Suggested reading list

General Climbing Material

Rock Climbing – Introduction to Essential Technical Skills for Leaders and Seconds
Pete Hill. Cicerone Guides, 2007
Chapter 6: Moving on Rock. An extensive chapter covering basic information about handholds, footholds, climbing specific types of rock angle and formation.

The Complete Guide to Climbing and Mountaineering
Pete Hill. David & Charles, 2008
Chapter 3: Movement, Bouldering and Climbing Walls. A short section covers different handholds, footholds and specific techniques such as lay-backing.

Climbing: From Gym to Crag
S. Peter Lewis and Dan Cauthorn. Mountaineers Books, 2000
This is a black and white instructional manual with very little (if any) content on coaching. It does describe a structured progression from indoor to out (with a subtitle of ‘building skills for real rock’). The value in this book is in the clear images and demonstrations of key skills, along with a condensed introduction to the basics of training for climbers.

Complete Climbing Manual
Tony Lourens. New Holland, 2005
Chapter 4: Essential Skills and Technique. Contains basic information about body positioning, slab, face and crack climbing techniques, and as an American book it contains a lot on off-width techniques and American names for techniques.

Rock Climbing – Essential Skills and Techniques
Libby Peter. Mountain Leader Training UK, 2011
This book does exactly what it says on the tin – with the pages packed with succinct text and useful diagrams. It is a great reference to check for best practice in any rock-climbing scenario. Of particular interest to the coach are the excellent ‘Notes for Instructors’ that cover the important issues of looking after those with less experience, often suggesting ways to teach or deliver the essential skills.

Physical Fitness and Training

Periodization – Theory and Methodology of Training (5th edition)
Tudor O. Bompa and C. Gregory Haff. Human Kinetics Europe, 2009
A rather dated text now but still has some relevant information regarding stages of preparation leading to peak performance. Not a light read but a reference text.

Adventure Sport Physiology
Nick Draper and Chris Hodgson. Wiley Blackwell, 2008
A key reference text that accompanies University level Physiology programmes. There are numerous examples relating the theory to practice. Not a light read.

9 out of 10 Climbers Make the Same Mistakes – Navigation through the Maze of Advice for the Self-coached Climber
Dave MacLeod. Rare Breed, 2009
Advice for climbers on how to improve based on the ideas that training isn’t performance and that many climbers need to train more efficiently and effectively. It encourages climbers to work areas that will bring the greatest improvements, for the smallest outlays in time and resources. Contains lots of practical ideas and (despite the lack of pictures for some tastes) it is still easy to read.

Extreme Alpinism – Climbing Light, Fast and High
Mark Twight, James Martin and Don Graydon. Mountaineers (Seattle), 1999
Whilst this may seem like an unusual place to go for coaching know-how, this books contains a really easy to read section on training. It is also a refreshing view of how to peak for a trip or personal objective, rather than a competition. Very easy to read and down to earth advice.

Mental Fitness and Training

Performance Psychology: A Practitioners Guide
D. Collins, A. Button and H. Richards. Churchill Livingstone (eds). Churchill Livingstone, 2011
The book does what it says! The good thing is that the contributors include some adventure sports specialists. It’s an easy read and can be dipped into as required or read as a big hit.

Flow – the Psychology of Optimal Experience
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Harper, 2008
A book that examines the state of complete absorption in the moment when busy mind and environment feel as one. Searching for that ‘flow’ moment is why I do the sports I do. I found this an enjoyable read and enlightening that somebody had researched the emotional state I experience during peak performance.

Dynamics of Skill Acquisition – A Constraints-Led Approach
K. Davids, C. Button and S. Bennett. Human Kinetics Publishers, 2008
A really useful book. Within adventure sports we contend with issues that are considered in the approaches described in this book. If you don’t fancy heavy academic stuff, this is a straight-forward read with good diagrams and examples that can be transferred into practice.

Mindset – The New Psychology of Success
Carol S. Dweck. Ballantine, 2007
A very easy to read book that examines how phrasing speak and framing tasks and praise can lead to a positive, open and can-do mindset.

Flow in Sports – the Key to Optimal Experiences and Performances
Susan A. Jackson and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Human Kinetics Publishers, 1999
Similar to the above book but looking more specifically at sport. Again an interesting read.

Thinking Fast and Slow
Daniel Kahneman. Penguin, 2012
Written by a Nobel Prize winner in the field, this book examines how we go about making decisions. It will help you to understand the thought process and hence make more effective decisions under-pressure.

