Best Basketball Coaching Books
Are you trying to find the best basketball coaching books?
Basketball is a fast-paced, high-intensity sport that requires physical acumen, good yes, and a ton of athletic ability.
But it’s also a highly strategic game, and you can’t win just by shooting the ball whenever you want.
Every great basketball team has a great coach at the helm, coming up with new ideas and plays and providing the overall strategy for the game.
If you are a basketball coach at any level, you know that the position requires constant learning and adaptation.
You can never be too studious, which is why it is a good idea to always be reading about basketball strategy and coaching techniques.
Fortunately, many legendary coaches have written their own books about the game, and their words of advice are incredibly helpful to other coaches at any level of play.
While every basketball coach is different – both in personality and technique – it is beneficial to take the advice of others, especially those who have completely different philosophies.
You don’t want to get stuck in your own ways without any ability to progress as a coach.
Even if you don’t like certain coaches, you may be able to learn quite a bit about the game from them.
When trying to find a book on coaching, determine what you need in order to become better and choose the book or books that best suit these needs.
What to Look for in Basketball Coaching Books
Basketball is played by boys and girls and men and women of every age, so you’ll want to look for a book that is appropriate for the book that you are coaching.
Some are universal, but others are intended specifically for a specific age group or gender.
So, if you are coaching a high school boys’ team, it won’t make sense to read a book about coaching college females.
There is plenty of value in many older, classic basketball books, but if you are looking for cutting-edge strategy or would rather read from a younger coach, you may want to look for a newer book.
We recommend getting advice from all generations, but you’ll have to decide how far back you want to go for your wisdom.
Most of these books are written in collaboration with an author, so you’ll want to make sure that the writer is reputable and that you enjoy the writing style.
The coaches have a lot of very valuable insight, but if you can’t understand the writing that it will be of no use to you.
Strategy vs Development
Perhaps you are already a strategic guru but are having trouble getting your team to gel or managing your players.
In that case, you’ll want to get a book that focuses more on management and team building.
But if you consider yourself a strong leader without a firm grasp on strategy, you may opt for a book that focuses more on the tactical aspect of basketball.
If you are a first-time coach, you probably won’t get much help from reading really advanced books.
On the other hand, tenured high school coaches probably don’t need to read about the very basics.
You will want to find a book that caters to your experience level so that you aren’t trying to bite off more than you can chew. As you continue to improve, you can move on to more advanced books.
However, if you want to be really competitive, it’d probably be in your best interest to pick up more than one book for your current status.
Without further ado, here is a list of the best basketball coaching books that can help you become a better leader for your team.
Top 24 Best Basketball Books For Coaching
1. Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success – Phil Jackson
Phil Jackson is no doubt one of the best basketball coaches of all time and is considered by many to be the greatest to ever lead a team.
With 6 championships with the Bulls and 5 more with the Lakers, his 11 rings speak for themselves.
This Zen master was able to lead and influence larger-than-life personalities like Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant, so you know he has what it takes to lead a team to success.
Jackson’s book provides a look into not only the on-court strategies but also the grit required to improve the team behind the scenes.
2. The Winner Within: A Life Plan for Team Players – Pat Riley
Pat Riley was one of the many iconic coaches who garnered much respect (as well as criticism) in the 1990s.
Riley wasn’t just a genius with his play calling and development, he was also highly respected among players for his ability to motivate and mentor.
Although he coached many superstars, he also got the most out of his lesser-tier players, who have praised him as the coach who really pushed them to reach their potential.
This is a great read for anyone who wants to make their team better than the sum of its parts.
3. The Power of Negative Thinking: An Unconventional Approach to Achieving Positive Results – Bob Knight
Bob Knight may be one of the most controversial coaches in the history of college basketball, but his results are all you really need to know about him.
The hotheaded coach, best known for his time with Indiana, is one of the most successful college basketball coaches of all time and is known for his non-traditional coaching methods.
Some may see him as being too hard on the players – including many players themselves, but coaches can definitely learn from his ability to control a locker room and influence an entire court.
4. Coaching Basketball Successfully – Morgan Wootten and Joe Wootten
The father/son duo of high school basketball coaches both experienced plenty of success in their careers, so they decided to collaborate on a book to help other coaches.
This is a great book for any high school basketball coach, as they both have experience and are able to give advice with how to handle players of that age.
In some regards, it can be more difficult than coaching at a professional level as these players haven’t matured yet and may need more guidance in both their development and personal lives.
5. Wooden on Leadership – John Wooden
Considered by many to be the greatest college basketball coach in history, John Wooden is one of the wisest authorities in the world of coaching.
He highlights his pyramid of success, which has been emulated by many successful coaches throughout their careers and gives 12 Lessons on Leadership – something that is an essential read for anybody who wants to go into coaching or improve their current status.
This is one of the gold standards of coaching books, so every coach should give it a read.
6. Geno: In Pursuit of Perfection – Geno Auriemma and Jackie Macmillan
With five championship victories with Connecticut’s women’s basketball team, Geno Auriemma certainly knows what he’s talking about when it comes to coaching basketball.
This is a great read for any male that is coaching a female team, as there are differences in the ways that interactions take place, and you must learn to communicate as equals.
With help from Jackie Macmillan, another highly successful book, this is a great book for both strategy and leadership.
7. The Complete Guide to Coaching Girls’ Basketball – Building a Great Team the Carolina Way – Sylvia Hatchell
Sylvia Hatchell coached the North Carolina women’s basketball team, and became one of the greatest in history, winning the fifth-most games all time.
Her book provides a lot of insight into coaching young girls, as she started at the junior high level and worked her way up from there.
This is a fantastic book for anyone that is leading a team of young girls and wants to learn how to create team chemistry as well as get the most out of each individual player.
It is well-written but very easy to comprehend.
If you’re enjoying this list so far then you may want to check out another set of basketball books which are actually autobiographies.
What better way to develop strategy than to pick at the brains of some of the greatest athletes the sport has ever seen?
8. Furious George – My Forty Years Surviving NBA Divas, Clueless GMs, and Poor Shot Selection – George Karl
George Karl’s reputation on the court may not be the most favorable, but there’s a reason he is one of only 9 coaches with 1,000 career wins in the NBA.
He simply knew how to stand up to the egos in the NBA and take control of the teams to turn them into winners.
His book offers a very similar demeanor, with a no-nonsense approach that will likely have you laughing throughout the way.
But it isn’t just an interesting read, it is one that is sure to give you some insight into your own coaching abilities and to help you become a better leader for your team.
9. Coaching High School Basketball: A Complete Guide to Building a Championship Team – Bill Kuchar
This book focuses solely on high school basketball, which is probably where the majority of coaches are looking to improve.
Because the players are developing and maturing at different rates, coaching high school basketball can be a highly volatile and unpredictable experience.
This book will help you to build your team and teach you how to coach them in a way that is beneficial to all.
You’ll learn how to strategize on both offense and defense while developing strong relationships with all of your players.
10. The Passion to Lead: Seven Leadership Secrets for Success in Business, Sports, and Life – Jim Calhoun
Making a competitor out of the Connecticut Huskies was seen as a nearly impossible task, but Jim Calhoun was able to do so with great success, winning two championships along the way.
His autobiography isn’t just focused on basketball, but it provides insight into his philosophy on how to coach on the court and build a winner for the long run.
Much of his wisdom can be applied to all parts of life but will be sure to make you a better basketball coach in every regard.
11. Coaching Basketball for Dummies – National Alliance of Youth Sports Review
The “For Dummies” series covers pretty much every topic and is excellent for beginners at any skill.
Coaching Basketball for Dummies is the perfect book for coaches who are new to coaching and just need to learn the basics.
It is easy to understand and will start at the very beginning, letting you learn as you go and getting you ready to take on the position and read more in-depth books.
12. The Baffled Parents Guide to Coaching Youth Basketball – David G Faucher
Being a parent coach can be incredibly challenging as you try to not to favor your own child.
This book is great for those who are just getting into the coaching game and want to learn how to lead a team of young basketball players.
It will also help you hone your skills in dealing with other parents who can be very demanding at the youth level.
It is really a great book to get your feet wet and learn to become a respectable and successful youth basketball coach.
13. Attitude: Developing a Winning Mindset on and off the Court – Jay Wright
Jay Wright led Villanova to titles in 2016 and 2018, so his recent success means that he has an updated and relevant philosophy on winning.
This book will teach you not only to work on your team but also to work on yourself as you take the helm.
You will get ideas on how to build your own basketball program and cultivate players who mesh with the team and are eager to become winners.
Skill can go a long way, but you can never reach the promised land without the right attitude.
14. How to be Better at Basketball in 21 Days – James Wilson
This book may be more geared players and developing their skills, but it is actually a great resource for coaches who are having trouble getting their players to hit their shots.
As a coach, you need to be able to look for certain mechanical errors and help your players correct them.
This book will teach you to do just that.
It is important to understand the mentality of your players and what they have to go through so that you can better identify with them as you teach them to become more successful.
