I stumbled across a book at a thrift store a few weeks ago that really challenged my thinking about what motivates young athletes. The book, Amazing Racers: The Story of America's Greatest Running Team and its Revolutionary Coach is a compelling story about a unique coach and his ability to take seemingly mediocre high school athletes and turn them into teams that win perennial national championships. I was talking about the book to some coaching colleagues and it led me to wonder, what are coaches reading this summer?
Tony Brown, Head Coach, Vassar College, Rugby
This summer I've decided to get a subscription to The Rugby Site. Since it is NZ based I'm hoping to garner different insights into player development.
I just read The Exe Men, the story of my hometown team’s promotion to the English Premiership and, over a 10 year period, winning a Premiership title and the European Cup. Team culture is an area that is so critical to success and they have an environment that is respected. It is so hard to create one at the constantly changing collegiate level.
Jaime Burke: Women's 15s National Team Assistant Coach, Coach, Colorado Grey Wolves WPL
I am reading (or just finished) How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram Kendi and White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. I am reading a lot of books on racism/anti-racism because I think it's important for my continual growth. Systemic racism impacts huge swathes of the population and if I can be an ally in breaking down those systems I need to understand the issues. As a coach, I think it is important that we never forget that our players are complete people with histories and experiences that may not align with our own. These lived experiences impact them and the team on and off the field. So anything I can do to make sure I am learning more about intersectionality, making the world more just, and engaging with the world will help me be a better coach; someone better able to support my players.
I’m also reading Mindset by Carol Dweck. I read this a long time ago as a player but felt like I wanted to read it again now with a coach hat on to see how it shifted my perspective. It has helped me think about the language I use, the things I emphasize, as well as how I think of myself as a coach.
Happiness by Thich Nhat Hahn. A book that reminds me to stay mindful and grounded. And finally, Under Wildwood, which is the second book in a young adult sci-fi series. I love sci-fi and young adult books for the mind-candy, escapist aspect of them as well as the balance they bring to my life. I like to get lost in a good story.
Emilie Bydwell, High Performance Director, Women, USA Rugby
Between the WNT 15’s DTE, Olympic 7’s, the Academy 7s program and TWO BEAUTIFUL baby girls, I am just ‘off the ball’. Reading this summer is time with my babies so I’m currently reading Dear Girl, Giraffes Can't Dance, and Little Blue Truck
Rebecca Carlson, Head Coach Quinnipiac University
Think Again by Adam Grant
This book offers tremendous insight into how to ask more questions rather than making assumptions about another's position. This book helped me to recognize my own biases and the assumptions I make about my players. It’s encouraged me to ask more questions rather than believing my experience is the best compass. When we believe we know it all, it can be detrimental to our growth and the growth of our athletes. The residual effects of our athletes being uncomfortable with conflict or disagreement spills over onto the field, if we are not prepared to ask questions, to challenge our assumptions, then our coaching world becomes very small.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk
Every year our job becomes more demanding - we are expected to be mentors, therapists, counselors, problem solvers, and managers. As a result most coaches feel overwhelmed, understaffed and under-resourced. Understanding trauma and how it manifests itself among our athletes is crucial to our ability to be effective coaches. But also how to set healthy boundaries for ourselves. This book has helped me reflect on some of the more challenging athletes I've coached. This is a heavy read but it's well worth it.
Olivia Benson Daniels, Head Coach, Brandeis University Women’s Rugby, Head Coach, St. Mary’s High School Girls team, Assistant Coach, Free Jacks Academy
I'm trying to finish three books this summer - Harvard Business Review (HRB) 10 Must Reads on Mental Toughness (with bonus interview Post-Traumatic Growth and Building Resilience with Martin Seligman) and HBR's 10 Must Reads on Managing Yourself, which I initially picked to help me with my day job as a manager. I saw a lot of overlap with skills I need/use as a coach with those of a manager. I’m also reading Legacy by James Kerr. Culture is so vital to a team's success and Legacy really gets into that idea of short and long term culture building.
Katy Dowty, Head Coach, Dartmouth University, Women’s Rugby
I'm reading Unholy Union at the suggestion of one of our players. Also Essentialism and Effortless by Greg McKeown. I stumbled upon Greg McKeown via some podcasts. "If you focus on what you lack, you'll start to lose what you have. If you focus on what you have, you'll start to gain what you lack." I heard this from a McKeown podcast yesterday, which prompted me to want to read his work.
I'm a fan of Outward Mindset from the Arbinger Institute. This book is about the power of thinking ‘outwardly.’ All my favorite reads come back to this idea of mindset.