“Student of the game” is a phrase I’ve often heard but didn’t appreciate until recently. Over the past few years I’ve read many sports books. I started reading just out of interest, but realized there’s more I can learn about the sports I play, and my reading has turned into a second education. In his book King of Russia: A Year in the Russian Super League, Canadian professional hockey coach Dave King said that Russian players get classroom lessons on how to play hockey. That makes sense to me now, but as a young hockey player I don’t think I would have liked it. I just wanted to play. My father will tell you that as a young athlete I thought I knew everything about the sports I played, especially baseball, the sport he tried to coach me in. But can you imagine the reactions of North American hockey players to being put into a classroom to learn hockey? I think it’d be amusing to watch the video of that scene. Or maybe it wouldn’t be. Maybe this is done in hockey schools. I’ve never attended one so I can’t say for sure. Please fill me in if you know. Until recently I never formally learned any of the sports I play. I learned them by playing them with my classmates and friends before school, at lunch, after school, and on weekends and vacations. The closest I came to formal instruction was being verbally coached on the court, ice, diamond, etc. I don’t think I ever read a book or attended a class in my youth on how to play any of the sports I played. I wish I had.
See the following for some of the best sports books I’ve read as an adult.
For entertainment: The Game by Ken Dryden, Moneyball by Michael Lewis, and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami .
For instruction: The Science of Hitting by Ted Williams, The Sports Injury Handbook by Alan Levy, and Ten Minute Toughness by Jason Selk.