The Best Basketball Coaching Books of 2021

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Basketball is an ever-evolving sport. Likewise, basketball coaches should adopt the trends of times and be familiar with modern coaching techniques, in addition to the older ones. If you are a coach or looking to coach a basketball team, a thirst for continuous learning should be at the top of your traits. That is why checking out the knowledge on the best basketball coaching books today should be your priority.

With that being said, we have compiled these great basketball coaching books and divided them into tiers. Hence, we begin.

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Our Favorites for the Best Basketball Coaching BooksOur Favorites for the Best Basketball Coaching Books

Because you are here, we assume that you’re probably new in the basketball coaching endeavor. Or maybe not. Regardless, it is vital to have all the bases covered and figure out what you need to know even before stepping on the court. With that in mind, here are the best basketball coaching books that are essentially must-reads for coaches of any level.

Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization by John Wooden 

John Wooden is synonymous with “coaching success.” I mean, the guy’s contributions and achievements in college basketball are unparalleled. Nobody has replicated the 88-game winning streak or the 10 NCAA championships over a 12-year span, and probably never will be.

That is why when he talks, you should listen, especially if you’re a basketball coach (or trying to be one). And if you are, you should consider his book How to Create a Winning Organization Wooden’s way of talking to you right in your ear.

What Makes it Unique:

  • If there is one person qualified to talk about leadership, it’s Wooden.
  • Gives you a wide-open window on how a coach could instill confidence and competitive fire out of the players.
  • Full of Quotables that any basketball fan, especially a coach and motivator, would appreciate

Quite honestly, John Wooden is revered in the basketball and coaching circles. There isn’t much you can complain about in his masterpieces, maybe except Amazon delivery times, people expecting too much, and other variables. But outside of that, Wooden’s How to Create a Winning Organization is a gem among any of the basketball books you can find today.

Why Read Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization

  • One of the best books you can read about leadership 
  • Very useful even outside of basketball. CEOs, business owners, and teachers could certainly draw inspiration from this book
  • Learn about the 15 basics or fundamentals of leadership

A coach needs to have leadership qualities to successfully run a team. But guess what other areas in life would leadership qualities come in handy? Everything! Not only would aspiring and established coaches benefit from the book– CEOs, business owners, teachers, practically everyone– could pick up a thing or two from a respected and successful man like Wooden.

Sale
Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization
  • McGraw-Hill
  • Hardcover Book
  • John Wooden (Author)

Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out by John Calipari

There have been 13 lottery picks in the last 12 NBA drafts from Kentucky, and about a dozen others were picked in the first round. A handful was selected in the second round and are still part of NBA teams. What’s the reason why many young basketball players made their college stop as a Wildcat? It’s not actually a “What,” but “Who?” The answer is John Calipari.

What Makes it Unique: 

  • Has a lot of nuggets and tidbits about NCAA rules
  • Will teach coaches a lot about staying motivated and infecting your players with that same motivation
  • Gives us a window into John Calipari as a person– his values, beliefs, and leadership style

Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out doesn’t have the sage-like wisdom of a John Wooden book, but sometimes wisdom is the last thing that you’ll need, especially when dealing with teenagers. The most important thing is that you should be honest, genuine, and that’s what John Calipari was all about.

Why Read Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out

  • Learn about the modern approach of coaching
  • Unique insight from a top notch coach in a top notch college basketball program
  • If you want to learn the subtle art of recruiting kids to play for you, John Calipari is your guy.
Sale
Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out
  • Hardcover Book
  • Calipari, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Our Runners-Up for the Best Gifts for Basketball CoachesThe Runner-Ups for the Best Basketball Coaching Books

Survival Guide for Coaching Youth Basketball by Keith Miniscalco

While Wooden and Calipari’s books equip you for the long haul, sometimes you just have to keep your approach simple. More often than not, that’s what you all have to do, especially if you’re just there volunteering to coach the local youth team. What will you do then? Worry not. This book got you covered.

What Makes it Unique: 

  • Will teach you about fundamental skills, running effective practices, setting realistic goals, and reining in the energy of your young team
  • A wonderful tool to get started in coaching
  • Has a detailed approach and contains offensive and defensive drills 

Of course, you probably won’t need this book if you happen to already be coaching at a higher level. Chances are, you may already have a good grasp of the concepts presented here. Some people who already have coaching experiences that read the book called it “the basic of the basics.” 

Why Read Survival Guide for Coaching Youth Basketball:

If you are trying to launch your coaching career at the lowest basketball level, then this is the best book that you may read. Just to be clear, by lowest level, I mean elementary or grade school basketball. 

  • Flee-flowing material and highly organized
  • Perfect for first-time coaches in the youth and elementary school levels
  • Helps young teams develop fundamentals

One thing that you’ll learn about the drills in this book is that kids seem to love them! It is truly one of the

Survival Guide for Coaching Youth Basketball
  • Miniscalco, Keith (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 200 Pages - 08/20/2015 (Publication Date) - Human Kinetics (Publisher)

Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success

Read an excerpt of this book, and you’re instantly hooked. That’s how good of a book this is. The only reason why it’s under the runners-up section is that it’s not necessarily a coaching book; it’s one of the basketball books from a great coach that may inspire someone to become a great coach someday. 

