Best Sports Books - Books to Inspire and Help in Becoming a Better Athlete

There certainly isn’t a shortage of the best sports books; every year, there are new athletes that are pushing the boundaries further and further.

You can easily find biographical novels about the most renowned athletes, such as Andre Agassi’s Open, or you can find informational reads.

Whether you’re a fan of sports or are only interested in learning more about them, there are plenty of books for you to stick your nose into.

If you’re someone who loves a specific sport or athlete and is searching for autobiographies, you are bound to be brought into a world you never knew of before. These novels will give you a better understanding of the trials and tribulations of performing at your peak ability every week. You’ll also be able to know more about the personal life of your favorite athlete, as they typically discuss their personal challenges just as much as their professional ones.

For readers who are more interested in statistics and the mathematics behind sports, you’ll be glad to know there’s plenty for you to take advantage of, as well. From understanding how math can be useful for picking baseball teams to gathering a better idea of what a player’s statistics can mean for a group, there’s a lot of knowledge to pick up.

In the best sports books, you’re less likely to know the personal details of an athlete, but more of how they are looked at as assets and whether they would be suitable for a team or not.

Of course, there is an assortment of historical sports books, as well, which are our favorites. These novels tell the tales of past athletes as well as their teams, not to mention you’ll also learn about where sports came from and how they became what they are today. With a more in-depth analysis of fan culture, how outcomes have been influenced in the past, and what it means to be an avid sports lover, you’ll have a deeper appreciation for the industry.

All of the best sports books are available for anyone to read, and if you’ve ever caught a Sunday night football game, we highly recommend you check out these titles.

Best Sports Books

Body by Science: A Research Based Program for Strength Training, Body building, and Complete Fitness in 12 Minutes a Week

Body by Science: A Research Based Program for Strength Training, Body building, and Complete Fitness in 12 Minutes a Week

I feel guilty for not having posted a review earlier: I owe a lot to this book. I figured out the value of intensity training and maximizing recovery. I use the ideas but with minor modifications (my own personal workout is entirely based on free weights and barbells, but I incur --and accept --a risk of injury). I have been applying the ideas for more than three years. Just get over the inhibitions (and illusions of control) and accept the idea of training less. Gratitude.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds

Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds

David Goggins is a being of pure will and inspiration. Just listening to this guy talk makes you want to run up a mountain. I firmly believe people like him can change the course of the world just by inspiring us to push harder and dig deeper in everything we do. His goal to be 'uncommon amongst uncommon people' is something we can all use to propel ourselves to fulfill our true potential. I'm a better man having met him.
Joe Rogan
Podcaster/Joe Rogan Experience
Training Essentials for Ultrarunning: How to Train Smarter, Race Faster, and Maximize Your Ultramarathon Performance

Training Essentials for Ultrarunning: How to Train Smarter, Race Faster, and Maximize Your Ultramarathon Performance

Books that had biggest impact in 2017: when it comes to running, it's Jason Koop -Training Essentials for Ultrarunning, a book that completely changed my training approach.
Robert Hajnal
Founder of Trail Runing Academy
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration

One book that immediately comes to mind is Nutrition And Physical Degeneration by Weston Price. Additionally, there have been a few books that have been instrumental in helping me figure out my role, purpose, and mission in life.
Adam Haritan
Founder/Learn Your Land
Open: An Autobiography

Open: An Autobiography

I don’t read “business books”. I may read books which were classified as “Business”, “Leadership”, etc; but, if I do, I do so in spite of the category they’ve been deemed to belong to, not because of it.

I generally split books into three main categories. Here are the titles –sorry, but I simply can’t pick just one– that currently hold the top spots in each:

[...]

Biography/Memoir: Andre Agassi’s and J. R. Moehringer’s “Open“; Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love“; and Salman Rushdie’s “Joseph Anton“.

