My 2014 Reading List

Inspired by Vern Gambetta, I decided to put together a link of the relevant books that I read throughout 2014. Because I spent the first half of the year making five-hour bus trips for games nearly every Saturday, I had a chance to read a decent number of books this year (although nothing like Coach Gambetta), many of which contributed to my free weekly newsletter. The list is loosely in the order in which I recommend the books to a coach, although everyone’s interests differ. Enjoy.


Todd Hargrove is a Feldenkrais practitioner, and am an avid reader of his blog. Several years ago, I wrote several blogs on athleticism based on his writing. A Guide to Better Movement is a smartly written, easy-to-read book about movement and relieving pain through movement.

For basketball coaches, this is the best basketball strategy book that I have read since Dean Oliver’s Basketball on Paper: Rules and Tools for Performance Analysis. Amazing to see how the game is changing based on the player tracking systems and the use of the information that has been gathered.

I am a big fan of Dan John’s writing. This book is more for those interested in the strength and conditioning side, but John is an immensely intelligent and thoughtful coach, and Intervention is another great read.

Kevin Giles is another must-follow on Twitter. This Isn’t a Textbook is a collection of his thoughts, similar to my Hard2Guard Player Development Newsletters. There are so many priceless nuggets of information. Much of the book is track & field-based, but most of the content is transferable to anyone who coaches. I found myself nodding my head in agreement on nearly every page.

This is more like a textbook, and is dense with information, but for those so inclined, it is one of the better books for sports performance that I have read.

One of the biggest surprises to me, as I had not heard of the book or the author prior to purchasing based on my Amazon recommendations. I loved the book. As I am somewhat skeptical of the obsession with overtraining and athlete monitoring, the ideas in the book spoke to me, and I spent some time last spring following the basic methodology.

I found this book too late; I wish that I had found the book when I lived in Utah. Borrowing the Master’s Bicycle is about jiujitsu, but not really. It is very much about teaching and learning by an expert instructor.

The Sports Gene was very informative and well-written. It discusses science, but is very accessible, as David Epstein is a great writer.

Ignore the volleyball-specific strategy if you are not a volleyball coach, but I found a lot of information relevant to coaching any team, especially related to management issues. Mike Herbert also wrote about the competitive cauldron, which I included in The 21st Century Basketball Practice: Modernizing the basketball practice to develop the global player..

A quick read about a different way to look at strength and conditioning and core strength. I pulled some good ideas from this book, and it covers basic movement patterns that everyone should master.

I do not play the guitar, nor do I plan to start, but Gary Marcus’ book is a great introduction into learning. There is plenty of applicable information for coaching sports, and it is presented in a very easy-to-understand manner.

A book about Pixar, but it was a great read and very insightful. Many good thoughts about managing people and the process.

I know very little about rugby, but the book offers tremendous insight and information for teambuilding and coaching.

Probably a little controversial, but Charlie Francis is considered by many to be one of the best sprint coaches in history. While the book covers a lot of the background information into doping and scandals involving athletes, I also pulled out some valuable training information. Interesting book regardless of one’s personal feelings.

Alex Hutchinson is another great Twitter follow and excellent writer. Cardio or Weights is a collection of information related to training. It is written more for the general population than for youth athletes and/or basketball players, but there is some quality information and writing.

I love Gary Klein’s books. He is a great storyteller, and the books explain naturalistic decision-making in the real world, which can be applied to sports.

Along with The Fighter’s Mind: Inside the Mental Game, Sam Sheridan’s books are smartly-written stories about training and pursuing excellence in mixed martial arts and its various forms. He tells great stories, but there are many lessons to learn.

On Looking is probably the least relevant book to coaching on this list, but I enjoyed it and have recommended it to coaches. It’s an interesting look at how we perceive our environment. It’s a little bit of a “stop and smell the roses” book, written by a psychology professor.

I actually saw this on Gambetta’s list last year. It is a great book about rowing (my college sport), U.S. and world history, the 1936 Olympics, and people. It is one of the best sports books that I have read.

A fascinating look at soccer based on the numbers. Not hugely relevant to coaching basketball, but interesting nonetheless.

I am generally not a fan of business books, but I did enjoy Ben Horowitz’s book. Some good lessons on managing people.

An interesting look at periodization for soccer. Not entirely relevant for basketball, but some ideas that one can pull out and test to see how they fit with a different game. An excellent read for anyone who also coaches soccer; I feel like I could win a high-school championship in soccer just by following this book.

I have mixed feelings. The research and science is very interesting, and is surrounded by some compelling stories of people, including the author, overcoming their fears. However, I found there to be too much autobiographical information, as much of the story is based on his personal love story. I found the beginning very interesting and well-written, but almost did not finish the book.

I believe those are the coach-related books. I read a couple more books that I would not recommend and some fiction, but the above list constitutes those books that I would recommend to coaches.

By Brian McCormick, PhD
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League
Author, The 21st Century Basketball Practice

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