If you’re looking to make up for the lack of sports and prestigious events that 2020 has taken away from you, the next best option is to read a load of the best sport books instead, of course!
What should have been a jam-packed sports year; a summer of the olympics, the highly anticipated London Marathon, Liverpool FC’s first league title since 1989 (the list goes on) instead consisted of most of us watching old highlight reels and goal compilations on YouTube. It has been a hard year for sporting fans across all fields.
But we figured, the next best thing to keep your heart in your game and keep your spirits high, is to delve into some of the best sport books ever written that embody your passion in their print. Whether you’re shopping for sport biography books, the best books about sport or inspirational sport books for children and all ages; OriGym’s ultimate shortlist has your needs and interests covered.
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For those who are not typically the biggest readers, sport auto/biography books are always a happy medium of educational information, combined with the element of entertainment you may lack in other publications; often an easier read.
And how could we have a list of the best sport books to read without mentioning one of the greatest sport personalities of all time? George Best is one of football’s most enduring names, as famous for his exceptional football skills as he is for his salacious personal life. Many great sport books have been written about Best, but few are written by the man himself; so if you’re looking for great sport books to get stuck into, you could do much worse than Best’s autobiography, Blessed.
One of the most famous sport books, Best begins with his early days at Manchester United and takes you through his career, leaving no stone unturned. Best is incredibly open about his struggles with fame and the effect that it had on him, particularly with regards to alcohol and his intimate life.
There are plenty of other good sport books to read about George Best and his life, but this is the only one written by the man himself. Best is brutally honest about his troubles in life, and writes with his trademark wit and self-deprecating humour, which allows you to fully immerse yourself in his life.
Reading this book will give you an insight into the world of football during Best’s peak, but also lets you see who George Best really was, behind the public persona. The book is especially touching as it reveals what his hopes for the future were, but was written only three years before he died.
If your aim is to really get to know the greatest footballer the world has ever seen, then you can do no better than this book.
Next is a publication that will go down in history as one of the best sport books of all time.
Tyson Fury’s autobiography was one of the best-selling sport books of the year after winning the 2020 Best Sport Book of the Year award, and it’s easy to see why. Fury’s open and honest story about his rise to the top of the boxing world and his subsequent struggles with alcohol and drugs is poignant and heartening to read, regardless of whether or not you’re a boxing fan.
Fury’s frankness is admirable, especially in a sport so traditionally dominated by a masculinity that doesn’t allow for this kind of vulnerability. It’s such a refreshing take, and it really helps to redefine what a modern-day champion looks and acts like.
While Fury is incredibly candid about his depression and the huge impact that his career has had on his mental health, the real heart of the book is his redemption. In a truly amazing feat of strength and courage, he pulls himself back from the brink, and discovers the mindset to become one of history’s greatest boxers.
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We really couldn’t recommend this book more to anyone, regardless of interest level in boxing; his incredible comeback and the candour on what made it necessary has cemented Fury as a true modern sporting icon, and it is what makes ‘Behind the Mask’ truly one of the most inspirational sport books ever written.
Chances are, you have heard the name Eniola Aluko - and if you haven’t, whether you’re a sports fan or not, you will want to. They Don’t Teach Us has been labelled one of the best sport books of all time, and after giving it a read, we completely agree.
Eniola Aluko is a multi-talented personality, with a massively impressive CV: player for the English women’s national football team, a writer for The Guardian, UN Ambassador for Women. Aluko is the definition of a modern-day Renaissance woman and proves that you don’t need to pick just one thing to excel at, and her book acts as an inspiration to readers of all types, particularly young woman facing discrimination in the sporting world.
They Don’t Teach This goes beyond the standard books on sport and takes you through Aluko’s journey as a young woman of dual-nationality and her struggles against prejudice, in the world of football and beyond. Aluko’s intention is to inspire readers to improve themselves on the pitch and in their everyday lives, and she certainly succeeds in this. Balancing sport and study to become not only a footballer, but a qualified barrister, all while fighting prejudice as a young black woman, is truly beyond impressive.
Much of the sporting world is male-dominated, and has been for centuries, so to have Aluko stand up as a role-model to young female athletes is fantastic. If you’ve got a young girl in your life, you could do no better than gifting this book to her to act as the perfect inspiration.
So, as far as truly motivational sport books go, Aluko’s is definitely approaching the top of the list, with something important to say to every reader that picks it up. It’s mandatory reading for all who want to see more people like Aluko on the pitch and are willing to work hard to make it happen.
Though the title implies this falls into the category of development books, don’t be fooled, this is very much the comical, insightful and entertaining story of one of the world’s most famous sportsmen.