Gabriel Coarna
Founder/Readable
Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease

Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease

Gary Taubes is a true empiricist. I can't believe people hold on to the Platonicity of the thermodynamic theory of diet (calorie in = calorie out). Read it twice, once for the diet, once a a rich document in the history of science.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
Levels of the Game

Levels of the Game

We [note: Tim Ferriss] both absolutely love Levels of the Game by John McPhee, an entire book about a single tennis match between Arthur Ashe and Clark Graebner in 1968. It's a short 162 pages and The New York Times gushed, "This may be the high point of American sports journalism". It's Stephen's most-gifted book for adults.
Stephen J. Dubner
Author
The 4 Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman

The 4 Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman

I get most of my information about nutrition from medical studies. I haven’t read any books about nutrition that I agree with 100%. These are a few nutrition related books that I’ve read recently that I thought were interesting: Eat to Live (Joel Fuhrman), Why We Get Fat (Gary Taubes), and The 4-Hour Body (Tim Ferriss).
Dr. Monali Y. Desai
Cardiologist & Founder/If We Were Family
The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership

The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership

In 2014, I read The Education of a Coach, a book about Bill Belichick which influenced me immensely (coincidentally, the Patriots have also read my book and were influenced by it). Anyway, I have been chasing that high ever since. Bill Walsh’s book certainly met that high standard. Out of all the books I read this year, I marked this one up the most. Even if you’ve never watched a down of football, you’ll get something out of this book. Walsh took the 49ers from the worst team in football to the Super Bowl in less than 3 years. How? Not with a grand vision or pure ambition, but with what he called the Standard of Performance. That is: How to practice. How to dress. How to hold the ball. Where to be on a play down the very inch. Which skills mattered for each position. How much effort to give. By upholding these standards—whatever they happen to be for your chosen craft—success will take care of itself.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success

Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success

Favorite business or leadership book in a long time.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
The Fighter's Mind: Inside the Mental Game

The Fighter’s Mind: Inside the Mental Game

I read both of Sam Sheridan’s books A Fighter’s Heart and A Fighter’s Mind this year and they are both spectacular. Don’t be put off by the subject matter. They are good.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
A Fighter's Heart: One Man's Journey Through the World of Fighting

A Fighter’s Heart: One Man’s Journey Through the World of Fighting

I read both of Sam Sheridan’s books A Fighter’s Heart and A Fighter’s Mind this year and they are both spectacular. Don’t be put off by the subject matter. They are good.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

Other than How To Win Friends And Influence People and Daily Rituals (for the reasons outlined above), I would recommend reading both Malcolm Gladwell’s collection, everything from Tipping Point to David & Goliath, and Michael Lewis’ as well, from Moneyball to The Blind Side. Irrespective of content, both are wonderful writers who use stories in effortless, compelling ways to make larger points. It’s something that can and should be emulated by everyone, not just writers.
Scott Keyes
Co-Founder/Scott's Cheap Flights
Instant Replay: The Green Bay Diary of Jerry Kramer

Instant Replay: The Green Bay Diary of Jerry Kramer

I also consumed numerous sports memoirs, such as Jerry Kramer’s Instant Replay: The Green Bay Diary of Jerry Kramer and also the war memoir Guadalcanal Diary. From those I began to think about the relationships between character, work habits, teamwork, and success.
Tyler Cowen
Founder/Marginal Revolution University
Becoming an Ironman: First Encounters with the Ultimate Endurance Event

Becoming an Ironman: First Encounters with the Ultimate Endurance Event

[Mark Moses listing the books that had the biggest impact on him]
Mark Moses
Founder, CEO/CEO Coaching International
Think Like a Grandmaster

Think Like a Grandmaster

From this book I realized you could think you understood a chess position, but then later learn you didn’t really understand it at all. A huge lesson, one I learned again and to a higher degree when high-quality chess computers came along. Most of the commentariat on economic and social affairs could use a reminder on this one. This book also taught me that you learn by doing — trying to solve actual problems — not so much from pure reading. Or the two in close conjunction. It may be the distortions of memory, but still I feel this is one of the best books I ever have read. Hail the Soviet training system!
Tyler Cowen
Founder/Marginal Revolution University
Basic Chess Endings

Basic Chess Endings

I wasn’t influenced so much by this book itself as by a long series of articles in Chess Life and Review, showing the analysis was full of holes. See my remarks on Kotov.
Tyler Cowen
Founder/Marginal Revolution University
Tao Of Jeet Kune Do

Tao Of Jeet Kune Do

One of the must read books.
Dan Lok
Serial Entrepreneur
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Today is World Book Day, a wonderful opportunity to address this #ChallengeRichard sent in by Mike Gonzalez of New Jersey: Make a list of your top 65 books to read in a lifetime.
Richard Branson
Founder/Virgin Group
Master Your Metabolism: The 3 Diet Secrets to Naturally Balancing Your Hormones for a Hot and Healthy Body!

Master Your Metabolism: The 3 Diet Secrets to Naturally Balancing Your Hormones for a Hot and Healthy Body!

