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Coach Sullivan's Reading Lists

Click one of the links above to go to my reading list for that topic.

Sports Books

There are many books on each sport which outline rules, gameplay, and strategy for the game. They range from instructional and youth levels to college and pro style. Below you'll find a list of the ones I've found interesting and helpful. 

The value of print, whether you choose a physical book or an e-reader of some sorts, cannot be overstated. Since I began reading books, I feel like I have a much broader understanding of the concepts, and I cherish the time I can crack open a book and learn something. 

Hopefully you can find something that helps below.



The Football Coaching Bible

The Football Coaching Bible features many of the game's most successful coaches. Each shares the special insight, advice, and strategies they've used to field championship-winning teams season after season.

The 27 chapter contributing coaches span six decades of the sport and reach into every corner of the United States. The impressive list of contributors from highly successful high school, collegiate, and NFL coaches. 

They cover every aspect of the game: coaching principles, program building, player motivation, practice sessions, individual skills, team tactics, offensive and defensive play-calling, and performance evaluation.

Developed by the American Football Coaches Association, this coaching guide establishes a new standard of excellence in the sport.

The USA Football Youth Coaching Handbook

The USA Football Youth Coaching Handbook is a compelling resource designed to assist youth coaches of all levels and backgrounds. The book addresses everything a youth football coach might need or want to know, either on or off the eld, as someone who is committed to making a difference in the lives of young athletes. Written by one of the most successful and respected coaches in the sport, the book is a must-have addition to the personal library of every youth football coach.

Topics Covered include:

Coaching High School Football

Coaching High School Football gets back to teaching the fundamentals of football basics such as player positions and assignments, play names, whole numbering, interior line play, practice sessions, in-game situations/strategies, game day preparation and coaching philosophy.  Included are numerous, tidbits, insights and coaching tips; plus examples of excellence and standards from a few college and pro football notables. 

However, not just a book of  X's and O's, CHSF engages in topics particularly germane to teen and preteens such as sportsmanship, grades and citizenship; and also touches on handling off-the-field issues and distractions that may arise.  CHSF is an honest approach to coaching football without the hype and hoopla or the false hope of playing big time college football or having a career in the NFL.  For 95% of high school seniors, high school is the furthest they will advance in organized tackle football.  CHSF helps coaches to help players get the most of their brief football experiences.

Defensive Coordinator Handbook

Defensive Coordinator's Football Handbook is a complete guide for football coaches. The information contained in the book has been compiled by Leo Hand during 47 years of coaching championship teams at both the high school and collegiate levels. Numerous topics are covered that will enable any coach to successfully understand and defend modern offenses. Including:

An overview of contemporary offensive trends
A system for identifying offensive formations and personnel groupings
A system for creating multiple defensive fronts and secondary coverages
The base reads, reactions, and techniques for defensive linemen and linebackers
Synopses of the responsibilities and techniques necessary to install different odd and even eight-man and seven-man fronts
Run responsibilities and techniques for both three-deep and four-deep secondaries
Strategies and tactics necessary to stop 19 of today s most potent running plays
An explanation of the adjustments and techniques necessary to install variations of man-to-man pass coverages as well as variations of zone and combo pass coverages versus different contemporary offensive formations
Different stunt strategies that enable your defense to actually attack the offense
Sample pass coverage/stunt menus for: the 3-3-5, 4-2-5, bear 46, 3-4, 4-3, and weak eagle defenses

How to Read a Football Defense

Coach Renner has called plays for 30 years, 23 years as a head coach. He finished his 30-year coaching career with a consecutive game touchdown scoring streak of 141 games, a span of 13-years. During that time his offenses averaged 31.1 points per game and 6+ wins per season. These things were achieved at four different high schools in two different states. And, all four teams became winning playoff teams. Coach Renner used the same method of reading a football defense to call his plays during those 13-years. In this book, How to Read a Football Defense, Coach Renner explains the process of dividing the defense into three parts to read the best area to attack. He uses over 75 diagrams and pictures to show you the common defensive alignments that you must know to be able to read a defense. He explains the role your choice of formations has on how the defense aligns and how that contributes to easily reading the defense. Coach Renner gives you a clear and concise order of how to read a defense to determine the best run or pass play to attack a defender. He details how to read the defensive line, the linebackers, the corners, and the safeties. He gives you specific alignment clues that tell you when to expect a linebacker blitz, a corner blitz or a safety blitz. He also explains how to determine the first level, second level and third level of the defense and what changes in those give you indicators of stunts and blitzes. When you finish reading Coach Renner’s book you will have a good understanding of how to simplify reading a football defense. It will make you feel comfortable reading, calling and designing plays on game day that take advantage of a defender’s and a defensive alignment.

