The Soccer Coach’s Essential Reading List

Soccer Coach's Essential Reading List

In the last five years I’ve spent nearly £1000 on soccer coaching books, DVDs and software from Amazon; so I reckon I’m in a reasonable position to humbly offer some recommendations.

Here I’ve posted the 25 best soccer coaching books, for youth soccer coaches who want to learn how to coach soccer more effectively, develop their players’ technique and tactical understanding and organise fun practice session plans:

(I’ve included a ‘find out more’ link for each which will take you to the Amazon product page for the detailed description, user reviews etc):

Tactical and Technical Insight

Teambuilding: The Road to Success

Teambuilding: The Road to Success – Rinus Michels

An essential purchase from the coach who moulded the triple European Cup winning Ajax side in the 1960′s, the magnificent Holland teams of the 1970′s and created Total Football. More great insights into the development of a footballer and a team than anywhere else – find out more.

Soccer: Official Coaching Book of the Dutch Soccer Association

Coaching Soccer: Official Coaching Book of the Dutch Soccer Association – Bert Van Lingen

The Dutch Coaching ‘Bible’ – incredible breadth of information including SSGs and drills for almost every technique. Lightyears ahead of the English FA’s equivalent – find out more.

NSCAA Soccer Coaching Bible

The Soccer Coaching Bible – National Soccer Coaches Asoociation of America

The NSCAA’s official guide to soccer coaching. This book has more theory than most on this list and is sprinkled with some fantastic advice – find out more.

Skills and Strategies for Coaching Soccer

Skills and Strategies for Coaching Soccer – Alan Hargreaves

One of the best guides to soccer coaching I own, includes excellent tips for newer coaches and comprehensive info about skills and training sessions – find out more.

Soccer Tactics and Skills

The Football Association Coaching Book of Soccer Tactics and Skills – Charles Hughes

The FA’s official technical and tactical manual, now looks very dated but the technical and tactical information has stood the test of time. Includes hundreds of illustrations and excellent photos (albeit of Kevin Keegan and perm) – find out more.

Play The Brazilian Way

Play the Brazilian Way – Simon Clifford

It’s very short and the information about nutrition and style of play won’t be new to most people, but this is worth a purchase for the outstanding step-by-step photos of the numerous 1v1 dribbling moves and skills – find out more.

Soccer Goalkeeping Handbook

The Soccer Goalkeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide for Players and Coaches – Alex Welsh

This is the only Goalkeeping coaching book I use and the only one you’ll need. It contains details of every technical aspect to playing in goal and lots of very well-presented training exercises – find out more.

Sessions, Drills and Small Sided Games

Developing Youth Football Players

Developing Youth Football Players – Horst Wein

In-depth training programme from Horst Wein, one of the most knowledgable and sensible coaches in the world. A truly great soccer coaching book – find out more.

How To Coach A Soccer Team

How to Coach a Soccer Team: Professional Advice on Building a Winning Team – Tony Carr

Tony Carr is a legendary West Ham youth coach who is renowned for creative drills which help develop all aspects of your player’s game. This book is really well presented and easy-to-use. Appropriate for players 12+. Find out more.

Spanish Soccer Coaching Bible Vol.1

Spanish Soccer Coaching Bible: Youth and Club – Laureano Ruiz

Some excellent practices from one of Spain’s best soccer coaches. A hefty volume, this is good value for money – find out more.

Spanish Soccer Coaching Bible Vol.2

Spanish Soccer Coaching Bible: High School and College – Laureano Ruiz

Volume 2 expands on the exercises in Vol.1 and is suitable for players aged 12-18 – find out more.

101 Youth Soccer Drills: 7-11 years

101 Youth Soccer Drills: Age 7 to 11 – Malcolm Cook

Malcolm Cook, the Liverpool FC youth director who developed Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman has pulled together 101 drills you can use in your own sessions – find out more.

101 Youth Soccer Drills: 12-16 years

101 Youth Soccer Drills: Age 12 to 16 – Malcolm Cook

101 more drills, this time for 12-16 year olds. Does what it says on the tin, just 101 well-presented drills. My players enjoyed the ones I have used – find out more.

Mini-Soccer and Beginner Coaches

Coaching The Coach

Coaching the Coach – Richard Seedhouse

A very quick read but includes plenty of good practical advice for new coaches with very young teams – find out more.

Soccer: Steps To Success

Soccer: Steps to Success – Joseph Luxbacher

Another US publication, Joseph Luxbacher has pulled together some great drills and this a very easy book to dive into for a little practice inspiration – find out more.

