Best Books for Strength & Conditioning Coaches: Part 1

8 must-read books for any strength & conditioning coach. In this article, we review 8 essential books you need to read.

Matt Tometz

By Matt Tometz
Last updated: January 30th, 2024
5 min read

Reading should be a cornerstone of practitioners in strength and conditioning and sports performance. From reading comes the opportunity to both gain new knowledge and challenge your existing beliefs, leading to an evolution of your daily practices and providing a higher level of service to your athletes. But with all the options out there, how do you pick the right book? In this multi-part series, here are 8 of the best strength and conditioning books for coaches.

1 . High-Performance Training for Sports 

by David Joyce and Daniel Lewindon [view on Amazon]

This book covers a wide range of topics including speed, agility, jumping and landing capabilities, anaerobic and aerobic conditioning, programming for the in-season and off-season, learning and cueing, and creating a positive training environment. The authors draw on their extensive experience working with elite athletes to provide practical recommendations for coaches. Names of some of the authors who contributed include Loren Landow, Brett Bartholomew, JB Morin, Stuart McMillan, and Duncan French. The book is laid out in a simple, logical flow:

  • Part 1: Establishing and Developing Resilience (the foundations of training)
  • Part 2: Developing Athletic Capabilities (what to do when actually training)
  • Part 3: Enhancing and Sustaining Performance (taking you through a real-life calendar of off-season, pre-season, and in-season training)

This is considered one of the most well-rounded strength and conditioning books available. Alternatively, you can watch a review here:

2. Strength and Conditioning: Biological Principles and Practical Applications

by Marco Cardinale, Robert Newton, and Kazunori Nosaka [view on Amazon]

An excellent resource for S&C coaches and practitioners strength looking to develop a deep understanding of the science behind strength and conditioning. However, this information is also tied into application in practical ways. The 5 main sections of this book include skeletal muscle physiology, neural adaptations to resistance exercise, principles of athlete testing, resistance training modes, and strength and conditioning as a rehabilitation tool. This book will create a solid foundation for the scientific whys of training athletes for all strength and conditioning coaches.

3. The Science and Practice of Strength and Conditioning

by Vladimir Zatsiorsky and William Kraemer [view on Amazon]

Written by some of the most experienced coaches in the field, who combined have worked with +100 world champions, Olympians, and record holders, the authors emphasise the importance of balancing scientific principles with practical experience by incorporating the latest research into training programs. The book also includes a variety of training programs for different sports and levels of experience, making it a valuable resource for coaches and practitioners working with a wide range of athletes.

This book is divided into three parts: the foundational knowledge of strength and conditioning, the variety of training methods in strength and conditioning, and training for specific populations (including women, youth athletes, and seniors). This book is the ideal combination of academic and applied knowledge perfect for any strength and conditioning coach.

4. Strength and Conditioning for Young Athletes

by Rhodri Lloyd and Jon Oliver [view on Amazon]

Lloyd and Oliver emphasise that young athletes are not mini adults and require a different approach to training, as strength and conditioning is not “one size fits all.” The book also emphasises the importance of creating a positive training environment that promotes motivation, enjoyment, and long-term engagement in physical activity; this is considered one of the most important yet least talked about topics. The 3 main sections include:

  1. Fundamental concepts of youth development
  2. Development of physical fitness in young athletes
  3. Contemporary issues for young athletes.

Contributing authors include well-known names like Duncan French, John Cronin, and Micheal Cahill. With over 100 exercises with detailed instructions and pictures, this book offers sample training programs which makes this an essential resource for any coach in strength and conditioning who works with youth athletes.

5. Strength and Conditioning for Sports Performance

by Ian Jeffreys and Jeremy Moody [view on Amazon]

Including detailed information on both how to assess an athlete’s needs and how to design a program that meets those needs, this book covers the foundational science of strength and conditioning among a variety of topics including training flexibility, plyometrics, strength, speed, and endurance.

The book is authored by world-leading strength and conditioning specialists such as Nick Winkleman, Tim Gabbett, Michael Stone, and Bryan Mann. Amongst all their combined experience, this book also includes sport-specific chapters that examine the application of strength and conditioning to various sports, including soccer, basketball, golf, track and field, rugby, and American football. This book is great for strength and conditioning coaches working with a variety of sports.

6. Designing Resistance Training Programs

by Steven Fleck and William Kraemer [view on Amazon]

This book creates a detailed foundation for programming by explaining the anatomy and physiology of the musculoskeletal system, as well as the metabolic and hormonal responses to exercise. Building on this, the book includes detailed instructions on how to assess an individual’s strengths and weaknesses, which is crucial for effective program design.

This book is unique in its approach to some of the more nuanced topics including advanced training techniques, manipulating training variables, and planning rest in long-term training programs. Overall, if strength and conditioning coaches want to take their programming to the next level, this is the book for them.

7. The Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy

by Brad Schoenfeld [view on Amazon]

The most comprehensive guide on the latest research and practical applications of muscle hypertrophy. The book is written in a scientific yet digestible manner, as the author breaks down complex concepts into understandable terms and brings the information back to real-life application. Provided are clear guidelines on how to design resistance training programs that optimise muscle growth, including topics such as exercise selection, volume, intensity, frequency, and periodisation. And to provide even more value, the author covers topics such as nutrition, supplementation, and recovery to build on the training.

The book is well-referenced, with over 800 scientific references cited, providing fantastic information to strength and conditioning coaches looking to learn more about hypertrophy training.

8. Strength and Conditioning for Team Sports 

by Paul Gamble [view on Amazon]

A great read for strength and conditioning coaches who are looking to improve their athlete’s performance in the team setting. Topics include a thorough list covering everything team sport athletes need such as physiological and performance testing, core stability, agility and speed development, power training, strength training, metabolic conditioning, training periodisation, and injury prevention.

With over 200 new references, this book provides evidence-based best practices and recommendations for preparing team sport athletes. It also includes detailed examples of training programs for various team sports to help bring the information shared in the book to life. Overall, this is one of the most important places to start for strength and conditioning coaches who work with team sports.


Hopefully throughout reading the concise summaries of 8 of the top books for strength and conditioning coaches you’ve selected 1 or 2 books to pursue first to help you get closer to your goals. It’s always worth noting that the point of reading books is not just to read, but to make you a better coach.

It is recommended that you keep a notebook next to you and write down any ideas of new exercises to try, different programming principles, or anything that will turn this information into tweaks or modifications to improve your everyday coaching. A big shout out to you, reader, for wanting to level yourself up as a professional.

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Matt Tometz

Matt Tometz

Matt’s speciality is speed development and he has a fascination for sport science – it’s his daily challenge to integrate the art of coaching with the science of data for his athletes of all ages and sports. His other experiences include being a sport scientist at the Division I level, publishing his thesis in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, and creating educational content for coaches and athletes.

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