With all of the training that occurs on a daily basis, athletes can tend to neglect the importance of training their souls and especially their minds. Players that play with soul and purpose often receive the greatest reward with their experience because they are devoted to their craft emotionally, mentally, and physically.  Below is a list of books that will teach you some of the greatest life lessons available through story telling.

If you’re an athlete that is lost and looking for motivation and purpose, trying to find a reason why you’re playing the game or are looking for knowledge on how to make it to the next level, then these books are for you.  If you’re the parent of an athlete that needs to be learn about overcoming adversity, or that needs a story to help spark some passion and motivation, then you need to look no further than this list.

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On this list, there are stories of tragedy and triumph and there are stories about how to put yourself in the right place mentally to perform at the highest level. Most importantly, there are examples and information in each one of these books that comes directly from the heart of the author to help you further yourself.  These books will educate you about some of the most important life lessons you need to learn right now so that you can be prepared, motivated, and determined when you face the various ups and downs in your life.

Not only do these books provide you a glimpse into the lives of elite athletes, but they also allow you to step into the mindset of each author. These books reveal the forces and motivation that continues to drive these authors and athletes to surpass their own expectations. So, click a link, order a book, then kick back and get your learn on. Each one of these books will leave you delighted, inspired, and motivated to achieve your own success and win each and every day.

Seventeen Must-Read Books for Athletes


1The Life You Imagine – By Derek Jeter

The Life You Imagine: Life Lessons for Achieving Your Dreams is the ultimate “How-to” guide for success by Yankee Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter.   Jeter goes in depth about how he and his parents developed a practical game plan that took his dreams of playing for the New York Yankees as a young boy and turned them into reality.  In this book, he shares the guidelines that he has valued since a young age to channel his focus in the right direction and to set himself up for success in life.

2Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink

There’s no better way to learn about owning your decisions in life than from former U.S. Navy SEAL Jocko Willink. Jocko’s New York Times Best Selling Book, Extreme Ownership, teaches athletes the mind-set and the principles that Navy SEALs follow in order to accomplish some of the most difficult missions in the world. Each chapter in the book goes in depth on one simple topic and explains what each one is, why it’s important, and how to implement them into any environment that requires effective leadership. Willing goes in depth throughout the entire book about the principles he learned on the battlefield and shows you how to help others lead themselves so that the whole team can win.

3The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion – Dr. Simon Marshall

The Brave Athlete is a book from Dr. Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson that provides athletes with a practical, step by step guide that solves the 13 most common mental problems in athletes today.  This book will help athletes that get into their own heads too much and adversity out to be much bigger than it has to be.  The steps in this book offer an innovative, brain training guide that is the first to apply clinical science and real world experience.  This amazing book provides a fresh, new look into how athletes need to buck up and take control of their thoughts so that they can train harder, perform better, and enjoy the entire process of playing sports.

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4Hockey Tough (2nd Edition) – Saul L. Miller


Saul L. Miller’s Hockey Tough is a resourceful book by renowned performance consultant Dr. Saul Miller that teaches athletes how to strengthen the mental factors that apply directly to their performance.  Dr Miller’s book goes deep into the power of visualizing success and controlling your mental energy to allow optimum athletic performance. Hockey Tough will teach the reader how to stay focused in a complicated environment and be ready to perform in clutch situations.

5The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch That Changed My Life – Rick Ankiel

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Rick Ankiel was one of the most dominant pitchers in Major League Baseball and in the blink of an eye, he lost it. The Phenomenon is a his story about how he lost his ability to pitch because of an anxiety condition called “the Yips”.  Ankiel’s condition came with no warning in the middle of a playoff game on national television with millions of people across the world watching.  The most interesting part about the entire story is that his “yips” have never gone away.  This book touches on how Ankiel battled the “Yips for more than four years and found his game at the moment that he was done forever. This incredible book touches on the pressure that sports can put on an athlete and provides the reader with one man’s choice, and his solution, about not letting it define him.

6Wooden: A lifetime of observations both on and off the court – John Wooden


Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court might be one of the most important books that any athlete will read throughout their entire life.  Narrated by NCAA Basketball coaching legend John Wooden, this timeless wisdom is his honest thoughts on pretty much every aspect of life.  Coach Wooden shares his philosophy on family, achievement, success, and dedication.  This book is a fantastic read that gives the athlete quotes to live by and mold their mentality about the key characteristics that are truly important in life.

7How Bad Do You Want It? – Matt Fitzgerald

How Bad Do You Want It?: Mastering the Psychology of Mind over Muscle taps into the minds of some of the greatest athletes that push themselves beyond their own limits and educates on what makes them tick.  In their own words, relentless running, cycling, and triathlon competitors correlate and reinforce the relationship between strong mental fitness and athletic performance in this book.  After you’re done reading the amazing stories in this book, you will forever change how you answer the question of “How Bad Do You Want It?”. Fitzgerald will show you how to harness the power of your mind and master the psychology of mind over muscle.

8The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive – Jim Afremow

The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive taps in to the minds of elite athletes and what allows them to stand out above their competition.  Have you ever wondered how some athlete’s have ice in their veins in the most stressful situations with the game on the line?  Afremow, a sports psychologist, communicates in his book the same thing that he tells elite athletes such as Olympians, Heisman Trophy Winners, and professional athletes.  This book is loaded with more than a hundred useful tips and cutting edge workouts from some of the world’s top trainers to help you operate at your highest capacity both mentally and physically.