Defensive Football Strategies

They say that defense wins championships. If so, this book is your formula for winning a title with a solid defensive football team.

Defensive Football Strategies is a complete collection of tactics, teachings, and insights from some of the best defensive minds in the game. Readers will find winning strategies from 90 top coaches—legends of both the past and the present—including Bob Stoops of the University of Oklahoma, Bo Schembechler of the University of Michigan, Charlie McBride of the University of Nebraska, and R.C. Slocum of Texas A & M.

Inside are 73 detailed presentations on many of football's most successful defensive systems used during the past 40 years. With the help of 600 X-and-O diagrams, the book covers these areas:

- Philosophies, fronts, and schemes
- Run defenses
- Pass defenses
- Formation and down-and-distance adjustments
- Goal line defenses

Defensive Football Strategies was developed in cooperation with the American Football Coaches Association. It's an expert resource that coaches can use to build a defense that will win it all.

Strength Training for Football

Absolute strength. Sharp acceleration. Explosive power. The modern era of football demands that athletes in all positions are exposed to quality strength training programs that translate strength gains into better performance on the field and limit athlete vulnerability to injury.

Developed with the expertise of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), Strength Training for Football shows you how to design resistance training programs that will help athletes excel on the field. The book will help you understand the specific physical demands of the six groups of positions—offensive and defensive linemen; tight ends, fullbacks, and linebackers; wide receivers and running backs; defensive backs; quarterbacks; and kickers and punters.

Each resistance training exercise consists of a series of photos and a detailed list of primary muscles trained, beginning position and movement phases, breathing guidelines, modifications and variations, and coaching tips to guide you in selecting the right exercises for a program. You’ll also learn how to structure those programs based on the goals and length of each season and for each position.

Backed by the NSCA and the knowledge and experience of successful high school, college, and professional football strength and conditioning professionals, Strength Training for Football is the authoritative guide for creating football-specific resistance training programs to help your athletes optimize their strength and successfully transfer that strength to the field.

100 Football Situations

Situational Football awareness seems to be something that separates the average coaches from the good coaches. Coaches at all levels should understand situations to help give your team the best chance to win. It is with that in mind that I compiled this resource of 100 football situations that all football coaches should know.

This book is designed to give you the following about each situation: Things to consider, data/statistics, and a few recommendations. Regardless of what schemes you run, you will find yourself in all 100 of these situations if you coach long enough. Educate yourself on them and come up with your plan for scheme, practice, and scouting for each situation.

Youth Football Skills and Drills

One of the NFL's leading coaches helps you improve your players' techniques and your team's performance

Building on the phenomenal success of the Baffled Parent's series, this comprehensive resource helps you expand your teaching skills and improve your players' performance and enjoyment. It's equally indispensable for parents thrust into coaching, former players taking on their first coaching assignments, and veteran coaches.

This great guide features:

  • Tackling and catching drills for the entire team

  • Group and team drills for offensive, defensive, and special team situations

  • A unique system of paired drills and instruction for wide receivers and defensive backs; linemen and tight ends; and running backs and linebackers

  • Photographs and diagrams that simplify the coaching process

Coaching Football: Principles and Practices

In Coaching Football: Principles and Practices, Tom Olivadotti shares his ideas and insights on several key aspects of coaching football. While the book is targeted specifically at football coaches, the observations and concepts in it have wide application to all sports.

Chapter 1: So You Want to Coach?
Chapter 2: Motivation
Chapter 3: Coaching and Teaching in the Classroom
Chapter 4: On-the-Field Coaching
Chapter 5: Evaluating Everything
Chapter 6: Finding Players
Chapter 7: Learning Essentials
Chapter 8: Relationships
Chapter 9: Game Planning and Game-Day Preparation
Chapter 10: A Year-Round Job
Chapter 11: Interviewing Essentials
Chapter 12: Accountability
Chapter 13: The Coaches Spouse
Chapter 14: 101 Hallmarks of a Successful Coach

First Time Coach: Youth Football

You have agreed to coach a youth football team. You have enthusiasm, work ethic, charisma — and no experience. Where to start? In First-Time Coach: Youth Football, a veteran youth football coach takes you through the ins and outs of guiding a team. In these pages you will find guidance on preseason planning, preparing and running efficient practices, designing an offense and defense, managing your team on game day, and more. You will also find sample depth charts, call sheets, scouting forms, and practice planning templates. And if you need help coming up with an offense, we have included six runs and six passes to get you started. First-Time Coach: Youth Football will help you navigate this challenging, rewarding journey. Designed for coaches of players 8 to 12, First-Time Coach: Youth Football is intended for new coaches who enjoy football and may have helped out with intramural sports – soccer, tee ball, flag football, etc. – and whose organized football playing experience ended in high school if not earlier; and coaches who have served as an assistant football coach at a higher level like college or high school, but are unfamiliar with the idiosyncrasies of coaching little kids.