If you think that modern football is overrun by overpaid, out of touch diva players, then you’re not alone. Peter Crouch’s How to be a Footballer takes you behind the scenes of professional football in one of the best books about sport, and reveals some of the most ludicrous stories about his fellow players that span his 20 year career.
Crouch’s writing is charming and relatable, and makes you feel as if you are both in on the same joke. It’s really a joy to read his candid, hilarious take on the modern state of the game and its players, including anecdotes involving Harry Redknapp and Cristiano Ronaldo, to name a few. At times, this feels less like an autobiography and more like having a conversation with Crouch as he tells you funny stories over a pint. And if there’s any footballer we’d want to have a pint with, it’d definitely be Crouch.
Crouch has become a household name in recent years, largely due to his down to earth and relatable nature, something that definitely comes across in his writing – it’s no surprise that it was one of the best selling sport books of the year, or that it went on to win the ‘Telegraph Sports Bestseller of the Year’ award.
It really is one our favorite books on sport in every way, and no football fan’s bookshelf will be complete without it.
This addition from Jim Afremow features time and time again on all lists relating to the best sport books on sport psychology.
If you’re looking for motivational sport books that will help you optimise your mind to give you the edge in competition, then this book will be perfect for you. Jim Afremow argues that physical ability is only part of what makes a great athlete, and that without getting your mind in the right condition, you can’t hope to achieve peak performance.
One of the world’s best books about sport, Afrenow takes you through the techniques that he uses with professional athletes, teaching you how to use them yourself - making this a great option for sport books for children and teens, too! He teaches you to increase your mental discipline, through self-awareness, meditation and self-centring. It’s a great way to strengthen your mind for sport, but also very handy for dealing with the stress and hardship of everyday life.
Another one of the great things about this book is that it’s not limited to any one sport, so you can make use of Afremow’s teachings no matter which sport you’re looking to improve in - it is easy to see why this is one of the top sport books on the market.
If you're looking for further resources to help expand your greatness as an athlete, make sure to have a read of our article on Mental Toughness, that provides you with an insight from 21 Sport Psychology experts on how to improve mental toughness in athletes.
So, whether you’re just starting out a new sport or whether you’re already on your way to professional, having this book to hand will undoubtedly give you the edge you need to take your career to the next level, and is a must-have for anyone looking to seriously rethink their approach to sport.
We can’t leave the little ones out of our ultimate shortlist, can we? If you’re searching for the best kids sport books, Unbelievable Football should definitely be on your Kindle wishlist.
This entry for fiction sport books for kids is perfect for any aspiring young footballer, having won the ‘Telegraph Children’s Best Sports Book of the Year’. It’s full of fun stories and trivia and really opens up the game beyond what happens on the pitch. It’s certain to be a hit with kids looking to learn more about the game.
Oldfield does a great job of encouraging a love of sport in his fiction sport books, alongside a love of reading, something that kids have too often been told to choose between, while presenting the obscure and wild insights that kids love to tell you about over breakfast.
If your little one is a football enthusiast, or a sports fanatic of any form, why not check out our shortlist of the best fitness trackers for kids and allow them to start taking their training to the next level.
If you’re in the market for fiction sport books for kids, this one is perfect for kids who are already die-hard football fans, and for those who are looking for an introduction to the game. It’s also a great book to read alongside your future Messi’s and Ronaldo’s, which is always a huge bonus to kids’ sport books. For these reasons, Unbelievable Football is without a doubt one of the top sport books for children of the year, so you could definitely do far worse than grab a copy and watch it delight and entertain your little ones to no end.
Not all of the greatest books on sport have to involve hard-to-read content, sometimes the best sport books to read are effective simply for their relatable and lighthearted subjects - something this entry from Casey Stoney has down to a T.
It’s no secret that football has been a male-dominated sport for most of its existence. This is changing of course, but there is certainly a lot still to be done to make the game a more inclusive space for women. That’s why sport books for teens like this, that aim to inspire and encourage young women and girls to pursue the sport, are so great.
Casey Stoney details the history of the game and the women who fought for their place on the pitch in a motivational and encouraging way, designed to provide role models to budding young footballers who previously might have struggled to find them.
While Changing the Game is primarily aimed at young girls, it’s also a fantastic read for young boys to learn about the hardships women have faced, and still face, when trying to play football. And it teaches them that the game is at its best when it’s open and accepting of all, which we hope will go a long way to encouraging equality on the pitch.
For these reasons, this entry for sport motivation books is certainly a must have book for any young football fan, and an important lesson for boys and girls alike.