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9Relentless – Tim Grover

Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable is an amazing book from legendary trainer Tim Grover. Grover has worked with the likes of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan to help them achieve another level within themselves on their path to success.  This book is fantastic because Grover reveals what he preaches to elite athletes in order to help them become relentless and achieve whatever goals they desire in life.  This book cuts through all of the B.S. and reveals Grover’s “Relentless 13” traits that help the best get better and how to use them in your game as well.

10Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence – Gary Mack

Mind Gym : An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence is a book by sports psychologist Gary Mack that taps in to how your mind influences your performance just as much as your physical skill does.  This book is to tap into the importance in the power of the mind and how our thoughts shape our actions.  This highly touted book from many prolific professional athletes will show you the same techniques that Mack uses with the likes of Ken Griffey Jr., Ben Crenshaw, and Jason Kidd to help them reach their athletic potential and ramp up their performance.

11Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success

Peak Performance is a book that brings together inspiring stories of tip performers across a wide range of backgrounds.  Whether the performers come from an athletic, intellectual, or artistic background, author Brad Stulberg dives into the scientific reasons and neurochemical factors as to why top performers achieve success.  This book cracks the code on the science behind optimal performance and teaches readers how to get the most out of their training methods.  Whether it is alternating between work and rest, priming the body and the mind for enhanced productivity, or developing the power you need to transcend your own expectations, Peak Performance teaches you the secrets of success and coaches you on how to you them.  This book is the ultimate reference to learn how to take your game to the next level.

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1210 Minute Toughness – Jason Selk

10-Minute Toughness: The Mental Training Program for Winning Before the Game Begins is a guideline for athletes that helps build a routine to boost brainpower and bring out your inner competitive edge before you take the field.  In this book, you will learn how to “master your own psych” ad prepare yourself to play at a high level by implementing Selk’s pre-game “10-MT” routine, which gets you ready for competition in only just 10 minutes per day.  Selk goes into detail about the importance of developing a mental plan and tackling the process of putting that plan into action.  If you want to optimize your life and reach your potential, then this is the ultimate book to help you break down your goals into an achievable step-by-step process.

13The TB12 Method: How to Achieve A Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance – Tom Brady

Is there a better book to read about how to achieve your peak performance than from quite arguably the greatest quarterback of all time?  We think not. The TB12 Method is the first book from New England Patriots quarterback and five time super bowl champion Tom Brady.  This book is an exclusive look into the training and determination that catapulted Brady to be one of the most respected football players of his generation.  In The TB12 Method, Brady explains how he developed his approach to his fitness and provides a step by step guide in to how he made the choice to live a more natural, healthier way of exercising, training, and living.  This book touches on everything from hydration to supplementation, fitness training to recovery, and provides instructions and drills that Tom Brady himself uses to serve as the only playbook that elite athletes need.

14The Talent Code – Daniel Coyle

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How is a thought provoking book that educates athletes by forcing them to tap into a brain mechanism that they have never used before. In this book, Coyle breaks down the three key elements that anyone must exercise in order to become the best athlete possible. Coyle taps into the importance of deep practice, the necessity of having an “ignition”, and the secrets of master coaching that make up the world’s most effective teachers and trainers.  The book is filled with numerous examples of regular people that have achieved greatness and will change the way that you think about talent.

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15The Flea: The Amazing Story of Leo Messi – Michael Part

The Flea – The Amazing Story of Leo Messi is an inspirational story about Lionel Messi, one of the greatest soccer players ever to strap on a pair of cleats.  This biography follows Messi from his first days of playing soccer in Argentina as a young boy all the way to his professional days of scoring his first goal on the Camp Nou pitch in Barcelona, Spain.  This fun and inspiring read is sure to leave adults and kids energized and left with a rewarding and inspiring experience.  This is the perfect book to inspire your young athlete.

16The Hard Hat: 21 Ways To Be A Great Teammate – John Gordon

The Hard Hat: 21 Ways to Be a Great Teammate is an unforgettable story about George Boiardi, who was a selfless, loyal, joyful, competitive, compassionate leader that impacted everyone that he came in touch with. In this book, Gordon features Boiardi’s team and tells the stories that created his team’s identity and their legacy.  The book is complete with insights that will motivate you to be the best teammate that you can possibly be and put “we before me”.  This book will touch your heart, make you think about how you treat your teammates, and inspire you to become the best version of yourself possible both in sport and in life.

17Eleven Seconds: A Story of Tragedy, Courage, and Triumph – Travis Roy

Eleven Seconds: A Story of Tragedy, Courage & Triumph about Boston University defenseman Travis Roy and the devastating tragedy that he suffered just eleven seconds into his first shift of college hockey.  Roy helps remind you that life can change for you in just seconds, and that you cannot take life for granted.  The book will leave you with a sense of appreciation for what you have and remind you to be thankful for the life that you are living.  This book will remind you the heart-wrenching realities of what can happen to us every day and encourage you to re-evaluate what you are thankful for in life.

There you have it – That’s our list of the Seventeen Best Books For Athletes. If you’re an athlete that doesn’t want to carry a paperback book around, we recommend signing up for Audible on Amazon. Audible allows you to download the books on this list and listen to them on the go on your phone, tablet, or computer. The great thing about it is that you can Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks when you start your free 30-day trial today.

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Contributes to the “new culture” of sports and helps motivate you to achieve your potential.