What’s the greatest coaching book ever?
There’s no debating Jackson’s success. I’m going to ask the following question, though. How many rings would Phil have without having had the best players of their respective periods on his teams? This speaks to the degree of impact a coach really has in determining a team’s success, which Mark separately talked about.
Putting the question of Jackson’s coaching greatness aside, though, what generally ends up being the prime factor in someone’s choice of “best” tends to be its impact on that person individually. For me, Sacred Hoops didn’t have much impact. Were there some interesting bits? Sure. I’m relatively well-read in at least part of Jackson’s underlying (Zen Master) philosophy, so from that perspective there wasn’t very much new or novel. For others, though, there could be.
In terms of books with the biggest influence on me as a coach I would have to say They Call Me Coach by John Wooden – with Training Soccer Champions by Anson Dorrance another one I can remember having an impact on me. I’m certainly not the only coach to have Wooden as an influence. His name always comes up when talking about on the subject.
What I realize, though, is that I read that book at a very pivotal point in my early coaching development. As such, it had considerable influence on me. There are definite parts of my coaching philosophy which match Coach Wooden’s, though at this point I don’t know what came from reading his book and what I either already had or developed myself along the way.
My point is that if I read that book now it would probably be far less influential. That’s just the nature of things. As you absorb more knowledge, any new material only provides incremental gains. As such, it’s hard to feel like you’ve read the greatest ever once you’ve been around the block a few times.
So what about you? What’s the best coaching book you’ve ever read?