SQL Server Learning Resources

Do you feel overwhelmed by the volume of SQL Server resources? Where do you start? In this article, I offer a few of my favorite sources. Additionally, I advise developing a growth mindset.

Growing up, I played hours of Mortal Kombat 2. Radien was hands down my favorite fighter. He reminds me of a character in the movie Big Trouble in Little China. This movie remains one of the best things to come out of the 80’s. Throughout the 90’s my brother and I loved playing for an unhealthy amount of hours every weekend. We perfected special moves and most of the iconic fatalities. Sometimes we tried the moves out on each other. I was the better player, and I’m sticking to that story. If someone asked me, I would say I knew it all.

My identity turned upside down while playing a kid on another level. He performed every character’s combo. I didn’t even know how to perform combos! Remember, this was before you could Google anything. After losing countless matches, I asked, where did you learn to play like this? He replied, “My older brother showed me.”

Insert SQL Server

Learning SQL Server paralleled my video game experience. After six months, I understood the basics. I knew how to construct all types of joins and functions. I even created stored procedures. Then I met someone who operated on another level. She knew all about execution plans, indexes, and how the engine works. Every time we worked together, the less, I realized I knew.

Fast forward to today; I strive to learn new content weekly. Let me emphasize the word strive. I’m not always successful in making it stick. But, most days of the week, I succeed. And my career improved because of these new skills.

Learning new skills uses loads of our mental capacity. Our brains possess limited room for brand-new information. Stop wasting time learning from any old resource.

Favorite SQL Server Resources

If you performed a Google search, at least 100K top five or ten lists would pop up. Why make another list? People frequently ask me for learning tips. With this in mind, allow me to provide you with my top four resources for SQL Server.

Why four resources? Because it’s more than three and less than five.


Pluralsight produces excellent SQL Server courses. Kimberly Tripp shines as my favorite author. Her courses are long but packed full of rich content. You should check out SQL Server: Why Physical Database Design Matters. This course alone pays for the subscription cost. 

At one point in time, the know-it-all version of me refused to pay for Pluralsight. However, I was lucky, and the company I worked for purchased subscriptions for employees who asked.

Brent Ozar

I’ve followed Brent for years. He packs the website BrenOzar.com full of excellent SQL Server articles. Additionally, he shares a ton of free scripts and tools. Search for him on YouTube, and dozens of entertaining and informative videos will pop up. Brent’s How to Think Like the SQL Server Engine is a masterpiece.

I loved the podcast he produced with other folks, including Erik Darling. He moved the podcast to YouTube, and I still listen to it.


An excellent resource founded by Brent Ozar with a variety of data-related topics. I watch the videos in 20–30-minute segments since they can be long. Watching them at x1.5 speed helps.

Dozens of the videos only have a couple of views which is a shame. If you watched one and enjoyed it, please give a thumbs up.

Bert Wagner

Last but in no way least, a YouTube channel and blog by Bert Wagner. Bert produces short and insightful videos on a host of different topics. I love his videos about physical joins. The blog post about SQL Injection introduced me to Bert.

The video quality speaks to the amount of effort he invests into each clip.

Start Learning

SQL Server Start Learning

As humans, we suffer from procrastination—countless tasks battle for our attention every day. I wonder if anyone liked that Tweet I posted three minutes ago? For most people, simply having access to a resource list fails to get them started. If information was the magic bullet to change, we should all be on the next level.

I discovered mornings are the perfect time of day to watch educational videos. Perhaps you prefer starting at midnight. Sorry, I’m sleeping by then. Whatever time of day keeps you consistent, stick with it.

Wrapping Up

I had two reasons for writing this article. First, to provide you with four helpful SQL Server resources. Second, to help free you from the mindset of already knowing everything. My mind constantly travels there. Don’t be the younger me and think you’re a Mortal Kombat authority who has nothing to learn. I’m reminded of my shortcomings when playing any modern games with my teenage son. However, I kick his butt at Mortal Kombat 2!

Author Carol Dweck describes in her book Mindset the difference between a fixed and growth mindset. Long story short, you want a growth mindset.

“Many growth-minded people didn’t even plan to go to the top. They got there as a result of doing what they love. It’s ironic: The top is where the fixed-mindset people hunger to be, but it’s where many growth-minded people arrive as a by-product of their enthusiasm for what they do.”

— Carol Dweck

We all have loads to learn from each other. Hopefully, you’ll pick up a few tricks from the list I provided.

In the comments below, could you please let me know what your favorite resources are for learning SQL Server? Also, who was your favorite Mortal Kombat character?

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