12.29.2016

The Best Things I Read, Watched, Listened To, & Experienced To Become a Better Coach in 2016

Ryan Woodruff
Head Coach
Lynchburg YMCA


In 2016, I tried to do a lot of reading, listening, watching and learning.  I am always trying to find ways to be better coach (and human being).  Here is my annual list of the highlights from my search.


I stumbled upon the eponymous Chris Ritter podcast, where Chris interviews swim coaches about their philosophies and lessons learned.  Though I haven't listened to them all, I enjoyed the ones with Matt Kredich and Tony Batis.  I haven't yet ponied up for the Coaches' Corner, but there is a free 7-day trial you might want to check out.

Though it wasn't from 2016, Admiral William H. McRaven's excellent speech to graduates at the University of Texas in 2014 was new to me.  I sat my swimmers down and made them watch it.  They loved it.  See the transcript here or watch the video.


A few of my favorite reads on the technical side of swimming were Jake Shellenberger's post "Arizona Drill with Weight Belts" and his book "Power & Towers & Swimming."  I wrote in-depth about his book here and highly recommend it.

I had a rich experience at the barely 24-hour-long NC State Wolfpack Speed & Power Camp in Raleigh.  I wrote more extensively about it here.


This article by Paulo Coelho was a good reminder that there is reward in the struggle and we need to prepare our athletes to overcome challenges by giving them challenges.


Though it was a bit snarky in my opinion, I enjoyed "An Open Letter to the Athlete We Must Stop Recruiting" by Becky Carlson and found many pointers for high school athletes who are beginning their college search.

Tim Ferris' Podcast "The Magic and Power of Placebo" with Erik Vance got me thinking more about the psychological aspect of performance. His interview with Jocko Willink ("Don't count on motivation, count on discipline.") was also excellent.

Rich Roll's Podcast with Ryan Holiday ("Ego is the enemy") was one of my favorites, as was his interview with Anthony Ervin just weeks before Ervin shocked the world in Rio.

Joe Rogan's interview with Steven Kotler taught me more about how to increase the likelihood of "flow states" for peak performance. 

Though it has nothing to do with swimming, I was inspired by Daniel James Brown's The Boys in the Boat, a true story of nine men and their pursuit for Olympic rowing Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Two of our Olympians had inspiring stories that I wasn't aware of until after the games.  Kathleen Baker's medal represented more than the best race of her life according to Joe Posnanski, and Pat Forde enlightened me to the incredible story behind Cody Miller's rise to Olympic fame.

Last but not least I have to recommend Michael Brooks' book Developing Swimmers.  This is the best "How-to" book for club coaching that I have ever come across. I have loaned my copy to two of my assistant coaches already.

In case you didn't see them last year, here are my lists from 2015, 2013, and 2012.

Let me know what I missed!!!

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