Books are potentially the best investment of time and money that you can come by.
For $20 you are able to read about and learn how one person has spent their lifetime, as they reveal the secrets, stories, and lessons you can learn about their craft and learn to apply it to yours.
Simply an amazing value.
We encourage all of our athletes to use books to get perspectives into things they you also may be going through, what the future may hold in your life on and off the field, and to help you develop a love of reading.
To begin, of course we want some great books that are related to your life as a young athlete.
But, before we get started, we want you to know one thing. If you start reading a book, do not feel pressured to finish the whole thing. That makes reading seem like work or punishment.
We want you to read because you generally want to be reading and learning from others. Thus, if a book below is making you bored - drop it. Try something else that you think may be interesting, whether in book or blog form.
Ok, so, below are a few books we think are applicable to high school athletes:
Atomic Habits by James Clear
The basis of Atomic Habits is this: small changes, made over a long period of time, have dramatic results.
For example, say you want to get stronger. Two ways to go about this:
1.) Try to lift the heaviest thing possible one day, get sore or injured, and not enjoy your memory of how it felt to hurt yourself or be sore.
2.) Start with small and enjoyable physical tasks geared towards strength. Do 1 pull-up, and 20 push ups one day, then go for a 1 mile run. Repeat and scale over time.
Which one works? The second one. This is because if your brain equates a new habit with a positive feeling like "Heck yeah, I worked out today, I am getting stronger," it is a psychologically self-reinforcing act. Aka - you'll be more likely to do it again, because you know it feels good to get stronger, and then the more you DO work out, you will get stronger.
If you just go and try to lift your Mom's car over your head the first day you're toast.
How is this applicable to a young athlete? Well, let's take lacrosse for example.
Say you want to get better stick skills.
Start small with some wall ball. 100 back and forth on your good hand and 100 on your off hand. This takes 10 minutes.
Then, feel free to go.
Next day, do the same thing, but up it to 110 each side. Easy changes, but you will start to feel better and see your results in less drops and quicker hands.
Next day, repeat, and maybe scale more. Either way you start to see progress.
A month later, you will be absolutely dialed in and your progress will be rolling, and you'll be ready for the season.
This can be repeated for shooting, ground balls, physical fitness, and anything that you want to make automatic in your game.
Give it a read - worth your time!
Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson
This is a great book that can show a young athlete how to work together and win with other members of their team, however different you two may be.
Phil Jackson, the author, had an amazing career in the NBA, winning 11 titles with the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers, and managing some of the greatest basketball teams of all time: the Jordan, Pippen, Rodman bulls, as well as the Kobe / Shaq era in Los Angeles.
This book is a great story to learn about how even professional teams have emotional ups and downs as a group, and that they all have unique personalities. This is just like on your high school and youth teams, and reading this book can help you know that this is never going to go away, and also give you some lessons of how to deal with and work alongside your teammates to your ultimate goal of victory.
Extreme Ownership: How Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Leif Baben and Jocko Willink
Leif Baben and Jocko Willink were two Navy SEAL leaders during the Iraq war. They were faced with a monumental task of great uncertainty and risk, and they came away from the experience not only with mission accomplished, but many lessons that can be applied to leadership situations.
One main takeaway from this book that you see immediately is the idea of Extreme Ownership. What does this mean? It means that everything that happens in your life, you take ownership of as your own doing.
Sounds tough right? You have probably had these thoughts go through your head a few times:
The ref made a terrible call!
Why didn't coach play me?
Why won't my teammate change, it's bringing us down?
I was closer to the ball when it went out!
I was late to practice because of my Mom/Dad! (Pro-tip: never ever say this!)
With the idea of extreme ownership, you learn to take these examples and own them, which gives you one major advantage: you are no in control.
Ref made a bad call? I will be sure to adjust next time now that I know what the ref is looking for.
Coach didn't play me? Must be an area I can improve on. I'll ask coach at an appropriate time.
Call went the wrong way when the ball went out? Now I know I have to make it even more clear next time, and beat this guy to the line.
Late to practice because your ride didn't come? Next time I should have a backup ride lined up, as well as my bike tires pumped up - good to know.
The ideas in this book are great for athletics, but also help you off the field as well to stay calm and learn how to come out victorious in your aspirations when it feels things are working against you.
The Obstacle is The Way by Ryan Holiday
Another great book, this read has been a huge hit to NFL players and coaches in the last few years, as well as golf superstar Rory McIlroy.
The book takes a look at a mental way of thinking about problems not as "problems" or "Obstacles," but as opportunities. In the title, they look at how what is standing between you and your destination is not an obstacle, but it is "The Way," meaning what you exactly need to overcome to get where you want to go.
This mindset - as you can already see above through the superstars endorsing the book - is extremely applicable to athletes.
We overcome struggles and issue on the field in every single situation.
In lacrosse, you get the ball, guess what? A guy is running at you with a carbon fiber pole trying to whack you - how to solve that problem?
In hockey, you're headed in to the corner against a bigger guy - how to overcome this obstacle?
If you have the mindset that you CAN solve these issues, and practice that mindset, it will translate onto the field and give you greater confidence and greater calm as a player.
Great read with some amazing examples - highly recommended!
And that is it! These are great reads for High Schoolers as you are going through a crazy time in life, and all of these books give you great perspective of how you can take the examples of some very successful people (in sports, military, business, art) and use their lessons to help you get to where you want to be.
If you are interested in these books consider purchasing at a local bookseller! Love us some Amazon but in these times (March 2020) we must support our local communities!
If anyone has any other book recommendations, please feel free to comment with them below - we'd love to know what other books you feel are helpful to young athletes.
Thank you and Enjoy!