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Book Review-“You Win in the Locker Room First” by Jon Gordon and Mike Smith

It’s not unusual for championship winning coaches to write a book after their great season. What is unusual is for an NFL coach to write a book after he has been fired,  But that is exactly what former Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith did. In 2015 he collaborated with award winning author and team motivator Jon Gordon to write a book about the emotional side of building a team.

Smith used his experiences as an NFL assistant coach and later head coach of the Falcons.  He and Gordon would take a topic and alternate passages, building on each other’s writings.  Smith talked about how he built the Falcons into a strong club by creating an emotional foundation, and then later what went wrong which led to his firing. It makes for very interesting reading and gives all football coaches some ideas on building and maintaining success.

Gordon has written several best selling books and has been an inspirational speaker around the world.  He has worked with many companies and sports teams in the NFL, NCAA, NBA and major league baseball over the years.  Smith and Gordon met when Smith was an assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars.  When Coach Smith became head coach of the Falcons, he brought Gordon on to work with his team.

The first chapter of the book deals with one of the most used words in football over the last 2 or 3 years-culture. The two discuss how to create your culture and sustain it.  They make the point that the X’s and O’s, although important, are not as important as the culture of your team. The discussion of the importance of knowing what you stand for is outstanding writing, and critical to rebuilding teams that have lacked success.

Other chapters deal with 6 other important C’s, according to the two authors.  They are Contagious, Consistent, Communicate, Connect, Commitment and Care. They finish up with a some writings on leadership, and the critical part the head coach plays in leading the team and winning the locker room.

“You Win in the Locker Room” is well written and would be an important off season read for coaches.  It is a book that coaches should keep and read more than once to help remind you of what is really important, particularly for squads that have lacked success. We all like the strategy of football, but without the proper attitude and culture on your team, success will elude you.

You can get the book on Amazon for $15.23 or get the Kindle edition for $10.99.

See the book trailer below.


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