Soccer Book Reviews

Soccer Book Recommendations for Coaches and Players

The Modern Soccer Coach 2014: A Four Dimensional Approach

by Gary Curneen

You've all probably heard "The Game is the Best Teacher", yet I and likely many other coaches wait until the very end of a training session to play a game (as the reward after requiring players to perform various drills). This book by Gary Curneen is excellent because it has challenged me as a coach to improve and change my training sessions into a dynamic multidimensional approach, as the title suggests. Gary's writing is enjoyable and interesting to read, it includes good illustrations for training exercises that are clear and easy to understand.

Note if you are just starting to coach youth soccer and do not know much about the game, then I would not recommend this book for you, at least not yet. If you've been coaching a couple years and are training U12 or older teams then I think you'll find this book a good resource.

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Soccer iQ: Vol. 1: Things That Smart Players Do

by Dan Blank

Finished and absolutely loved reading each page of Dan Blank's Soccer iQ (www.soccerpoet.com), loved it so much I bought volume 2. This book is intended for players mostly but as a coach I really enjoyed it and learned many things just as any player would by reading this book. Dan's 20+ years of experience comes through from the first page. Every player should definitely read this book and every coach just as well. Coaches will really enjoy and appreciate the "Note for Coaches" at the end of each chapter. By the way each chapter is only 1-3 pages long so if you like to feel a quick sense of accomplishment (like reading 20 chapters in a single night) this book will make you feel like a speed reading champion.

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Soccer iQ - Vol. 2: More of What Smart Players Do

by Dan Blank

The Bible for soccer players.

Rest assured this is not more of the same. Volume 2 contains new unique truths about the game of soccer that will improve you as a player (or as a coach). There are many great tips in both of Dan Blank's Soccer iQ volumes, I have no doubt I'll be reading them over and over again. After reading this book I happened to go to the local high school soccer game where I live (Mililani, Hawaii) and saw at least 5 failed impossible plays and 2 goal scoring opportunities lost, I wondered what if those players had read Dan's Soccer iQ?

Fantastic book you should have on your shelf, or better yet in your hands.

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Rookie: Surviving Your Freshman Year of College Soccer

by Dan Blank

When I went to college I didn't play College Soccer, I played College Ice Hockey. My son is 12 and my daughter is 9 so they are not potentially going to play college soccer for several more years (if at all). When I bought this book I was not sure I'd be able to relate and enjoy it as much as Dan Blank's Soccer iQ volumes. Man was I wrong. Rookie was not what I expected, it's way better and not just for soccer players, it's for any type of athlete in my opinion. This book provides great advice on how to compete with peers (with respect and courage), earn a spot for yourself on the "starters roster" and also "playing time". I believe this book would also be a great read for high school athletes who attend schools where there are preseason tryouts and competition to "make the team". For me this book was a fun read and contains advice that not only pertains on the field but to all other aspects of student athlete life, like how to handle their celebrity like status within their own school bubble.

Highly recommend.

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Developing Game Intelligence in Soccer

by Horst Wein

Don't you just love those people who think they can play soccer because they can kick a ball. It's such an easy game anyone can play right? Well that may be true when you're 5 years old but how about the 16 year old who shows up to play for the high school soccer team and never played before? Technically we know they will probably be horrible however maybe they are a great athlete coming from another sport. The question is can anyone quickly learn to be an intelligent soccer player or is it a long term investment? When does a player need to begin developing game intelligence, how does a coach teach game intelligence? These are tough questions answered in this book.

I never heard much about "Game Intelligence" until I started reading some of Horst Wein's book. The fact is that developing game intelligence is something a coach can begin to give players at a very young age. The written chapter introductions, concepts, exercises, and small sided games diagrammed in this book are outstanding. There are only a few "set plays" in soccer and the rest of the game is "problem solving", the team with the smartest players has a huge advantage equally just as the team with fastest players has an advantage. I love this book because it teaches how, as a coach, to ask your players right questions, then they must come up with the answers and become problem solvers on the field, that's why it's the "players game".

Highly recommend especially for youth coaches.

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Changing the Game: The Parent's Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes, and Giving Youth Sports Back to our Kids

by John O'Sullivan

I highly recommend this book for parents, especially if you think your child is a sports superstar (regardless of if they really are or not). If you haven't heard yet, close to 75% of children quit sports either before or by age 15. I didn't know it was that high until I read this book. The #1 reason kids quit sports is because they are not having fun. So who are the fun killers? Perhaps you should look at yourself (Dad or Mom or Coach).

As a parent of two children (1 boy and 1 girl) who both play sports this book opened my eyes to some of my own misbehavior and offers invaluable insight for any sports parent in my opinion. The worst thing that could happen to my child isn't having a bad game on Saturday, it would be for them to quit sports altogether for the rest of their life because of me their Dad.

This book contains tons of great information and advice, for example: don't spend all of your family vacations going to sport tournaments, yes everyone else on the team is probably going but you don't have to, you could take your family to Disney Land instead, everyone will have a great time and that includes your star child athlete. This book will give parents the confidence they need to make decisions that are in the best "long term" interest of their child, not the coaches ambitions to win the U10 tournament.

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Everything Your Coach Never Told You Because You're a Girl: (and other truths about winning!)

by Dan Blank

Everything Your Coach Never Told You Because You're A Girl by Dan Blank might just as well be titled "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: If Clint Eastwood was Your Coach". It's a classic, it's a 5 star show, and it will never be old. I'll be hanging onto this book and reading it again and again whenever I think I've lost my competitive edge and need a few good reminders about what it takes to be a winner.

