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Swing Your Sword: Leading the Charge in Football and Life
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Swing Your Sword: Leading the Charge in Football and Life

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  771 Ratings  ·  65 Reviews
SWING YOUR SWORD is the first ever book by one of the most fascinating and successful coaches in sports today. A maverick who took an unlikely path to coaching through law school, Mike Leach talks about his unorthodox approach to coaching and the choices that have brought him success throughout his career. A lover of the game who started creating formations and drawing his ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published July 19th 2011 by Diversion Publishing (first published June 27th 2011)
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Aug 10, 2011 H. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
The only difference between the petty math teacher Leach discusses early in this book and the ESPN and Texas Tech powers-that-be is that the math teacher had the common decency to retreat when called on his BS.

I started this book with low expectations, even for an iconoclast like Leach. Coaches and other politicians seldom write interesting books. Leach quickly shows that he is an exception. Leach is one of those people with an incurable compulsion for telling it like it is and beating his own p
Oct 07, 2011 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2011
This book is terrific.

I initially put this on hold for the laughs, which I figured would be in about a 60/40 with/at ratio. Crazy ramblings! Who can pass those up?

It isn't crazy ramblings, though. It's a genuinely interesting and informative autobiography/football book. The tone is extremely matter-of-fact, without any pomposity.

The first section is a retrospective on Leach's early days, from childhood to BYU to law school. My favorite part was about Leach's very brief foray into acting. He pla
Apr 20, 2012 Leonard rated it really liked it
I was always intrigued by Mike Leach after first really hearing him on Sirius Radio on his daily show with Jack Arute. His perspective on life and his "don't give a damn" attitude quickly makes you gravitate towards him. After an interview with Kevin Calabro on a local radio show here in Seattle, I became even more interested in learning about him. After a quick plug on his book, I bought it convinced it would be good. It was.

There's so much relation when you read Mike's book. He explains why hi
Nov 18, 2012 Clint rated it it was amazing
This book is a must read for any sports fan. Love Mike Leach or hate him, I guarantee you will find the book interesting. I literally couldn't put the book down. I read it in just a few short hours. Being a former coach I have read several books written by or about coaches such as Vince Lombardi, John Wooden, Barry Switzer, Tony Dungy, Billy Martin, Bob Knight, Coach K, Dean Smith, Jimmy Johnson, Bear Bryant, etc., and this was by far the best "coaching" book I have ever read. It of course gave ...more
Dick Hall
Jul 15, 2011 Dick Hall rated it really liked it
Disclaimer: I consider Leach to be in the upper echelon of sports entertainment with Shaq. Barkley is a distant second to those two. Leach could have written a children's book, and I'd still read it.

Leach starts the book with a really bizarre story of him as a kid, but after that he brings it back around and it's pretty clear how smart this loony coach really is. He spends a little too much time outlining the unfortunate circumstances leading to his dismissal from Tech for me. It's understandab
Aug 31, 2013 Matt rated it liked it
Mike Leach has always struck me as an interesting guy who possessed the courage to challenge football's status quo and the intelligence to really innovate the game. I started reading his memoir Swing Your Sword with the hope that he would provide a glimpse into his unconventional coaching methods and strategic philosophy in a readable package. And he certainly does offer up a good bit of insight into his views about football and running a program and it makes for generally entertaining fare. The ...more
Dec 21, 2011 Scott rated it really liked it
This was a well-paced, thoroughly enjoyable book to read.

I only had a cursory familiarity with Coach Leach's meteoric success at, and his controversial exit from, Texas Tech, but did not know his coaching philosophy, history or anything else about him as a person. After he was recently hired as the head football coach of Washington State though, I read Michael Lewis' profile of Coach Leach ("Coach Leach Goes Deep, Very Deep", NY Times, 12/4/05,, which on
Mark Casey
Dec 25, 2016 Mark Casey rated it it was ok
The other week I read S. C. Gwynne's "The Perfect Pass," a book about how college football coach Hal Mumme helped revolutionize offensive strategy. I loved it. I left the book feeling as though I understood the many ways in which Hall Mumme, working in conjunction with other coaches like Mike Leach, the subject of "Swing Your Sword," had radically improved offensive output in football.

Had I only read "Swing Your Sword," by contrast, I don't think I would be able to describe almost anything of wh
Jul 29, 2011 Jason rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
I gave Swing Your Sword 4 stars, but it is definitely a book that is for sports fans, maybe even college football fans particularly. I am not sure anyone unfamiliar with Mike Leach would find the book compelling. But because I am a college football fan and am intrigued by Leach I considered the book a fun read.