If you’re shopping for the best books about sport, then look no further because, like the title implies, this is your ultimate introduction to the topic.
Psychology is often an overlooked aspect of the training process, with overwhelming emphasis placed on physical training. In his book, John Perry argues that awareness of psychological processes is as important to an athlete as physical fitness, and teaches you how to tackle sport from a scientific point of view, backed by rigorously reviewed scientific processes - with all this in mind, it’s easy to see how we fate this as one of the best sport books on the market.
Perry deals with a variety of topics, including everything from analysing personality traits of successful athletes, to personal motivation, to working with kids. Whatever area of sport psychology you’re looking to educate yourself on, you can bet you can find it in this book.
A regular on the top sport books lists, this is a great publication for beginners because Perry uses clear and simple language designed to be accessible to people without a background in science. Perry brings a professional and in-depth approach, based on his experience as a university lecturer – there is even the opportunity for you to test yourself at the end of each chapter, in case you have difficulty retaining info you’ve read. For this reason, this book is a common purchase for sport science students, but is extremely easy to follow for anyone with an interest in sport psychology.
You can find more books catering for sports psyhology in out shortlist of the best books for personal trainers.
For all of these reasons, Sport Psychology has made it on to our list as one of the best books about sport around, and we would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to improve their understanding of the mental side of sport and athletics.
If you’re after the best books about sport to give you the edge in athletics, look no further. Anita Bean’s book focuses on sports nutrition, and how your diet, if properly controlled, can elevate you above the average athlete.
Anita Bean is one of the country’s top nutritionists and has published plenty of books on nutrition that give practical advice on how to stay healthy – she even has a few vegetarian focused recipe books if that’s what you’re after. But we chose this entry for our list of the best sport books ever written because it’s unrivalled as a sport nutrition guide, with some fantastic advice on how to eat healthily based on the research of hundreds of sport nutrition studies from all around the globe.
Bean looks into the science behind energy production, and covers everything you’ll need to maximise your nutritional intake, burn fat and gain muscle mass, including how to calculate ideal calorie requirements, and how to prepare your meals ahead of a competition. Though not directly falling into the sport books for kids category, Bean also gives specific advice for children if you have a young athlete in your life to feed!
If you're considering a career in nutrition yourself, but unsure on where to start, make sure to check out our detailed guide on how to become a sports nutritionist in the UK.
As books on sport go, this one really tops the list. If you’re still not convinced, then know that Bean’s book is currently in its eighth edition, so clearly plenty of athletes have found it useful, and without a doubt you will too!
#10 - The Jordan Rules: The Inside Story of a Turbulent Season with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls – Sam Smith
We really couldn’t have a list of the best sport books ever written without this incredible story of Michael Jordan's early career with the Chicago Bulls. Written by Sam Smith, who was there with the team for the whole game-changing season, The Jordan Rules is what altered the entire world’s perspective on Michael Jordan, taking you behind the slickly branded, heavily commercialised Jordan and revealing him to be the ultra-competitive champion who will stop at nothing to win.
In a strange way, though this book portrays Jordan as a tantrum prone, controlling player, it still leaves you rooting for him – it’s almost as if he is somehow humanized, as opposed to the almost god-like figure he is often portrayed as; if he can have doubts, and frustrations, and power-struggles, maybe he’s not so different from you and I. And it’s this idea that Smith really leans into to make this book really work, therefore cementing its place as one of the best sport books to read.
Smith doesn’t just show you Jordan’s journey – he also gives time to his teammates, who explain how it felt to be on a team with someone so obsessed with being the best, and how it affected the team when Jordan got into his frequent fights with coaches and management. It’s a truly fascinating insight into what being on a team with the greatest basketball player of all time really felt like.
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No real sport fan’s collection could be complete without Smith’s book, arguably one of the most famous sport books of all time, most definitely on the must-have sport biography books list for anyone with an interest in the mindset of the legend himself.
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Clive Woodward has headed plenty of different sport teams, including taking the English team to a win at the Rugby World Cup, and acting as director of Sport at the British Olympic Institute.
In this book, he talks about how to be a leader, both in the world of sport and outside. Using analysis of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, he explains how best to coach brilliant performances out of your players.
Woodward’s experience speaks for itself, and he uses this experience as a basis for his advice, drawing from his time leading a world-class rugby team, to coaching football, to his time as part of the leadership team that brought astounding success at the 2012 Olympics.
Woodward also has experience in business, and since sport is, of course, a business in and of itself, having a decent head for it is an invaluable skill for a coach or manager – a skill you could learn from Woodward’s book.
A fantastic piece of leadership insight, How to Win is a must-have for coaches of any sport and any level, and for anyone looking to improve their leadership skills in any arena of life.