I love this book, it taught me how to treat my body right by designing my diet and exercise. Once I learned how to master my own metabolism, my life has been so much more productive while staying healthy.
Nelson Chu
Founder/High5.ai
Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior

Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior

I suggest these [books] because they really open up 'how' you think about life and in turn work, success/challenges/setbacks, and in general, yourself. I believe that the more you can understand yourself and broaden your approach to work, the easier it will be to find work that energizes you. Finally, I'm a team player at heart, and love working with others to achieve a huge goal so a portion of these deal with team composition and performance too.
AnneMarie Schindler
Founder/Small Wins Consulting
Training for Climbing – The Definitive Guide to Improving your Performance

Training for Climbing – The Definitive Guide to Improving your Performance

The books that I am reading now are targeting the 3 categories of development mentioned before: personally, professionally and spiritually. The title describes everything that there is to say about them and from my experience the results so far from these books are amazing.
Tudor Teodorescu
Founder/Transylvania Uncharted
The Case Against Sugar

The Case Against Sugar

Not surprising but explicit description of the American psych on sugar and fat by the sugar industry. I would not have believed this much influence is possible.
Vinod Khosla
Co-Founder/Sun Microsystem
Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think

A few months ago, I was drinking a Noah’s Mill whiskey (cute) with my good buddy Brian Balfour and talking about life... During the conversation, we got on the topic of books that changed our lives. I want to share them with you. I judge a book's success if a year later I'm still using at least 1 thing from the book.
Noah Kagan
Founder/Sumo
Eight Weeks to Optimum Health: A Proven Program for Taking Full Advantage of Your Body's Natural Healing Power

Eight Weeks to Optimum Health: A Proven Program for Taking Full Advantage of Your Body’s Natural Healing Power

Dr. Weil is a Harvard educated doctor and then also has Eastern medicine experience as well. He talks about exercises you can do to decrease stress and improve your energy. At the end of 8 weeks you just feel amazing. Really great well rounded book. Love Dr. Weil and I reread this probably every couple of years.
Kevin Rose
Co-founder/Digg
The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game

Other than How To Win Friends And Influence People and Daily Rituals (for the reasons outlined above), I would recommend reading both Malcolm Gladwell’s collection, everything from Tipping Point to David & Goliath, and Michael Lewis’ as well, from Moneyball to The Blind Side. Irrespective of content, both are wonderful writers who use stories in effortless, compelling ways to make larger points. It’s something that can and should be emulated by everyone, not just writers.
Scott Keyes
Co-Founder/Scott's Cheap Flights
Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager

Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager

As a CEO, I have often thought about the balance of trusting data vs. gut in decision-making. I claim to be data-oriented, but in the moment, I often rely on my understanding of human nature. As I read about Tony La Russa’s maniacal focus on baseball’s mass of statistics, coupled with this nuanced understanding of his players and opponents, it was obvious that neither is enough on its own: The leader who truly understands the numbers will make the best gut decisions.
Sam Yagan
CEO/IAC’s Match Group
The Sports Gene

The Sports Gene

David Epstein's "The Sports Gene" made me decide to never tell a child that "if you really really want something, and you work really really hard, then you can achieve your dream" -- not when it comes to sports, at least.
Gabriel Coarna
Founder/Readable
This Book Has Balls: Sports Rants from the MVP of Talking Trash

This Book Has Balls: Sports Rants from the MVP of Talking Trash

Just finished this on the plane. Hilarious. Reminds me of sports version of Joan Rivers book "I Hate Everyone....Starting With Me". Something is wrong with Michael Rapaport but that's what makes him right. Funny Fucking Book.
Charlamagne Tha God
Radio Presenter/The Breakfast Club

Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success

And while you are at it, throw in “Bounce” by Mathew Syed, who was the UK Ping Pong champion when he was younger.

I love any book where someone took their passion, documented it, and shared it with us. That’s when you can see the subtleties, the hard work, the luck, the talent, the skill, all come together to form a champion.

Heck, throw in, “An Astronaut’s Guide to Earth” by Commander Chris Hadfield.

