to create a culture that allows dissent without collapse or acrimony.
  56. The Blade Itself: Joe Abercrombie. Entertaining lightweight fantasy novel, heavy in cliches.
  57. The Name Of The Wind: Patrick Rothfuss. Fantasy novel which resembles a collection of ripping yarns.  A good read.
  58. Complete Gymnastics Handbook: John Puckett & Edwin Bengston. Has some useful tips and a good curriculum for secondary schools.
  59. The Interpreter: Brian Aldiss. Short SF novel about life at the edges of a frontier.Character driven and succinct.
  60. The Wise Man’s Fear: Patrick Rothfuss. Enormous sequel which is entertaining but disjointed and ultimately goes nowhere.
  61. The Gold Mine Effect. Rasmus Ankersen. Lightweight book looking at 6 hot spots of talent development around the world. Good in parts, big gaps in others.
  62. A Coach’s Life: Dean Smith. Autobiography of the UNC basketball coach written in 1999. Great thoughts on coaching and how to manage a team.
  63. If These Walls Could Talk (Green Bay Packers): Wayne Larrivee. Insights about the Packers from this radio reporter. Covers the last 25 years well.
  64. Drive: Daniel Pink. Easy to follow and well researched look at what actually motivates humans. Very useful for coaches.
  65. Snakewood: Adrian Selby. Original twist to the fantasy novel. Like David Gemmell, but with potions and more unpleasantness.
  66. Body, Mind, and Sport: John Douillard.  Full of New Age gurusism, very 80s with tenuous links to “science”. Interesting points about breathing, but the rest is confusing mysticism.
  67. Uncommon: Tony Dungy. Very disappointing motivation book by the former NFL coach. Little substance.
  68. How To Support A Champion: Steve Ingham. Entertaining and reflective look at how he developed his physiology support for athletes. Must read for support staff.
  69. Man’s Search For Meaning: Viktor Frankl. How one man survived four concentration camps and lessons on life. Stunning read and very meaningful.
  70. The Drawing Of The Three: Stephen King. Part 2 of the Dark Tower series. Fun read in a western type setting.
  71. Band Of Brothers: Stephen Ambrose. Outstanding account of an airborne infantry company in WWII. Third time reading this, and still inspired.
  72. Parachute Infantry: David Kenyon Webster. Detailed account of one of the “Band of Brothers” in action after D Day. Warts and all account of life in the army.
  73. The Age Of Genius; The Seventeenth Century & The Birth Of The Modern Mind: A.C. Grayling. Interesting but somewhat muddled account of this little known period of mainly European history. Insightful in parts, could do with maps!
  74. Leviathan Wakes: James S.A. Corey. Fun and expansive SF Novel. Reminds me of C.J,. Cherryh books from the 1980s.
  75. best books for sports coaches

    Reading expands the mind

    The Captain Class: Sam Walker. Interesting look at how some of the world’s best sports teams became dominant thanks to influential captains. Pseudo scientific but good to look beyond the obvious and much quoted.

  76. The Influences Of Rudolf Laban: John Foster. Biography and analysis of how Laban shaped dance education and inspired educa
  77. tional gymnastics in the UK.
  78. Activities on P.E. Apparatus: J. Edmundson and J. Garstang. Great book from 1962 on lots of gymnastics exercises on some forgotten pieces of equipment such as boxes, ropes and ladders. Very useful resource.
  79. Anabasis: Xenophon. The story of the retreat of the 10,000 from Persia to the sea. Modestly written, but insightful. The classic film “The Warriors” was based on this book.
  80. The Warriors Reflections On Men In Battle: J Glenn Gray. Reflective account of this soldier and philosopher written 14 years after his experiences in WWII. Draws upon other historical accounts of warfare and is very revealing.

Thanks to all who recommended

Thanks again to the usual suspects for lending, sending and recommending.

  • Book club members Peter Bunning, Rob Frost for expanding my repertoire beyond work.
  • Mandi Abrahams of Castle Books, Beaumaris for her encyclopedic knowledge of books I have never heard about!
  • Vern Gambetta and the GAIN community for tripling my reading list every time I attend.
  • The Hayridge and Devon Libraries for lending, ordering and generally encouraging young and old to read more.

If you have any recommendations, please leave below. Enjoy your time to read over Christmas.

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Exeter Chiefs Rugby Academy
James was in sole charge of fitness related matters, organising and implementing training programmes... also provided players with mentoring and advice on nutritional needs. He varied the programmes and was keen to keep ideas fresh and designed activities suitable to help young rugby player's progress. James was keen to put time into the thought process of his ideas and carry out to a very high standard.
 
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One day speed seminar for sports coaches This one day seminar will help you understand basic speed training principles and give you practical coaching ideas that you can implement with your sports team and players. Athletic Development Coach James Marshall will introduce coaches to fundamental movements and exercises that will translate from track to field/court […]

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