Recommended Reading List for the Thinking Sports Parent

I am a big reader and always looking to educate myself, and anyone else within lawn chair distance, on kids and sports (not necessarily in that order), so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I read a lot of books about kids and sports. I’ve found some really good titles and now present the Trophy Mom’s Recommended Reading List for the Thinking Sports Parent. We’ll save the inspirational biographies for another day–these titles are thought-provoking and informative and might challenge you to think about youth sports in a different way. All of these books are worthy of purchasing and I own some of them, but since I work at a public library, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that you could save some coin by borrowing one of these from your local library.

Whose Puck Is It, Anyway?Whose Puck Is It, Anyway: A Season with a Minor Novice Hockey Team by Ed Arnold
You don’t have to be a hockey parent to appreciate this non-fiction (that means it’s true) piece by newspaperman Ed Arnold, told in journal style, documenting his year coaching a novice hockey team. No yelling at players, coaches or refs. No systems play.  Players play all positions and learn to think for themselves on the ice. So what happens when you give the game back to the kids and let them determine what happens, with of course, watchful guidance and a qualified coaching staff? Well, it turns out that the kids have a lot of fun and learn a lot of things. And if you’re big on winning, they even do that sometimes. Those involved in the ADM should read this one.

Game OnGame On: The All-American Race to Make Champions of Our Children by Tom Farrey
Farrey takes an investigative approach to the current climate of youth sports and our endless drive to spawn champions that get college athletic scholarships. So, if you’ve got 10,000 hours, good genes and a lot of money, can you buy your little athlete a championship career? Maybe. You could also end up with burn out, repetitive stress injuries and a high pressure childhood. The lexicon of this book has entered our family’s language and we refer to it often.

The Most Expensive Game in TownThe Most Expensive Game in Town : The Rising Cost of Youth Sports and the Toll on Today’s Families by Mark Hyman
I just finished this one, ironically as I was preparing for one of the very tournaments discussed in this book, five states and over 800 miles from my home. While I’m sure the economy appreciated the boost from our hotel, food, gas, sunblock and tournament t-shirt purchases (OK-I didn’t buy the tournament shirt but lots of people on our team did.), my family budget didn’t. Private lessons, equipment, all-star tournaments and destination fields are common in today’s youth sports experience. What’s the effect of all that on kids and families? There’s plenty to think about here, and a shout out to Stats Dad, who was a big part of telling this story.

Home Team AdvantageHome Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports by Brooke DeLench
This book is a primer for moms who have kids in sports, written from a mom’s viewpoint. De Lench is the founder and editor-in-chief of, and she created a thorough and informative manual that covers everything from how to talk to a coach to checklists and tips for making your child’s sports experience enjoyable for everyone involved. Dads might learn a thing or two here, also. This one is definitely worth buying.

Until it Hurts

Until it Hurts: America’s Obsession with Youth Sports and How it Harms our Kids by Mark Hyman
Another investigative-style piece by Hyman, who is guilty of what many parents are, ignoring a child’s seemingly minor injury to play in an important game. Says Hyman, “In 2003 alone, more than 3.5 million children under age fifteen required medical treatment for sports injuries, nearly half of which were the result of simple overuse.” He does offer some solutions and profiles some organizations that are turning that around.

Playing with the BoysPlaying with the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports by Eileen McDonagh, Laura Pappano
This one really had my brain humming. It’s a very academic look, by a professor and a journalist, at how we use sports to define success, yet deny women the opportunity to achieve this success with limited sports participation opportunities. There are some very provocative and interesting ideas presented here, including some co-ed participation that will surely rile some, but I think it’s mandatory reading if you have a daughter playing sports.

Those are some of my favorite titles for sports parents. What are yours? And I’m working on a list of books for kids to read, so send me your suggestions for those, also.

2 Comments on “Recommended Reading List for the Thinking Sports Parent”

  1. […] which were the result of simple overuse.” He does offer … … See the article here: Recommended Reading List for the Thinking Sports Parent « ← Survey Analysis and Prevention of Sports Injuries in Volleyball […]

  2. […] Examiner, and my personal hockey coach/author hero. One of my more popular posts was the Recommended Reading List for the Thinking Sports Parent, and the first book I mention is Ed’s title, Whose Puck Is It, Anyway?  He’s finishing […]

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