Many people assumed this book would be mostly about Leach's dismissal from Texas Tech, the hubbub that surrounded that incident, and the continuing legal battle. While that stuff is all de
Jan 14, 2013 Maya rated it liked it
In finishing up this book, I have discussed with a few people what it is that is disappointing about it, and it is this: While I knew this book was about football, given the intellect and intrigue of the author, I had hoped it would apply the study of football to some truisms about life. This was not the case.

The format of the narrative is very linear, and direct. "I did this, then I did this, then I did this." It reads as a very stiff auto-biography, with an emphasis on only his football caree
Apr 12, 2012 Eric rated it liked it
There's not a ton to say about this. If you like college football, Mike Leach, or passing offense, or if you hate Craig James and/or ESPN, you should read this book. Leach is a really interesting guy with a lot of outside the box takes that I think are practical and relatable, but he's also a football coach and so that's a lot of what you get here. I was actually hoping for a few more X's and O's than are in here, but the amount of history, theory, and philosophy of the Air Raid was still good e ...more
Apr 25, 2013 Bruce rated it really liked it
I've read a fair number of sports-related books over the years, most of which I don't remember well. They tend to be easily digestible, mildly amusing, and ultimately forgettable - essentially "cotton candy" reading. Not so Mike Leach's Swing Your Sword.

To say Leach is not the typical college football coach is a vast understatement. He strays well off the beaten path in terms of both his personal philosophy and his football strategies, and here the depth of his outside the box thinking style is
Feb 15, 2017 J.T. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: coaching
Brilliant. Leach is fascinating and I really enjoyed reading his stories.
Sep 19, 2012 Karen rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
This was in interesting read and a terrific insight into someone who thinks different that the ususal types in his profession. He is a colorful character and believes that just about anyone can do just about anything. You just need to train and prepare and learn the most you can about whatever it is what you want to do. Some of my favorite parts and the unusual things he would do with his players when they didn't follow the rules about attending classes and participating in practices.

I read this
Jeremey M
Aug 12, 2012 Jeremey M rated it liked it
Another very good football book. Leach is definitely an interesting man and the book shows this. Leach's style of writing mixed with quotes from former coaches/players makes it eminently readable, making it feel more like you're hanging out and hearing some great stories opposed to working your way through a book.

There are definitely some interesting coaching tidbits in here, and the various stories of punishment are quite amusing! The only downside to the book would be the last few chapters foc
Jan 23, 2013 Brett rated it liked it
With a foreword by Michael Lewis, and a lesson about the strategic value of peeing on a dog, the entertainment begins quickly. I was fortunate to hear Mike speak a year ago, and immediately enjoyed his rambling, hilarious stories that wandered off into strange places but somehow ultimately arrived at their destination. There are plenty of satisfying musings here, but the real meat involves how he developed his philosophies and never hesitated to deploy them to great success. It's impossible to n ...more
Oct 25, 2013 Stephen rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
The book's style is very informal, which bothered me at first, but I eventually grew accustomed to it. The downside is that it can feel more like a journal than a published book, but it has the benefit of feeling like something truly written by Leach, rather than ghostwritten like a lot of sports books probably are. It's chronological and talks about some aspects of his life outside of coaching, though that's squarely the focus. It reads fast and doesn't bog down.