Another entry for the best books on sport is the work of Swedish psychologist Anders Ericsson.
If you want to improve yourself, Anders Ericsson’s addition to the books on sport category is a fantastic place to begin. It’s a how-to for achieving excellence in any given field, whether you’re looking to improve your athletic ability, or acquire any other skill you can think of. It’s really handy if you want to change your mindset to give you the chance to stand out in any field, particularly the playing field.
Ericsson lays out his theories for self-improvement, emphasising the importance of ‘deliberate practice’ – in other words, simply repeating an action over and over won’t make you an expert. You have to analyse your own performance, acquire and internalise feedback, and be constantly engaged and focused on your goals and your actions.
This training technique is sure to produce results in no time flat, and is full of stories and anecdotes of people who have become experts in their fields by following Ericsson’s methods.
This is also a great option for beginners looking to delve into books on sport, as it’s not full of jargon and inaccessible terms, meaning it is simple enough for anyone of any level to grab and get stuck in.
So if you’re ready to push yourself out of your comfort zone so that you can be the best version of yourself, then Ericsson’s addition to the list is a must have addition to your sport motivation books collection.
Hailed one of the most inspiring stories and an addition on every best selling sport books list is the story of Joe Simpson.
This one is definitely not for the faint hearted. Touching the Void was written by Joe Simpson after a near fatal mountain climb in Peru back in 1985. It’s a wild read, and regarded by mountaineers as a fantastic story of endurance and survival against the odds. It has also been considered one of the best sport motivation books around, selling copies all over the world and becoming one of the greatest sport books of all time.
Simpson and his climbing partner found themselves stuck on the side of a mountain, with no fuel or food, and a storm coming in. After falling into a crevice, Simpson had to find his way out alone and, with a broken leg, managed to get to safety after a three-day hike down the side of the mountain.
In this addition to inspirational sport books, Simpson really lays out what it’s like to risk your life for your passion, something that anyone with a love for extreme sports can relate to. It’s an honest look at the border between passion and obsession, something that anyone who has dedicated their life to a sport can understand. And on top of that, it’s a thrilling account of the limits of human will, which is arguably the most important trait for any sportsperson.
Simpson’s book is, in short, one of the most awakening, top sport books we’ve ever read, as well as the most terrifying – we all hope we could rise to the same challenge, but hope even more that we’ll never need to!
For those like Simpson who's fitness thrives more in the outside with nature, make sure to read our thorough guide on Outdoor Training, detailing everything you need to know to stay safe and excell.
This inspirational sport books entry is the perfect way to experience it; you’ll be taken along with Simpson on his adventure without having to risk your own life.
Coming away from the stories of great sportsmen and prominent figures in the industry, this entry from Melissa Halas acts as a great option for buyers looking for depthful books on sport. To educate you on nutrition.
This one is for all of the herbivore athletes who have struggled to find a sport book that caters to their diet. Traditionally, an athlete’s diet consisted of a lot of animal protein, but recently a swell of support for the vegetarian and vegan athlete has been seen, from athletes such as Arnold Schwarzenegger. And if it’s good enough for Arnold, it’s good enough for us!
Halas’ book has some great advice on how to stay at the top of your game while avoiding meat products, including tips on how to structure meals around your workouts, and how to keep your protein and vitamin uptake at healthy levels. Malas clearly lays out a simple list of do’s and don’ts, while still leaving you with a certain amount of customisation with your meals, so you can cater to your own tastes without sacrificing nutrition.
This isn’t just for vegetarians and vegans, though. It’s a great nutrition book for anyone looking to lower their meat intake, for any reason. If you’re a meat-eater looking to cut back, then it would definitely be a good idea to grab this book to help you out.
The Plant-Based Boost is ideal for anyone looking for vegetarian sport books that caters for a plant-based diet without sacrificing athletic performance. Remember – if Mr Schwarzenegger gives it his seal of approval, then you can bet that it’ll be worth trying. You can also find further information here on our blog, after you've finished here, head over to our article that looks at vegan weight training, where we provide diet and fitness tips.
If you’re searching for books on sport that can benefit you as a leader, then who better to inspire you than Sir Alex Ferguson himself.
A list of the best sport books ever would be totally incomplete without an appearance from Sir Alex Ferguson. He has written plenty of books throughout his career, from autobiographies to educational and empowering resources, but we decided that this one on Leadership was the best one to include in this list, for a few reasons. Firstly, it was written after he retired in 2013, so has the benefit of his entire career, and because of its focus on leadership and the way it dispels pieces of hard-earned wisdom that any leader would do well to heed.
