Time to come clean.

John Forman? Those Volleyball Coaching Wizards books you wrote with Mark Lebedew that you sent me? I haven’t read them.

Chris Austin? I had every intention of reading The Way, about volleyball in Hawai’i. Never opened it.

Chris Johns up in Canada? The biography of the legendary Garth Pischke you sent me looked like something I’d like. One of these days … 

Even the one by my boy, Travis Mewhirter, We Were Kings, the comprehensive examination of the history of beach volleyball. Nope, haven’t read it. And, he said embarrassingly, never even ordered it.

I swear I’m on Amazon right now buying a copy.

Because it’s time. 

If there ever was an opportunity for all of us to read about volleyball, this is it.

There are no less than eight volleyball books on my shelf that authors/publishers have sent. They have dust on them.

OK, I read one. 

Dream Like A Champion, Nebraska coach John Cook’s autobiography. I really enjoyed it and was glad to know there’s a lot more to Cook than volleyball.

But mostly I write about volleyball. Daily. Sometimes for hours and hours. So reading about volleyball just seems like overkill.

But now it’s time.

Legendary former coach Terry Pettit has written four, but he’s made “Talent and The Secret Life of Teams,” a book about coaching, leadership and team building, free to anyone who wants to download it. That’s free at terrypettit.com/shop/ So go there, get a free book, and buy his others. 

Anyway, in this story are not only those books about volleyball I just pulled off my shelf that I will tackle during this time of coronavirus. After that are some from VolleyballMag.com co-publisher Ed Chan, the aforementioned Mewhirter, and suggestions from some of our volleyball friends around the country.

I solicited favorites from plenty of others, including the large Facebook group Volleyball, Coaches, and Trainers. For that matter, if you Google “volleyball books,” you get a ton more. This isn’t a be-all, end-all list. I figured at the least I could do a solid for those folks who I told I’d read their books, and it’s a start and it should get you through the time of coronavirus.

Read on: 

—The Way: Current beach player Chris Austin, who won two national titles as the UC Irvine setter, gave me my copy. The Way, A Hawai’ian Story of Growth, Relationships and Volleyball “is the story of the most successful youth club volleyball team in history written by Chris P Austin. The book is centered around four players and two coaches from Hawai’i who would consistently beat the odds, until they run into some of life’s strongest lessons.” That’s from Chris himself. Buy it at chrispaustin.com/books.

— Volleyball Coaching Wizards and Volleyball Coaching Wizard Wisdom. I had to let John write it up. After all, he sent me two books and, well … 

“Imagine the amazing insights and perspectives you could get by interviewing dozens of the world’s top volleyball coaches. That’s exactly what the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project is about. John Forman and Mark Lebedew, who partner on the venture, interviewed more than 40 great coaches from all around the world and all levels of play.

“The book from the project is simply titled Volleyball Coaching Wizards. It features the full interviews of the late Carl McGown, Giovanni Guidetti, Ruth Nelson, Jefferson Williams, Teri Clemens, Garth Pischke, Tom Turco, and Craig Marshall. Together they have centuries of experience, thousands of coaching victories, and probably about 100 championships at various levels. The project’s second book, Volleyball Coaching Wizards  — Wizard Wisdom, takes a different approach. It comprises excerpts and insights on an array of different coaching topics, all of them straight out of the Wizards interviews.”

And the second one is even available in Spanish: volleyballcoachingwizards.com/volleyball-coaching-wizards-books/

— Volleyball Fundamentals. John Dearing retired in 2010 after 40 years, including coaching both the men and women at Springfield College. The second edition is available for $13.99. “Learning to play volleyball has never been more effective — or more fun — than with Volleyball Fundamentals, Second Edition. Parents, coaches, and instructors of volleyball skill courses will immediately benefit from the solid foundational information and practical tips on how to teach every aspect of the sport. Players will enjoy using this resource because they will learn by doing—spending less time reading and more time engaged in playing the game.” Order here.

— Pischke Power. From the promotional notes, “From Winnipeg’s West End community of St. James to the highest levels of international volleyball, Garth Pischke made an indelible mark on the sport of volleyball. If we use a hockey comparison to which most Canadians can relate, Garth Pischke was the “Wayne Gretzky” of volleyball in his prime playing days.” Order here.

— We Were Kings. Travis: “I wrote We Were Kings because it was the book that I most wanted to read. When I began playing beach volleyball, at age 24, I was obviously late to the game. To expedite the learning process, I sought to read everything I could on the players, the history, the fabric of the sport. I found little. So I did it myself, interviewing more than 100 players, digging into their lives, their stories, their paths to the game, at every level of it. I interviewed Olympians and guys who have never qualified. I interviewed Kevin Cleary, the first president of the AVP Tour — I did so by playing a CBVA with him; we finished third — and the men and women who have been so instrumental in the most recent iteration of it. It isn’t so much a history book as it is a collection of memoirs, woven together over the course of an AVP season.”

