Some of these books for athletes are absolute must-reads. Unfortunately, I read these books after my career as a track athlete was over. I became an NCAA- All American and went to the 2012 Olympics, and after I read these books, I know I would have accomplished more had I read them. 

Some of these books are explicitly directed to athletes, whereas others are much more geared towards general life success, but the content transfers. These books will change your perspective on success, winning and what it takes to be great. 

Don't make the mistake that many athletes make in only focusing on the physical. You want to prepare your mind with some books as well.

The more you build up your mind, the more of a student that you will be to your craft.  You will be able to understand the game on an intellectual level. Reading will also help you to relax and have better nights of sleep. 


#10 - Endure 

Endure - Best Athlete Books

Book

Endure

Author

Ian Warner

Year Published

2014

Pages

358

Why It Made The List 

Will Help Any Athlete Through Hard Times

Endure is a book I personally wrote in 2014. I was coming off of one of the hardest seasons of my life. I was struggling and losing my way as an athlete.

I decided to pull together a collection of the hardest things many different athletes had been through. I then took this collection of stories and added a few faith-based stories on and lessons I had learned throughout my life.

When you finish Endure, you will be ready to run through any obstacle.


#9 - Eleven Rings 

Book

Eleven Rings

Author

Phil Jackson

Year Published

2013

Pages

370

Why It Made The List 

Anyone That Can Win 11 Rings in Pro Sports is Worth  Learning From

Phil Jackson is a legendary NBA Coach, and in this book, he gives you his keys to success. He won a total of 11 NBA championships working with players like Michael JordanShaqKobe Bryant, and Scottie Pippen. His list of accomplishments is unreal, and his insight into winning this many times is beautiful. 

Step by step, he covers his life from his upbringing to to his final NBA ring. He has exciting takes on leadership, managing egos, ownership, and mindfulness. The book is one that anyone involved in sports can learn from. This can fit the best books for athletes or coaches categories. 


#8 - Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story

Best books for Athletes - Arnold

Book

Total Recall

Author

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Year Published

2013

Pages

656

Why It Made The List 

His Mindset is Unreal

Arnold overcame so many setbacks and became a huge success against all of the odds. He was told he would never move to America and he did and he became one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time. He also overcame massive odds to be an entrepreneur, act, and become the governor of California. 

Total Recall is about his entire life from the start. He was raised by stern parents and it helped to develop a rock solid mindset. He was not shaken by anything and  all athletes need to learn how to lock in on what they want from life like Arnold. 


# 7 - The Champion's Mind

Book

Champions Mind

Author

Jim Afremow

Year Published

2015

Pages

288

Why It Made The List 

Written by a Sports Psychologist to Help Athletes Win the Mental Game

A lot of being a great athlete is understanding the mindset that is required to succeed.

Many people have the talent to do it, but few have the mental attributes to go with it. It's one thing to learn from great athletes, but it's another to understand the science from a professional.

It's like the difference between getting health tips from a smart, successful friend vs. going to a doctor. You trust the information you're getting much more.


#6 - The Magic of Thinking Big 

Book

The Magic of Thinking Big

Author

David J. Schwarz

Year Published

1959

Pages

348

Why It Made The List 

Improve Your Grand Vision

The magic of thinking big is an excellent book for anyone with dreams. The book's entire purpose is to get you to feel even more significant about what you can accomplish. 

You must do this because you never get more than you set out to get in life. If you think small, then you will get even less. The book will get any athlete thinking about success on a much higher level.


#5 - Outliers 

Outliers - best Books for athletes

Book

Outliers

Author

Malcolm Gladwell

Year Published

2011

Pages

336

Why It Made The List 

Shows the Importance of Practice 

Malcolm Gladwell explains why most NHL players are born in January and are known for making the 10,000-hour rule accessible. The book is all about getting in your reps to be great. It moves you away from the idea that success is about talent.

By the time you finish this book, you will want to focus on getting started as early as possible at whatever you want to be great at. The book focuses much more on science vs. just listening to someone else's experiences.


#4 - Genghis Khan 

Book

Genghis Khan

Author

Jack Weatherford

Year Published

2005

Pages

312

Why It Made The List 

One of the Greatesrt Conquers to Ever Live

Sports are about domination! Any great athlete lives to take over. Their sole purpose is to dominate and make it clear that they are the threat that you should lose sleepover. Genghis Khan was one of the best at making people fear him without good reason.

Little has been known about him, and he liked it that way because people relied on stories and myths to tell his story, and much of the truth became embellished over time. Genghis Khan will have you feeling like there is nothing in this world that can stop you.


#3 - Grit 

Grit - best Books for Athletes

Book

Grit 

Author

Angela Duckworth

Year Published

2018

Pages

368

Why It Made The List 

Grit Provides a New Perspective on What Success Takes

Not only does this book bring some truth to light on success, but it also makes you rethink how you practice. The author makes the case that success requires a bit of courage, hard work, persistence, and resolve all mixed together.

A gritty person does not jump from thing to thing. They stick with one thing, no matter how hard it gets. 

The second point she covers is how your practice must be intentional. The intentional method involves working on things that you know you need and getting immediate feedback as you practice. Deliberate practice is not easy, but great athletes master this. Grit is a perfect for the books for athletes list. 


#2 - Mind Gym 

Book

Mind Gym

Author

Gary Mack + David Casstevens

Year Published

2002

Pages

240

Why It Made The List 

Simple Read On How You Can Train Your Mind

Mind Gym is one of the first books for athletes to really focus on the mindset. The author took secrets that were really reserved for pro athletes and simplified the concepts so even a high school athlete could understand what to do.

Mind Gym ranks so highly because any athlete can pick this book up and pull some good things from it. 


#1 - Relentless 

Best Athlete Books - Tim Grover

Book

Relentless

Author

Tim Grover

Year Published

2014

Pages

272

Why It Made The List 

Most Hardcore Book for Athletes

Tim Grover is known for training Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, and Dwayne Wade. These are three athletes who are known for having some of the craziest attitudes about winning and doing what it takes. When you read this book you will begin to understand more about why. 

He is 100% honest about what success takes and how you as an athlete have to be honest with yourself. Too many athletes lie about their true motivations. The greats are honest with what drives them.

He covers so much stuff in this book that will just shock you but it will also make you think about what you're willing to sacrifice. If you're willing to put in a lot of work, this book can help you reach a new level. 

Summary of Best Books for Athletes

10. Endure 

9. Eleven Rings 

8. Total Recall 

7. The Champions Mind

6. The Magic of Thinking Big 

5. Outliers 

4. Genghis Khan 

3. Grit 

2. Mind Gym 

1. Relentless

Ian Warner

About the author

I went from a broken leg to a 2012 Olympian. I have spent the last 15 years building positive habits as a track athlete and entrepreneur. I founded Habit Stacker and dedicated my life to helping people to develop winning habits. I have helped over 5,000 people...

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