While great players are busy training and preparing for this coming spring, great coaches have their noses buried in books and other resources in preparation as well. The winter is a big chunk of time for coaches to soak up information, refine their training methods from previous seasons, and formulate a plan to gain an edge on their opponents.
Below are some great resources all coaches should check out before this spring. I’ve divided them into three categories: Human Behavior, Mental Game, and Training. Coaches cannot just lean on their tactical knowledge of the sport. They must learn how to manage themselves and other people in order to maximize their effectiveness on the field. These resources will help you do just that.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Carnegie was well ahead of his time when he wrote this one over 80 years ago. Throughout the book, Carnegie shares the basics of human motivation and provides practical strategies on how to appeal to other people’s interests, gain their attention, and ultimately increase your ability to influence them. These strategies are applicable for all fields that are highly dependent on interactions with other human beings. Regardless of your tactical knowledge in sport, this is a great book to start with for any coach. Read it, reread it, and take feverish notes.
Conscious Coaching by Brett Bartholomew
Brett’s book is incredibly unique as it breaks down the relational component of coaching like no other - and from the perspective of a strength coach. Brett unpacks the art of coaching and explains why it is so important for coaches to understand themselves before attempting to influence others. He then goes into the archetypes part of the book where he provides examples of different types of athletes and practical solutions to deal with them. Brett’s authenticity and willingness to share his story creates a compelling read that will leave you with a greater understanding of yourself, your athletes, and various patterns of behavior.
Heads Up Baseball 2.0 by Tom Hanson and Ken Ravizza
If you’re just starting out and need a place to start when it comes to the mental game, look no further than this one. Hanson and Ravizza deliver an easy-to-read book that is loaded with information that coaches can implement immediately with their players. Quotes from some of the game’s best coaches and players litter the pages and make for great teaching points when building early engagement for the mental game (why listen to me when Mike Trout can tell you why the mental game is so important?). The book also has interactive sections where athletes are encouraged to journal and answer questions that help build awareness for their process. This book can be utilized in the team setting and is a must read for any baseball coach or player.
The Mental ABCs of Pitching by Harvey Dorfman
Dorfman has written numerous books on the mental game and was one of the early pioneers that helped bring the mental game into big league clubhouses. I chose this one out of all of his texts for similar reasons to Heads Up Baseball - it’s a very easy read with invaluable information. The chapters in this book follow the theme of the alphabet and cover concepts in the mental game from A all the way through Z. Chapters aren’t more than 5-6 pages and can serve as great refreshers for athletes in and out of season. This one is tailored towards the player but coaches need to read it as well. It is also not just specific to pitchers - the same concepts also apply in the batter’s box. You’re making a big mistake if Dorfman isn’t on your reading list this winter.
Old School vs. New School by Eugene Bleeker
If you are a baseball coach, you need to read this one. Bleeker does a masterful job as a middle ground between conflicting views on player development. He shows how technology and other “new school” concepts can enhance the “old school” concepts that have made the game what it is today. Bleeker emphasizes that the two cannot exist in vacuums - they must complement each other. He includes concepts, tips, and drills that coaches can implement immediately with their players to help create certain movement solutions. He also brings an interesting points of view to controversial subjects in baseball such as the “recoil” of the arm in the pitching delivery. Bleeker and his team are doing some impressive work at 108 Performance. You would be very wise to pick this one up and read it this winter if you haven’t already.
Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
In search of the source for the world’s hotbeds of talent, Daniel Coyle goes all in to find how the greatest athletes in the world became so good at what they do. This search explores how both nature and nurture both play a role in the development of world class athletes. Coyle dives into deliberate practice, myelin sheathing, and other techniques that help accelerate the skill acquisition curve. These concepts build the framework for how you can introduce new skills, refine them with practice, and master them so you can transfer them to the playing field. As a coach, you must place a premium on the quality of your practice. Coyle’s work helps you make every second count.