Top 5 Mental Perforance Books
All coaches want their athletes to be able to perform their best when it matters most. All coaches want their athletes to be consistent and compete at their highest levels when the pressure is the greatest. And most of all, coaches want their athletes to be totally present, confident, and focused to get their jobs done without giving any excuses!
I know this because I am one of those coaches, and I’ve coached for and with those coaches. I had so much first hand experience with it, I decided to pursue my PhD in sport psychology! So needless to say I’ve come across more sport psychology books than I can even recall. I’ve probably forgotten more sport psychology than I’d like to admit (I’ve lost a lot of brain cells over the years 😆).

That being said, here are my Top 5 Mental Performance books for Teachers and Coaches. This list covers topics on mental conditioning, willpower, toughness, resiliency, etc. It is definitely NOT all inclusive, and to be honest I could probably name an additional top 5 in each of those categories. But to get you started down the rabbit hole that is sport psychology:

1. Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck
Dr. Carol Dweck writes there are two different types of mindsets. There is a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. A growth mindset is where you believe you can learn and grow. People with the growth mindset like to try new things and experience new challenges. People with the fixed mindset believe failure is the limit of their abilities. They believe their potential is predetermined and they usually stick to what they know. Dr. Dweck teaches us how to help people to have a growth mindset.

2. Whistle to the Snap by Dr. Rick McGuire
Dr. Rick McGuire introduces us to a concept of what should happen during a football game in between football plays. He writes about the process football players can engage in that occurs between the ‘whistle and the snap’ of the football. He goes into detail of the five skills of focus and the routine football players can activate for optimal performance each play.

3. Winning Kids with Sport by Dr. Rick McGuire
Dr. Rick McGuire and his graduate students wrote “Winning Kids with Sport” as a class project. I was a doctoral student in this class and I wrote the chapter on mental toughness. This book suggests we should coach to win kids with sport as opposed to winning sport with kids.

4. Flourish by Dr. Martin Seligman
Flourish theorizes that when people experience components of PERMA (Positive emotions, Engagement, positive Relationships, Meaning, and Achievement) in their lives, they will be happier and flourish. Dr. Seligman’s PERMA model states that people do not need to be fulfilled in all categories to Flourish.

5. Self Determination Theory by Dr. Deci and Dr. Ryan
Deci and Ryan’s Self-Determination Theory (SDT) theorizes that when people take control of the things they can control in their own lived experience, they have enhanced motivation and effectiveness. For this control to happen, SDT further suggests that when the lived experience includes relatedness, competence, and personal engagement, coupled with autonomous decision making, intrinsic motivation is predominant, leading to enhanced personal effectiveness.

I used all of these resources when I wrote my dissertation that explored the psychosocial experiences of elite NFL football players. These books were invaluable when I explored the personal and professional experiences of elite athletes, and their thoughts, motivations, at the point of attack, when the ball was snapped, to begin each play. I think you will find all these resources very valuable if you are coaching or teaching athletes in today’s society.

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