15. Old School Grit: Times May Change, But the Rules for Success Never Do – Darrin Donnelly
There are certain universal truths that will also be relevant in the game of basketball, and Darrin Donnelly outlines those while helping you apply them to modern times.
This book is about mustering up the willpower and grit to coach a basketball team to victory, even when times are tough.
It isn’t so much a book on strategy or technique, but rather one that will motivate you to give everything you have to make sure that your team is successful in the face of adversity.
16. Sum it Up: 1,090 Victories, A Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective – Pat Summitt
Pat Summitt has more wins that any coach in NCAA history, so you know she has a lot to say about the game of basketball.
Her 38-year coaching career includes an undefeated season, an Olympic appearance, and a Hall of Fame induction.
This book is about the struggle that comes with success and will give you a great respect for the game of basketball. It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it.
17. Coaching the System – A complete Guide to Basketball’s Most Explosive Style of Play – Gary Smith, Doug Porter
The system is a hectic and almost chaotic way to play basketball, but it garnered much success for Gary Smith and Doug Porter.
This is an aggressive style of play that doesn’t work for everyone, but it is very useful to learn about it as you may find yourself up against it one day.
Again, even if it isn’t your style, the book is highly educational, and you just might learn something that you can incorporate into your team’s strategy, even if you don’t take every word of the book as basketball gospel.
18. Coaching Basketball – Principles of Offense – Mark Meriweather
For newer coaches, this in-depth instruction manual will help you understand offensive tactics and strategies so that you can better teach your team to score points in any game.
From the most basic formations to the most complicated strategic set-ups, you’ll learn the ins-and-outs of the offensive game of basketball.
Many successful coaches have utilized the principles in this book with great results, and it is sure to give you an idea of how to run your team, even if you’ve never stepped foot on a basketball court.
19. Survival Guide for Coaching Youth Basketball – Keith Miniscalo, Greg Kot
Kids are not easy to coach, as they haven’t matured and have different temperaments across the board.
What works for one child might not work for the other, and the volatility can be very frustrating for coaches, but new and old.
This book helps you to take control of your team and teach your kids how to play basketball.
You’ll learn techniques and strategies that are easily understood by younger players and you will also learn how to become a better coach yourself.
The tips in this book are invaluable for any youth basketball coach.
20. Steve Kerr – The Inspiring Life and Leadership Lessons of One of Basketball’s Greatest Coaches – Clayton Geoffreys
After Steve Kerr took the head coach position of the Golden State Warriors, the team went from cellar-dweller to perpetual championship favorite.
With three rings in four years, it’s clear that Steve Kerr knew how to turn his players into superstars and his team into a raging success.
Having played with Michael Jordan during the Bulls dynasty, Kerr understood the role of ego and ego management in basketball, and it shows with his coaching success.
Kerr may not have written the book, but Clayton Geoffreys goes deep into what makes Steve Kerr such a great coach and what type of strategies he used to keep his team successful.
21. The 10 Commandments of Coaching Basketball – Ken George
Ken George is a highly successful basketball coach who knows what it takes to coach a group of players to success.
This book goes over 10 basic rules of coaching that will help you whether you are coaching junior high, high school, or college.
Heck, even NBA coaches can take some pieces of advice from this one.
In addition to strategy, you’ll learn how to motivate and develop your players so that your team is always a threat on the court.
22. Cross Over – The New Model of Youth Basketball Development – Brian McCormick
Instead of simply giving you plays and drills, this book will help you build your team from the bottom up with an entire program dedicated to player development.
Skills are important, but so is development and strategy, so you’ll all of these.
You’ll also learn about the psychological aspect of basketball and what you can do to ensure that your players are mentally and emotionally healthy and ready for the game.
23. Coaching Basketball Technical and Tactical Skills – American Sport Education Program
Every coach needs to understand tactics – the things that you must do in any given situation that could end up deciding whether you’re going to win or lose.
The problem is that even many who understand these things have trouble teaching them to their players.
This book focuses on giving you the ability to teach your players not only how to become more skilled, but also how to be smarter on the court.
24. Never Forget They’re Kids – Michael O’Halloran
Youth basketball can be frustrating, but it is important to not let our frustrations boil over when we are coaching our players.
We must remember that they are still children and that we still play a major part in their lives.
Basketball is supposed to be fun, and this book teaches you how to keep it light and entertaining while still building the physical and mental skills required for success not only in sports, but also in life.
This is an excellent book for any parent or coach to read, as it helps us to understand children while also becoming better coaches and more understanding of the game.