The books and articles that follow are your must reads for coaching, regardless of what sport you find yourself in. I’ve read hundreds of books, with binders full of notes from each one. I’ve condensed this list to include the foundational texts that provide the most value to a– coach beginner or expert. The goal is to spread a wide net and give the coach a platform off of which to understand multiple domains including: physiology, biomechanics, motivation, team dynamics, history, and more. I’ve also included a “current reads” section which I’ll update with a few books I’m making my way through now. If you follow me on instragram, you’ll no doubt recognize some of these titles from the highlighted passages I post there.

Also, please check out the two books I wrote: Peak Performance and The Science of Running.

These texts are a place to start your journey. The goal is to get you outside your traditional bounds.

 

Current Reads

Status Anxiety
by Alain de Botton
Print | ebook


Homo Deus
by Yuval Harari
Print | ebook


Behave
by Robert Sapolsky
Print | ebook


 

Training Theory and Practice

 

The Science of Running
by Steve Magness
Print | ebook

Review: Shameless plug for my book, but check it out!


The Science of Winning
by Jan Olbrecht
Print

Review: A gem of a science and training book that outlines methods in a completely different way. A must read if you are interested in learning how lactate testing or what the lactate threshold means.


A Scientific Approach to the Marathon
by Renato Canova and Enrico Arcelli

Review: The clearest book explaining Italian coach Renato Canova’s training methods. A must read on understanding modern training methods for the marathon.


Swimming Fastest
by Ernie Maglischo
Print

Review: Another swimming book. This is perhaps the most comprehensive exploration of the applied physiology of training. Also, it’s a great historic overview of swimming training.


Better Training for Distance Runners
by Peter Coe and David Martin
Print

Review: The now classic text combines physiology with Peter Coe’s training methods. While it has its flaws, it’s a good read on understanding an intensity-based approach to training.


Running My Way
by Harry Wilson
Print

Review: The coach of Steve Ovett outlines his philosophy on training.


Healthy Intelligent Training
by Keith Livingstone
Print | ebook

Review: The best modern take on Lydiard training.


Athletic Development
by Vern Gambetta
Print

Review: Before I even knew Vern, I read his book. It’s a foundational piece for understanding movement, strength, and training.


 

Physiology and Biomechanics

 

The Mechanics of Athletics
by Geoffrey Dyson
Print

Review: The classic text on biomechanics for Track and Field. A required text recommended by famed sprint coach Tom Tellez


Lore of Running
by Tim Noakes
Print

Review: A comprehensive book on the science underlying running performance, with a great look at the history of training.


Which Comes First? Cardio or Weights
by Alex Hutchinson
Print | ebook

Review: A book that provides the quick answers to everything we know in exercise science.


Anatomy for Runners
by Jay Dicharry
Print | ebook

Review: An easy but informative read on how to run injury free.  Unlike the hype around certain running styles, Dicharry takes his knowledge as a PT and gives concrete evidence based recommendations.


Running: Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology in Practice
by Frans Bosch
Print

Review: Known for a bit of controversy, Frans Bosch book is a must read for the simple fact that he challenges conventional wisdom and makes you think.


Strength Training and Coordination: An Integrative Approach
by Frans Bosch
Print

Review: Again, whether you agree with him or not Bosch forces thinking, which is what I’m all about.


Road to the Top
by Joe Vigil
Print

Review: Legendary distance coach Dr. Joe Vigil outlines his philosophy that has delivered Olympic medalists and countless college championships.


Science

 

The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease
by Daniel Lieberman
Print | ebook

Review: A look at how the human body evolved to the point it is at today and what the implications are.


Why We Run: A Natural History
by Bernd Heinrich
Print | ebook

Review: A scientific exploration of how we evolved to be runners.


The Sports Gene
by David Epstein
Print | ebook

Review: A fantastic read blending stories and science to look at the actual talent of great performers.


Bad Science
by Ben Goldacre
Print | ebook

Review: If you want to learn how to read and interpret science, this is the book for you.


Why Zebras don’t get Ulcers
by Robert Sapolsky
Print | ebook

Review: If you want to understand stress and how we adapt to it, which is fundamental to training, read this book.


Allostasis, Homeostasis, and the Cost of Physiological Adaptation
by Jay Schulkin
Print

Review: Traditionally we think of Stress using Hans Selye’s model. Schulkin updates the science and provides a clearer view on how we actually adapt. This is fundamental for understanding training stress and recovery!


Psychology and Understanding People

How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brains
by Lisa Feldman Barrett
Print | ebook


The Rare Find
by George Anders
Print | ebook

Review: Need to understand how to spot talent? This is the book for you.


The Willpower Instinct
by Kelly McGonigal
Print | ebook

Review: An intro  on how willpower impacts our lives. Throughout this book there are many connections back to the world of exercise and performance.


Why Everyone (Else) is a Hypocrite
by Robert Kurzban
Print | ebook

Review: Think you know how your mind works? Kurzban explains how it actually does and why you are likely wrong. Fantastic read.


Stranger to Ourselves
by Timothy Wilson
Print | ebook

Review: Wilson explains how the unconscious influences our decision making and our world. Important for coaches he discusses how our inner narrative is what matters and how we can go about influencing that.


Grit
by Angela Duckworth
Print | ebook

Review: Duckworth summarizes her research on the concept of Grit. While the concept has reached fad like over exuberance, Duckworth does a fantastic job of keeping the big picture in mind and not falling into the trap of proclaiming ‘this’ is the answer.


