5 Must-Reads for Every Strength and Conditioning Professional
Updated: Aug 13, 2020
In this post I’m going to go over the 5 books, in my opinion, every strength and conditioning professional should read. I did my best to pick books that covered a wide variety of topics but were also very instrumental in my development as a young strength and conditioning coach. Each of these books are jam-packed with information that is easily applied to the profession without being directly related to the science or programming side of the field. My goal in writing this piece is to provide the reader with some resources to help with the development of their personal well-being, confidence, and/or tactical ability as a strength and conditioning professional. With that being said let’s get to the list which is written in no particular order.
Honorable Mention – Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning
This will not be included in the 5 must-reads for the simple fact that it’s almost necessary in order to become certified. If you haven’t read this book, it’s an amazing resource of fundamental principles of strength and conditioning. This book is comprehensive and is a staple for many strength and conditioning coaches including myself.
The first book on our list is the classic written by Dale Carnegie. This book was originally released in 1936 and has sold more than 30 million copies since then and has been ranked as the #19 most influential book of all time. I was first introduced to this book while interning at Wake Forest University with Master Strength Coach Ethan Reeve. I was a little hesitant to read the book, because I wanted to learn more about programming and the science of strength and conditioning, but I reluctantly read the book because of the respect I had for Coach Reeve. I have since re-read the book multiple times as it’s a quick and easy read, with many large take-aways. The book can be a little redundant in areas, especially if you have already read it before, but the lessons it provides have stood the test of time and will continue to do so. The book is considered a self-help book with the aim of teaching people how to communicate more efficiently, take interest in others, and enjoy the act of conversation. There are many tips and tricks spread throughout the book and each time I have read it, I have been able to take something completely different away as well as put that into practice. I highly recommend this book to anyone in the profession, as we are charged with communicating with many people in many roles on a daily basis.
The second book on our list is Extreme Ownership, written by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin two former U.S. Navy SEAL officers. Each takes turns writing chapters and each chapter is based around a certain principle of leadership. The chapters begin with a story relating to their time as a SEAL officer, and how they implemented this certain principle. These stories are intense and keep you on the edge of your seat. At the end of the chapter you can see how they implemented the strategy, why they did it, and how you might be able to execute it in your profession. They follow up their personal story as a SEAL with an application to business section which also makes the principle very easy to understand and implement in a setting other than war. This book has been a great resource for me and always reminds me to take ownership for everything I possibly can, a trait that has been greatly beneficial in the strength and conditioning profession. If you’re interested in this book, I would also highly recommend the audio version. Jocko and Leif read each of their own chapters and the passion they speak with is captivating.
The third book on the list is Rich Dad Poor Dad written by Robert Kiyosaki. This book has been called the #1 personal finance book of all time. The author explains many complex financial concepts through a story of growing up with two fathers. His real father “poor dad” who worked hard his entire life but was never able to find financial freedom, and his friends’ father “rich dad” who was an entrepreneur and made many great investments to build his financial freedom and wealth. The stories in this book have great crossover to everyday life and the concepts he presents are easily understood and applied. After first reading this book, I felt much more in control of my own finances and I had a better understanding of what it would take to gain my own financial freedom. I never took a business course, knew very little about real-estate, and didn’t fully understand a lot about everyday finances. Rich Dad Poor Dad actually changed my life as it gave me the motivation and knowledge needed to take care of my finances and start preparing for the future instead of living paycheck to paycheck.
The fourth book on the list is The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. This book is labeled as a counterintuitive approach to living a good life. The author gives his take on the self-help industry and the lack of genuineness as well as the overabundance of misguided positivity. He argues that struggle is necessary to growth and contributes to overall happiness. The book is 9 chapters long and very easy to read, but gives a lot of insights into accepting failures, negativity, and things out of your control. I liked the approach of this book as it was a self-help book more in-line with my mindset. I had read self-help books in the past that were interesting and motivating, but none stuck with me for weeks after the read. This book was a perfect fit for me, but no matter what your perspective it provides good take aways for anyone who might read it.
The final book on the list is Legacy, written by James Kerr. This book is a deep-dive into the All Blacks organization, the world's most successful sporting team. Throughout the book the author tries to uncover the secrets of their success and the application of those principles and strategies to business or everyday life. The lessons in leadership this book provides are extremely beneficial. Knowing that each of these lessons comes from one of the most well-run and organized teams to have ever existed, helps to build immediate credibility. It’s no doubt everything in this book is time tested and proven to work. As a strength and conditioning coach this book opened my eyes to the organizational structure of an elite team and helped me to understand the importance of empowering my athletes, as well as, how to nurture their leadership roles. After reading this book the first time, everything about the way I handled myself and my teams changed, for the better. I had a much better understanding of my role and how I could provide a greater contribution to the teams, coaches, and athletes I work with on a daily basis.