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A Coach's Life

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  347 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
For almost forty years, Dean Smith coached the University of North Carolina basketball team with unsurpassed success, having an impact both on the court and in the lives of countless young men. In A Coach’s Life, he looks back on the great games, teams, players, strategies, and rivalries that defined his career and, in a new final chapter, discusses his retirement from the ...more
Paperback, 378 pages
Published February 12th 2002 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 1999)
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The Book of Basketball by Bill SimmonsThe Breaks of the Game by David HalberstamWhen the Game Was Ours by Larry BirdA Season on the Brink by John FeinsteinThe Jordan Rules by Sam Smith
Tales from the Hardwood
52nd out of 121 books — 105 voters
Becoming a True Champion by Kirk MangoThe Hinge by Rob  BellThey Call Me Coach by John WoodenThe Messiah Method by Michael A. ZigarelliThe Vision of a Champion by Anson Dorrance
Athletic Coaching
10th out of 31 books — 3 voters

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Community Reviews

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Brett Manning
Jun 02, 2015 Brett Manning rated it liked it
If you are a North Carolina fan, coach, player, or just a fan of basketball in general, pick this up. Great chapters on schemes and ways to win, along with great UNC game recollections.
David A
Nov 01, 2007 David A rated it it was amazing
Come on, like I would give anything Dean does fewer than 5 stars.
Brian Eshleman
Mar 07, 2013 Brian Eshleman rated it liked it
Shelves: sports
Dean Smith provides a bird's eye view of contemporary college basketball and how it came to be so, all through the prism of his long and distinguished career. This book would mean the most, obviously, to a Tar Heel fan, which I am not, but it was still good reading. Smith seems to be targeting the reader for whom former players' names jump off the page and provide a flood of nostalgia. Not being that connected to the program, I noticed more thoroughly drawn out scenes to make me a part of the er ...more
Jan 28, 2016 Emma rated it really liked it
Was a really good book. A lot of history and information.. Took me a super long time to read though. I took a break in the middle (like a five month break).
Steve Bergelin
Apr 08, 2015 Steve Bergelin is currently reading it
Great start to a read about a Hall of Fame college basketball coach!
If you are a basketball fan, this book is a must read. No other college basketball coach has ever had as much success while maintaining such high integrity on and off the court. This is a biography of one of the most successful coaches ever, talking about the people who influenced him, as well as the tributes of those who he influenced.

Any sports fan or coach would gain a lot from reading this book.
Toni Buechler
Mar 17, 2015 Toni Buechler rated it really liked it
One of the best books that I have read about coaching and life. Dean Smith tells his story as well as the stories of those around him over the years. I think he was affected by his players as much or more than he affected them. I highly recommend this story of a coach who taught more than just X's and O's.
Jun 17, 2013 Glen rated it it was amazing
A must read for all UNC fans. I've always admired Dean Smith's personal stands and while I take a few theological exceptions on some key points in chapter 10, there is no denying that he is a man who has lived a genuinely good life and is the most exemplary of all coaches.
Feb 22, 2008 Bap rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Granted this is not a tour de force in writing but Deano comes off as a decent man who cares about his players, the larger issues of society, and built a terrific program at Carolina. Anyone who is a Carolina basketball fan should read this book.
Nov 15, 2007 Ken rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carolina fans will devour this book like grits and redeye gravy. Others will find the story of a truly wise, religious, and caring man who changed countless lives through his position of UNC head coach.
Oct 26, 2008 Jim rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
A great book about Coach Smith and the way he treated the game, his family and his players.
May 28, 2012 Sharron rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Really enjoyed it the first time around; a very interesting man. Rereading it now.
May 04, 2015 Tyler rated it it was amazing
A great coach and an even better man. Great Book for Carolina fans!!!!
Jul 27, 2009 Liz rated it liked it
I read this only for the short bits about my Uncle, which were fun to see.
Matt Duble
Jun 19, 2012 Matt Duble rated it really liked it
great coach, great teams, great insights on what it means to be a coach
Jul 30, 2011 Trey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pretty much a must-read for Tar Heel die-hards.
Jan 28, 2008 Andrew rated it liked it
Not as good as Carolina Way.
Nov 06, 2007 Ryan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Dudes
Carolina rules!
Joe rated it it was amazing
Sep 24, 2016
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  • A March to Madness: A View from the Floor in the Atlantic Coast Conference
  • The Gold Standard: Building a World-Class Team
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  • NFL Confidential: True Confessions from the Gutter of Football
  • Toughness: Developing True Strength On and Off the Court
  • The Last Great Game: Duke vs. Kentucky and the 2.1 Seconds That Changed Basketball

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“If you do what we ask you to do, the victories will belong to you, and the losses to me.” 5 likes
“I was very demanding, but the role of a head coach is that of a demanding teacher. Those of you who are reading this book can probably all look back on a tough teacher you had, and if you’re lucky you think of him or her with affection. Demands must be coupled with true caring for the students. A demanding teacher is quick to praise action that deserves praise, but will criticize the act, not the person. The coach’s job is to be part servant in helping the player reach his goals. Certainly, coaching was not a matter of manipulating people to do what would help us. I never did like the term handle people, which to me meant conning people. The life insurance salesman who genuinely believes someone needs life insurance is different from the one who tries to manipulate or con them into buying something they do not need. I believed a demanding teacher should treat each player as an important part of the team, which, of course, he is. The least skilled player received the same attention from me as the best player. When their careers drew to a close, I always had what I called an “exit meeting” with each young man, to discuss what his goals had been and what they were for the future. To me, the players got the wins, and I got the losses. Caring for one another and building relationships should be the most important goal, no matter what vocation you are in.” 0 likes
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