Mastering Your Inner Game
David Kauss. Human Kinetics Publishers, 2000
One of the original books in this field looking at the power of mastering your own psychology for positive outcomes.

The Chimp Paradox – The Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness
Dr Steve Peters. Vermillion, 2012
A very useful book that builds on Mindset by Dweck and examines how to be in control of your emotions when needed and help structure successful outcomes long term.

How to Climb Harder
Mark Reeves. Pesda, 2010
This book contains a vast collection of information from the very basics to some quite advanced techniques. Based on the author’s MSc research, a most original section is that on mental rehearsal and imagery for climbers. Dip in and out of this book at various stages, on various topics, to get the best from it.

Bounce – The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice
Matthew Syed. Fourth Estate, 2011
A great book that explodes the myth of natural talent and show the power of effective practice.

‘Decision Training: an Innovative Approach to Coaching’.
J.N. Vickers. Canadian Journal for Women Coaches 3(3), 2003, available from:
This simple straight-forward booklet covers one of the crucial elements of effective adventure sports coaching. Easily understood and applied this is essential for any and all coaches, but especially in adventure sports.

Coaching Process Material

The Talent Code – Greatness Isn't Born, It's Grown
Daniel Coyle. Arrow, 2010
This book outlines the power of practice on learning new skills. Whilst some of the neuro-science is pretty heavy duty, the book is packed full of practical examples and fabulous anecdotes. Find out what separates the number 1 from the number 10 in the world, from musicians to athletes alike, and the secrets of their training (and specifically, how they practice). This book will change the way you encourage climbers to practice in the future.

Self-Coached Climber – The Guide to Movement, Training, Performance
Dan Hague and Douglas Hunter. Stackpole, 2006
A well-known and popular book that covers climbing movement and training that has been called ‘The Bible for a climbing coach’! The most informative book yet on the mechanics and theory as well as the coaching of climbing movement. It is strong on pictures and diagrams depicting the correct use of balance and centre of gravity as well as the use of momentum. It comes with its own DVD, showing good technique with vectors super-imposed. It also has an interesting chapter on how we learn movement skills, looking at how the brain/body system goes through the stages of skill acquisition. A 'technical' book that supports the FUNdamentals workshops really well.

The Sports Coach as Educator – Re-conceptualising Sports Coaching
Robyn L. Jones (ed). Routledge, 2006
This book was written in response to government-led initiatives to invest in and develop coaching across all sports. Its purpose was to explore the idea that coaching is not solely about training athletes but that it also should also incorporate the education of those athletes. The book draws upon educational theory and pedagogical theory from parallel areas such as teaching and mentoring to exploring what it means to be a coach. A good book for those who feel that coaching has been too narrowly defined, this book deepens and enhances the role of the coach and helps coaches approach their work in new and inventive ways.

Coaching Climbing – A Complete Guide Program for Coaching Youth Climbing for High Performance and Safety
Michelle Hurni. Falcon Guides, 2003
This is ‘one of the best’ books for introducing, coaching and training young climbers. The author coached the US junior team for many years, including a young Chris Sharma. This is a refreshingly practical book with lots of advice and ideas gleaned from experience of working with youth. It clearly responds to the challenges and responsibilities of working with young people and has information for anyone working at any level with young climbers. It has great advice on games, challenges, liability and duty of care, training young bodies, evaluation of performance and dealing with young minds. Essential reading!

Sports Coaching Concepts – A Framework for Coaches' Behaviour
John Lyle. Routledge, 2002
An older book, but still one of the best compilations of key issues in coaching. Its specific focus is to define the role of the coach, and to better understand the relationship between the coach and athlete. Core issues addressed include modelling the coaching process, social factors influencing practice, and the future of coach education and professionalisation. Perhaps a little academic for some people, and maybe too technical for others, but a good text for those who are very serious about coaching as a career or those who want to explore wider issues that may impact on climbing and the developing field of the coaching in climbing.

Routledge Handbook of Sports Coaching
Paul Potrac, Wade Gilbert and Jim Denison (eds). Routledge, 2013
This is a huge book that covers just about every topic in coaching and is written by some of the biggest names in coaching research. This is only for those who are very serious about their coaching or those who have a real personal interest in coaching as a topic. With 39 chapters it covers just about everything, with wide ranging topics such as talent identification, coach education, harassment and the use of technology in coaching. It is an academic book, so it can be a dry read at points, but the range of topics and authors helps keep interest. Not for the casual coach, but perhaps a useful reference for those at the top of the field.

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