Survival Guide for Coaching Youth Football

You volunteered to coach the football team, but are you ready? How will you teach the fundamental skills, run effective practices, and harness the energy of your young team? Fear not: Survival Guide for Coaching Youth Football has the answers.

Longtime coach Jim Dougherty teams up with Brandon Castel to share experience and advice you can rely on from the first practice to the final game. It’s all here in the drills and the plays: evaluating players’ skills, establishing realistic goals, offering in-game coaching tips, and making the practices fun!

Develop your team’s offensive and defensive skills for all positions with the Survival Guide’s collection of the game’s best youth drills. For plays that young players can actually run, flip to the Survival Guide’s offensive playbook and defensive alignments. And to get the most out of every practice, follow the ready-to-use practice plans.

Turn to the series that has already guided thousands of first-time coaches in basketball, soccer, and softball to rewarding and productive seasons. With Survival Guide for Coaching Youth Football, you’re already well on your way.

150 Football Drills for Coaches

Football drills are the foundation of football practice. Creating game-like situations and scenarios throughout practice will help your players thrive under the lights. 150+ Football Drills For Coaches helps you improve your practices and save you time. Each drill takes less than 30 seconds to set up and can be executed by your players soon after. Coach Chris Haddad, the founder of the football education platform vIQtory Sports, cumulated these drills to help coaches worldwide. Chris has coached nearly every position on offense and defense. After searching for countless hours on the internet for drills, Chris decided it was time to make a complete guide for coaches. Everything that you'll need for the position that you coach is in this book. Along with detailed explanations and pictures, we've also included a free video library with each purchase! The drills are the practice, and the practice is the game. Use these drills to master your position and take back your practice time!

The Art of Smart Football

Masterfully blending thought provoking analysis with engrossing storytelling, The Art of Smart Football examines football’s most innovative and enduring strategies and ideas, through the lens of the sport’s best coaches and players. The Art of Smart Football is an eye-opening, fascinating and accessible contribution to our understanding of America’s favorite sport.

The Art of Smart Football features analysis of football's top strategists and schemes, including:


  • Pete Carroll's aggressive defense

  • Chip Kelly's spread offense and new-school methods

  • The roots of Bill Belichick's defensive genius

  • Gus Malzahn's up-tempo offense

  • The strategies Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers use to shred defenses

  • Art Briles and Baylor's wide open attack

  • Nick Saban's defensive evolution


    The book also includes explorations of the newest trends in football, including "packaged plays" that combine runs and passes into one play, "pattern match" defenses that blend man-to-man and zone pass coverages, how defenses are responding to the spread offense, and much more.

The Complete Handbook of Clock Management

Have you ever tried squeezing in a next-to-the-last play, before a field goal kick, and had time expire before you could kick? Or have you tried kicking and missed, from too far away, when you had time to get closer?

Squeezing in a next-to-the-last play, while protecting time for a last play, is one of a football coach's most difficult tasks and the one with the most potential for criticism. You need a system for approaching a moving clock, multiple variables, necessary barriers, ever-changing relativities, and demanding decisions. You need a system with structures, reference points, procedures, and warnings. You need a system for thinking ahead. The Complete Handbook of Clock Management describes such a system in detail.

Confessions of a High School Football Coach

Coaching on the high school level is not what it seems. There are pitfalls, foibles, drama, stories of failure and redemption from great games coached, to devastating mistakes made along the way, Mike DiMatteo attempts to tell how it really is, and was, during his fifteen year head coaching career. This is a book for anyone who coaches at any level of athletics. Coach DiMatteo is plain spoken and honest in his successes as well as failures in an attempt to inform and help others who wish to embark on a the journey of becoming a head coach. From taking a team to its first state title game in school history to dealing with the death of a player who was a rock in the community, Coach DiMatteo details it all in an engaging and interesting way. If you're a coach of any sport, you will be able to take away something from this book and apply it to help you in your coaching journey.

How to Scout the Offense of Your High School Football Opponent

Coach Renner has coached high school football for 30 years, 319 games to be exact. He has made an offensive scouting report for all 319 games. He was a head coach for 23 years at four different high schools in two different states, Virginia and North Carolina. His 10-step offense scouting process will get you the information you need to know about your opponent’s offensive tendencies. It is not designed to predict what your opponent