Buy it on Amazon for $14 and support one of our own.

Dream Like a Champion. Cook and his collaborator, Brandon Vogel, tell some interesting stories about the Nebraska coach’s life and give you good insight into why he’s so successful. It’s available on Amazon. Cook, by the way, said he hasn’t read a volleyball book in years.

NCAA Volleyball History. This one, by Michael Sondheimer, who is more or less the NCAA women’s indoor historian among us, is basically an encyclopedia of the sport through the 2016 season. I have used this one quite a bit and it’s a valuable resource. It’s available on Amazon for $16.95.

Coach Your Brains Out! Ed read this one, by John Mayer and Billy Allen, who do a podcast with the same name with Nils Nilssen and Andrew Fuller, merges highlights from into a single document.

“We took a lot of lessons that we’ve been learning from the podcast,” said Allen, a product of Cal State Northridge. “Our own experiences, and things we’ve been studying, and melded it all into a manual, and intro to a lot of concepts for coaches.”

The book has eight chapters: Philosophy and Principles, Mindset, Motor Learning, Feedback, Practice, Competition, Culture, and Leadership. Each chapter is followed by its own journal, allowing  players or coaches to apply the information to their own situations.
The book contains invaluable information on all phases of the game, from volleyball’s top coaches like Marv Dunphy, John Kessel, John Dunning, Chris McGown, Karch Kiraly, Michael Gervais, Hugh McCutcheon, as well as a number of experts from other sports and disciplines.

Allen previously wrote a fantasy adventure novel, Good Blood and anticipates finishing the second book of the trilogy, this summer.

Buy Coach Your Brains Out! here for $18.99.

And Good Blood is also available on Amazon. Ed is eagerly awaiting Good Blood’s sequel, Dark Blood. Allen says that “the coronavirus is definitely speeding things up. Shooting for late summer.”

Here are a few more favorites of Ed’s. 

— Digging Deep in Volleyball and Life. This book about Misty May-Treanor came out in 2010. The Olympic beach volleyball great collaborated with former USA Today sportswriter Jill Lieber Steeg. From the Amazon notes, “The passionate, poignant, and triumphant story of two-time Olympic gold medal–winning beach volleyball icon Misty May-Treanor. More than any Olympics in history, the 2008 Beijing Summer Games captured the world’s imagination, and Misty May-Treanor became one of the biggest U.S. stars on the global stage. Now she shares the story of her life and remarkable athletic career.” 

It’s only available in hardcover for $44.67.

— Big Girl in the Middle. This one about Gabrielle Reece came out in 1997 and is still available on Amazon for $30.46. Reece played at Florida State and capitalized on her athleticism and beauty as she transitioned the beach. From the notes: “The new superstars in sports are women, and pro beach volleyball player Gabrielle Reece is the hottest of them all. At six-foot-three, 170 pounds, Gabby Reece is at once beautiful and brutish, feminine and rowdy, accessible and intimidating–a woman who is exploding female stereotypes and redefining our image of the female athlete.” 

Inside the Players Tent. This book about a year in professional beach volleyball by Bill Strickland “gives a rare insider’s view of the insular world of Professional Beach Volleyball, as it follows the ups and downs of his second full season in the Main Draw of the AVP Tour. It is a world of hot sand, hot women and fierce competition. ”

That’s from the Amazon notes. This is from Travis: “What an underrated read this is! Strickland, a longtime pro, takes readers through an AVP season through his lens during a topsy-turvy year as a player, giving you insight into the grind-it-out life as a player, the intricacies of partnership moves, and even the difficulties of romance on the road. It’s an entertaining one, and the first real look at what it’s like to be a modern professional beach volleyball player. It’s available in paperback for $3.50

Ed also has a few others on his to-read or to-finish list, including Order On The Court, Tom Burke’s 2008 book about pro beach volleyball; The Sand Man, Karch Kiraly’s 1999 autobiography written with Byron Shewman; and another by our current USA women’s Olympic coach, Karch Kiraly’s Championship Volleyball, written with DiG Magazine’s Jon Hastings. 

He added Ryan Doherty’s Avatar’s Guide to Beach Volleyball: Everything you need to know about the sport from the only professional player that writes. That may not be true, but … Doherty’s fun book is available on Amazon but only on Kindle. 

Ed, like me, has some collecting dust, including Hot Sand, the beach volleyball handbook by Jon Stevenson and Raymon Odstfeld; and Volleyball: Fastest Growing Sport in the World by Michael O’Hara. Uh, Ed, Hot Sand came out in 1989.


Here are some other favorites:

Spike! by Doug Beal can still be found for $8.99 on Amazon. It’s his account of the 1984 USA men’s team that he coached to the Olympic gold medal. Doug looked around his house and sent this photo of the cover. Click on it to buy one. Beal also wrote Power Jumping, subtitled The Olympic Gold Medal Approach to Jump Training.

