The Wooden's Wisdom Logo

Motivate Your Team! Cheer Up A Friend! Inspire Yourself!

Issue 383 - Intensity Under Control (Pete Newell Part Five)

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 9 Issue 383
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



Hall of Fame Coach Pete Newell's intensity and focus were legendary. One reason Coach Newell was effective was because he was able to direct his intensity and the intensity of his players at what they could control: "how they were playing". In the book A Good Man The Pete Newell Story by Bruce Jenkins, Coach Newell explains how his approach to dealing with referees fit in with this philosophy:
"I didn't want my players getting on the officials, ever, no matter what the situation. If sports are to have educational benefits, you have to learn to handle the bad calls of the world and get on with your business. I didn't want the officials to be a crutch, a scapegoat or a reason for not playing well. If you're preparing a youngster for a life after sports, you want him to think in positive terms and not be predisposed to thinking somebody's gonna cheat him out of something. If I saw a player even close to mouthing off at an official, I'd take him out of the game.
"I'd have some concerns if I saw a certain ref was working the game, but I'd never let my players know," Newell said. 'That's just a very negative kind of input, where the whole team's thinking 'Oh, no, old so-and-so is working the game, we're really up against it I just can't stand this business of, 'Is he for us or against us?' And if I start yelling, pretty soon it gives my players license to yell."
Coach Newell also never let his or a player's intensity turn into criticism. Coach Newell put it this way:
"I never berated a player coming off the court or on the bench. Never in my life. I may have raised heck on the practice court, or watching films the next day, and sometimes it was my fault. But I wasn't involved in blaming people. It was why, why, why. Because when you know the 'why' of something, you can do something about it"
At half time of a game, his best rebounder complained he wasn't getting enough help from his teammates. Coach Newell addressed the issue with the team this way:
"I don't want any individual to think he's running this team! When you have bad nights, I don't want to hear anybody - and I mean anybody - comment on the performance of anybody else. I'm the coach. I know who's doing` what for who. If you're having a bad night, you go out and get twice as tough!" The message was clear: You can't point a finger at someone else, or everything falls apart. Look to yourself.
Not coincidentally, one of three strict practice rules fellow legend John Wooden had was: "Never criticize a teammate."
Coach Newell did not allow his intensity or that of his players to be become blame or criticism of others. He did not lower his intensity. He directed his intensity at his performance and that of his team. The outcome was laser focus and legendary results.
What do you do with your intensity?

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman




Watch Video

Application Exercise




If I had youth I’d bid the world to try me;
I'd answer every challenge to my will.
Though mountains stood in silence to defy me,
I'd try to make them subject to my skill.
I'd keep my dreams and follow where they led me;
I'd glory in the hazards which abound.
I'd eat the simple fare privations fed me,
And gladly make my couch upon the ground.
If I had youth I'd ask no odds of distance,
Nor wish to tread the known and level ways.
I'd want to meet and master strong resistance,
And in a worth-while struggle spend my days.
I'd seek the task which calls for full endeavor;
I'd feel the thrill of battle in my veins.
I'd bear my burden gallantly, and never
Desert the hills to walk on common plains.
If I had youth no thought of failure lurking
Beyond to-morrow's dawn should fright my soul.
Let failure strike—it still should find me working
With faith that I should someday reach my goal.
I'd dice with danger—aye!—and glory in it;
I'd make high stakes the purpose of my throw.
I'd risk for much, and should I fail to win it,
I would not even whimper at the blow.
If I had youth no chains of fear should bind me;
I'd brave the heights which older men must shun.
I'd leave the well-worn lanes of life behind me,
And seek to do what men have never done.
Rich prizes wait for those who do not waver;
The world needs men to battle for the truth.
It calls each hour for stronger hearts and braver.
This is the age for those who still have youth!

Edgar Allen Guest (1881-1959)






For more information visit




Enter a list of email addresses, separated by spaces, to send this issue to.

Email a Friend

Return to Issue List

Our Services
Why Wooden's Wisdom
Presentation Team
Wooden's Wisdom Leaders
Leadership Resource Center
Member Login

© Copyright 2024 | # of Times Wooden's Wisdom Issues Opened: 6,882,256

Hosting & Design