The Arm – Inside the Billion‑Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports – Jeff Passan
Hands down my all-time favorite non-fiction book. Just released a month or two ago, I ripped through The Arm audiobook in about 4 days. I recently purchased the e-book for $1.99 here as well. For many, many, many reasons I highly recommend you check this out if you’re anybody who deals with a baseball directly or indirectly on a daily baseball – whether you’re a parent, coach, or medical team member.
Big Data Baseball – Travis Sawchik
For a split second after reading this book I considered immediately leaving strength and conditioning to become a data analyst in professional baseball… Okay, not really, but it was really intriguing. I never read Money Ball because I watched the movie first – so Big Data Baseball filled that void, and it did so with a much more current story of the contemporary Pittsburg Pirates under the direction of Clint Hurdle.
Saban: The Making of a Coach – Monte Burke
There is something to be said for learning about the upbringing and journey of arguably the greatest living coach on Earth. Not to mention what drives him to commit himself and his players to the process year-in and year-out. While a lot of controversy surrounded Monte Burke’s portrayal of Saban’s often-cold personality and approach, it is actually quite refreshing to hear what we presume to be the true nature of a coach, not some sugar-coated fantasy-land outlook where the grass is always greener where you currently stand. Instead we get the impatient Saban, the flighty Saban, the Saban always looking for the next big move. But we also get the caring Saban, the detail-oriented Saban, and the one who drives his players and program to success year after year.
The Matheny Manifesto -A Young Manager’s Old-School Views on Success in Sports and Life – Mike Matheny & Jerry B. Jenkins
This is one of my favorite books, period. Mike has an outlook on coaching, mentoring, and parenting that you just don’t see often enough in the youth sports world today. It all began with Matheny’s actual Manifesto – a long speech he wrote and delivered to a group of parents that asked him to coach their kids’ youth-league baseball team, which outlined how, if he was going to do this, he was going to do it the right way. If you read that, alone, you will be gaining a valuable perspective. But, the book takes it so much further, and it is well worth the read – and re-read.
Sports Nutrition Guidebook – Nancy Clark
On the recommendation of the University of Oregon’s Sports Dietician, Pratik Patel, I picked up this book and chugged through it. What’s great about Nancy Clark’s guidebook is its universality – I recommend it for players, parents, and coaches alike. It is easy to read and has many practical applications with every page, making it well worth the $10 e-book cost.
150 Healthiest Foods on Earth – Jonny Bowdon
As Tony Gentilcore says on his website, The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, is such a good reference book that he has gifted it to other people numerous times. I have done the same.
SPORTS SCIENCE BOOKS
The Sports Gene – David Epstein
If you’re anything like me and you enjoy learning about the science behind the human body and human performance, then you’ll certainly be gripped by David Epstein’s The Sports Gene. Each chapter covers a certain aspect of human performance – from visual acuity in baseball to hemoglobin in Kenyan marathon runners – with the ultimate goal of determining if successful athletic performance is learned or innate.
Faster, Higher, Stronger – Mark Mccluskey
Mark McClusky’s Faster Higher Stronger, is similar to The Sports Gene (above) in the sense that it covers specific aspects of human performance with every chapter. But, unlike David Epstein’s book (which seeks to determine if athletic prowess is innate or learned), McClusky’s book tries to determine just how far we can push the human body to perform at higher levels. McClusky scours the globe for the biggest, fastest, strongest, and most technologically advanced countries, athletes, and teams to answer this question.
Periodization – Theory and Methodology of Training – Tudor O. Bompa
I didn’t go to grad school (well, not for long anyways), but if I had, chances are I would have read this book. Regardless, I read it anyway, and for good reason. This is a very complete text covering everything you need to know about periodization from an evidence-based approach. My favorite part of the book is one that I’ve actually heard several people gripe about… It is very repetitive. But, I believe to truly understand complex topics such as periodization, you need to have major concepts reiterated. This book does a great job of that.
Advances in Functional Training – Michael Boyle
Advances in Functional Training was the first strength & conditioning resource that I ever read, and it was by the recommendation from a successful strength coach in professional baseball. I couldn’t have asked for a better introductory text to functional training, and strength & conditioning in general. Not to say that this is a book for beginners – it just has a lot of concepts that every strength coach should know, and Mike Boyle writes on these topics in such a way that is easy to digest, both of which make this a great place to start for a beginner.
Show and Go Training – High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better – Eric Cressey
I just recently completed the Show and Go program, and I highly recommend you check it out. With 16-weeks of programming, and options to train 2, 3, or 4 days per week, there is a lot of value hidden in this product – not to mention the exercise demonstration video library included with every exercise in the program. Also included are options for off-days, which include mobility circuits, high-intensity intervals, and conditioning. There is also an FAQ to answer any questions you might have, plus a short nutrition e-book from Brian St. Pierre of Precision Nutrition. Oh, and the program works. I maintained my light bodyweight but got a heck of a lot stronger, and never got bored.
Auto-Regulatory Progressive Resistance Exercise (The APRE) – Bryan Mann
A couple of great attributes about the APRE program:
- Coach Mann (who is not the one who created the APRE program, but is the one who created the e-book about how to use it) lays out the program very simply in about 50 pages in a very cheap e-book (just a couple of dollars).
- Due to it’s self-regulatory nature (hence, the name Auto-Regulatory), it doesn’t take a whole lot to get started. You don’t need to have a whole week dedicated to baseline testing. You simply need to guesstimate rep-maxes for any exercises that you will use APRE with, and then make adjustments as you go.
- The APRE program is tiered in a sense, thus it can be used for extended periods of time. There is an APRE10 (hypertrophy), APRE6 (strength), and APRE3 (power) program, which can help you periodize with the program.
- It isn’t easy – the exercises that actualize utilize APRE (one exercise per day at most) can be grueling, as there are two sets that ask you to go to relative failure – but it works.
The 5/3/1 program by Jim Wendler is one of those gold-standard strength programs in the world of strength & conditioning, as it is a tried and true method to get strong no matter how you lay it out. It’s pretty simple as well – much like the APRE, you’ll use the 5/3/1 method for one exercise at most each day. You’ll then take that exercise and perform 5 warm-up reps, 3 warm-up reps, and then some 3-set combination of 5, 3, and/or 1 repetition working sets. Each cycle lasts 4 weeks (including an unload week), and then you take the percentages up and start over. The great part, in addition to the fact that it works, is that you can get most of the information you need to start your own 5/3/1 program for free from T-Nation.
I love to read blog posts from coaches, research articles on training and baseball, and editorials from some of the well-known national newspapers. But, rarely do I read them right when I find them. The easiest way that I’ve found to save any article I find for later (and offline) reading is Pocket. With its seamless integration with Twitter and other social media platforms, it’s incredibly easy to save an article, and then share it with others. I use Pocket every day.
In my opinion the best digital note-keeping app around. Evernote is great for save notes via video, photo, text, and audio, and they can easily be shared and edited amongst all of your devices. My favorite feature, though, is the iPhone widget that allows you to simply tap a button to add a note – great for when you’re on the go and have a quick idea worth holding onto.