Book Reviews about Coaching

Book Reviews Mr. T in DC via Compfight

Starting this Friday I will be posting a book review each week.

It is my intention to read and review books about coaching, leadership and communication but I am sure that I will veer into other topics at times, with an occasional novel thrown in for good measure.

I will try and tie it all back to the art of coaching, but you know, some days I will fail.

I have written several book reviews on this blog already.  I also have a resource page with many reviews.

Here is a list of some of the books I have discussed before:

Carol Dweck’s Mindset

Dean Smith: A Coach’s Life.

Finding Flow

The Antidote


You can also find a review of Steven Pressfield’s Do the Work and Earl Weaver’s excellent book on strategy at the PTM Blog.



Jim leyland

I enjoyed this article on by Howard Bryant about Jim Leyland whose Detroit Tigers are competing in the world series. Well written and insightful the piece captures the paradoxes in Leyland’s coaching style and philosophy that make him successful.

In some ways he’s old school–direct, disciplined, and authentic–and in other ways he’s very modern–a coach who trusts his players.

He is  the coach at the highest level of his game who never spent one minute as a player in the same arena, yet has earned the respect of the best players. Leyland makes this very interesting point about what is required for great players who become coaches:

“I think it is one of those things where sometimes you have to earn respect and sometimes you have to lose respect, and so I try to just do my job and not talk too much about it and hopefully you gain their respect,” he said. “I’ve said a lot when you’re a manager like I was coming up, I had to earn the players’ respect. And when you’re another manager that was a big league player and had a good playing career or something like that, you probably have to lose the players’ respect. So there is a little bit of difference.”

It’s an entertaining article that helps set the stage as we gear up for the World Series.

The Element of Luck

Can you make your own luck? Can you deal with some failure in order to create success?

There is an interesting interview up on Wired.CO.UK  with Frans Johansson, the author of the new book The Click Moment.

I want to point to one interesting question and response which reminded me that not only do individuals need a “growth mindset” to be successful which I have written about before, but companies and teams do as well.

You have to be willing to make your way through some failure in order to get to the point of success.  Here’s the question and answer:

“What sort of people do you need for this kind of approach?
You need a passionate team that has the wherewithal to stick with it through the inevitable mistakes they’ll make. This requires companies to reward output instead of punishing failure. Action matters more than sitting and running numbers. If you decrease the cost of failure you will see that people’s risk tolerance will go up.”

The implication for coaches is clear. Celebrate risk taking, create a culture in which your athletes try new things, see the effort and intent over the outcome and you will end up with a team willing to learn, to explore, to get out of the comfort zone.

I do not mean this in a vacuous way where praise is without meaning, but rather when the consequences are real, winning and losing are on the line, hold steady to your principles. When success comes later, even if it appears to be separate, the ability to stay the course will have mattered.  To some degree you made your own luck, by the ability to stay the course through the difficult.

For instance, in that tight game when an athlete tries something you have been working on for weeks and fails. Acknowledge that courage even if you need to suggest the alternatives within the context of that particular game.

Make it safe to grow.


Conversations with Dave

The other day I was working out with Dave, my personal trainer. We started to discuss the impact of coaching on our playing.

He’s a lifter, a big guy, but lean. You can tell he has put in his time in the weight room.

Anyway, he mentioned that since he has started training other people it has completely changed him as an athlete. He can look at the workout posted for him and make adjustments, tweek things and make the days’ workout fit him better.

What ensued from there was a discussion of the value of learning to coach while still playing the game; the value of being able to teach and the “ahas” that emerge for an athlete about her own game after trying to help another person develop.

You see college players who make strides after learning to coach in the summer at an elite soccer camp where they really had a chance to teach. In trying to make others see, they saw more for themselves.

It makes them better players.

But, Dave also made another point. An equally important point. “It’s also good that I have kept training even after I have switched to making my living from coaching and not from competing”, he said.

“Why”, I said, “because you can improve your own workouts so much?”

“No,” he explained, “I am more forgiving of my clients. When I look at the sheet on the wall I realize I cannot do it all any more. Somethings I adjust the workout because I can’t do the same things anymore without hurting myself.  Things I used to do easily. It makes me more forgiving of my clients and more understanding that some things are just hard for some of us to do. I judge less.”

The words have resonated with me for the past week.

I hope I too will be more compassionate towards athletes and remember just how difficult it is to execute a skill in the midst of physical and psychological pressure of a competitive match.

I accept that the professionals are compensated to bear that pressure and to some degree to live with our judgments, but our youth and high school athletes deserve a less exacting critic and a more forgiving fan.

I intend to be one.

learning to coach

Healthy Competition

Brad-Friedel-Healthy Competition stiksa via Compfight

In case you were looking for more reasons to respect Brad Friedel, the 41 year old goalkeeper with Tottenham in the EPL, Grant Wahl is up with a piece on about Friedel’s recent benching and competition for playing time.

The piece includes this gem:

“So we have a competition now. It’s healthy, but there’s a competition. It’s friendly,” Friedel continued. “It’s going to be a situation where André will choose a team that he feels will win the game on the day, and that’s how it’ll be from now until the end of the season. I don’t think anyone will be ‘guaranteed’ starts, if you like.”

A coaching decision ended his record-setting streak for games started at 310. Wahl writes:

As for the end of his playing streak, Friedel said he’s keeping things in perspective. “When I ended last season and played all the games, I went into the summer sort of half-expecting this year would be when the run would end at some stage,” he said. “You never know when it will end. But 310 consecutive games, can I complain? No. I never put myself out on the field in a game just to make that number, and I don’t think any manager put me out there because of the number. It’s an achievement that I’m proud of, not just because of the number but ultimately because I’ve kept my form up for this long.”

A streak like this always has to come to an end, but Friedel models true class and demonstrates the role healthy competition can play in creating a tremendous career.

You can read the full article here.

It includes an update on the MLS playoffs and CONCACAF Champions League.

Do You Have a Leadership Problem?

A friend sent me a link to a piece Forbes is running entitled “15 Ways to Identify a Bad Leader.” Many of the items on the list will resonate with coaches. You can go here for the list, but here’s an excerpt from author Micheal Myatt which makes the case for the list’s relevance:

“In a previous piece entitled Looking For Leadership, I share a number of concerns about corporate America’s obsession over leadership assessments. There’s a not so subtle abdication of responsibility that has occurred as rationalizations take place around DISC scores, or justifications surrounding a 360 review are used to defend an ineffective leader. My question is this: what about real world tests? If your enterprise has trouble identifying leaders, or has a shortage of leaders, you don’t have a testing problem – you have a leadership problem. One of the primary responsibilities of leadership is to create more and better leaders. I believe it was John Maxwell who said, “there is no success without a successor.”

Go ahead, test if you must, but paying attention to the following 15 items (listed in no particular order) will be much more practical, accurate, and effective. If your organization has leaders who fail to grasp the concepts outlined below, you may want to stop testing them, ranking them, and promoting them – instead consider developing them or exiting them.”

This last point is the crucial one. Do you have an intention to develop leaders in your organization?  A list of qualities you believe in is a good start to assessing leaders, but it has limited value if your efforts end there.