Top 7 Books for Basketball Coaches of 2014

Top 7 Books for basketball coachesAll great coaches are life-long learners. I haven’t met many coaches that don’t love to sit down a devour a good book. I know I do.

I personally finished 24 books this year. Not as many as I would like, but a decent amount while we all try to juggle the other parts of life.

Not all of the books I read were basketball related, but I’ve chosen my favorite 7 that relate to basketball in some way, since if you’re on the BFC website, they’ll probably appeal to you.

Here’s my top 7 in no particular order…


1. The Golden Whistle – Jim Burson


This book teaches life lessons through 10 Golden Nuggets with the story of an up-and-coming coach (Little K) learning from a coach at the height of his career (Ted Faylor).

The lessons you will learn from this book extend far beyond the basketball court. They’re life lessons. You will learn learn things that will not only make you a better coach, but a better person.

It’s far more about the relationships and communication with players than the x’s and o’s of basketball.

This book is required reading for every coach.


2. Burn Your Goals – Joshua Medcalf and Jamie Gilbert


This book challenges the widely-believed assumption that we should all have goals we are shooting for. Whether that be individually or for the teams we are playing on or coaching.

Instead, along with many other things, Joshua and Jamie argue that we should be focusing process instead of the outcome which is something I wholeheartedly agree with.

This is a radically different book from most and even if you don’t agree with the principles that these two leaders share, it will definitely make you think and challenge what you’re currently doing.

It definitely did with me.


3. The Leadership Play-Book – Nathan Jamail


This books is the only pure leadership book on the list. I read a couple of leadership books this year and The Leadership Play-Book is the only one I read the whole way through.

The book focuses on coaching your team instead of managing your team. A big difference that all coaches who want to really help their team need to understand.

The book is meant for business teams but is written using sporting teams as a guide and is perfect for basketball coaches at all levels.

For a sneak-peak, here are his ‘Five Essential Principles of Coaching’:

1. Make the team more important than any individual.
2. Don’t avoid conflict—use it!
3. Act before a response is needed.
4. Pay attention to top performers and focus on making more of them.
5. Mandate EVERYBODY to practice.


4. Players First: Coaching From the Inside Out – John Calipari


Coach Cal’s book is a fascinating look behind the scenes at one of the best college basketball programs in the country, and his journey being the leader of that team. Some coaches might have a problem with how Kentucky specific the book is, but I didn’t have a problem with it.

You’ll get an insight into how he recruits players to Kentucky and the relationships he develops with them in the process. As most college coaches do, this book shows that Coach Cal really does have his players best interests at heart. He stresses the importance of teaching life lessons to his players.

The book talks extensively on all stages of his career and thus is a great read for any coach just getting started or looking at getting into the profession. It’s not an easy road.

I especially enjoyed reading about him talking about the one-and-done concept and the NCAA going forward.


5. The Hoops Whisperer – Idan Ravin


Despite being cut from his 7th grade basketball team and never making it in college, Idan Ravin has become a sought after basketball trainer by many great NBA players including LeBron James, Steph Curry, Chris Paul, and more.

He’s known for helping players break through the limits they thought they had by using uncommon training methods and drills.

Here are a few things NBA superstars had to say about him…

“Idan inspired me to see my full potential, to become more than others had ever expected of me, and challenge myself to do more than I had even expected of myself… His challenge to never become ‘regular’ stuck with me and kept me fierce in my determination to be committed to who I am, what I stand for, and to leave my lasting fingerprints on the game I so dearly love — Stephen Curry

“Idan is the first guy that I’ve worked with that brought something different to the workouts, who pushed me past my limits, who made me think of the game on a different level. He pushed me with his words, encouraged me and built my confidence as the days went on. Truly one of a kind and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to learn from him” — Kevin Durant

A lot of the book is his incredibly inspirational personal story on successfully pursuing his dream of being a part of basketball mixed in with stories on the different athletes he now trains.

A great book on psychology and communicating with your players.


6. Bleeding Orange – Jim Boeheim


50 years can teach you a lot about the game of basketball. That’s how long Boeheim has been a part of the Syracuse Orange.

Written with the talented co-author Jack McCallum, this incredibly entertaining book gives you a history lesson on the Syracuse Orange, the Big East, and Coach Boeheim himself. It includes his personal views on the memorable Big East battles, and stories involving some of the best coaches the league has seen including John Thompson, Rick Pitino, Jim Calhoun, and many more.

My favourite part of the book was reading about what happened after the game in 2014 against Duke that Boeheim was ejected from. I won’t ruin it for you, but here’s a video of the ejection.

If you’re looking for a book on the x’s and o’s of coaching or to learn the secrets of being a great head coach, this isn’t the one for you. For that reason, Similar to Calipari’s book, you may not enjoy this book if you’re not a fan of Syracuse.


7. The Champions Mind – Jim Afremow


A book on the mental aspect of basketball. Not many people acknowledge how important the mental side of sports is and this book is a great insight into it. It’s a fantastic read for coaches, players, parents, or anyone that wants to improve their mental performance.

There is a good mix of actionable strategies you can implement and case studies from Olympians to prove their effectiveness. The strategies are broken down into easily digestable chapters which makes it a simple book to read.

The chapters range from pre-game preparation to teaching you the best way to deal with an injury and return to the sport you love as quickly as possible.



So there you have it: my 7 favorite books relating to basketball coaching that were published in 2014. Some of them dabble in the x’s and o’s of basketball, some focus on the mental side, some are autobiographies of great coaches, but all can improve you as a coach.

Disclaimer: All the above links are affiliate links. If you do buy one of the books above I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This money goes toward improving the blog 🙂

Tell me coaches… what was your favourite book of 2014?