5 Best John Wooden Books For Coaches and Athletes

the five best john wooden books on leadership for coaches and athletes

We’ve compiled a list of our favorite John Wooden books, written by the “Wizard of Westwood” himself (except for one) to help you become a better coach.

We love coaches that love to teach players not only about sports, but about life as well. John Wooden did just that every day. He was the ultimate coach both on and off of the court and his timeless life lessons serve as a reminder to coaches and players about what it means to have moral fiber.

We’ve created this list because the wisdom of Coach Wooden is always worthy of spreading. This list is our favorite John Wooden books that we have read over the years that serve as amazing reminders for coaches and players and put life into perspective. Whether you’re just starting out in coaching or have been at the craft for 30 years, there are timeless life lessons throughout all of Coach Wooden’s books that are worth passing on to your players.

These John Wooden books should serve as a reference for you and should be read every night – just a chapter at a time before you go to bed – to put you into a focused, calm mindset and give you clarity on why you coach or play the game that you love so much.

Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations Both On and Off The Court

wooden: a lifetime of observations and reflections on and off the court best john wooden books

In a world where coaches were respected for the impact they made off of the court as much as they made it on the court, John Wooden quotes his wisdom throughout this amazing coaching book.

Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations Both On and Off The Court is an honest, thoughtful book in which John Wooden tells passages about almost every aspect of life. In Wooden, you’ll learn all about Coach Wooden’s philosophy on success, discipline, achievement, teamwork, family, and a variety of other aspects of life. From his time being raised on a small farm in Indiana to becoming the greatest coach in college basketball history, Wooden offers up amazing life lessons and wisdom that he learned along the way.

This inspirational classic is one of the best coaching books, let alone one of the best John Wooden books, that you’ll ever read. You will learn not only about Coach Wooden’s philosophy, but you’ll learn how to be a better parent, player, or coach. That’s because the lessons in this book are applicable to any athlete or person involved with athletics.

They Call Me Coach

they call me coach best john wooden books pyramid success

One of the best John Wooden books that you can pick up as a coach is They Call Me Coach. This book dives into Wooden’s coaching philosophy that helped make him the winningest coach in college basketball. There are a ton of fantastic life lessons throughout all of the John Wooden books in general, however this book dives into the hard work, sacrifice, and level of preparation that was required for UCLA to have the success that they did.

Not only is this book packed with basic, important life lessons that are sure to resonate with any athlete, it’s narrative is guided by Coach Wooden as he reflects on what made his teams – and his players – so unique. They Call Me Coach captures the philosophies that made John Wooden and his players not only successful in basketball, but successful in life as well.

Wooden on Leadership: How To Create a Winning Organization

Are you looking for a John Wooden book on leadership and how to create a winning culture within your organization?  You need to pick up Wooden on Leadership: How To Create a Winning Organization.  This book takes a captivating look into why John Wooden never changed his coaching philosophy and how he continually provided steadfast leadership for his players every year.

Wooden on Leadership dives into the Coach’s 12 lessons in leadership and his infamous Pyramid of Success, outlining all of the physical, mental, and emotional qualities that are necessary to build a successful organization. You’ll learn about how Coach Wooden got his players to give their best every day in a way that best served the team.  And, you’ll learn how to develop that skill within your players, or yourself, so that you can be at your best when your best is needed. It’s the ultimate read for coaches (on this list of the best John Wooden books) that are trying to build upon their coaching philosophy and create a culture of winning.

A Game Plan For Life: The Power Of Mentoring

a game plan for life best john wooden books on leadership

If you’re looking at our list of John Wooden books and you are thinking that you want to pick up a title that is a little more life-oriented, you can’t go wrong with A Game Plan for Life. This book from John Wooden credits the people who helped mold his coaching philosophy and shows you where he draws his inspiration from. Whether its his wife or Mahatma Ghandi, Wooden credits numerous people for influencing his life in a positive manner.

A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring also gives you a look into the people and players that John Wooden influenced himself, which shows you the impact that he had on other people’s lives. What you will love about the testimonials from his players is that they explain to you how Coach Wooden pushed them to not only be the best athletes possible, but the best people possible as well. Whether you’re a coach or a player, A Game Plan for Life is one of those John Wooden books that you will keep by your night stand and refer back to all the time. It’s inspiring and full of the character principles that make a high achiever.

Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-Year Friendship On and Off the Court

coach wooden and me best john wooden books for coaches

When John Wooden was recruiting Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to play college basketball at UCLA, it became the first step in one of the most meaningful, life-long relationships in sports history. Written by Abdul-Jabbar, Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-Year Friendship On and Off the Court shares the inspirational story about his bond with John Wooden and how their relationship shaped the course of both of their lives. It’s the ultimate story about a player and his amazing relationship with his coach.

Related: Coach Wooden And Me Review | Abdul-Jabbar’s Story Is Compelling & Heartfelt

This book is moving and takes a unique walk through the impact of John Wooden’s life through the eyes of one of his closest players. From his first day on campus to his playing days in the NBA, Abdul-Jabbar’s tribute to his beloved coach is one that you won’t be able to put down once you pick it up. It’s an amazing story about a unique athlete and coach’s bond that helped mold one of the greatest basketball players in NBA history.

*Bonus John Wooden Children’s Book*

Inch and Miles: The Journey To Success 

inch and miles the journey to success best john wooden books for children

You don’t have to be an elite athlete or teenager to start enjoying the wisdom from John Wooden books. If you’re looking to inspire a child, then you need to look no further than John Wooden’s children’s book Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success. This book follows the journey of Inch the inchworm and Miles the mouse and their school assignment from Mr. Wooden the owl. Before the summer vacation, Inch and Miles have to define success. The adventure from the assignment takes the two students all over where they meet different animals and lean the different components of success.

Young children will learn the value of hard work from the ant and the value of loyalty from the dog. Kids will also learn that “Success isn’t having trophies or toys. It isn’t a medal or friends of your choice. What is Success? That’s easy to see. It’s trying to be the best you can be!” This relatable, entertaining story of Inch and Miles will be a favorite for any child wanting to be the best that they can be.

That’s our list of the best John Wooden books we have read. As long as you stick to these titles, you will learn all about John Wooden’s philosophy on leadership, his game plan for success in life, and his tips on how to live a fulfilling life. If you liked this article, then you should check out our other lists for the best books for athletes and coaches: