A Book Review of “InSideOut Coaching, How Sports Can Transform Lives” by Joe Ehrmann

Product:  InSideOut Coaching, How Sports Can Transform Lives by Joe Ehrmann

Price:  Kindle Price CDN $24.99

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My Rating: 9 /10

Overview:  Anyone who has ever grown up inside the belly of organized sport can attest to the many valuable lessons taught daily to those who participate.  Sports, both competitive and recreational, can impact young bodies and minds in ways that are immeasurable. 

However, sport also provides an arena where harm can and often is meted out to those who play by those who often have the greatest influence on them: their coaches.

Joe Ehrmann dissects the good, the bad and the ugly in organized sports specifically in the field of coaching. Through sharing his own experiences in life and in sport, Ehrmann achingly details how young and fragile youth can be further victimized by well meaning but unwitting coaches; coaches who are trying to work out their own issues but instead end up projecting these issues on players.

Thought provoking and often disturbing, (warning; there may be triggers for sexual assault victims in reading this book), the author courageously illustrates how certain pivotal and traumatic life events created a foundation of vulnerability and sadness, which left him open to be influenced for the greater good, or, unfortunately, greater harm by his coaches.

Joe Ehrmann leaves no stone unturned as he navigates the complicated waters of inter-relationships in sport.  Between outdated stereotypes of masculine and feminine roles, win-at-all costs sport culture, the stresses of the times we live in, familial dysfunction, and lack of values-based coaching, he paints a comprehensive picture of the problems young athletes face today and what coaches can do to help them successfully chart their own course.

Starting with each coach turning their reflection inward by focusing on their own personal demons, and finishing with a complete road map for how to create your own InSideOut Coaching culture, this book shines a light on every nook and cranny of the coaching world.

Best Feature of the Book:  The author writes this book in a very organized step-by-step way, first detailing the turning point in his life that started him on the “InSideOut” journey, next breaking down the positive and negative interactions and revelations into thoughtful and easy to understand categories within the sport continuum, and finally, detailing the steps he took to re-create the sport model with his newfound knowledge. This provides a very easy to follow narrative with a clear road map to incorporating the ideas he presents.

Pros:  There are very few books that deal specifically with the coach-athlete interaction and the profound affect it can have on young people.  Ehrmann takes his wealth of experience and helps each of us see (either through the lens of the athlete or the lens of the coach) our own strengths and weaknesses.  Ehrmann then helps us clarify what we need to fix, and gently leads us to our own conclusions about the steps we can take to be better, simply by setting the example for us to follow.

Cons:  While I enjoyed Ehrmann’s writing style, I found sometimes he spent too long on topics, often to the point of redundancy.  There were times where I as a reader had received the message and was ready to move on to the next chapter, and he was still fleshing out the point at hand with more examples.  However, this is more likely attributed to my get-it-done attitude than anything else and certainly did nothing to take away from the overall message.

The other con I found while reading this book is it will trigger some negative memories.  As a victim of abuse, both inside and outside of sport, and more specifically, as someone damaged by transactional coaching, reading this book did bring back some of the old fear, anxiety, guilt and sadness related to those memories. However, just knowing that I wasn’t the only one that had these experiences was enough to help me get through them with some valuable insight and understanding.

Conclusion:  If you want to be a better coach, for yourself, and for all the young men and women you can and will influence over the course of your career, you need to read this book.

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