12 Books Every Swim Coach Should Read

Ryan Woodruff

Reading books and articles from outside my areas of expertise have helped make me a better coach. Here are some of my favorite non-swimming books that I recommend you check out, in no particular order.

Note: All links in this article are Amazon affiliate links, meaning that clicking on the link for the book titles and purchasing the book will kick some loose change to the Swimming Wizard without costing you a penny extra.  Thank you for your support!

  1. Bowerman and the Men of Oregon by Kenny Moore. Bill Bowerman is to American distance running what Doc Counsilman is to American swimming; an innovator, a standard-setter, and a legend.  This book is written by a former runner of his and will inspire you to be a better coach.
  2. Make It Stick; The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown, Henry L Roediger III, Mark A. McDaniel. Ultimately, as coaches we are teachers. This book will improve your understanding of how to make the material you are teaching “stick” so that your athletes can effectively put it into practice.
  3. The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. This book examines how to become a master coach by maximizing the development of the innate abilities of those under your instruction.  It really made me think about how I coach
  4. Inside-Out Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives by Joe Ehrmann. If you have ever doubted your purpose as a coach or questioned why do this in the first place, Ehrmann will transform your coaching by explaining how you can transform the lives of your athletes.  I have read this book at least 4 times and plan to read it again.  Should be required reading for anyone going into youth coaching.
  5. When Pride Still Mattered by David Maraniss. There is perhaps no bigger legend in American coaching than Vince Lombardi.  This tome peels back the layers to examine the complex man behind that legend.
  6. Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable by Tim Grover. An inspiring read from the personal trainer to Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Dwyane Wade. I am currently reading this book to my team, chapter by chapter. It will make you uncomfortable by challenging your notion of your capabilities . Read it to find out if you are a Cooler, a Closer or a Cleaner.
  7. Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman. For all who coach young women, this book will open your eyes to what it is like to be young and female.  Especially recommended if you have a daughter of your own.
  8. The Hard Hat; 21 Ways to Be a Great Teammate by Jon Gordon. Great teammates don’t just impact you today; they impact you for the rest of your life. Also recommended by Jon Gordon:
  9. You Win in the Locker Room First – 7 C’s to Building a Winning Team and
  10. The Energy Bus – 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy
  11. Wooden by John Wooden.  Who better for the Swimming Wizard to recommend than the Wizard of Westwood?
  12. Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson.  I admired Jackson’s calmness on the sidelines through all of his success in the NBA. Great read for any coach who wants to be a better teacher, mentor, and person.


3 thoughts on “12 Books Every Swim Coach Should Read

  1. Granted, I am a swim coach and math is not my strong suit….but that would appear to be only 10 books, not 12. Not sayin' just sayin'.


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