By John O'Sullivan
November 18, 2015
All great leaders, great coaches, great athletes, and great parents are lifelong learners. Every great coach I have met has been a lifelong student of coaching, leadership, psychology and more. Here at the Changing the game Project, we are always looking for the latest and greatest information on talent development, leadership, building culture, and being a great parent. This year was no different, and it was very difficult to cull this list down to a few books.
Below are the best books I have read in 2015, divided into categories of books for parents, for coaches, and for athletes. I hope you are able to find a book or two on this list for your holiday reading, and as gifts for the coaches, parents and athletes in your life. Click on any of the images or links and they will take you to Amazon (full disclosure, they are affiliate links, so the Changing the Game Project makes about .30 if you buy a book). Also, in the comments below, feel free to share any books you read this year that you would add to this list.
2015 Book of the Year for Parents
The Matheny Manifesto: A Young Manager’s Old-School Views on Success in Sports and Life by Mike Matheny
St Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny gained notoriety in the youth sports world a few years ago with his famous 5000 word letter to the parents of a little league team he was about to coach. This book takes that letter to a whole new level, and is fantastic for both parents and coaches to read. It details Matheny’s time as a youth player and the important lessons learned from his coaches, especially those who focused on developing him as a player instead of winning a specific game. He discusses how his parents created an environment to follow his dreams, and how he took those parenting and coaching lessons and brought them to a group of youth baseball players (and now, many of them to the Cardinals as well). This book may be the single best book I have ever read on how to be a great parent and coach for young athletes, and is deserving of our book of the year!
2015 Book of the Year for Coaches
The most successful sports team in the professional era is not the Yankees, or Real Madrid, or the Celtics; it’s the New Zealand All Blacks Rugby team, with an astonishing 87% winning percentage. In November 2015, they also became the first nation ever to win back to back Rugby World Cups. Their secret sauce: CULTURE! I don’t think I have ever read a book where I dog-eared or underlined so often. I eventually gave up because there is a gem on every page. Every team has a culture, whether you are coaching 6th grade basketball or college football, and coaches who intentionally create a great culture and develop good people win a lot more championships than those who leave it to chance. If you want a blueprint for success for your team, read Legacy!
2015 Book of the Year for Athletes
Jon Gordon’s books are easy to read stories that teach valuable lessons about life, teamwork, and leadership. I was introduced to Jon this year, and as you will see on the list below I devoured his work. Training Camp is the story of an undrafted rookie trying to make the NFL, a classic “little guy with a big heart” story. It is also a tale of a friendship with a transformational coach who shares eleven life-changing lessons that help take players to the next level, on and off the field.
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