Book of the Month Club

The Canadian Sport for Life Team is always sharing great reads with each other and we want to share them with you too! Visit this page to find great reads on topics like sports, nutrition, health, fitness, rest and recovery, and more. We will be adding new content bi-monthly so be sure to come back often to find all the latest great reads recommended by the CS4L Team. 


Recommended by Carolyn Trono, Director of Long-Term Athlete Development, Sport for Life Society

Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Relationship. By: Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright

Sports teams rely on teamwork and leadership for success. In order for a sport as a whole to succeed, it requires the organization that governs it – whether it be the national, the federal/provincial/territorial, or the municipal/community sport organization – to run much like a team: well-conditioned; its members all in sync. The book Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Relationship refers to organizations as tribes, or groups of tribes, which are more powerful than teams, companies or even CEOs. It offers great tips for moving toward an organizational team culture and away from focus on the individual.

Tribal Leadership shows leaders how they can map key leverage points to assess their organization’s “tribal culture” on a scale of one to five, and then discusses how to implement certain tools and practices for that organization to move up through the stages and benefit from the substantial success that follows. After conducting a 10-year study of roughly 24,000 people, authors Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright have found that the success of a company rests on its tribes, that the strength of its tribes depends on the tribal culture, and that a thriving organizational culture can be established and driven by an effective tribal leader. Anyone involved in sport programming, delivery or administration will find value in this book.

Topics: Leadership, Culture, Society, Teamwork


Recommended by Istvan Balyi, Sport for Life Society Management Team

Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else. By: Geoff Colvin.

If you’re asked why certain people excel at certain things – be it a sport, an instrument, or painting – there’s a good chance you’d point to natural ability and/or hard work. What else could it be, right? When we see a world-class athlete compete or watch a cello “prodigy” perform, it’s easy to think their innate talent, or the countless hours of hard work they put in behind the scenes, is responsible. But according to journalist Geoff Colvin, author of Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, hard work and pure talent are two of the most common misconceptions about what makes people great.

Apparently, greatness is due to practice. Not your standard twice-a-week type of practice, but what Colvin calls “deliberate practice”. Drawing on research to reach his conclusions, Colvin outlines deliberate practice as specifically designed and repeated often. It is intensely mentally demanding for the participant, and requires that the participant receive constant feedback. Deliberate practice is not enjoyable, but it is effective. The good news? Colvin claims that you don’t have to be a physical specimen or musical phenom to achieve greatness – you just have to be willing to put in the practice.

Topics: Physiology, Sports, Coaching, Practice

Recommended by Richard Way, CEO, Sport for Life Society

They Call Me Chief: Warriors on Ice. By: Don Marks

Canadian Sport for Life (CS4L) strives to reduce barriers to sport participation and ensure participants have the positive experiences that will encourage them to stay active for life. Unfortunately for many First Nations, however, the barriers they face are steep and numerous – lack of funding and infrastructure, isolation, socioeconomic issues, racism.

They Call Me Chief showcases First Nations athletes who overcame great hurdles to star in the National Hockey League. Since CS4L currently works with the aboriginal community to develop the Aboriginal Long-Term Participant Development Framework, it was both shocking and inspiring to see the immense obstacles these “warriors on ice” overcame to become elite athletes. 

Sport administrators, league organizers and coaches need to read this book to get a better understanding of how they can address their environment to support all aboriginal athletes to achieve goals – whether it’s pursuing an education or representing Canada at the elite level of sport. For the more visual learners, the book comes with a supplementary DVD of interviews.

Topics: Culture, Society, Sport Psychology, Coaching


Recommended by Lea Norris, Director of Engagement, Sport for Life Society

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard. By: Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Think of the “old-school” coach who has been running the same drills and practices for years, and how much a fresh approach could benefit him as well as his athletes. Or what about the young woman who tries over again to live a healthier, more active lifestyle, but can’t establish a regular routine. Why do you think it’s so hard to make lasting change?

According to Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, this difficulty is due to an internal conflict between the rational side and the emotional side of our brain. Basically, the rational side wants those things that are beneficial to us, the things that are worth working for; the emotional side, on the other hand, wants to feel good and comfortable. However, as the authors of Change point out, it’s not about overcoming one side of the brain or the other – it’s about overcoming the tension created between the two sides.

Switch combines decades’ worth of research in psychology, sociology and other areas with stories of real, everyday people to present compelling narratives of how we can unite both minds and realize true change in our lives.

Topics: Psychology, Sociology, Health, Culture


Recommended by Dr. Vicki Harber, Sport for Life Society Management Team

Warrior Girls: Protecting Our Daughters Against the Injury Epidemic in Women's Sports. By: Michael Sokolove

Participation in women’s sports is higher than ever, and studies show that girls who take part in sports are happier, fitter, more confident, and better equipped to face the world. But there’s a frightening trend occurring that seems to be willfully ignored by the masses: female athletes, both recreational and elite, are suffering serious injuries at shocking rates.

In bringing this unfortunate tendency to his audience’s attention, author Michael Sokolove points out that women tear their ACLs eight times as often as men, and that female collegiate soccer players suffer concussions at the same rate as collegiate football players. Girls are both more vulnerable to injury and more determined to play through pain due to their commitment to the team ideal. Combine these with the pressure to specialize early and it’s no wonder chronic pain is commonplace for many female athletes.

Fortunately, Warrior Girls offers solutions for how girls can alter their training regime to reduce risk of injury, and makes it clear that parents are in the position to protect their daughters by demanding change within our sports culture. Well-researched and controversial, Warrior Girls can help girls to improve their play while increasing how long they’re able to play.

Topics: Injury Prevention, Sport Science, Athlete Development, Culture


Recommended by Carolyn Trono, Canadian Sport for Life Management Team

The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know. By: Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

Where does confidence come from, and how is it best demonstrated? What’s more critical for success: confidence or competence? Why is it that so many women – including the most successful – appear to bear feelings of self-doubt?

The Confidence Code aims to deconstruct the quality of confidence and offer an outline for how women can bring more of it into their lives. Authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman delve into the world of neuroscience to try and find the confidence gene and offer insight for how it’s rooted in the brain. By performing their own genetic testing and interviewing the world’s leading psychologists, Kay and Shipman find that we can alter our physical wiring by taking action and embracing risk. They show us that through our own choices and actions we can make ourselves more confident, and ultimately improve our leadership, success and fulfillment.

You won’t improve your confidence through positive thinking, self-talk or bravado. Nor will confidence come from perfection or people-pleasing. But if you take more action, face more risk, and give yourself a chance to overcome failure, you’re sure to notice a difference!

Topics: Neuroscience, Psychology, Sociology, Sport Science


Recommended by Richard Way, Canadian Sport for Life Senior Lead

Game On: The All-American Race to Make Champions of Our Children. By: Tom Farrey

Youth sports have morphed beyond the happy-go-lucky afternoon-with-friends outing that they once were into a win-at-all-costs trial where children specialize in a single sport year-round by age five and compete on the national stage before they turn 10. This craze to be the next Tiger Woods, or to attract the top university scouts by middle school is driving children and their parents to unnatural extremes.

In Game On, Emmy award-winning reporter Tom Farrey delves into the lives of child athletes and the repercussions of identifying and separating the talented from the less-skilled at younger and younger ages: high rates of inactivity and obesity amongst youth, irate adults on the sidelines, and national teams that are doing ever-poorer on the international stage. Game On examines when elite athletes first enter organized play, what the methods are for coaching them, and how best to guide our next generation as both athletes and human beings.

Topics: Sport Science, Coaching, Psychology, Culture



Recommended by Istvan Balyi, Canadian Sport for Life Management Team

Rowing Faster: Serious Training for Serious Rowers, 2nd ed. By: Volker Nolte, ed.

Rowing Faster is one of the most sought-after books by the International Rowing Association. Successful enough to require a second edition, Rowing Faster includes detailed and varied information on rowing philosophy, Long-Term Athlete Development, rowing science, training, racing, and the future of rowing.

Contributors include gold-medal coaches, championship athletes, and top scientists who all offer insight into the latest training and racing principles. This book should be a required text for all rowers and coaches.


Topics: Rowing Science, Coaching, Physiology, Athlete Development



Recommended by Dr. Vicki Harber, Canadian Sport for Life Management Team

Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children from the Culture of Hyper-Parenting. By: Carl Honoré

It’s a natural inclination for parents to want their children to succeed at life. Yet in the early parts of the 21st century, where parents feel the pressure to give their children the best and try to make their children the best, this ambition is actually backfiring on the kids, parents and society as a whole.

Honoré doesn’t write Under Pressure just to draw our attention to negative trends, however; he uses it to outline the ways in which we can begin saving our children from the excesses of today. First, we must understand that children need to reach, pull and struggle in order to realize and appreciate what they have. This doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t be there for their kids—on the contrary, in fact. But parents should give their family the opportunity to relax, think and just spend time together. As Honoré says, parenting “is not a project; it’s a journey”, and that means letting things run their course without jumping in and forcing them. By offering kids love and attention without any strings attached, parents give them the tools to succeed in life.

Topics: Parenting, Sociology, The Slow Movement, Culture



Recommended by Istvan Balyi, Canadian Sport for Life Management Team

Outliers: The Story of Success. By: Malcolm Gladwell

In this stunning investigation of success, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on a journey through the world of "outliers" –- the best, brightest, and most famous -- asking the question: what makes high-achievers different?

Gladwell argues that in order to solve this riddle we must focus on the contributing elements around the successful: their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way, he explains what the Beatles and Bill Gates share in common, the reason you've never heard of the smartest man in the world, why almost no star hockey players are born in the fall, and why Columbian and South Korean airplane pilots are more likely to crash.

Brilliant and entertaining, Outliers is a landmark work that will transform the way we understand success.

Topics: Psychology, Sociology, Statistics, Culture

Recommended by Richard Way, Canadian Sport for Life Senior Lead

Any Given Monday: Sports Injuries and How to Prevent Them, for athletes, parents, and coaches – based on my life in sports medicine. By: Dr. James R. Andrews

Every year more than 3.5 million children will require medical treatment for sports-related injuries, the majority of which are avoidable through proper training and awareness. Any Given Monday is a sport-by-sport guide to injury prevention and treatment, written specifically for the parents, grandparents, and coaches of young athletes by acclaimed orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Andrews. From identifying eating disorders to preventing career-ending ACL tears and concussions, Any Given Monday is a compendium of practical advice for every major sport, including football, gymnastics, judo, basketball, tennis, baseball, cheerleading, wrestling, and more. This invaluable guide reveals how young athletes can maximize their talent and maintain a lifetime of health both on the field and off.


Topics: Sport Science, Development, Injury Prevention, Coaching 

Recommended by Dr. Vicki Harber, Canadian Sport for Life Management Team

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character. By: Paul Tough

Why do some children succeed while others fail? The story we usually tell about childhood and success is the one about intelligence: success comes to those who score highest on tests, from preschool admissions to SATs. In How Children Succeed, Paul Tough challenges conventional wisdom on the subject arguing instead that qualities of character (skills like perseverance, curiosity, optimism, and self-control) play a pivotal role in success.

This book introduces us to a new generation of researchers and educators, who, for the first time, are using the tools of science to peel back the mysteries of character. This provocative and profoundly hopeful book will not only inspire and engage readers, it will also change our understanding of childhood itself.

Topics: Development, Psychology, Parenting, Teaching 



Recommended by Istvan Balyi, Canadian Sport for Life Management Team

Pediatric Anaerobic Performance. By: Emmanuel Van Praagh (Editor)

Pediatric Anaerobic Performance contains 17 chapters on the developmental aspects of anaerobic performance, written by an international all-star team of 28 scientists and practitioners. These contributors present reviews and new work on the genetic, developmental, physiological, and biomechanical aspects of children’s anaerobic performance.

Divided into four parts, the book covers biological development and anaerobic performance; assessment of anaerobic performance; anaerobic trainability; and clinical limitations, environmental constraints and future directions. Each chapter includes learning objectives, directions for future research, and an extensive reference section.

Topics: Sport science, Psychology, Development, Coaching


How to be an Extraordinary Athlete: The Secrets to Sporting Success. By: Dr. Ann Quinn  

In How to be an Extraordinary Athlete: The Secrets of Sporting Success, Dr. Ann Quinn combines her extensive knowledge of sport science, psychology and years of experience consulting with high performance athletes and coaches to develop a holistic guide to achieving excellence in sport. Ideal for coaches and athletes, this book will provide you with best practices, sport science tips, inspirational examples, and practical strategies that will guide you on your journey towards sporting success. 


Topics: Sport science, Psychology, Development, Coaching




Recommended by Jim Grove, Canadian Sport for Life Leadership Team

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. By: Susan Cain 

Quiet is a thoroughly-researched testament to the importance of introverts in culture and society. If you have ever felt ashamed for being the quiet type who listens more and speaks less, and enjoys reading books and "meditating" more than bungee jumping, this book is for you.