Also providing a great option for sport books for teens, Ferguson teaches you how to act as a leader in the sporting world, from the pitch to the boardroom. He walks you through his decisions that lead to success, both for himself and his teams, how he managed to get people around him performing at their best, and how he never gave up on his search for perfection.
Alex Ferguson is undeniably one of the most successful football managers of all time, and this book lets you see how and why he achieved this. If you’re an aspiring leader, he is the perfect person to learn from, so you really can’t afford to skip out on this seminal sport book.
For this product, we hop across the pond for a biography of the most famous baseball player of all time. In this addition to our best books about sport shortlist, Cramer delivers one of the most in-depth looks at Joe DiMaggio as a person, rather than an icon. It’s a fascinating but bruising look at how fame and success can be the worst kind of corrupting influence.
This book is not just one of the many great sport books in the UK: it’s also an incredibly detailed and well researched look at DiMaggio’s personal life, including his involvement with the mob, his early struggles as an immigrant, and his turbulent relationship with Marilyn Monroe. Anything you ever wanted to know about the man can be found in the pages of this book.
It’s clear from the way that he writes that Cramer is a huge fan of DiMaggio’s, but that doesn’t stop him from being brutally honest about the player’s flaws: DiMaggio is at times painted as selfish, greedy, and power hungry. But that’s what makes him feel all the more human, and the best parts of the book are these insights into the darker side of his character.
This addition to sport biography books really does have it all: it’s a great story about a hugely flawed genius, and his tragic love story with a woman who was as alluring and disturbed as he was. Prepare for a real rollercoaster of a book that we really couldn’t put down, and couldn’t recommend more.
As far as books about sport that provide nutritional knowledge and guidance go, Joe Wicks is the man on everyone's mouths.
This entry is for anyone who wants to get lean, but doesn’t want their meals to do the same. Joe Wicks, famous for his lockdown workouts, released this book a few years ago and it quickly became one of the best-selling sport books of the year, and it’s easy to see why. It’s incredibly accessible and simple, so it’s great for someone who wants to start planning healthy meals that fit around their workouts.
Wicks bases his advice on his long career as a personal trainer, and realises that the intense, strict method of dieting isn’t realistic for everyone. Instead, he recommends a series of recipes that will keep you healthy and that he insists will never leave you hungry, which sounds almost too good to be true.
These recipes are also designed to go along with the workout regimen outlined in the book in order to maximise weight loss and muscle gain, so you’re really getting two books in one.
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This is most definitely amongst the top sport books in the UK for anyone looking to take their fitness more seriously but are worried about where to start. In a friendly and charming manner, Wicks will be right there with you to give you the best possible start.
Autobiography vs. Biography?
A commonly confused topic, but when simplified makes a lot of sense.
A biography is simply the story of an individual that has been written by someone else, whereas an autobiography is the story of a person's life, written by the individual themselves - make sense now?
Within our list you will find multiple options for books on sport as well as a couple choices for the best sport books ever published.
How Important is Nutrition for Athletes?
As an athlete, physical health is key. Though this may be stating the obvious, but athletes depend on strength, skill, and endurance, whatever the sport in question.
But where does that strength, skill and endurance come from? What is the root of all those power factors that impact how well you perform? Just like a car, the body cannot run without the corect fuel and this fuel comes from providing your body with enough calories, vitamins, and other nutrients that provide energy. In the molst basic terms, nutrition is important for athletes because it provides a source of energy required to perform the activity.
The body's needs differ from person to person. Those factors mentioned will vary depending on a number of factors, including: age, height, weight, and sport or activity level of an individual.
Sports nutrition is so much more than simply what you put into your body, but also when you put it in. As a general rule of thumb, athletes should eat approximately two hours prior to exercising and this meal should be high in carbohydrates, low in fat and low to moderate in protein. The reason for this is carbohydrates are the main source of energy that fuels your exercise and protein is required to aid muscle growth and repair.
After exercising, it is important for athletes to replace the carbohydrates lost during training and they also need to ensure proper muscle recovery by including protein in a post training meal - this is most commonly recommended in the sporting world to be consumed within an hour after training or exercise.
Before You Go!
And that rounds up our shortlist of the greatest sport books to read right now. We hope that our selection can somewhat compensate for the lack of sporting games and events you have experienced this year. With any hope, after the time you have spent working your way through a few options from OriGym’s list, it will be time for you to walk back into your team’s ground, court or track.
If your new read inspires you to want to get more involved in the fitness world, then why not have a look at our various personal training packages or download our latest course prospectus here to find out more!
Written by Professional S & C Coaches
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