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Build Your Knowledge With the Best Books for Coaches

Build Your Knowledge With the Best Books for Coaches

Check out our list of the 13 best books for coaches and discover why anyone in the field can benefit from reading them, no matter their niche.

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Coaching is a career that requires specialized knowledge, but there's no single way to go about earning it. Unlike professions where one needs a particular degree or certification to succeed, as coaches, we have to chart our own educational path, gathering the tools and knowledge we need to best serve clients. 

Reading is one of the best ways to continue your education and hone skills in a particular area of coaching. And there are a wealth of great coaching materials out there, from blogs to books. 

Below, we share a selection of 13 of the best books for coaches. Head to your local bookstore or library — your practice will be all the better thanks to these must-reads. 

13 books for becoming a better coach

In the age of the internet, it’s natural to turn to Google with every professional query. While there are a number of incredible resources available online, not every opportunity for learning will show up on the results page — and you don’t want to miss out on the wisdom because it’s paper and ink.

Whether you’d like to grow caring leaders or learn more about the importance of goal setting, books are here to help. Find a good spot to curl up, grab some coffee or tea, and get ready for a great read. We think you’ll find our reading list of the best coaching books enjoyable and valuable — you can’t go wrong with the first novel you crack open. 

Sports-inspired titles

Coaching goes hand-in-hand with sports, so books about legendary athletes and coaches offer first-hand knowledge. Here are some titles written by great leaders in sports: 

  • The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh, Craig Walsh, and Steve Jamison. This inspiring book tells the story of the leadership techniques Bill Walsh used with the San Francisco 49ers.
  • Above the Line by Urban Meyer. Urban Meyer, one of the greatest football coaches of all time, shares lessons on teamwork and leadership. 
  • 11 Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson. Read about leadership from the professional sports coach who’s won more championships than any other.
  • 3D Coach: Capturing the Heart Behind the Jersey by Jeff Duke. This coaching guide explores the three-dimensional method focusing on skills and strategy, coaching the mind, and transforming the heart.

Coaching in business

You don’t need to be a business coach to enjoy one of these titles. Business and executive coaches guide entrepreneurs, teams, and managers toward their goals — which means the best executive coaching books contain lessons for coaches from all backgrounds. Here are a few:

  • Trillion Dollar Coach by Bill Campbell. In this essential business coach book, Bill Campbell, who helped companies like Google, Apple, and Intuit grow, shares essential management lessons. 
  • The WE Gear: How Good Teammates Shift from Me to We by Lance Loya. Tap into the mindset of a good team member with the help of Lance Loya, who shares stories and lessons about the importance of working together. 
  • Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want by Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni. This text looks at how feedback loops and goal setting can propel success — a theory any coach can get behind.

Developing soft skills

Effective coaches — no matter their specialty area — must possess soft skills such as active listening, empathetic communication, and attention to detail. The following coaching and mentoring books can help sharpen and grow skillsets: 

  • “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. In this bestseller, author Stephen Covey examines how we can overcome professional and personal issues with integrity and dignity. This book is a great resource for anyone and could be an excellent read for a client, too.
  • “The Discomfort Zone: How Leaders Turn Difficult Conversations into Breakthroughs” by Dr. Marcia Reynolds. This book shows coaches how to propel their clients toward change when their minds are most open — in other words, when they’re in “the discomfort zone.” 
  • “The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever” by Michael Bungay Stanier. Michael Bungay Stanier demonstrates how to turn coaching into a habit we can apply to everyday tasks. This “how-to” book is based on neuroscience and behavioral economics research. Interestingly, Practice interviewed author Michael Bungay Stanier on his book.

Leadership and high-performance coaching

As coaches, we should strive to be role models, mentors, and leaders. The following leadership coaching books can serve as a guide for any coach who wants to improve their practice:

  • Learning to Lead: The Journey to Leading Yourself, Leading Others, and Leading an Organization by Ron Williams and Karl Weber. CEO Ron Williams and author Karl Weber provide advice on leadership and how to transform an organization. This one’s a must for any business coaches out there looking to learn from an industry professional. 
  • Lead… for God’s Sake!: A Parable for Finding the Heart of Leadership by Todd G. Gongwer. This book explores the intersection of the lives of a CEO, basketball coach, and custodian in a story that drives readers to question their leadership tactics, motivations, and relationships.
  • Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life by Donald T. Phillips and Mike Krzyzewski. In this must-read performance coaching book, “Coach K” shares real-life anecdotes and secrets for uplifting his team.

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How reading benefits coaches in every niche 

While we recommend brushing up on your skills with books on coaching, you can also further your knowledge of your field by reading niche-specific texts. Here’s how staying up to date in your industry can help your coaching practice: 

Sports

If you work in sports or fitness coaching, get inspired by athlete biographies and books on new coaching methods. Plus, you can pass on stories to your coaching clients.

Business or executive coaching

Read up on finance, marketing, and entrepreneurship to learn about the latest innovations in the industries. This way, you better understand conversations with your clients. 

Life coaching

Check out books about wellness, motivation, and psychology. Your advice to clients is best backed by science and expert opinions.

Career coaching

Read up on best practices in the workplace, how to make excellent online portfolios, and how job markets are changing in the digital age. Whether your client wants to clean up their resume or go for a promotion, you need to know what it’s like to navigate the modern workforce.

Stay prepared with Practice

Lifelong learning is one way to keep your coaching skills up-to-date and ensure you show up prepared to help clients. 

Another way to prepare for client sessions is to keep your coaching business organized and secure — and using a customer relationship management (CRM) tool can help. Practice’s CRM tool is specifically designed for coaches, allowing you to take bookings, safely store client data, receive payments, and send messages and documents all in one place. Plus, you gain access to templates, worksheets, and a community of other coaches. What other better way is there to learn than from one another? Give Practice a try and take your business to the next level.

Free coaching contract templates

We worked with our lawyers to create coaching contract templates, free for any coach to use. Plus, a couple of sample agreements.

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