Basic Team Coaching

The Official FA Guide to Basic Team Coaching – Les Reed

The FA’s official guide is worth picking up if you are taking a Level 1 or Level 2 course because it covers similar ideas in more detail, but I didn’t find the advice very practical – find out more.

Coaching Kids Football

Coaching Kids’ Football: Safe, Fun and Positive Football for All Ages – Stuart Page

A great book squarely aimed at grassroots coaches and parents, contains everything you’d need to know to get started in youth soccer coaching – find out more.

Coaching Youth Soccer

Coaching Youth Soccer: An Essential Guide for Parents and Coaches – Denis Ford

This is one of the best books mini-soccer coaches can buy. At all times the emphasis should be on fun, and this book contains lots of practical advice for making sure it is – find out more.

Let The Kids Play

Let the Kids Play: 80 Exciting Soccer Training Sessions – Andrew Donnery

Very basic but contains some fun exercises for players Under 8. The focus is on fun, high-energy and inclusive practices and you’ll find some useful games to try in your practice – find out more.

Tactics, Formations and Strategies

Soccer Systems and Strategies

Soccer Systems and Strategies – Jens Bangsbo and Birger Pietersen

An interesting analysis of systems of play and formations from two of Denmarks most astute coaches. I don’t believe that tactics should be the primary focus of youth soccer coaches but you will improve your understanding of the game by reading this book – find out more.

Flat Back Four

Flat Back Four: The Tactical Game – Andy Gray and Jim Drewett

Love Andy Gray or hate him, he is extremely well-positioned to discuss the merits of different football tactics. In this book he advocates the 4-4-2 formation in a funny, easy-to-read style – find out more.

Just Brilliant Reads

Inverting The Pyramid

Inverting the Pyramid: A History of Football Tactics – Jonathan Wilson

Whilst not really a coaching book, Jonathan Wilson’s masterpiece is essential reading. Part social history, part thesis, this witty, entertaining book is the single best explanation of formations and tactics ever published – find out more.

Kick The Balls

Kick the Balls: A Bruising Season in the Life of a Suburban Soccer Coach – Alan Black

If you coach in the grassroots game then I highly recommend this hilarious new account from Alan Black as he reports from the frontline in the battle against furious parents, hopeless players and eve – find out more.

A Cultured Left Foot

A Cultured Left Foot: The Eleven Elements of Footballing Greatness – Musa Okwonga

A beautifully written, thoroughly inspiring recipe book for the perfect footballer. Okwonga’s writing will have you jumping onto youtube to look up the moments he so brilliantly describes in this book. After reading this your enthusiasm for coaching will double – find out more.

Every Boy's Dream

Every Boy’s Dream: England’s Football Future on the Line – Chris Green

Chris Green’s book is a worrying diagnosis of England’s football development future and a rallying call to action to save it. A fantastic and thought-provoking read for anyone involved in grassroots football – find out more.

Listen to my interview with the author of “Every Boy’s Dream” Chris Green here.

So there’s plenty of possibilities to take a look at, if you have read any of these books let me know what you thought of them in the comments below. Have I missed a book off this list that you found really helpful? Help me and the thousands of other coaches who visit this site by telling us about it below.

  • Ricky Clarke
    Hi Pavl,

    Great List! I actually work with Andrew Donnery!

    I'm actual in the process of completing my NSCAA Master Diploma here in the US. I just interviewed a guy called Daniel Coyle, author of the "The Talent Code". Well worth a read. Coyle travels the world to discover the truth about talent in this fascinating account that studies how individuals can unlock their full potential and bring their talents to light. The discoveries put forth by Coyle come down to three main elements: coaching, motivation and practice. While these hardly seem like breakthroughs, Coyle's discovery process proves fascinating. Providing detailed examples from a variety of different sources, Coyle's work becomes as motivational as the stories he presents.

    Check it out.
  • Guest
    Great list.

    Skills & Strategies for Coaching Soccer "One of the best guides to soccer coaching I own" has been updated in a new edition. The author has brought in the FA's Dick Bate and it is now even better - well worth a look.
  • Hi Pavl,

    Nice reading list which includes some books, I've read.

    I can also recommend the following 2 books:
    - Football and Chess: Tactics Strategy Beauty (
    - The Official FA Guide to Psychology for Football (Football Association) (
  • Thanks to @ibsoccer who suggested Brilliant Orange by David Winner and Attacking Soccer: Tactical Analysis by Massimo Luchetti.

    I will be checking out the latter in the next few days and the former is a fantastic recommendation, in fact I can't believe I missed it off this list!
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