My 2017 Reading List

In the tradition of lists from 2014, 2015, and 2016, here is my reading list for 2017.

The Athletic Skills Model: Optimizing Talent Development Through Movement Education – Rene Wormhoudt

I admit that I have waited for this book for nearly 5 years and the authors are preaching to the choir. It is a very good book, but for a model, I would like a few more details. I like the book because it conforms to much of what I believe: early diversification, more focus on motor control, differential learning, and more. It is a good mix of the practical and theoretical.

Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALS, and Maverick Scientists are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work – Steven Kotler

I like Kotler’s The Rise of Superman better, but he does a good job of mixing stories with science. The book recommends everything from meditation to pharmacological aids in the pursuit of creativity and flow.

Now What? The Ongoing Pursuit of Improved Performance – Dan John

As I have written elsewhere, Dan John is my favorite writer in athletic development. Easy Strength is one of the books that I recommend the most. Now What summarizes many of his ideas from past books and provides some clear advice to make change. His wisdom is simple, yet profound.

Shakespeare the Coach – Ricin’s Charlesworth

An interesting look at the issues of coaching through the lens of Shakespeare.

The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation – Thich Nhat Hanh

I just couldn’t get into this book.

Sports Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation: Integrating Medicine and Science for Performance Solutions – David Joyce and Daniel Lewindon

I did not read this book from cover to cover. I have skimmed specific chapters at specific times. It is a valuable resource to which I can refer when a player is injured, and I need some new ideas to assist the player with her rehab.

Comprehensive Strength and Conditioning: Physical Preparation for Sports Performance – Paul Gamble

I read this book to see if it would be a better book for the Introduction to Strength & Conditioning class that I taught. I preferred it to the text that we used. It is a good, easy to use guide for S&C.

Leading: Learning from Life and My Years at Manchester United – Alex Ferguson

I generally am not a fan of coach’s autobiographies, but this starts strong before petering out a the end. The book has great insights into leadership and the management of the team.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups or How to Build the Future – Peter Thiel

An interesting look at business that has some cross over to sports, especially with the emphasis on principles instead of formulas.

Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decisions – Gerd Gigerenzer

A good explanation of the importance of rules of thumb or heuristics when faced with uncertainty.

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise – K. Anders Ericsson

I know virtually every coach recommends this book, but I found it somewhat disingenuous. I never heard Ericsson question Gladwell’s interpretation of his research until scientists such as Ross Tucker began to debate his research methods and conclusions. I also find it hard to believe that he has never heard of Jean Cote and Cote and colleagues’ research into deliberate play. There may be nuggets of value in the book, but these are the issues that stand out to me.

Confessions of an Imperfect Coach: An Experiment in Team Culture That Changed Everything – Kate Leavell

Leavell is a lacrosse coach, but the book is about coaching and team culture, not lacrosse. The big take away from the book is to read Energy Bus by Jon Gordon. There are some good parts, and some good reminders for coaches who are feeling bad or feeling like they are failing, but overall, the book rambles.

Additionally, I read several books by Simon Rich, finally finished Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon, and thoroughly enjoyed Exit West: A Novel by Mohsin Hamid, which was my favorite book of the year.

Specialization vs. Generalization

Originally published in Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, July/August 2015.

During their high-school years, I trained two brothers. They were bright and athletic. When I first met them when they were in middle school, they mentioned a desire to play basketball at Stanford University in the future. Despite their similarities, they differed. Everything appeared to be easy for the older brother, whereas the younger brother tended to work harder. The older brother had varied interests, whereas the young brother focused more on basketball. The older brother was regarded as the better player almost until the day that he quit competitive basketball, but it was the younger brother who set records at his university and played professionally. The older brother, when he chose to quit basketball, pursued his other interests in music and found success.  Read more

Prioritizing your practice design

“If, for whatever reason, you were only allowed three 15-minute sessions a week, what would you do?”

The question above is from Dan John’s Can You Go? and is related to strength & conditioning, not basketball. However, the question is one for a coach to consider. If restricted to three 15-minute sessions per week, what would you do? Read more

Elite Athletes Build Broad-Based Foundations

Originally published in Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, September 2012.

While in Paris, I marveled at the subway system. In the United States, as cities on the west coast attempt to develop subway systems, local governments are caught in a network dilemma: A network improves as more people join the network, but local governments cannot justify the expense to expand without more users. In Paris, subway lines crisscross the city: There was no place that was not easily accessible through the subway and a short walk. This is a mature network; as more people use a particular line, more trains are added, and the line improves in quality and speed. In Los Angeles, the problem with the subway is that the lines do not crisscross the city: Plenty of locations are completely inaccessible by the subway. Due to the inaccessibility, fewer people use the subway; however, to build the additional lines, there has to be a demand: It’s a catch-22.  Read more

General Preparation Before Basketball-Specific Training

Basketball-specific or sport-specific training is the rage. Trainers and strength coaches market their training as basketball-specific, as the rash to specialize early hastens the demand for sport-specific training. Read more

  • What Is A Playmaker?

    Who decided that a point guard has to be small? More importantly, what is a point guard? We expect a point guard to be a leader and have a high basketball I.Q. Why don’t we expect or challenge all players to develop this game awareness? Why rely on only one player? Read more →
  • The PBDL Concept

    English soccer academies wait until players are 11 to play full 11v11 soccer; in Italy, youth basketball players participate in skill-oriented clinics at 6-years-old, but start competitive games at 12. In the United States, kids play 5v5 full court games and compete for national championships when they are 8-years-old.

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  • Starting A PBDL

    The PBDL emphasizes learning and development. Presently, players and parents have numerous recreation options - leagues based on fun and equal participation, typically for beginners - and numerous competitive opportunities - teams focused on strategy, game preparation and winning. There are few true development leagues - until now.

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