Midwest Elite Basketball » Great Reads: Mental Development for You and Your Athletes

Great Reads: Mental Development for You and Your Athletes

Post-Season Coaching Essentials to Maximize Your Off-Season, Part 6

Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.

During the off-season it is important to focus on developing your program in all phases. Make sure not to neglect a key ingredient in the program Yourself.

Personal and Professional development is necessary to progress in life and in the coaching industry. The time spent on personal development can take many forms whether it is attending clinics, working camps outside of your own or studying your craft by reading books on topics related to athletics.
For the purpose of this article, I am going to focus on some great reads for coaches and athletes this off-season. Instead of the traditional Top Ten list, I am going to provide three books in three different areas as well as some great magazines:


The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader by John Maxwell – Maxwell may very well be the Yodi of leadership with countless books focused on the subject. The 21 qualities laid out by Maxwell will help you become the leader others will want to follow. This is a quick read, however, take time to reflect on each individual quality and adapt them to your leadership style.

The Way of the Shepherd by Dr. Kevin Leman and William Pentak – An absolute most read for anyone that is in a position of management. This parable is a personal reflection from one of the most prominent CEO’s in business on his time spent with one of his professors from his MBA program. As the story unfolds, it lays out the seven ancient secrets of managing people. It is a fresh outlook on how to lead and an enlightening personal anecdote that is hard to put down.
The Best Advice I Ever Got – Lessons from Extraordinary Lives by Katie Couric – If you have ever wondered what has impacted the influential leaders of politics, entertainment, business and athletics, this book will be the tell all you need to read.

Where Does Talent Come From

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell – Are the great athletes of our day born into stardom? Outliers dives into the sociological influences/advantages that the gifted are exposed to throughout their childhood and adult lives. One of the key premises of the book is the 10,000 hour rule (roughly ten years of purposeful practice), which is the time it takes to master a skill. Tiger Woods becoming a child prodigy in his early teens should not come as a surprise, considering he had a golf club in his hand at the age of 2.
The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle – The core concept behind Coyle’s book is that talent is not something you are born with, but something that is acquired through deep/purposeful practice and master coaching. Deep practice in short, is based on practicing/operating at the edges of your abilities where you make mistakes, ultimately making you better. Master coaches focus on targeted information and provide real time feedback on fixing errors. Coyle describes this level of coaching as a long, intimate conversation, a series of signals and responses that move toward a shared goal.

Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham and the Science of Success by Matthew Syed – How to foster a growth mind set (praise effort not the result), the psychology involved with irrational optimism (believing you can do something beyond your capabilities), and what happens physiologically when an athlete chokes (double-think mindset), are just a few things Syed explains in his book.

For the Love of the Game

When The Game Was Ours by Jackie MacMullan – Two of the most competitive rivals in sports collaborate in this autobiography to tell their individual stories growing up, playing collegiately, competing in the NBA, forming a life long friendship on and off the court and ultimately forging a bond that goes way beyond athletics.

The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons – Anything and everything you want to know about the NBA. Simmons basically lays out a plan for restructuring the basketball Hall of Fame, while keeping the reader engaged by infusing humor into the statistical data of players and teams from every era of the NBA.

Basketball Junkie by Chris Herron – This is not just another story of misspent talent, but one of triumph through the brutal disease that is substance abuse. From high school stardom to a brief NBA career, Chris Herron lays it all out on the table in this gripping account of his experiences with basketball, drugs, recovery, family and a new found passion for life.


Success-Your personal development go-to option no matter what profession you are in. Featured articles on leadership, health, relationships, wealth, well being and giving back, are in every issue. 12 issues for $34.59 http://www.success.com/

SLAM – SLAM focuses entirely on the game of basketball and is an absolute hit with your athletes. Lay it out in players lounge or on your desk to increase traffic in both places…..just be aware it might disappear once in awhile in a player’s bag. 10 issues for $12.97 http://www.slamonline.com/online/the-magazine/

Entrepreneur – Learn from the brightest minds in today’s business world. The ins and outs of managing people, developing your personal brand using social networks, marketing trends, public relations and leadership in the today’s ever shifting landscape, are topics each issue focuses on. Though Entrepreneur is focused mainly in the business field, all of the lessons cross over to the athletic world as well. 12 issues for $11.97http://www.entrepreneur.com/magazine/index.html

These resources will assist in your off-season development as a player, coach or leader. Take advantage of having some free time this off-season by reading a handful of the mentioned titles and purchasing at least one magazine subscription. I am constantly searching for new literature to read and will be taking on the task of reading 40 books this calendar year, so if you have any suggestions for me I would be thrilled to hear them. Please email me at [email protected] with any books, magazines or journals that would aid in my development.

A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.

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