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Getting to Us: How Great Coaches Make Great Teams

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  379 ratings  ·  44 reviews
What makes a coach great? How do great coaches turn a collection of individuals into a coherent “us”? 
Seth Davis, one of the keenest minds in sports journalism, has been thinking about that question for twenty-five years. It’s one of the things that drove him to write the definitive biography of college basketball’s greatest coach, John Wooden, Wooden: A Coach’s Life. But
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published March 6th 2018 by Penguin Press
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3.5 stars. This is a book primarily about college sports--mainly basketball and football. Guess those are the ones people are most interested/aware of. The author is a sports writer and each chapter (there are 9) looks at a very successful college coach and attempts to analyze how he helps bring a team together (what the author calls, "getting to Us").
I was interested in this topic for two reasons. My son is a college D1 coach and I am always looking at ways to connect to him and what he does an
Matt Wolo
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Trying to figure out how to coach a successful team has only one answer, but so many unique ways of getting that solution. The answer is in the title of the book itself, Getting to Us. Seth Davis introduces the idea that coaches use known as PEAK. The P stands for persistence, E for empathy, A for authenticity, and K for Knowledge. Using this idea of PEAK and understanding the culture needed in their respective locker rooms the coaches try to get the team to “us” instead of “me”.

However, the ma
Tim Baumgartner
9 of the best coaches (NBA, NCAA Men's/Women's BBall, NCAA football) were interviewed by veteran sports journalist, Seth Davis to provide one of the most unique books on coaching and leadership I have ever read. Davis asked some unique questions (after sharing various background information on the coaches) that led to how each of them strive to bring a bunch of individuals into Us--a TEAM--through what he calls a P.E.A.K. [Persistence; Empathy; Authenticity; & Knowledge] profile. These character ...more
Jay Domengeaux
Persistence, Empathy, Authenticity, Knowledge.

These four characteristics are shown as a mainstay in the group of successful coaches listed in this book. While I think they are an accurate laundry list, I'm sure you could add letters to the authors PEAK concept and plug them in to these and other successful coaches in the world of sport. Seth Davis does a fine job of interviewing and shedding light on the coaches he highlights but the book reads more like a series of separate biographies than a
Jul 03, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The profiles of the coaches were not very memorable, and I didn't come out of this book with any particular leadership wisdom. The PEAK profile (perseverance, empathy, authenticity, knowledge) was forced into each chapter, and didn't read like a natural framework that explained the successes of the coaches.

I'm only giving this book 3 stars for the following exchange that was very amusing to me, as a basketball fan:

Krzyzewski observed to Kevin Durant that every time he spoke, his eyes were on the
Andrew Moore
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fun read. 30 page stories about how different coaches became who they are and how they lead. Lots of different perspectives. Seth writes in a story-like style although they are generally biographies.
Stuart Hoegh
Jan 23, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of sports writing is exaggerated. Players and coaches get super-human descriptions. Getting to Us does a good job of being honest while also entertaining. The book covers each coaches shortcomings as well as achievements, which I really appreciated.
Pete Wung
I am not sure where to put this book. Seth Davis is a nationally known sports reporter and he is a very good sports writer. The prose that he commits to paper reflects his sports reporting background, and to be clear, he is a very good sportswriter. He tells his stories well and he has a fine sense of the internal stories of his subject. The stories are taut and always gives perspective on the person being featured.

But there is a problem with this book, many problems actually.

It is a collection
Jake Tomko
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jake Tomko
Humanities, period 2
Getting to the Peak
Whenever the average fan criticizes their teams coach, it’s easy to judge them based on a play call or decision making. However, most probably don’t know what it took for that coach to be in that spot, and the amount of work it takes to build anything off of the team you’re given. In Seth Davis’s book Getting to us, the author goes through the background of a number of coaches to know what each of them does to build a team. Seth Davis eva
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeri Rowe
I found "Getting To Us" on the new non-fiction shelf of our local library, and I picked it up because I've had to read various leadership books for a day job as a senior writer for a local university. But I had never read one that revolved around coaches. Plus, I had read Seth Davis for years in Sports Illustrated, and as a sports journalist, I knew he stretched his stories beyond the Xs and Os of basketball and football.

So, what did I think? Yeah, I liked it. I'd give it 3 1/2 stars. But I came
Adam Mekky
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Book report: Getting to Us – How Great Coaches Make Great Teams by Seth Davis. Great topic, decently written with some great quotes (each chapter starts out with a quote by the chapter’s subject – nice choice), and a great book to get the juices flowing. Davis stays around the “Us” theme throughout, meaning how coaches get to a team mentality (this is a little forced, knowing something about some of the coaches he talks about), and – there had to be an acronym in there somewhere – organizes good ...more
Benrubs Ruboyianes
Getting to Us is a book all about how legendary coaches have built a legacy and facts about how them and their teams have thrived. The first chapter is about Urban Meyer. He has won NCAA championships with Florida and Ohio State. He then talks about Tom Izzo who was the 1998 AP National Coach of the Year. The next chapter is about Mike Krzyzewski. He has won a game of basketball on 30 different teams and has beaten 191 different schools. The next chapter is about my favorite coach Jim Harbaugh. ...more
Stephanie Marie
Nov 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leadership
Getting To Us is a nine-story profile collection of prominent collegiate and professional coaches, bound together by Seth’s PEAK profile; on the surface, it is a nice, neat little book that shares leadership tips from some of the best in their respective fields.

But... you knew there had to be a “but” coming...

