Summer Reading! 15 Books That Will Make You A Better Basketball Coach

By Jeff Huber

Mark Twain famously said, "The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read."

In all professions, experience is a great teacher. However, you are slowing your growth if you only learn from your own experience.

The best learn not only from themselves but from others as well.

How can you speed up your learning curve? One great way to do so is by reading. You may not be able to talk to Bill Belichick, but you can read about him and learn his ways.

The summer is a great time to do this. You have more time to process than you do in the middle of the season.

So, kick your feet up and learn from some of the best minds around!

15 Books That Will Make You A Better Basketball Coach

  1. The Coaches Guide To Teaching by Doug Lemov - this book is a master's class in coaching methodology. Lemov uses data and stories to illustrate best practices on topics like giving feedback, working memory, asking questions, and building culture. Have a highlighter handy as this book has something for everyone.
  2. The Language of Coaching by Nick Winkelman - another book that focuses on the technical aspects of coaching, in particular how we choose and use our words. Winkelman goes in depth on feedback and cueing and provides useful strategies for communicating with athletes in a way that brings out their best performance.
  3. They Call Me Coach by John Wooden - this book gives an overview of the philosophy of arguably the most successful college basketball coach ever. Much of this book focuses on the soft skills that separate the good from the great. Readers will be struck by Wooden's depth of character. It's no coincidence that he was so successful.
  4. The Education Of A Coach by David Halberstam - this biography of Bill Belichick shines a light on the notoriously private coach. It shows how through hard work, Belichick became one of the greatest coaches in all of sports. Of particular note is the way Belichick learned from his first failed coaching stint in Cleveland.
  5. The Miracle Of St. Anthony by Adrian Wojnarowski - this book provides a behind the scenes look at the St. Anthony program. Woj, long before he started dropping Woj bombs, spent a year assisting and chronicling the Friars program. The book illustrates what made Bob Hurley Sr. such a phenomenal coach and a lasting influence in the lives of his players.
  6. Toughness by Jay Bilas - Bilas compiles lessons learned from his playing and announcing career to address what true toughness is. Too many players and coaches associate toughness with outward acts of unnecessary aggression. Bilas describes what true toughness is in ways that are applicable for everyone.
  7. Basketball On Paper by Dean Oliver - analytics are all the rage in today's game. Oliver is considered the godfather of analytics in basketball. This book provides an overview of what stats matter. While many youth and even high school coaches have limited access to analytics, everyone can learn and use some of his insights.
  8. The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle - Coyle looks at talent hotbeds in disparate fields like music and sports. He then finds the similarities between those who excel. As coaches, we should look to apply his findings within our teams to help our players improve.
  9. The 21st Century Basketball Practice by Brian McCormick- McCormick applies cutting edge methods to the game of basketball. While some might find him a contrarian, all will be challenged to think about the way they design practice in light of his ideas.
  10. Practice Perfect by Doug Lemov - another gem from Lemov. This book goes over 42 methods to design better practices. While you may already be doing many of these well, you undoubtedly will be able to learn a few new methods that will make you a better teacher and coach.
  11. The Score Takes Care Of Itself by Bill Walsh - Walsh, the Hall of Fame football coach, goes in depth on how he built the 49ers into the team of the 80's. He gives readers many of the processes and protocols he used to build a great team. And as the title says, with the correct processes in place, the score generally takes care of itself.
  12. The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle - Coyle is back on the list with this follow up to The Talent Code. Coyle examines how the best teams (he looks at the Spurs) and organizations build great cultures. The book goes beyond theory to deliver usable content that any coach would benefit from.
  13. The Culture System by JP Nerbun - another excellent culture book. Nerbun creates an entire system to help build a winning culture. The system covers all parts of culture, starting with the coach. It is easy to follow, and will make your team a closer and more connected group.
  14. The Politics Of Coaching by Carl Pierson - Pierson explores the dark side of coaching. While we may wish these challenges didn't exist, Pierson helps prepare coaches for how to deal with parents, boosters, administration and other issues that can present challenges to a coach. It's a worthy summer read so that when situations arise during the year, you'll be prepared.
  15. The Best Laid Plans Of A High School Basketball CEO by Matt Kramer and Randy Montgomery - this book is extremely actionable. It goes through many of the parts of the job (youth programs, hiring assistants, practice planning, scheduling, etc.) and provides insights into how to do them well. Kramer and Montgomery share their experiences as high school coaches so that we can all learn and be better.
  16. Bonus: Wooden: A Lifetime Of Observations And Reflections On And Off The Court- it's just too hard to sum up Coach Wooden's knowledge in one book so here's a second one of his books. A really easy read filled with pearls of wisdom that will make you a better coach and person!

    While these are some of my favorites, I'm always looking for good coaching books! Please share your favorites in the comments!


    We started with one quote. Let's end with another.

    President Harry Truman said "Not all readers are leaders. But all leaders are readers."

    You are a leader. The leader of your team.

    Make sure you are a reader too. You'll be a better coach for it!

    What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


    Most Likes First   Oldest First   Newest First

    Jeff says:
    5/26/2024 at 1:17:36 AM

    2 Books
    1. "Deep Skill: The Basketball Coaches and Players Guide to Understanding and Developing True Skill" - Coleman Ayers
    2. "Coaching Better Every Season: A Year-Round System for Athlete Development and Program Success" - Wade Gilbert


    Mike says:
    5/25/2024 at 11:00:52 AM

    3 Books:
    1. "Great Stuff Players Should Know" - Dick Divenzio

    2. "Multiple Offenses and Defenses" - Dean Smith

    3. " Basketball by Knight and Newell". 2 book set by Book bby Knight


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