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Issue 380 - The Positive Approach (Pete Newell Part Two)

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 9 Issue 380
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



Hall of Fame coach Pete Newell (1915 –2008) was considered "America's Basketball Guru". Coach Newell was an excellent teacher and part of his "Positive Approach" was that he focused on telling his players what "to do" as opposed to telling them "what not to do." Newell"s communication was centered on "do this" not "don’t do that". "Take good shots as opposed to don’t take bad shots." In the Bruce Jenkins book A Good Man: The Pete Newell Story (1999) Coach Newell expanded on this idea:
"I always taught the value of the ball," Newell says, "and I'd teach ball possession in a positive way. I'd put my regulars on defense and play the second team on offense in practice. We'd play a 10-point game with a lot of pressing. Every time we forced a turnover, we get a point Positive rein¬forcement. Rather than say, 'Don't do this,' it was more like, 'When you force the opponent to throw the ball away, you're costing them a point:
This is why teams play championship games so negatively. Especially the Super Bowl, with that two-week break; it's all negatives. Don't do this, don't let 'em beat you here, don't let 'em beat you there, don't don't don't. Next thing you know, you've had just enough time to figure out what can go wrong. Later you wonder, 'Jeez, our guys sure came out flat: That's because they were coached to be flat. We all fall into this trap if we allow it. I used to tell our guys, the first time they get the ball, I want you to play a full-court press and go hard after the ball. I don't care if you get a foul. Let's make sure we're the first ones to do something."
Coach Newell was equally insistent that his players had a positive mind set. In the same book Bruce Jenkins tells a great story to illustrate this:
"Newell could not tolerate whiners or negative thinkers, and he had memorable ways of proving his point. One particular player, a sophomore starter, decided he didn't like the rims at the University of Wisconsin. It was his first game there, and he returned angrily to the bench after warmups.
"These are terrible backboards," he said. "Terrible rims" "Do they really bother you?" Newell asked him. "Yeah:' Newell immediately went to the scorer's table and announced a sub¬stitution. Sophomore out, somebody else in. The kid couldn't believe it.
"I don't want people having emotional problems when they go on the court," Newell told him. "You seem to have one with the backboards and rims here, so I'm going to take that problem away from you. You'll watch the game with me tonight."
Newell never did play the kid that night "I was trying to teach him ¬and all my players - that you can't have everything you want in life. If the rims aren't right so be it. If it means a longer rebound, you make that adjustment. You simply don't start throwing rocks at the other team or allow this negativism. And I never heard another word, from him or any¬body else, about negative things on the other person's court."
Do you take the "Positive Approach"?

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman




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Application Exercise




Their childhood is so brief that we
Should hesitate to spoil their fun,
We should be very slow to see
The things that they should not have done.
For such a little while they play
Before the rough, long roads they tread,
We should be careful every day
To send no weeping child to bed.

So soon they'll women be and men,
With all the cares that grown-ups know,
We should be slow to punish, when
Their little feet in mischief go.
Our whippings should be very few,
Yes, very few, and very mild,
We should be careful what we do
In dealing with a happy child.

So few the years that are their own,
So brief the time to romp and play,
So very quickly are they grown
To face the battles of the day
That we should hesitate to mar
With punishment, however slight,
The days that oh, so precious are,
And turn to grief a child's delight.

Too soon will come the long days when
They'll often heavy-hearted be,
And they'll look back on childhood then
And think of you and think of me.
And we should have them then recall
When we are sleeping in the grave
Not how we punished children small,
But how we kissed them and forgave.

Edgar Allen Guest (1881-1959)






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