Book Review: “Conscious Coaching” By Brett Bartholomew

This Book Will Help You To Better Connect With Your Athletes

conscious coaching 3Write down five qualities of the best coach or teacher that you have had.

Once done, divide those qualities into two columns – one headed “knowledge”, one headed “connection”.

Which column contains the most qualities? I predict that it is the “connection” column. In fact, it is not uncommon for people to list ALL 5 qualities in the connection column.

This exercise highlights the importance of the art of coaching and developing a connection with your athletes.

Finally we have a book written by a coach that addresses how to connect with athletes and “the science of building buy-in”.

The power of connecting with people is what Brett Bartholomew’s extraordinary book Conscious Coaching is all about.

Brett is strength and conditioning coach, consultant, and founder of the performance and consulting company Bartholomew Strength. His experience involves working with collegiate teams, professional teams and individual clients.

Brett’s book contains nothing about sets, reps, programs, drills or exercises. It contains nothing about the “technical” side of coaching. In fact it is a coaching book like none other that I have come across. This fascinating book talks about such things as relationships, social intelligence, knowing yourself as a coach and connecting with athletes of various personality traits.

“Conscious Coaching” is a unique and refreshing read.

This type of stuff is generally not taught in coaching courses and it is a book that I wish that I had been able to access years ago.

Early in the book we are encouraged to get to know ourselves as coaches. Brett argues the importance of getting to the bottom of our coaching drives so that we can learn to better leverage and amplify these “specific and highly influential traits” to ultimately become a better coach. Brett illustrates the importance of this by sharing his own background story. I was drawn in by his openness in discussing some of the struggle and adversity that has led him to be the coach he is today. It  inspired me to delve deeply into my background to record my own story, a fascinating task that helped me dig deep into my coaching roots and better understand my coaching self.

This book inspired me to delve deeply onto my own coaching story.

The next section of the book examines sixteen common athlete “archetypes” (personalities). We learn about their strengths and weaknesses and are given some ideas about how to connect with each. We are also provided with some useful real-life, practical examples given by a veteran coach or practitioner in the field. While reading these examples I could not but help to relate them to my own coaching situation. I tried to recognise my athletes amongst the archetypes and figure out how I could better connect with them.

The book concludes with some common coaching mistakes to avoid and some practical principles for building trust and better relationships with athletes.

The book provides a thorough and comprehensive coverage of its topic. It presents broad coaching philosophies and principles, helpfully illustrates them with real-life case studies and examples, and locks it all together with some specific and practical suggestions about putting the ideas into practice.

The book provides specific suggestions, examples and case studies that illustrate and support the ideas presented.

I loved how the book is relevant to all coaches. I am not a strength and conditioning coach and I dare say that I coach a different audience to what Brett does. Yet all that he said hit home and was directly relevant or at least adaptable to my situation.

The book had an immediate positive influence on me. It caused me to:

  1. Reflect deeply on what led me to be the coach that I am today. Undertaking this introspective process has given me a much clearer understanding of my coaching identity and where it has come from. It has been a fascinating and enlightening process.
  2. More closely consider the personalities of the athletes that I coach and the way that I approach and interact with them.

This book will lead you to reflect about yourself, your coaching and your athletes.

Who is this book for?

This book is for coaches of any level, working with athletes of any age and standard.

What I really liked about the book

  • The refreshing and innovative approach.
  • The interesting, good quality writing.
  • Brett’s openness in sharing his own story.
  • The way the book inspires reflection, action and change.
  • It can be read and used by all coaches.
  • We hear the voices of a range of experienced coaches and practitioners.
  • It provides real-life examples of what is discussed, and specific practical suggestions about how to implement the ideas presented.


Whatever context you are coaching in, whether it be at a participation level with children or in an high performance adult setting, this book can help you become a better coach.

I highly recommend this book to all coaches. I wish that it had existed years ago.

Where can I buy this book?

You can buy the book from Amazon by clicking HERE.

NOTE:  There are links on this page from which Coaching Young Athletes can earn a small commission. This adds no cost to you but helps to keep this blog sustainable. I really appreciate if you do purchase through my links. Please know that I only recommend books that I use and love myself, and all opinions expressed in this review are my own. Thanks for your support. Darren

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Further reading

I recommend following Brett Bartholomew on Twitter: @Coach_BrettB

Check out some other resources that I recommend HERE.

20150614_154020-1Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes and founder of the blog Learn more about him here and connect with him on TwitterFacebookLinkedin , Anchor or via email.

Subscribe to the Coaching Young Athletes newsletter HERE.

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One thought on “Book Review: “Conscious Coaching” By Brett Bartholomew

  1. Ray says:

    Interesting topic Darren. Do you have anything (already) on preparing nervious very young athletes (U9’s+) for (there first) State Championships?


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