The Biology of Desire
by Marc Lewis
Print | ebook

Review: This book is about addiction, but in reality, it’s about desire and motivation. The same processes that lead to addictions, lead to our obsessions with training, sport, or any other endeavor in life where we are fully engaged. In this book, you’ll learn how this process works on a neural level. If you want to understand how to motivate people, read this book


Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing
by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
Print | ebook

Review: All you need to know is in the title of this book. The authors do a fabulous job outlining the science of competition and how to take advantage of it.


Sacred Hoops
by Phil Jackson
Print | ebook

Review: The classic from the Zen master of Basketball coaching guides you on how to build and motivate a team.


Leaders Eat Last
by Simon Sinek
Print | ebook

Review: Sinek’s book is a must read for understanding team dynamics and the role the coach plays in creating them.


History of Training

 

How They Train
by Fred Wilt
Print

Review: This series takes week long training snippets from the off-season and in-season of the champion runners of the 1920’s-60’s.


Run, Run, Run
by Fred Wilt
Print

Review: A must read, it explores everything training related as seen from a 1960’s viewpoint. Learn your history!


Running to the Top
by Arthur Lydiard
Print

Review: Learn the viewpoints of training from a coach who changed the paradigm.


Track and Field Omnibook
by Ken Doherty
Print

Review: The classic text on training for all events. Get the older version, not the new one.


A Cold Clear Day
by Frank Murphy
Print

Review: The biography of former Marathon World Record Holder Buddy Edelen. Filled with training log excerpts, it’s a great read on training in the 1950’s.


Training with Cerutty
by Larry Myers
Print

Review: The most comprehensive book for understanding the training methods of the eccentric coach of Herb Elliott, Percy Cerutty.


The Van Aaken Method
by Ernst Van Aaken
Print

Review: A look at Ernst Van Aaken’s training methods, a man who espoused aerobic development before it was popular.


Fast Science: A History of Training Theory and Methods for Elite Runners
by Nicholas Bourne
Link to Article

Review: This is an incredible resource. Bourne traces the history of endurance training from the beginning of time into the modern era. The culmination of his efforts is his disertation which you can access free from the above link.


Philosophy

 

Man’s Search for Meaning
by Viktor Frankl
Print | ebook

Review: Just go buy this book and read it. It’s at the top of the must read list. Psychologist Viktor Frankl explores how he survived concentration camps during the Holocaust.


On the Shortness of Life
by Seneca
Print | ebook

Review: Ancient wisdom on how to live life. Seneca preaches practical advice using the Stoic philosophy.


Letters from a Stoic
by Seneca
Print | ebook

Review: More Ancient Wisdom. It might seem strange why all of these philosophy books are included for a coach, but this is what matters. Solving problems and having a framework from which to do so! Philosophy can provide that framework.


Meditations
by Marcus Aurelius
Print | ebook

Review: The Roman Emperor’s diary provides timeless advice on life’s most difficult problems. My favorite text of any of the Stoic philosophers.


Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
by Robert Pirsig
Print | ebook

Review: This is a classic for a reason. It’s a life lesson in understanding how to think and focus.


The World Beyond Our Head: On Becoming an Individual in the Age of Distraction
by Matthew Crawford
Print | ebook

Review: A thought-provoking treatise on how we should live our life. Another book that simply makes you think and evaluate the world through a slightly different lens.


Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself
by David Lipsky
Print | ebook

Review: Lipsky spends time with best-selling authoutDavid Foster Wallace in a wonderful exploration of life filled with lessons about how one should approach life.


How to Stay Sane
by Phillipa Perry
Print | ebook


Understanding and Thinking

Great Thinkers: Simple Tools from 60 Great Thinkers to Improve Your Life Today
by Alain de Botton
Print | ebook


Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking
by Dan Dennett
Print | ebook

Review: Philosopher Dan Dennett has coalesced dozens of methods and tools to use to solve difficult problems.


Thinking Fast and Slow
by Daniel Kahneman
Print | ebook

Review: A masterpiece explaining how our minds work. Kahneman explores our biases and how they impact our daily life. Must read.


The Art of Learning
by Josh Waitzkin
Print | ebook

Review: A fantastic book using the author’s success in chess as a means to understand how to improve our learning ability. This is a primer on the science of learning.


Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder
by Nassim Taleb
Print | ebook

Review: If nothing else, Taleb forces you to think. This book is chock full of heuristics and lessons that can be applied to coaching. A must read for any coach.


Make it Stick
by Peter Brown
Print | ebook

Review: The best book on the science of learning. If you are an educator of any kind, this book is a must read.


Riveted
by Jim Davies
Print | ebook

Review: The author provides us with annderstanding of what makes and keeps us interested and engaged.


Thinking: The New Science of Decision Making
by John Brockman
Print | ebook

Review: A collection of some of the best thinkers in the world on thinking.


Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing
by Jamie Holmes
Print | ebook

Review: Holmes flips conventional wisdom on its head and explains why not knowing is the key to success.


Originals: How Nonconformist Change the World
by Adam Grant
Print | ebook

Review: Grant explores what separates those who innovate from those who stick with the status quo.


Writing

 

On Writing
by Stephen King
Print | ebook

Review: A fantastic memoir where you understand the process of great performance.


Several Short Sentences About Writing
by Verlyn Klinkenborg
Print | ebook

Review: The author makes the case for simplicity in writing. He not only espouses shortness, but he writes the book in a unique way to deliver on his point.

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