Thinking Volleyball, Inside the game with a coaching legend, by the late Mike Hebert, who was one of the most beloved and respected coaches ever. Hebert wrote two previous books, The Fire Still Burns and Insights & Strategies for Winning Volleyball. Thinking Volleyball, available on Amazon, offers “strategies behind his reading defense approach, which will give your team an advantage against any opponent. Regardless of how talented your players are, a positive environment that includes a solid mutual trust among everyone involved with the program is vital for your program both on and off the court.”

Power volleyball (Sports techniques) by Jim Coleman came out in 1972 but it’s still available on Amazon. Coleman’s book was recommended by a few people.

Another favorite was the Science of Coaching Volleyball by the late Carl McGown. The 1994 book is also still available on Amazon, where it says “Science of Coaching Volleyball makes complex sport science principles easy to understand and apply to everyday coaching situations.

“Veteran volleyball player and coach Carl McGown enlists the aid of sport science experts to show you how to apply motor learning, sport psychology, biomechanics, exercise physiology, sports medicine, and nutrition to develop a top-notch coaching program. You’ll learn techniques that will enable you to motivate players, teach proper positioning, integrate the latest training concepts into practices and drills, communicate effectively, help prevent and treat injuries, and help players develop better eating habits.”

Our guy Jon Aharoni, the USA women’s national team sitting coach, says he reads Angela Rock’s Advanced Beach Volleyball Tactics before every season. “There are a lot of advanced concepts in this book,” Aharoni said.

Another Aharoni favorite is My Mom Thinks She’s My Volleyball Coach, But She’s Not. Need we say anything else about this 2007 title by Julia Cook and Allison Valentine in conjunction with USA Volleyball? Well, here’s what is says on Amazon: “For all of us that love watching volleyball but have a tendency to get a little too involved in the game. For those of us that cross the line between supportive fan and obnoxious spectator. This book will serve as a gentle and hilarious reminder that… Coaches Coach, Officials Officiate, Players Play, and Parents Parent (cheer, hug, encourage, help transport, feed). Written by an experienced volleyball mom and USA Volleyball, this book is designed to make the volleyball court a much more enjoyable place for us all to be.” If you’re one of those parents, or need to give it to someone who is, it’s available on Amazon for $9.95.

The great Sinjin Smith wrote Kings of the Beach with Neil Feineman: The Story of Beach Volleyball in 1988. It’s still available on Amazon.

Travis says this about that: “This is an absolutely fascinating read, from the perspective of one of the all-time greats, Sinjin Smith. Smith walks you through the founding of the AVP Tour and well before, beginning with the Gene Selznick era, where bikini contests were half the allure and drugs and alcohol were, well, not uncommon on the beaches. He takes you inside the civil war between USA men’s indoors national-team coach Doug Beal and the Southern California beach players, and up through to the 1987 season, when the sport was beginning to spread all over the country. For anyone seeking a glimpse into the old school “golden era,” this is a must.

One more from Travis, The Sands of Time by Art Couvillon. “These aren’t books in the traditional sense, with a narrative, plot, protagonist, antagonist. This looks and feels like a phone book, and it’s about as jam-packed with information as one. The Sands of Time are essentially the encyclopedias of beach volleyball: If is information and history you seek on the sport, this is where you’ll find it. It was a phenomenal resource doing research for We Were Kings, and is a treasure to anyone who loves a little sport history.” Find it on Amazon.

One book — not particularly about volleyball — that is beloved by many and is also on my shelf is Gender and Competition: How Men and Women Approach Work and Play Differently, by Kathy DeBoer, the former Kentucky coach and executive director of the AVCA.

Published in 2004, it’s also available on Amazon. When she wrote it, DeBoer was the commissioner of general services for the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. Now she oversees the important and influential American Volleyball Coaches Association. 

From the Amazon notes: “Noted author and lecturer Kathleen J. DeBoer first examines many of the non-physical differences between the sexes (their values and fears, conversation, behavior, psychological adjustment, etc.), then DeBoer helps define these and other variables as they relate to gender differences in both competitive play and competitive work environments. Finally, DeBoer offers detailed suggestions on how men and women can communicate, understand, and ultimately overcome their differences.”

Finally, our friend Pete Wung, a volleyball guy in Ohio who thinks outside the box in more ways than one, has his own list. For that matter, he’s rated them. These are the volleyball ones that get five stars on his list: Arie Selinger’s Power Volleyball; Pass, Set, Crush: Volleyball Illustrated by Jeff Lucas; Volleyball Centennial: The First 100 Years (Spalding Sports Library); the Volleyball Drill Book from the AVCA; and, for the record, Hebert’s Thinking and Insights books both got five stars from Wung.


By the way, in the time I’ve written this, I really did order “We Were Kings,” by Travis. Amazon said it will arrive in three weeks. That should give me time to do some reading.

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