If you're interested in Leach s
Ray Grasshoff
Nov 18, 2013 Ray Grasshoff rated it liked it
Mike Leach is nothing if he's not an innovative, unconventional coach, as well as an interesting person, and all of that comes through well in this book. Many of his uncommon approaches to coaching and the game of football are noted, and although they've given him at least moderate success, his teams' performances have never been on par with the great college football programs of the modern era, however. What separates this book from those of many other coaches are the final chapters, address hi ...more
Nov 27, 2011 Kyle rated it really liked it
Leach may be the most matter of fact person on the planet. As a big time college football fan, I was familiar with a fair amount of Leach's background beforehand, but the knowledge of Leach's coaching trajectory did little to ruin the delight of this book. Leach just lays everything out there all the way from his childhood to his dismissal from Texas Tech. Normally, a very matter of fact retelling of one's life and career would probably be quite boring, but Leach is just such a character that th ...more
Feb 21, 2012 Karl rated it liked it
Although the layout of the book seems a bit amateur, with large bold blocks of quotations, the book is an interesting read. It has helped me to get into the head, and background, of the new Washington State Cougars football coach. The book is obviously biased towards him, however, Mike Leach sounds like a decent, morally sound guy. I have already seen complaints on the blogs about him holding players accountable even though their talents will be missed by the team. Although it may hurt now, Mike ...more
Jan 17, 2013 woody rated it really liked it
Mike Leach is an interesting guy and I really liked his book. Some pretty entertaining stories and coaching philosophies. The whole Craig James/Adam James fiasco was just a way for Texas Tech to fire Leach and not pay him his $800,000 bonus. The only reason the story got any play was because James worked for ESPN and he could exploit his position. Adam James was riding the bench due to his bad attitude and laziness and James wanted Leach out. Pretty raw deal if you ask me. I hope things work out ...more
Michael Donlan
Jul 07, 2012 Michael Donlan rated it liked it
I find Mike Leach's wide variety of interests & willingness to walk to the beat of his own drum quite interesting. I think his ability to see things a little differently than others is inspiring. This book was fun. I didn't rate it as high as other books on my reading list because, while it was interesting to hear how he grew both as a person & a coach, the book seemed to drag on at points. I appreciated his explanation of his coaching philosophy, but sometimes the book got a bit bogged ...more
Cory Boudreaux
Aug 29, 2011 Cory Boudreaux rated it really liked it
How can a book about a figure as intriguing as Mike Leach not be a worthwhile read? There's a little bit of everything in this book -- some biography and background, some football strategy, and some life lessons. I think any college AD's looking for a football coach next offseason may be convinced to give Leach a real close look if they read "Swing Your Sword." Not to discredit the rest of the book because it's solid and well done, but the chapters concerning the TTU-ESPN-Craig James fiasco are ...more
Daniel Nelson
Dec 29, 2013 Daniel Nelson rated it liked it
Shelves: sports, football
Mike Leach is an interesting individual - on and off the field. I was struck by the simplicity of this book, yet found a surprising number of applicable anecdotes. There is something in this book for everyone - I think that most people would find this fact surprising. A number of passages have helpful insights and thoughts about leadership and everyday life. It's a good lesson about how knowing a little bit about a number of topics and ideas is a good approach to life. There are a number intrigu ...more
Shaun Callan
Aug 04, 2013 Shaun Callan rated it it was amazing
This is such an interesting book. The combination of coaching philosophies, being a coach and being passionate about going for what you truly love. Mike Leach is a man with excellent morals and ethics and just a good fair man. Regardless of the fact that I am a WSU Alumni and Coach Leach is in his 2nd year of coaching Cougar football, I would still think this an excellent read and story. I am a huge fan of Mike and his wife Sharon.
Dec 01, 2011 Phil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely loved it! I knew that Leach is one of the most innovative football coaches of all time. I loved watching his teams play, even when they beat my team. And I'd heard excellent things about the book. And...the book still blew past my expectations.

While Leach's unique thinking and perspectives apply to most all aspects of life, you probably need to be a football fan to fully enjoy this one.
Mike Graef
Dec 05, 2013 Mike Graef rated it really liked it
Wow, I'm impressed. I like how Leach is a life-long learner, how he's interested in many different topics. As some others have said, the firing at Texas Tech Chapter is a little long -- but it's important to his story. His integrity emerges unscathed. I'm proud to watch and cheer for his WSU Cougar team on Saturdays. I believe his leadership and his football mind will produce winners in Pullman for years to come. And he'd be a very fun guy to go fishing with.
Jan 04, 2014 Kek rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy Leach as a coach and love his philosophy on the game. Hopefully he gets things turned around at Wazzu like he did at Texas Tech. It was also nice to read the other side of the Adam James story. Although I don't agree with the decision of ESPN with Bruce Feldman and his employment, I can see why they did it because the latter part of the book really doesn't paint the worldwide leader in a positive light.
May 13, 2012 Rhonda rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I am not even a football fan and this was a great read about a very interesting, down-to-earth college football coach.The book reflects on Leach's approach to life, personally and professionally, as a problem solver, motivator and truth-defender. In 2008 he was named Coach of the Year, and in 2009 fired from Texas Tech. The book ends with him living the dream in Key West, Fl. (But after the book, Coach Leach was hired in 2012 with immense support at Washington State University. GO COUGS!)
Feb 23, 2012 Leah rated it really liked it
Every Red Raider should read this, and every football fan should read this. Though the last few chapters focus on the scandal at Texas Tech, the book is really about how to be a good coach. There's also a great chapter about his experience in law school. Very easy and funny read, and worth checking out just for all the cameo vignettes written by players, other coaches and even Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights producer).
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