Susan Cain shows how the 20th century popularized and gave precedence to extroverts who are marked by their exuberance, assertiveness, and risk taking, while previous centuries saw much greater value given to quiet thinkers and leaders who only acted after thoughtful reflection. Cain documents how the dramatic shift in values came about, and why both introverts and extroverts have important roles in society. The research into the neurological underpinnings of introversion and extroversion is also especially interesting, as it has significant implications for everything from raising children to managing mental health issues.  


Topics: Psychology, Wellness, Parenting, Business 


Recommended by Richard Way, Canadian Sport for Life Senior Lead

Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey--and Even Iraq--Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport.  By: Simon Kuper & Stefan Szymanski.

Why doesn’t the United States dominate soccer internationally…and how can it? Which is the best soccer nation on earth? Who has the most passionate fans? Which sport will dominate the earth? NFL or the English Premier League?

These are some of the questions every soccer fanatic has asked. Soccernomics answers them. Written with an economist’s brain and a soccer writer’s skill, it applies high-powered analytical tools to everyday soccer topics, looking at data in new ways, revealing counterintuitive truths about the world’s most loved game. It all adds up to a revolutionary way of looking at soccer that could affect the way the game is played internationally.


Topics: Sport, Economics, Soccer, Business

Recommended by Istvan Balyi, Canadian Sport for Life Management Team

The No Complaining Rule: Positive Ways to Deal with Negativity at Work. By: Jon Gordon

In the spirit of his international bestselling book, The Energy Bus, Jon Gordon once again shares an inspiring and enlightening story that reveals a powerful way to tackle the biggest problem in business and life today… negativity. It costs organizations billions of dollars and impacts the morale, productivity and health of individuals and teams. Based on an actual company that created and implemented The No Complaining Rule, Gordon delivers an engaging story filled with innovative ideas and practical strategies to develop positive leaders, organizations and teams.


Topics: Business, Management, Health, Wellness



Recommended by Jim Grove, Canadian Sport for Life Leadership Team

The Sports Gene. By: David Epstein

In his New York Times-bestselling book The Sports Gene, author David Epstein reports on today’s cutting-edge genetics research and recounts anecdotal evidence from around the globe to reveal the role that genes play in making a champion athlete. Is it simply about having the right genes from birth? Or can any kid become a world champion in any sport with enough hours of training? 

From discussion of Kenyan dominance in distance running, Jamaican superiority in sprinting, inordinately elevated hemoglobin in Finnish cross-country skiers, pain tolerance in NFL linebackers, a complex picture emerges. In the end, it's clear that athletic talent is a mixture of both nature and nurture, but we are still a good distance away from being able to predict talent based on genetic testing. Epstein’s simple, lucid and engaging style will help even casual readers to understand the essentials of human genetics and its role in sport training and performance. 

Topics: Sport, Science, Performance

Recommended by Istvan Balyi, Canadian Sport for Life Management Team

Take a Nap! Change your life. By: Sara C. Mednick, PH.D. with Mark Ehrman

A scientifically based breakthrough program, Take a Nap! Change your Life teaches you how to plan the optimum nap: when to take it, how long to sleep, how not to wake up groggy – and how to neutralize the voice in your head that tells you napping is a sign of laziness. It’s not. Napping is a sign of taking control of your life.

Benefits of napping: It increases alertness, Boosts creativity, Reduces stress, Enhances libido, Aids in weight loss, Keeps you looking younger, Reduces the risk of heart attack, Elevates mood, Strengthens memory, Clarifies decision-making, Improves productivity, And feels great.


Topics: Rest & Recovery, Health, Productivity



Challenging Beliefs: Memoirs of a Career. By: Tim Noakes with Michael Vlismas

Tim Noakes is one of the world’s leading authorities on the science behind sport and a successful sportsman in his own right. Through a lifetime of research, he has developed key scientific concepts in sport that have not only redefined the way elite athletes and teams approach their professions, but challenged conventional global thinking in these areas.

In Challenging Beliefs, Noakes give his views on everything from the myths perpetuated by the sports-drink industry and the dangers of overtraining and overdrinking to the prevalence of banned substances, the need to make rugby a safer sport, and the benefits of a high-protein, low-carb diet. The teams and athletes with whom Noakes has worked make fascinating backdrops to these topics, highlighting the importance of science in sport in human terms. 

Topics: Sport, Health, Mental Fitness, Diet