What Makes it Unique:

  • If you’re a Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan fan, you’d certainly appreciate this book.
  • You’d get a peek of the greatest basketball minds ever.
  • As a coach or at least one that’s trying to be, you’ll learn what Phil Jackson’s 11 coaching secrets (or principles) are.

In coaching and in life, it is one thing to become a leader and another to become a student of leadership. This book helps you become the latter. 

That is not to say that this book doesn’t have any shortcomings, though. I am not personally a fan of the concepts of Buddhism, Lao-tzu, and whatnot, and some of the stories drag on. His reflections on those Lakers teams felt a bit like a series of news articles, which isn’t good if you’re looking for something more profound.

Why Read Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success

  • Know Phil Jackson’s eccentric ways and insights that prove to be very effective in the pro level
  • Learn how to manage egos from the assistants to players
  • Lots of tidbits from the Michael Jordan to Kobe Bryant teams
Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success
  • The Soul of Success
  • Hardcover Book
  • Jackson, Phil (Author)

Our Value Picks for the Best Gifts for Basketball Coaches

The Value Picks for the Best Basketball Coaching Books

Steve Kerr: The Inspiring Life and Leadership Lessons of One of Basketball's Greatest Coaches

There is a reason why Steve Kerr is part of championship teams as a player and a head coach. His stint as a General Manager in Phoenix wasn’t so bad, with the Suns posting a 155-91 record and a trip to the 2010 Western Conference Finals. You can find out the things behind Kerr’s success in this Clayton Geoffreys book.

What Makes it Unique: 

  • Unique perspective of someone like Kerr, who’s mostly a reserve throughout his career, and how that helped him become the coach that he is.
  • Kerr’s military upbringing also brings an uncommon factor into his coaching.
  • Could benefit not only coaches but for anyone who does executive work

Why Read The Inspiring Life and Leadership Lessons of One of Basketball’s Greatest Coaches

  • Steve Kerr is one,  if not the only one, of the coaches under the Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson school of thought
  • The book has a little bit of everything, pretty much like Kerr’s coaching style
  • One of the free basketball coaching books you can find at Kindle Unlimited and Audible.
Steve Kerr: The Inspiring Life and Leadership Lessons of One of Basketball's Greatest Coaches (Basketball Biography & Leadership Books)
  • Geoffreys, Clayton (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 144 Pages - 06/04/2017 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)

Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life  

Mike Krzyzewski is one of the most successful college coaches of all time and the architect of three gold medal-winning Olympic teams. Needless to say, the guy is qualified to share strategies that worked so well for him, even beyond basketball.

What Makes it Unique: 

  • Not too much about Xs and Os, but all about leading with love and respect.
  • Because of the nature of the book, the “strategies” could be used outside of the locker room and the basketball court.

If you are not a fan of Duke, you probably won’t like the championship stories and all. However, if you’re objective enough, you will dig many gems in this book, not just as a coach but for everyone who manages people. Many who have read the book appreciated it but also pointed out typos and formatting errors all over. But then again, because of its content, it is nonetheless a recommended read.

Why Read Leading with the Heart: Coach K’s Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life

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Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life
  • Warner Books NY
  • Krzyzewski, Mike (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

How to Choose the Best Basketball Coaching Books

What Level of Basketball Coaching are You Looking For?

  • High School. For high school basketball or lower, the youth basketball coaching books to target are the ones that emphasize fundamentals. Ideally, it should include basketball drills and strategies.
  • College. Collegiate basketball coaches should instill confidence and should know how to get the best from their players. Therefore, the best basketball coaching books to look for at this level are written by great college coaches. Gladly, we don’t have any shortage of that. John Wooden, John Calipari, and Mike Krzyzewski have written great basketball coaching books, including Roy Williams, Jay Wright, and John Thompson.
  • NBA. The NBA is a different type of beast. If you are already on this level, you probably know basketball than 99% of the population. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to widen your horizons by learning about the cream of the crop that came before you. Phil Jackson’s books and Clayton Geoffrey’s offer a lot in terms of basketball coaching personalities in the NBA.

What Areas of Coaching Are You Trying to Improve?

No matter how great a basketball coach you are, you can never be perfect in all areas. Leadership, for example, is one aspect of coaching that everyone should try to improve. And as a matter of fact, you may not want to only explore one facet of leadership. Should you be the “my way or the highway” type, or would you like to distribute leadership among the other coaches while reserving the right to make the final decision? 

In any case, we also do not have a shortage of the best basketball coaching books that tackle things about leadership. Again, books written by John Wooden, Coach K, and Phil Jackson contain a lot of wisdom about leadership. 

Wrapping Things Up: Best Basketball Coaching Books

It’s no secret that if you want to learn something, reading about it is not a bad way to start. In coaching basketball, you must build on your knowledge by reading the best basketball coaching books you can get your hands on. Fortunately, there is an abundant supply of these, ranging from John Wooden to Phil Jackson and Clayton Geoffreys’ Leadership Lessons series. In addition to that, you may find free basketball coaching books for Kindle and Audible, so you can actually take in knowledge without having to pay a single cent.

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Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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