James Altucher
Founder/StockPickr
The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World's Greatest Teams

The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams

A fascinating book about the one thing that the greatest sports teams in history have in common and the critical aspects of leadership they share.
Eric Ries
Founder/Long-Term Stock Exchange
Psych

Psych

Most people exist between the on and off switch. They are unable to turn on and put out high power, and they are unable to turn off completely and enjoy true rest. To learn how to control your on and off switch, read the book Psych by Dr. Judd Biasiotto. He is one of the most successful power lifters in history, having squatted over 600 pounds at a bodyweight of 132... drug free, at the age of 44, after back surgery.
Pavel Tsatsouline
CEO/StrongFirst
My Life and Battles

My Life and Battles

This is the lost and translated book that came out of a series of pieces Johnson–perhaps the greatest boxer who ever lived–wrote for a French newspaper in 1911. It’s not very long but it is full of really interesting strategies and anecdotes. You get the sense that he was an incredibly intelligent and sensitive man–clearly had a thirst for drama and attention. Who knows what place he would occupy in our culture and history had he not been taken down so thoroughly by racism and genuinely evil people? But despite all that, he was always smiling. As Jack London put it after Johnson’s most famous fight: “No one understands him, this man who smiles. Well, the story of the fight is the story of a smile. If ever a man won by nothing more fatiguing than a smile, Johnson won today.”
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

Just like us, the president enjoys a good beach read while relaxing in the sun. In 2016, he released his list of summer vacation books:

Barack Obama
Former USA President
Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

I was riveted (and appalled) by Tiger Woods and probably talked to more people about this book than anything else I read this year.
Ryan Holiday
Media Strategist, Author, Founder/Brass Check
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

As a general rule, most new memoirs are mediocre and most business memoirs are even worse. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight is an exception to that rule in every way and as a result, was one of my favorite books of the year and favorite business books ever. I started reading it while on the runway of a flight and figured I’d read a few pages before opening my laptop and working. Instead, my laptop stayed in my bag during the flight and I read almost the entire book in one extended sitting. Ostensibly the memoir of the founder of Nike, it’s really the story of a lost kid trying to find meaning in his life and it ends with him creating a multi-billion dollar company that changes sports forever. I’m not sure if Knight used a ghostwriter (the acknowledgements are unclear) but his personal touches are all over the book—and the book itself is deeply personal and authentic. The afterward is an incredibly moving reflection of a man looking back on his life. I loved this book. It ends just as Nike is starting to turn into the behemoth it would become, so I hold out hope that there may be more books to follow.

Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes from a Street-smart Executive

What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes from a Street-smart Executive

Question: What books had the biggest impact on you? Perhaps changed the way you see things or dramatically changed your career path.

Answer:

  • “Zen and the Art of Making a Living: A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design” By Laurence Boldt
  • “Horse Sense: The Key to Success Is Finding a Horse to Ride” by Al Ries and Jack Trout
  • “What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School” by Mark McCormack
Christopher Lochhead
Host/Legends and Losers Podcast
Rod Laver: An autobiography

Rod Laver: An autobiography

I don’t just read business biographies. I’m a huge tennis fan, so I’ve read a lot of tennis biographies: John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Scott Draper, Rod Laver. There’s so many I’ve read over the years, Jimmy Connors, great, I love it because I love reading the “behind the scenes” stories, the more “soap opera” aspect of tennis, I guess it’s a little bit like my soap opera sometimes.
Yaro Starak
Founder/Entrepreneurs-Journey.com
Ball Four

Ball Four

Angels and Demons was my favorite Dan Brown page-turner, but Ball Four by Jim Bouton is definitely worth a read if you're a baseball fan.
Nick Loper
Chief Side Hustler/Side Hustle Nation
The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How.

Great reading. The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle. Forget genes! Greatness isn't born, it's grown - the hard way.
Rupert Murdoch
CEO/News Corporation
Unstoppable: My Life So Far

Unstoppable: My Life So Far

I’m definitely a story-lover and maybe that’s why I like to read a lot of biographies. It’s fascinating to discover how people with different backgrounds, interests, businesses, careers have found solutions for various challenges from all areas of their life. Elon Musk, Andre Agassi, Phil Knight, Maria Sharapova, Arnold Schwarzenegger are only a few of good recent ones. A specific moment when I recall one of the inspiring stories is probably when I think I can’t anymore. I take a deep breath and move on. It’s only in our mind. We can always do a little more.
Irina Botnari
Managing Partner & Co-Founder/Bucur's Shelter Hostel
Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts

Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts

Brilliant. Buy ten copies and give one to everyone you work with. It's that good.
Seth Godin
Author & Entrepreneur
The Education of a Coach

The Education of a Coach

In 2014, I read The Education of a Coach, a book about Bill Belichick which influenced me immensely (coincidentally, the Patriots have also read my book and were influenced by it).
Ryan Holiday
Media Strategist, Author, Founder/Brass Check