Score: 88/100 (8.8 out of 10)
This book is a great read for those interested in coaching athletics. It is written by an experienced coach whose heart is truly in this subject matter.
This book is all about CHARACTER. We often say that athletics build character, but do we ever stop to think about what that really means?
Author Steve Miller promotes the “CHAMPION” coaching mindset. C stand for communication. H stands for humility. A stands for accountability. M stands for mental toughness. P stands for passion. I stands for integrity. O stands for overcoming adversity. And N stands for never settling for less than the best for your program.
Miller presents this information with zest and passion. The writing isn't world-class as it can be rough around the edges at times, but it accomplishes the task of communicating what needs to be communicated.
This book draws tremendous inspiration from John C. Maxwell, the motivational speaker and leadership coach who also served as a role-model for our editor while he was coaching. Miller carries on a lot of the sample principles and ideas such as being a leader by example, showing appreciation for others (and their opinions), and realizing that winning isn't just a one-and-done affair. That last point was a healthy reminder to us to think of the long-term consequences of our actions and decisions. For example, you could tell an athlete to cheat in order to win a game, and you might even win that game, but what kind of person does that breed in the future? Could you be setting the stage for a criminal, an emotionally disturbed perfectionist, or an abusive parent?
Miller provides a particularly powerful example of how he reconnected with a former player decades later during a funeral. His last memories of this person were negative—they'd been complaining about little playing time. However, this person wound up becoming appreciative of the great life lessons the author had taught him. It had apparently made him a successful person and a better parent.
Something else that stood out in this book was the emphasis on ethics: doing the right thing no matter what. You'd think that'd be common sense, but coaches are under tremendous pressure from parents, athletic directors, boosters and other sponsors, and more. This book does not shy away from all the politicking. Sometimes, it's important to have the courage and integrity to say, “no, we're doing this the right way or we're not doing it at all.”
Not only is this ethically a good policy, but it also builds trust. There is no greater compliment than, “If Coach _________ is ok with it, then so am I!”
Another thing that brought us back to our sporting days was the emphasis on “mental toughness.” It was another healthy reminder of what it means to be mentally tough. According to the author, mental toughness is doing what needs to be done even if you don't want to do it. It goes hand-in-hand with self-discipline. That means that if you're supposed to be at work at 6 PM, be there at 5:50. If you have tasks A-D to do but don't want to do task C, do it anyway.
The only thing that really holds back this book is just its brevity. Yes, being concise is important, but it just feels like this book could've used a dozen or more examples of the eight principles. It felt a bit barren in that regard. So ultimately, the only thing we didn't like about this book is that we wanted to read more of it! It sounded like Coach Miller had so much more to say yet just stopped abruptly! It just left so much more to be desired!
We also loved hearing about the author's inspiration for pursuing coaching. It was very touching. In short, it brought him back to his fondest memories of his dad before an unfortunate accident. He remembered throwing ball with him and seeing the impressed expression on his face whenever he'd throw well. He particularly remembered throwing a one-hit game that his dad had attended.
All in all, this is a good read if you're a coach or are interested in being one. In all honesty, though one of our judges has retired from coaching, he found this to be a very good reminder about why athletics and CHARACTER matter.
Check it out on Amazon!