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Issue 350 - Avoiding Staleness - (Ward "Piggy" Lambert – Part Four)

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 8 Issue 350
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 discussed an important aspect of being an effective coach: Helping your team to avoid staleness.
Whether it is a basketball team or a work team, an effective coach or manager will ensure that the daily process of practicing or working does not become tedious or hum-drum. Here is what Coach Lambert had to say:
"Staleness is a time-worn alibi that outsiders use to ex-plain defeat. The coach must fight this idea, although staleness may occur at times. If a team goes stale, it is the coach's fault. There are certain conditions which will cause staleness, but the principal reasons are mental. Long schedules, too long practices and worry cause a mental weariness. Players lose interest and lack enthusiasm if the coach holds them too rigidly to routine. The proper physical condition may be maintained by the work the coach gives, but the player may still become tired mentally. The value of rest must be recognized during a long season. If players are in good physical condition, it is well to give them now and then a vacation of a day or so, when they should be kept away from the scene of basketball.
The attitude of play should be retained in practice during the season. It is a good sign to see spontaneous play on the part of the individuals. All the fun that players may get on the floor should not be taken away from them because the coach is earnest in his work. At any time there is spontaneous play, the coach knows there is no staleness. Overworked players, we may say, become stale. Their muscle tone has been destroyed, and they are out of condition. Rest is the cure for physical as well as mental staleness. Players who are stale lose weight, lack enthusiasm, look tired and become irritable. Plenty of sleep, change of environment and change of diet, if the condition is physical, will bring the player back."
Red Auerbach kept the Boston Celtics fresh for eight straight NBA titles by having his players collaborate with him every day on new basketball plays and ideas for their teams to use. John Wooden ended every practice on fun. Greg Popovich had players coaching and supervising drills at USA Basketball Practice and played some one on one defense himself against his all-stars. Some of the best and brightest companies shut down their main frames after 6 P.M. so employees cannot log into work from home. The best managers always have a contest going to keep work fun. Weekly potluck lunches are a staple of fun companies.
It might be beneficial to reread Coach Lambert's advice and consider how you can apply it.
What are you doing consistently and aggressively to make sure you or your team does not get stale?

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman




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Application Exercise



The Star Polisher

I have a great job in the universe of occupations. What do I do?
I'm a star polisher. It's a very important job. If you want to know how
important, just go out at night and look at the stars twinkling and sparkling.

You see, I am a teacher. The stars are the children in my class. My job is to
take them in - in whatever shape they come - and shine them and buff them,
and then send them out to take their places as bright little twinkling
beacons in the sky.

They come into my room in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they're bent,
tarnished, dirty, crinkly and broken. Some stars are cuddly, soft, and sweet.
Some stars are prickly and thorny.

As I buff, polish, train, and teach my little stars, I tell them that the world
cannot do without them. I tell them they can do anything they set their
minds to do. I tell them they can be the brightest, shiniest stars in the sky,
and that the world will be a better place because of them.

Each night as I look at the sky, I'm reminded of my very important job and
awesome responsibility. I go and get my soft buffing cloth and my little
bottle of polish in preparation for tomorrow and for my class of little stars

Leah Becks






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