Cal’s Books

Success is the Only Option: The Art of Coaching Extreme Talent

New York Times bestselling author John Calipari, the charismatic Naismith Hall of Fame coach who has returned Kentucky to college basketball prominence, reveals the secrets behind his unparalleled ability to transform a group of former high school superstars into a selfless, cohesive team in his new book “Success is the Only Option: The Art of Coaching Extreme Talent”, which will be available in bookstores across the country and online Nov. 15 with presale orders available now.

Calipari is highly regarded for his ability to recruit the country’s top high school talent without making outlandish promises. Instead, he believes, "Commit to each other, be about each other without sacrificing your own goals, and by doing this you can achieve all YOUR dreams and more."

With that philosophy, Calipari led Kentucky to four Final Fours in a five-year period from 2011-2015. “One and done” players like John Wall, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are all currently NBA All-Stars. And Calipari continues to mold these individual superstars into a cohesive whole, playing for each other with selfless commitment and fierce intensity.

Expanding on his 2014 New York Times bestselling book “Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out”, “Success is the Only Option” digs deeper as Calipari for the first time distills his methods and philosophies in a way that will resonate with not just athletes and coaches but business leaders who are trying to get maximum performance out of their own top talent. Coaching a successful basketball team is much like building a successful business. For teams to succeed, even the most talented performers must sacrifice some of their own glory while still feeling that they are reaching for individual goals.

A basketball team is an intimate workplace. The blend is everything and character matters.

For Calipari, each season is a series of discoveries as he learns how to unleash the extreme talent in each of his players and mold them into championship material as college basketball comes to a crescendo every spring. Calipari can’t control everything, yet he is responsible for everything—which is something any CEO can understand.

"Success is the Only Option" offers real life lessons into leadership, team building and creating a culture of achievement that are applicable far beyond the basketball court. These are the lessons for anyone seeking to inspire talented individuals to reach for their best selves and contribute to a greater good.

Players First: Success From the Inside Out
Players First: Coaching From the Inside Out
The legendary — and legendarily candid — University of Kentucky basketball coach opens up as he never has before about what separates good teams and coaches from bad ones and about the things that are seriously awry in today’s college game. In Players First, a New York Times Best Seller, John Calipari relates for the first time anywhere his experiences over his first four years coaching the Kentucky Wildcats, college basketball’s most fabled program, from the doldrums to a national championship, drawing lessons about leadership, character, and the path to personal and collective victory. At its core, Calipari’s coaching philosophy centers on keeping his focus on the players — what they need to get the best out of themselves and one another. He is beloved by his players for being utterly honest with them, not by making promises, but by making commitments that he always keeps. He knows that in this age, they come to Kentucky to prepare for the NBA; every year he gets players who in a previous era would have gone directly into the pros from high school but now have to play college basketball for one year. Calipari has fought against this system, but he has to play within it, and so he does, better than anyone. The result is an extraordinary leadership challenge: every year Coach Cal gets a handful of eighteen-year-old kids who have been in a bubble for the previous four years at least, filled with hype about their own greatness, and most come to Kentucky feeling sure that they will play for their coach only for seven months before they go on to greater glory. Every year, he has to reinvent his team. After his 2012 NCAA championship, it was particularly dramatic; he lost his first six players in the NBA Draft, meaning that someone who couldn’t even start for Kentucky was a draft pick. The overall record at Kentucky, and for his career, puts Calipari in the pantheon of the greatest coaches in the history of the game. Bold, funny, and truthful, like Coach Calipari himself, Players First is truly the first deep reckoning with the meaning of his experiences and the gifts of insight they offer.
Bounce Back: Overcoming Setbacks to Succeed in Business and in Life

By: John Calipari If recent history has taught us anything, it’s that nobody goes through life unscathed—no matter how rich, how smart, how talented, or how fortunate they may be. White collar, blue collar, or no collar, there is an undeniable commonality to the raw emotion that strikes people when they are knocked down. University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari has experienced his share of public setbacks, but he has learned that bad situations are permanent only if you allow them to be. What Coach Cal—as players, peers, and his legion of fans that make up the Big Blue Nation call him—learned from his experiences was the importance of having the right attitude when dealing with life’s major impediments. On the court and off, he emphasizes to his players that a big part of success is being able to handle obstacles. Now he is offering you the chance to learn the same strategies that he teaches the young men who play for him. By becoming an active participant in your own resurrection—through practice exercises and tips from Coach Cal and his deep bench of highly successful people—you too will gain the tools and insight to understand that it’s never a matter of how far you have fallen, but instead it’s about how high you bounce back.

Refuse To Lose
Having worked as an assistant at Kansas and Pitt, Calipari took over the basketball program at the University of Massachusetts in 1988, after the school had recorded 10 straight losing seasons. Adopting the motto that he and coauthor Weiss (Full Court Pressure) also use for this conventional autobiography, Calipari proved himself a fine motivator of young players and an astute manipulator of television to publicize UMass's increasingly successful organization. Each year, his teams improved on the record of the previous season, climaxing in 1996, when his players had a 35-2 record, were ranked first in the nation for much of the season and went to the NCAA's Final Four. The star, Marcus Camby, was judged the best in the nation, and Calipari himself was chosen coach of the year by at least four court groups.
Basketball's Half-Court Offense
Whether your team is trying to win its first game of the high school season or preparing to take the floor for the national championship, you need to have a multitude of options for your offense. John Calipari brings winning one step closer with his tried-and-true collection of offensive plays. Presented in an easy-to-follow format with diagrams for reference, this book is a must for coaches looking to optimize their half-court game. John Calipari took the basketball program at the University of Massachusetts from one of the country's worst and made it into one of the elite, a program with legitimate national championship aspirations. A new state-of-the-art facility, the perpetually sold-out William D. Mullins Center; five straight Atlantic 10 regular-season titles; five straight A-10 Tourney titles; five straight NCAA appearances; trips to the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight; and 1996's trip to the Final Four sent a clear message to the basketball world: besides developing some outstanding UMass teams, John Calipari also built a winning program. He has also served as head coach of the New Jersey Nets.