My family has been spending vacation time in the summers in Southampton, Ontario for the past 20 years. We have an annual family picture on the dunes in front of the cottage that we rent every year and we have some of our best memories of the kids playing on the beach and in Lake Huron. It’s a beautiful and peaceful place to recharge and relax - much of the time just sitting on a beach chair, soaking up some sun and reading a good book.
As much as I like reading John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Tom Clancy and Stephen King, I have been focusing more on doing some professional development and reading books on coaching. I will try to pick up three books to read over a two week holiday. I look for books that are autobiographical or biographical about coaches in any sport and books about certain teams and their seasons. You would probably suspect that I read almost all books on hockey but I find that there is really good material on coaches from other sports that transcends that sport and can be applied to all.
I also make sure I sit down with a highlighter or pen to mark the pages and the passages that, if I go back to a certain book, I can pick out the “nuggets” that I found useful quickly and apply them to the project at hand. Nothing bugs me more than trying to search through an entire book for the one quote that sticks out in my mind.
I have also used books to help my high school players with preparing their mental game before the season starts. I ask each player to read the book and come to training camp with five things that particularly stood out for them personally. There are some terrific books that I have provided for them over the summer including:
Mind Gym : An Athlete's Guide to Inner Excellence by Gary Mack and David Casstevens
Hockey Tough by Saul Miller
WinningSTATE-Ice Hockey: The Athlete's Guide to Competing Mentally Tough by Steve Knight
Vision of a Champion by Anson Dorrance and Gloria Averbuch
Before I list a number of great reads for you, I want to talk about one of the very best books about coaching female athletes. Catch Them Being Good: Everything You Need to Know to Successfully Coach Girls by Tony Dicicco and Colleen Hacker is, what I consider, the “bible” on working with female athletes. Coach Dicicco is a former U.S. soccer player and coach. He is best known as the coach of the United States women's national soccer team from 1994 to 1999. There are so many “nuggets” in this book that, if you coach female athletes of any age, it is a must read.
I keep all of my coaching books on a bookshelf behind my desk, so as I write this, it is an easy turn around to find my top ten reads (well, it turned into eleven). Here they are (in no particular order as they are all terrific):
America's Coach: Life Lessons & Wisdom for Gold Medal Success by Ross Bernstein and Mike Eruzione (Herb Brooks and the 1980 USA Olympic hockey team)
Leave No Doubt: A Credo for Chasing Your Dreams by Mike Babcock (Mike Babcock and the pursuit of the 2010 Olympic hockey gold medal)
They Call Me Coach by John Wooden (No list is complete without wisdom from Coach Wooden)
Behind the Bench by Dick Irvin (Great insight from hockey’s greatest coaches)
Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life by Mike Krzyzewski and Donald T. Phillips (Coach K’s best!)
The Education of a Coach by David Halberstam and David Maraniss (Following Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots)
Simply the Best: Insights and Strategies from Great Hockey Coaches by Mike Johnston and Ryan Walters (More insight from hockey’s top coaches)
A Season on the Brink: A Year with Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers by John Feinstein (Controversial book about Bobby Knight. Lots of great lessons!)
When Pride Still Mattered: A Life Of Vince Lombardi by David Maraniss (Vince Lombardi - unmatched in teaching toughness)
The Same River Twice: A Season with Geno Auriemma and the Connecticut Huskies by John Walters (Coach Auriemma is an icon in women’s college basketball)
Wins, Losses, and Lessons: An Autobiography by Lou Holtz (Lou Holtz - teacher of life!)
All are readily available to order online. I hope you enjoy one or two this summer. They are all worth the read.
Read more from Coach Traugott on getting your athletes mentally prepared. His eBook Creating a Culture of Confidence is a terrific resource on coaching the mental side of the game.
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Also available for Kindle at Amazon.