There is so much more to esports than the game itself. Athletes in more traditional sports don’t hesitate to seek out tips from other sports and athletes. But in esports, there’s this old school dogma that “more is better” and that improvement is only achieved by playing more of the game.

At Cyber Athletiks I advocate for competitive gamers to take their esport more seriously with esport specific training. Part of this training includes learning how to improve at esports from sources outside of esports. You can find plenty of book lists on google that suggests books “every athlete must read” and a lot of them should be required reading for serious athletes. I’ve cultivated my own list that I think specifically applies to esports and competitive gamers. Be sure to check back as I’ll continue updating this list.


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The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance relates to sports and shares Waitzkin’s journey to optimal performance in multiple athletic endeavours.

Josh Waitzkin shares his strategies and approaches that he developed over a number of years for becoming a master at chess. What’s interesting, is that he used those same practices and approaches and applied them to martial arts. He went on to become a world champion in martial arts (reaching high levels as well for several different types). A big lesson in this book is how individuals can learn to push themselves to their optimal levels. I think this is crucial for competitive gamers because currently, there’s this outdated approach of “more is better”. Sports science moved passed “more is better” decades ago. Gamers playing up to twenty hours a day then burning out and getting injured is like going back in time for sports.

There is no right or wrong way to train, there is only one way, the optimal way. Josh Waitzkin outlines how he pushes himself to an optimal limit, rests, recharges, then does it again to avoid burn out. These skills can be applied universally. But the discussions on chess I think will be most attractive to gamers as there are a lot of similarities between chess and esports. Hopefully, if you check out this book, you’ll realize that there are many sources of information that exist outside of esports that have the ability to improve your performance inside esports.

The Invisible Game covers the often neglected mental development of esport athletes. This book helps to prepare the players' minds for the unique and often extreme challenges a player will encounter both ingame and in RL.

We often overestimate the power of our thoughts, and we forget the potential of our inner wisdom. This book guides you with honest life experiences of an esport team manager on a journey to find the positive mental balance for peak performance.
This book covers esports/games such as Fortnite, League of Legends, Dota 2, FIFA, Overwatch, CS:GO, Clash Royale, Hearthstone and F1 series.

It's done in a Q&A style, answering questions such as: “How can I become a professional esports player?”
“How can I make a living playing esports?”
“What is the lifespan of an esports game?”
“What are the most popular esports?”
Competition is really a game composed of two parts, an outer game and an inner game, and this is the overall thesis of the book. As a competitive gamer, you’ve probably mastered a lot of your outer game (that literal act of playing your game).

But the second part, the inner game, is a crucial skill often neglected by athletes. The inner game comprises of two massive obstacles, self-doubt and anxiety.

If you can get a better handle on your inner game you’re going to fare much better when you advance to competing at higher levels.
The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion can provide competitive gamers with a look into how athletes need to “calm the f*ck down” and take control of their thoughts in order to train harder and perform better
Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable discusses how the "best" separate themselves from the rest and the traits that are necessary to do so. As a rising competitive gamer, some of these traits may be lacking in you, and it’s worth hearing Grover’s argument on why you need them if you’re going to try and be the best. Grover has worked with elite athletes like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
Back Mechanic guides you through a self-assessment of your pain triggers, then shows you how to avoid these roadblocks to recovery. This approach guarantees the most personally specific plan for you. Perhaps you aren’t experiencing any back pain right now, but, statistically speaking, you will as you grow older, and this book can help prevent a lot of it.
Gift of Injury is about healing injury in the athletes back and then building resilience to compete once again.

Anyone who trains will enhance their injury resilience and performance employing these principles proven over and over with athletes. Although there is a heavy focus on back injuries, the fundamentals of this book will be beneficial to any athlete. Athletes get injured, it’s part of competing in sports. Although it is wise to try and prevent injuries where you can, the risk cannot be completely eliminated. This book will help guide you through an injury and help you get back to competing.
Say What You Mean is often touted as the best book for developing better interpersonal communication. Every esports team should have a copy of this book available.

Learning how to communicate better also helps reduce player tension and problems between team members. Often, disputes are caused by misunderstanding and inabilities to communicate what we really mean. This inability to truly communicate causes frustration within ourselves and for others. And don’t think I’m saying this because esports has so many young professionals, most full-grown adults are horrible at communicating as well.

Even if you’re not competing in a team based game (I’m looking your way Fighting Games people) it is unlikely that you train and practice alone. You may have a mentor or coach, and learning how to communicate better and more effectively will greatly enhance these relationships.
No more Mr. Nice Guy helps men to stop seeking the approval of others; to set boundaries and handle conflict with integrity; and to advance in their career and get the professional attention they deserve.

I always recommend this book to young males that I work with as they are often frustrated with not getting what they truly want out of life and not behaving the way they truly want to.

I’ll warn you though, looking within at our own flaws is very difficult and most people spend their lives avoiding this challenge.
Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games Is Wrong. Ever found yourself in an argument with someone (usually older) who claims video games are responsible for all the violence in the world?

Arm yourself with some better facts. If that surprises you, you’re not alone—the national dialogue on games and violence has been hopelessly biased. But that’s beginning to change. Scholars are finding that not only are violent games not one of society’s great evils, they may even be a force for good.

Video games—even the bloodiest—can have a positive impact on everything from social skills to stress, and may even make us more morally sensitive. Tracing the rise of violent games from arcades to online deathmatches, they have spent years on the front lines of the video game debate and now offer a comprehensive overview of the scientific research on gaming.
Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. This book helps back up a lot of what I'm trying to do with Cyber Athletiks.

Did you know you can beat stress, lift your mood, fight memory loss, sharpen your intellect, and function better than ever simply by elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat? The evidence is incontrovertible: aerobic exercise physically remodels our brains for peak performance.

SPARK is the first book to explore comprehensively the connection between exercise and the brain. It will change forever the way you think about your morning run.
Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. If you’ve read a bunch of my posts, you know I love talking about the importance of sleep for gamers. In case you’re as interested as I am in sleep, check out this book.

Matthew Walker is the director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Human Sleep Science and knows his stuff when it comes to sleep. If you’re struggling with your performance in competitive gaming, getting more and better quality sleep may be the answer.

I always advocate that if a gamer gets only one thing from checking out Cyber Athletiks, I hope it’s improving their sleep.