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Issue 349 - Team Building - (Ward "Piggy" Lambert – Part Three)

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 8 Issue 349
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



John Wooden's college coach at Purdue was Hall of Famer and Basketball Coaching Pioneer Ward "Piggy" Lambert. Coach Lambert wrote Practical Basketball in 1932, one of the first "bibles" of the game (a 243 page textbook). In his book, Coach Lambert clearly defined three key ideas that are valuable in building a team whether it's a basketball or business team.
1. "Foundation of Fundamentals: From observation, I believe the close contests are won on the proper execution of fundamental habits during the game, and not because of strategy, or tip-off or out-of-bounds plays, or out-guessing the opponent."
If you have a sales organization it is not the tricky phrases or shiny clothes that will deliver long-term consistent success. The successful sales person has two consistent fundamentals: (1) a sincere interest in helping the customer achieve their goal and (2) an upbeat, positive attitude.
Businesses and Sports Teams that are struggling use the phrase: "We're going to get back to the basics." Coach Lambert would tell them to start with the basics and stick with them.
2. "Molding Individuals into a Team: The selection and placing of the various individuals on the squad in certain positions is a subject for which there is no definite recipe. This is a problem more for every individual coach to decide, but the following suggestions may be helpful.
One of the first requirements of a basketball player (the same is true of athletes in other branches of sport) is courage, which is mental and not physical. The coach should teach players that courage is mental stability, and make them realize that they are able to play up to their maximum capability, regardless of the success of the opponents. The fight is mental and not physical, if we take for granted, of course, that the individuals are in condition. Brains and character are the most valuable assets. Players having these qualifications will perform up to their expected capabilities in close contests, and even rise to higher planes in cases of extreme stress. Natural physical ability, or cleverness, is an asset, but the player of ability without courage and brains is not apt to perform well under trying conditions."
When hiring or recruiting, if you start with brains and character you will avoid talented derelicts.
3. "Coaching Advice: The coach, first of all, is a teacher. One of the dangers in teaching is overloading players with knowledge. Some inexperienced coaches try to teach young players everything they know about the game. Most young players cannot absorb all of this knowledge, and over coaching may be more injurious than under coaching. Players may easily be overburdened with too much knowledge, which will cause them to lose the spirit of play and competition.
My experience has been that the process of teaching and developing players is a gradual one, and requires much patience by the coach."
Coach Lambert had a simple formula for building teams: 1. Start and stick with the fundamentals. 2. Build the team with people that have brains and character. 3. Be a patient teacher.
What's your formula?

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman




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Application Exercise



Human Family

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I've sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I've seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I've not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England's moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we're the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

Maya Angelou






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