Sunday, February 5, 2012

From the bookshelf - Reads to help coach

I was never in team sports when I was younger, the closest being a club roller hockey league in college. 

The closest I've been was a great team player on that league that offered pointers and suggestions.

My coaching experience comes from a few years as a roller derby ref, the previous hockey background and a  slight aptitude for teaching.

Instead, I reach to the writings of other sports coaches, sports pyschology books and other sources. These are the best thing to actually gleaning tips from roller derby coaches. Very few of us have more than a few years of experience.

A Coach's Life: My 40 Years in College Basketball: I'm currently reading this Dean Smith autobiography (in collaboration with some other writers) about North Carolina's legendary men's basketball coach. Yes, it's basketball and not roller derby. But many of these great coach's have mounds of advice for coaching players and how to handle key situations.

Phil Jackson's Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior chronicle Jackson's time as a player and coach, with a steep philosophical slant. Another basketball coach, Jackson uses visualization techniques and calming exercises to keep the high stressful moments of a game at bay, making the way for strategic plays.

:07 Seconds or Less by Jack McCallum is a journalists take on the Phoenix Suns' quick offensive approach to the game. The Suns and Steve Nash (easily one of my favorite basketball stars) played a distinct style of the game, adopting a style of fast pace that often translates to roller derby.

Creative Coaching by Jerry Lynch is more of an overview of coaching and what one can do to become a better coach. The book gives advice to building team cohesion and maximizing effort in your players.

Eagle Blue by Michael D'Orso. Another journalist delves into the world of basketball, this time writing about a tribal high school's basketball team in Alaska. Confronted with the troubles of a middle to lower middle class tribal community and the elevated importance of basketball, the book is an excellent rags-to-riches read. 

The Mental Athlete: Inner Training for Peak Performance in All Sports by Kay Porter. Lots of positive motivation and mental visualization techniques make this book, covering a broad range of sports (but not roller derby) an excellent guide for learning and teaching the psychology of sport to coaches and players.

The Sport Psych Handbook, edited by Shane Murphy. This compilation book helps the non-athelete or  -coach understand the complicated mental aspects of athletics. This was probably my first sports psychology book, because it boils down some serious issues in simple terms, but does include some complicated aspects of psychology.

Power Skating by Laura Stamm. This book is the go-to text for hockey coaches and players to learn the fundamental mechanics of skating. Even with a skating background, I find difficulty in explaining some techniques to skaters. Power Skating breaks down specific movements with clear diagrams. Essential, even if it does focus on hockey.

That's not everything, but it's definitely a bulk of the collection. A majority of the above books are published by Human Kinetics, which produces several coaching and sport books. Sadly, there aren't many books about roller derby, but you should still seek these out. Roller Derby by Catherine Mabe writes about derby history. Down and Derby pays tribute to the sport and the contemporary players and coaches behind it. Melissa Joulwan's Rollergirl: Totally True Tales from the Track chronicles the latest revolution from its birth in Austin, Texas. 

Lastly, Roller Derby: The Sensation That Cause a Book is written by roller derby mascot Bane-ana. It's a funny read from a different perspective, but I quickly realized how we're all connected as a family, and go through the same trials and tribulations as the next person.

I also recommend getting a desk calendar of quotes or a book of quotes from athletes and coaches. Find a few favorites and memorize them. Roller derby is such a different sport, that we don't often look to other sports for inspiration, but they are certainly there. I saved several different quotes from a John Wooden calendar I bought last year.