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Issue 106 - Failure to Prepare is Preparing to Fail

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 3 Issue 106
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



"Failure to prepare is preparing to fail," was one of John Wooden’s favorite maxims. He employed it for his teams as well as in his personal life.
In order to keep balance in his life between his job and his family, Coach Wooden was an expert in time management. This required very careful planning.
We have discussed Coach Wooden's routine of spending two hours daily to plan his two-hour practice, which ran with minute to minute precision.
Some key points to remember are that these practices always started on time and ended on time. The length of time for a particular drill was never extended during a practice because it wasn't going well.
Another key habit that Coach executed was documenting in writing, with feedback from the staff, exactly what had gone well and not so well immediately after practice, and subsequently reviewing those notes to improve future practices.
Coach preceded his daily practice planning by constructing a plan for the year, and a plan for every week of the season.
In the book, You Haven't Taught Until They Have Learned by Swen Nater and Ron Gallimore, Coach Wooden’s plan for the year (which changed each season) is described this way:
Sometime during the off-season, usually late summer when Coach knew what the talent would be that particular year, he wrote his yearly plan for teaching.
It was not a chronological plan; it simply contained a number of notes and bullet points about the team and what it needed to learn that season. In a real sense, it was the general curriculum for the year.
In the 1971-72 sseason, coach had a relatively new team with the Walton gang. Some of his key players were going to be sophomores who Coach had never coached directly before. Some of his yearly plan that season included such entries as:
  • Significant time given to fundamentals
  • Determine if the full-court press or the half-court defense will be the primary defense
  • Develop an outstanding fast-break by working Walton and the guards together on the outlet pass, getting the ball out of the back court quickly and safely.
  • Find out how to use Bibby’s shooting ability to maximum advantage
His general weekly plan took into account that games were usually played on Friday and Saturday, so his outline for a Monday practice was different than it was for a Thursday practice. The following is a general example:
  • Complimentary remarks and constructive criticism to those who played
  • Individual work for those needing improvement in certain areas
  • More warm-up since players had one day off
  • Shooting
  • Introduce new options not used the previous weekend
  • Extra scrimmage for those who did not see much playing time
  •  Fundamentals
  •  Shooting (game shots)
  • Review and stress important points of full-court defense
  • Brush up on important defense points relative to upcoming games
  • Review set and out of bounds plays
  • Lots of free-throw shooting
His planning was extraordinary……so were his results.

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman
Twitter: @woodenswisdom




Watch Video

Application Exercise

Favorite Poetry


 Failing To Prepare


If you founded your house on the movable sand,
And have failed to secure a firm hold on the land,
Take advice from the Lord and His biblical tale,
If you fail to prepare, you're preparing to fail.

If you squander your time on the tricks of the trade,
On discovering just how a shortcut is made,
You’ve neglected to work and your skills are but frail.
If you fail to prepare, you're preparing to fail.

Can you fathom a sailboat alone on the sea,
And the storm and the waves dancing violently?
Like a crew that's untrained for the tempest and gale,
If you fail to prepare, you're preparing to fail.

If a cross country runner trains only a stint,
And he practices simply by running a sprint,
He will make it part way down the arduous trail.
If you fail to prepare, you're preparing to fail.

Any seeds that are sown will not vanish or spoil,
If they're spread on the tilled and the fertilized soil.
It’s a soil that's prepared for the seeds in the pail.
If you fail to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.

If you want no excuses, no worries or frets,
If you want peace of mind, ever void of regrets,
Let the wisdom sequester you far from the wail.
If you fail to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.

Swen Erick Nater, A Reason for the Rhyme

Ugly Dog Publishing, 2006 





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