Book reviews

“The only thing that will prevent you from getting better is thinking that you know it all.” That was the advice Fergus Connelly gave us on our podcast this year, and it is a great concept to think about as 2019 draws to a close. So how do you get better? Well, reading books and listening to interviews is certainly one way. That is why,  once again, we have chosen our favorite books of 2019. And equally exciting, we have had the chance to interview almost every author on this list, so if a book intrigues you, you can gain some more insight before you purchase (these are Amazon links FYI and we do make a tiny commission if you buy through this link). Enjoy, and in the comments below, please list any books that you think we may have missed.

2019 Book of the Year

Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein

Easily our favorite book, Range details how the “cult of the head start” and asking 12 year olds to train like Olympians, instead of doing what those Olympians did when they were 12, goes against the science and research regarding how people learn and perform the best in the long term. Epstein is a great storyteller and fantastic writer, and using analogies such as the different backgrounds between Tiger Woods and Roger Federer, he makes a compelling argument that the path to high level performance in any field, from music to sports to academics, is the path of the generalist, and not the early specializer. Get this book for all your favorite people, and go here to listen to our interview with David Epstein about Range. 



2019 Book of the Year Runner-Up

Raise Your Game: High Performance Secrets from the Best of the Best by Alan Stein

“Are the habits you have today on par with the dreams you have for tomorrow?” This is the question performance coach Alan Stein Jr. asks his audiences around the world, as well as during his time working with athletes such as Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and others. His book shares the secret principles used by world-class performers that will help you improve your productivity and achieve higher levels of success. High achievers are at the top of their game because of the discipline they have during the unseen hours. They have made a commitment to establish, tweak, and repeat positive habits in everything they do. RAISE YOUR GAME examines the top leaders in sports and business and proves that success is a result of the little things we do all the time. Click here to listen to our interview with Alan Stein about his book.


Best Books for Coaches

Win the Day: The Ultimate Coach’s Guide to Build and Sustain a Championship Culture by Jerry Lynch

Yes, Jerry is my partner with Way of Champions, so I have some bias on this one, but having worked closely with Jerry these last 5 years, I can tell you that this book contains so much wisdom. Jerry has been a sports psychology consultant for 39 NCAA titles, a consultant to 3 NBA champions, as well as multiple high school, collegiate and professional title winners over five decades of work. In Win the Day, Jerry pulls together the core principles and values that drive and sustain these championship teams, and provides you a great step by step blueprint for establishing your own championship culture. Great teams are outcome aware, but purpose and process driven, and Win the Day teaches you how to do just that with your athletes! Listen here to Jerry and I discussing his newest book. 


59 Lessons: Working with the World’s Greatest Coaches, Athletes and Special Forces by Fergus Connolly

In 59 Lessons Fergus Connolly reveals the secrets learned first-hand from working with the world’s greatest winners. You will learn how the most successful coaches, athletes and special forces lead, manage and win in the most demanding environments. You will learn what makes great players truly special and how the best organizations use technology and people to create sustainable success.This unique insight helps you understand how the world’s elite prepare and win, from Premier League soccer, The NFL, NBA, Olympic Champions, International Rugby and world’s most secret Special Forces. The lessons are short and sweet and contain some impactful stories. Click here to listen to our interview with Connolly.

Calling Up: Discovering Your Journey to Transformational Leadership by J.P. Nerbun

This is a fictional account of a high school basketball coach trying to find his purpose and his leadership style and working to become the coach he always wanted to be, while at the same time trying to keep his job! Calling Up provides coaches with principles based on scientific research and personal experience that explore how people learn, what motivates them, and the human condition. These principles are shared by some of the most highly qualified and successful coaches in sports and J.P. also provides specific tools and explains how those tools are applied within the context of a team. At the end of the day, Calling Up shows coaches not just how to build great athletes, but how to build great people. Click here for our interview with the author.

The Constraints-Led Approach: Principles for Sports Coaching and Practice Design by Ian Renshaw, Keith Davids, Daniel Newcombe, and Will Roberts.

This book attempts to lay out and explain, in a very technical way, how to build dynamic learning environments and practices that actually transfer what happens in training to the competition environment. If you are an experiences coach and want to take your practices to a whole new level dive into this book. There is lots of technical terminology here, but it is a good one for sure! Click here for our interview with author Ian Renshaw.

Best Books for Athletes

Wolfpack: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game by Abby Wambach

You, or preferably your young athlete, can read this book in about 2 hours. I am having my teams read it to prepare for this spring season. Based on her inspiring, viral 2018 commencement speech to Barnard College’s graduates in New York City, New York Times bestselling author, two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA World Cup champion Abby Wambach delivers her empowering rally cry for women to unleash their individual power, unite with their pack, and emerge victorious together. This is a great stocking stuffer for your daughter!! Or maybe even your son! No interview with Abby yet, but working on it!


Hidden Talent: Uncovering What Really Makes a Champion a Champion by Travis Daughtery

Love the Game. Give Your Best. Overcome Adversity.  Seek Improvement. Get Coached. Be a Teammate. Take Risks. Choose a Positive Attitude. These are the attributes of a champion, according to author and long-time coach Travis Daugherty. This book is a great guide for acting like a champion before you become a champion. Click here to listen to our interview with Travis.



If you are looking for additional books, check out our 2014-2018 Book of the Year winners, including great titles such as The Culture Code, Atomic Habits, and more!


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