I use to play but now I coach. I've read every book Dan Blank has written so far except for Happy Feet and this is one of his best (BTW all of his books are excellent). While the title of this book implies it's just for girls, in fact I found it's loaded with stuff my coach never told me and I'm a boy. Perhaps coaches never told me "truths about winning" because they assumed somehow I instinctively knew how to be an outlaw. I believe this book is just as relevant for boys as it is for girls however nobody has ever written something like this for girls, at least that I know of and that makes this book bodacious.

There's no "beating around the bush" writing here, from the get go Blank goes straight into the psyche of serious competitors and it's not dressed up in the slightest. I read Dan Blank's other books rather quickly (they're hard to put down) but this book was a tough read for me because I wasn't prepared for its intensity. Temporarily I found I had turned into a full-time competitor, something normal society does not considered as acceptable behavior. Dan Blank mentions this in the book i.e. the arena of competition versus normal everyday society. The problem was, I was on Chapter 20 titled "Be the Bully" and I became the bully. I wanted to win everything and it didn't matter who I was competing against, whether it was fair, or if the other person even knew it was a competition. In other words this book turned me into a temporary asshole at least by normal society standards. I checked my attitude soon enough and continued reading this book in smaller doses, there's a lot of power written in these pages that can f*** you up mentally (that or I'm just weak and worship this guy).

Dan Blank deserves a lot credit in my opinion for having the courage to write this book. I think he has possibly opened himself up to receive criticism from the coaching community, especially from the youth coaching community. It's important to keep in perspective this book is for college soccer players. If you've read any of his books it's obvious he's a very passionate college soccer coach who has a unique and valuable perspective about competition that anyone would enjoy and learn from reading. If you are a competitive player this book will only make you better and I highly recommend it. If you're like me and have transitioned into coaching (youth coaching) I also highly recommend this book but you may also want to read "Changing the Game" by John O'Sullivan as a companion just to keep balance within the force. Dan Blank is the Sith Lord of winning and John O'Sullivan is Yoda, you'll meet your destiny when you are ready and there's no reason to face your father when you are only 9, never getting the chance to face him when you are in your prime.

This is an amazing book that will make you think and ponder "The Meaning of Life" (Chapter 33). I wonder if there are any secrets he didn't give away in this book? Lastly, please don't buy this book as I'd prefer to have the advantage if we ever meet in the arena of competition and I destroy you without regret or remorse, laugh when you cry, and rub it in during my interview. Thanks for writing another fantastic book.

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Dynamic Stretching: The Revolutionary New Warm-up Method to Improve Power, Performance and Range of Motion

by Mark Kovacs, Ph.D., CSCS

This is a fantastic book regardless if you are a coach or player. The author briefly explains differences between dynamic stretching compared to static stretching, and when you should do one versus the other. After the introduction it's straight into sport specific recommended routines. I like the sport specific recommendations but what makes this book great is the fact it is not targeted on a single sport, it's comprehensive. I'm a soccer coach so taking care of the legs is important to me, but I also might want to train a player's upper body range of motion like a swimmer, tennis, or football player might do. Images are provided for each exercise showing proper form along with detailed written steps, making it easy to understand and visualize the motions in proper sequence. .

If you're a coach and you haven't yet incorporated dynamic stretching into your warm-up routine you really should. If you're a player and your coach doesn't reserve time for dynamic stretching during each training session and before each game, you should plan to arrive early and perform dynamic stretching on your own (or find a new coach). But don't take my word for it, read this book I highly recommend it.

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HAPPY FEET - How to Be a Gold Star Soccer Parent: (Everything the Coach, the Ref and Your Kid Want You to Know)

by Dan Blank

Another cool and well written book by Dan Blank. This book prompted me to write the following below to my son's new soccer coach, consider it my review for this book.

"Hi Coach"

I wanted to write you and let you know I'm very pleased with the club and your coaching style. I've coached Kosmo in AYSO since he was 4 and admit it has been difficult for me to release him to you. Whether you think I owe you an apology or not, I want to apologize to you nonetheless. I've let my own feelings, coaching philosophy, and other influences lead me to initially form incorrect judgements about you which I now know are totally wrong. Thankfully I don't recall ever saying anything stupid or disrespectful to you that would be hard for me to take back but it doesn't mean I'm not guilty of forming incorrect opinions which I'm sorry I ever did (even if they were only in my own head). I've seen your dedication, experience and knowledge shine on the field and want you to know I recognize and appreciate your good work coaching the players (I know the sacrifices you and all coaches make to be there on an ongoing basis, we all have lives).

I'm always trying to improve myself, admit when I'm wrong, learn and move on for the better, this is me doing that. I think coaches often receive grumblings from parents but I wanted to share something that I think is positive feedback from me to you. Keep up the good work you and the other coaches are doing for Kosmo, it's awesome and I see him growing.

I know this probably sounds like it's coming out of left field but I've been reading some excellent books about youth sports, specifically the one that prompted me to write you this email is titled: Happy Feet: How to Be a Gold Star Soccer Parent (Everything the Coach, the Ref and Your Kid Want You to Know) by Dan Blank.

Sincerely. - Brant (Kosmo's Dad)

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Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

by Carol Dweck

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Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

by Liz Wiseman and Greg Mckeown

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© 2017 - Brant Wojack