The Analyst’s Bookshelf: 10 Performance Analysis Books

By Duncan Ritchie

29-June-2021 on Tips

12 minute read

Books give us knowledge and, as the old saying goes, knowledge is power. So, what kind of books do professional analysts generally read?


Well, we asked them and you might be surprised at the answers. Here, we have a selection of 10 books which come highly recommended...and they’re not all about sports. 


Many of them are not even about analysis! But we feel that the knowledge that can be gained from these books is highly beneficial to any analyst who values critical thinking and self improvement.


So, if you’re looking for some inspiration this summer, take a rifle through the Analyst’s Bookshelf with us…

Note: All links provided are for Amazon, Nacsport is in no way affiliated with Amazon nor do we get a commission on any sales that come as a result of this article. Links are provided as a reference only and we encourage you to shop around for the best deal.


Black Box Thinking: The Surprising Truth About Success

by Matthew Syed

Black Box Thinking


Google, the Mercedes Formula 1 team, James Dyson and Michael Jordan. They all have one thing in common...they are all Black Box Thinkers.


In other words, they learn from their mistakes. And more than that, they embrace their mistakes and, with an analytical mind, turn errors into success.


In this book Matthew Syed, uses practical case studies and exclusive interviews to reveal how we can all become better Black Box Thinkers.


The Coaches Guide to Teaching

by Doug Lemov

The Coaches Guide to Teaching


When you think about it, coaches are, at the heart of the matter, teachers. So, how can coaches apply good teaching practice to their work?


Doug Lemov, author of the best selling book, Teach Like a Champion, explores this topic in this thoroughly recommendable book that brings the science of the classroom to the sports field.


Eleven Rings

by Phil Jackson

eleven rings


A kind of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for the sports arena…


Phil Jackson is one of the most successful coaches in the history of sport, winning umpteen titles during his tenure as head coach at the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.


In this great book, Jackson describes his approach to leadership through mindfulness and team chemistry and shows how he controlled the egos of some of basketball’s biggest stars in order to get them to play as a cohesive whole.


Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking

by Matthew Syed

Rebel Ideas


The second entry from Matthew Syed in this list is a fascinating journey through the science of team performance. 


Drawing on psychology, economics, anthropology and genetics, and taking lessons from a wide range of case-studies, Syed looks at the intelligence failings of the CIA before 9/11, a communication breakdown at the top of Everest, and an emotional tale of deprogramming in the deep south of America. 


This powerhouse of a book will give teams and individuals the ability to think like an outsider and become better problem solvers.


Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior

by Phil Jackson


Sacred Hoops


We can’t mention Jackson’s first book without including his second. 


More wisdom from one of the greatest coaches in history, Jackson details his search for enlightenment through the study of Eastern and Native American teachings and shows us how to apply these principles to sport.


This inspiring memoir is quite the trip!


The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups

by Daniel Coyle


The Culture Code


In this book, Daniel Coyle holds a magnifying glass up to some of the worlds most successful institutions to reveal their team building secrets in order to answer the question: how can you build a successful team?


Taking cues from the likes of Pixar, Google and the San Antonio Spurs basketball team, Coyle shows us how to avoid toxic culture and achieve amazing results in any walk of life. 


The Power of Moments

by Chip and Dan Heath

The Power of Moments

It only takes a moment to change the world and, in this book, Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick (which we also recommend you read) explore how to create and embrace those little sparks that can change the world.


Inspirational and immediately actionable, this is a book that could change your view of the world.


What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy

by James Gee

What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy


Video games are often blamed for a variety of societal ills, from the proliferation of obesity to mass murdering school shooters, but in this book, James Paul Gee argues the opposite, that video games, even violent ones, can provide positive experiences.


This is a book about cognitive development and how we perceive the world. Insightful.


Originals: How Non-conformists Change the World

by Adam Grant



How can you encourage original and creative thinking? 


That’s what Adam Grant explores in this riveting book. Looking at case studies of how outside-the-box thinking has changed the course of big organisations, there is real, actionable wisdom to be found in this tome.


Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World

by Carl T. Bergstrom and Jevin D. West

Calling Bullshit


Whether it be within a circle of friends, a community of sports analysts or the citizens of a nation, it’s important that we call out bullshit in a world which is drowning in it.


That’s the premise of this indispensable book from biologist Carl Bergstrom and data scientist Jevin West...and we say “Amen” to that. A great read.


We Want YOUR Recommendations


Okay, this list will keep you busy for a while! There are some great books here that will teach, inspire and entertain you...and there’s more to come. In the coming weeks, we’ll bring you more books recommended to us by professional analysts.


Why not have your say? Recommend a book to us and, if it qualifies, we’ll add it to the list! Get in contact with us through any of our social media channels.


Until then...happy reading!

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