I’ve had the privilege of being a Football coach for 20 years now. I’ve coached Highschool , College ball, and even a short stint at the Pro level. Coaching has become part of who I am, and I’m proud of my accomplishments. Not so much the wins and Championships (although those are cool) but more importantly it’s the opportunity I’ve had to mould some minds and be a difference in the lives of some young people.
I’ve really enjoyed Mark’s occasional reference’s to John Wooden. If you are not familiar with Coach Wooden, he is considered to be one of the greatest College Basketball coaches of all time. And not because of the 10 National Championships he won at UCLA.
Coach Wooden would be the first to tell you that “he” didn’t win 10 national championships, the young men he “taught” are responsible for those banners.
He was sometimes criticized for using unconventional teaching methods. They may have been … but they were always very effective.
Here’s a perfect example: Imagine your a new freshman player at your first practice with UCLA, excited and eager to learn from the great Coach Wooden. Waiting in the locker room to be taught some secret of the game. Coach Wooden would start every camp the same way.
“Please take off your shoes and socks,” Coach announced to the team, “I’m going to show you the proper way to put them back on.”
The new players would look around … they thought he was joking or lost his mind. What the heck did this have to do with basketball?
“Now, when you pull on your sock,” he said showing them through example, “I want you to make sure that there are no wrinkles or gaps,” as he put his own socks on. “Make sure your heel is fully seated in the heel of the sock; run your hand over the toes and make sure to smooth out any bumpy areas.” Then he showed each player how to properly lace his shoes and tie them snugly so that there was no room for the shoe to rub or the sock to bunch up.
Then Coach Wooden would get up and leave for the gym, the players would still be perplexed, why were they starting out the season talking about shoes and socks? Here they were, the best young players around, and this legend had just spent 30 minutes teaching them about shoes and socks.
Then, Coach Wooden would turn around and say ‘That’s your first lesson. You see, if there are wrinkles in your socks or your shoes aren’t tied properly, you will develop blisters. With blisters, you’ll miss practice. If you miss practice, you don’t play. And if you don’t play, we cannot win.
“If you want to win Championships, you must take care of the smallest of details.”
He would then walk away.
Coach Wooden understood the importance of the little things in terms of preparing for something bigger. He was great because he focused on the small, basic tasks that are the building blocks of every major victory. Sound Familiar? (Doing your sit, reading your DMP, using the laws of the mind)
I’ve enjoyed reading and learning from Coach Wooden since my playing days. I read anything I can get my hands about him. And I’ve used his methods and thoughts many times with my players to varying degrees of sucsess. His secrets were rarely about anything earth shattering, or some strategic new secret offence, they where always focused on the tiny details of each day that most of us overlook. Because he takes the time to look after the basics, Coach Wooden was prepared to tackle the larger issues that came his way with calmness, thoughtfulness, and wisdom.
Games are not won on game day, they are won at the first practice, with the first actions. It’s how we set ourselves up for greatness or faluire. Greatness is not achieved in a moment – it is the result of hundreds of small acts of preparation along the way.
“Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail” – John Wooden