It’s like diving into the shallow end of the pool. I enjoyed these profiles; I admire all of these coaches and know they have some great personal and professional experiences. I’d love to
Doc Mcgarey
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine yourself an elite athlete deciding which coach you will sign with -- letter of intent or contract-- to develop you and put you in the position of winning a championship. That's a lot riding on your decision. Seth Davis gives us an inside view of 9 of our best known U.S. sports coaches and how they get their teams to work together and win championships. Jim Harbaugh is the worst chapter and an odd inclusion. Anyone that Mike Ditka asks "how long have you been crazy?" too sets an all-time ...more
Paul Miller
A collection of short bios of great coaches: Meyer, Coach K, Dabo, and others. The author purports to have found a common theme that unites these figures - “PEAK” - Persistent, empathy, authenticity, and knowledge. A clever construction, but the book doesn’t try very hard to make its point. Each chapter is just a fun little standalone bio. Unintentionally, what it shows is that the ‘old’ generation of coaches - Meyer, Doc Rivers, Harbaugh, Boeheim - are jerks and bullies, products of the ‘planta ...more
This sports book portraits coaches Urban Meyer, Tom Izzo, Jim Boeheim, Gino Auriemma, Jim Harbaugh, and others. Davis attempts to put a favorable face on the personalities and tactics of the various coaches. However, he tends to skip the not so nice sides. These guys are not saints. This book also tends to avoid the real factors on how these coaches make great teams:

1. They recruit superior players. Some of these coaches do not always follow the rules on recruiting.
2. They make promises to recru
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
An interesting book about successful coaches but you are left with a feeling there should be more. Maybe that is a strength of the book as it attempts to define what makes these coaches successful. For some of them, the material has been presented several times in different forms. The most interesting chapter was the view of Urban Meyer with his recent Zach Smith incident and the leaving of his Florida jib that was not well covered.
Probably not enough emphasis was put on having the best players.
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good book that gives a snapshot into the minds, habits, and stories of eight highly competitive coaches at both the collegiate and professional levels. "Getting to Us" is not a book that glorifies these high profile individuals but one that also casts light on the shadows that follow them whether it be controversy in their personal or professional lives.

Seth Davis' quick and easy book showcased how human individuals like Duke's Coach K and Michigan's Jim Harbaugh are with relatable backst
Dave Bolton
Previously I'd read Seth Davis' book on Coach Wooden and really enjoyed it, so ordered this as soon as it was available. In contrast to the deep detail of the Wooden book, this books is a superficial look at the lives and careers of nine coaches of major American sports. It had a contrived "framework" for these coaches success called PEAK, which was so loose that it's not useful in any way and feels like a bit of an afterthought.

So, nowhere near as insightful as the Wooden book, but an easy and
Cheri Caravano
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A snapshot into the paths of nine men who have transformed the coaching world in some capacity. If you are looking for a “how-to” book on leadership, you will be disappointed. Seth Davis does a great job detailing that there is not one way for someone to become a leader and get their team to “Us”. Each of these coaches had a unique journey to where they are today. Their stories demonstrate that there are many ways to grow into a strong leader. This was an enjoyable read and provided a glimpse in ...more
Tom Gase
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Eh not really what was looking for. Around nine different stories on nine different coaches at the pro and college level but I didn’t really see a common theme and not sure what Seth Davis was trying to prove or say. Felt this would have just been better as nine different magazine articles. I did like the info on Doc Rivers and Tom Izzo but I already knew a lot about Boeheim and Coach K and I don’t really care about Urban Meyer or Jim Harbaugh. Just read Seth Davis’ book on John Wooden instead. ...more
John Stigman
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a good read. The book is more of a biography of the coaches rather than methods of how they create the essence of a team. The stories of each coach is more of an overview of their lives rather than methods of culture. If you are reading this book to learn about big-name coaches, then it is good. If you are looking for information on culture, there are much better books out there, like Legacy by James Kerr and the Culture Code by Daniel Coyle.
Colin Cerniglia
Aug 22, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Urban Meyer material has not aged well but that's not entirely the fault of the author. However, the insight from Coach K and Doc Rivers is incredibly strong. River, in particular, has a super compelling story. His playing and coaching career in basketball has many ups and downs but it's clear that he is a person of high character and has an open mindset to learn from others. Overall, a great book! ...more
Song Flagler
Apr 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
I tried to like this book, but I just didn’t. It felt like he was forcing his themes (Us and PEAK) too hard. I didn’t learn a lot about the men in this book, and I didn’t learn a lot about leadership. I wanted it to be a deeper analysis of their abilities and leadership style, and it just wasn’t. It
Each chapter/story stands alone, so you can skip coaches or teams that don't interest you. More a story about coaching personalities and how that personality drives/shapes teams. Not really about lessons that you can implement. It's more just validating all these successful coaches because of their personalities. ...more
Eric Orell
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thought this was a good read. I liked how each coach has its own chapter but wished they were a little longer. Overall, I took a little bit from each that will help me in my coaching which is what I always try to do.
Matthew Stetz
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Would be surprised if I read a book this year that I enjoyed as much as this one. All these coaches are a little off, which Dabo Swinney and Jim Harbaugh be REALLY off. Maybe that’s why they are such good coaches. Hell i even enjoyed the chapter on Urban Meyer and I think they guy is a scum bag.
William Flautt
The "How" in the title is a bit misleading. The book explains very little about the actions, words, and ideas that were used in each team's daily routines. However, it is a nice snapshot into the mindsets of these great coaches. ...more
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