Last year, I produced a list of the best books that I read in 2014, inspired by Verb Gambetta, and throughout the year, I have been asked for book recommendations (Of course, my first recommendations are the four books that I wrote in 2015: Fake Fundamentals, SABA: The Antifragile Offense, Fake Fundamentals Volume 2, and 21st Century Guide to Individual Skill Development). This year, I decided to publish the list prematurely in the event that people needed a Christmas present for their favorite coach, parent of an athlete, or athlete.
Strength Training and Coordination: An Integrative Approach
I generally do not buy anything but Kindle books now, but I made an exception for this book by Frans Bosch (available here). I have known of Bosch for several years, and took a trip to Ireland when I was coaching in Denmark to attend a clinic of his. Therefore, I have anticipated the English translation of this book for years, and I was not disappointed. I spoke at the Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group conference (Part 1 and 2) about motor learning principles in strength & conditioning (paper based on presentation), and that’s essentially what this book covers. It is written for open-minded strength coaches; it’s content has already spurred several debates on Twitter. This is not a casual read, but for someone involved with strength and conditioning or with an interest in motor learning principles, it is one of the best books on the market, and my #1 recommendation of the year.
Youth Development in Football
This is a well-researched look into various aspects of elite soccer academies in Europe. I recommend it primarily for those interested in development systems. It’s applicability for basketball coaches or parents is questionable, but it is a very good book filled with interesting information about talent development.
The Rise of Superman
I hesitated to purchase The Rise of Superman because I figured that it was another pop science book like Outliers or Bounce. In some respects, it is, but it tackles a much different subject. Using the world of extreme or adventure sports, Kotler argues for flow as the ideal learning environment. I enjoyed the book, and it makes for a solid read for coaches and parents.
Body & Mature Behavior
I am a fan of Moshe Feldenkrais, and consequently I enjoyed this book. The book is an interesting lookout how the mental and physical complement each other, and mental problems are manifested in physical problems and vice versa. His argument is that you cannot fix the problem unless you change the mind and body. If you are stressed, and have tension in your shoulders, you can get a massage, but that change is temporary; the fix is to change whatever causes the stress. The book covers far more, and is far more complex, but that is a small example.
The Importance of Walking
Full disclosure, I met Stephen Jungmann several years ago. Ignore the title, as the book has nothing to do with walking. It is an interesting story about talent development and dreams, and the importance of a mentor to challenge one to follow his or her dreams. If you want a book on the talent development process, and prefer to read a story/memoir to a research-based text, this is an excellent book by a smart guy.
Playing Better Soccer is More Fun
I found Larry Paul via YouTube, and a friend recommended this book. I’d recommend it 100% for a soccer coach. For a basketball coach, there are always things that can ignite creativity, and for it’s price it is worth the expense, but it’s not as directly applicable as some other books.
A Symphony in the Brain
The book is about neurofeedback, which I found very interesting, and which will become a more established manner of athletic improvement in the future, as some athletes already use forms of neurofeedback in their training. That is not, however, what the book is about, as it primarily covers the science behind neurofeedback.
Performance Soccer Coach
The book started strong. It is a quick read. It has some useful ideas for coaches that can be applied regardless of sport. It is more about the coaching process than about soccer. There are definitely a few good take-aways for all coaches.
The First 20 Hours
This book appeared in my Amazon recommendations for months and months, and I put off buying it. Finally, I read Kaufman’s other book,The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business, and it convinced me to try the book. My initial instincts were right. The book is not very good and provides almost no new or insightful information. If you are intrigued by the title, watch his Tedx talk; it basically covers everything and is more entertaining than the book.
Search Inside Yourself
I was motivated to read a book about motivation and mindfulness. This held my attention for roughly 10% of the book. The rest was filling pages with more words to turn a decent article into a large book. I would not recommend this book to anyone for any reason.
I read many other books this year, especially fiction, but these are the ones that pertain the most to coaching and youth sports. On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft is a great book by Stephen King on the writing process (and his early life), and The Reluctant Fundamentalist was probably my favorite book of fiction that I read this year.