Youth strength and conditioning

Relentless – Book Review

I’d heard a lot about this month’s book. Relentless was a book surrounded with a fair bit of hype due to the career of the Author Tim Grover and his worker with numerous high profile NBA stars…



Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable

Authors: Tim S. Grover

Topic: Psychology, Mindset, Coaching

Appropriate for: Students, Technical Coaches, S&C coaches

Overall rating: 4/5 – Good read.

Overview:  Tim Grover is a Sport Scientist/S&C Coach who has worked with numerous high profile NBA athletes. When I say “high profile” I mean Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant etc. He has successfully managed to incorporate the mental aspects of preparation and performance, as well as the physical elements.
A key part of Tim Grover’s work is the idea that people or athletes can essentially be classed into 3 categories:

  1. Cooler
  2. Closer
  3. Cleaner

Whilst a full description of each category is never really fully explained, the author gives some examples:
Coolers have an amazing game, closers have an amazing season, cleaners have an amazing career. Coolers worry about competition and how they compare, closers study competition and plan their attack based on the opposition. Cleaners make the competition study them and don’t care who they face as they know they can handle anyone. Coolers avoid the winning shot, closers take the shot if they know they have a good chance of success, cleaners just trust their gut and shoot.
Grover then breaks down the components of a cleaner:

  • You keep pushing yourself when everyone else has had enough
  • You get into the zone, shut out everything else and control the uncontrollable
  • You know exactly who you are
  • You have a dark side that refuses to be taught to be good
  • You’re not intimidated by pressure, you thrive on it
  • When everyone is hitting the “In case of emergency” button, they are looking for you
  • You don’t compete with anyone, you know your opponents weakness and attack
  • You make decisions not suggestions
  • You don’t have to love the work but you’re addicted to the results
  • You’d rather be feared than liked
  • You trust very few people and they had better not let you down
  • You don’t recognize failure, you know there is more than one way to get what you want
  • You don’t celebrate your achievements because you always want more

Whilst this testosterone-fuelled perspective on performance may seem appealing at first, I found it results in some reductionist, “you either have it or you don’t” and in some cases almost excuses being a selfish player or self-absorbed athlete.
However, there were some helpful themes that I picked up throughout the book which are applicable to a wider audience.

  1. .”Decide. Commit. Act. Succeed. Repeat.” – it’s easy to continuously analyse new data or get more opinions on a situation.  I think this is the point where we are now at with readiness monitoring. At same point, you have to make the decision and act upon it.
  2. .”Being a cleaner has nothing to do with talent. They’re completely focused on taking responsibility.” – Be completely focused on taking responsibility for where you are, your level of success and failures. If you give away responsibility (blame) then you give away the ability to change it.
  3. .”Excellence is lonely.” – Excellence means not being average, it means being above the norm, outside the standard deviation. This means everyone won’t join you, people will think you are weird, abnormal, obsessed even. Realise that to be excellent means you may be walking alone – be prepared for this.
  4. .”Bottom line is if you want success of any kind, you have to get comfortable being uncomfortable.” – People give a lot of lip service to this one, but being generally uncomfortable isn’t a fun place to be. It might mean early mornings, a constant niggle of feeling of DOMS, financial strain, being closely scrutinized by your mentor, or receiving undue criticism and taking it on the chin. But the more you do it, the more habitual it becomes and it is the only way to becoming a top performer.

Overall, I found this book an easy read with some applicable take home messages for anyone reading, provided you can identify some situations in your own life that require your effort and input!
You can find the book here: Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable
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