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Issue 480 - "A Great Teacher Tells You Why." (C. Vivian Stringer Part Eight)

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Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 10 Issue 480
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login

 

"A GREAT TEACHER TELLS YOU WHY." (C. VIVIAN STRINGER PART EIGHT)

 
 
C. Vivian Stringer is the head coach of the Rutgers University Women's Basketball Team. She is the sixth winningest coach in women's basketball history and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. She is the first coach in NCAA history to lead three different women's programs to the NCAA Final Four Rutgers, University of Iowa, and Cheyney State College in 1982.
 
Coach Stringer is a master teacher who knows the first law of learning is explanation.
 
In 1971 she took over a program at Cheney State that had always had a losing record and a disjointed group of players with no confidence. In her fantastic autobiography, Standing Tall, Coach Stringer explains how her teaching methods improved skills, developed confidence, and built team spirit:
 
"I might have been demanding on the court, but I always told my players why I was asking them to do certain things, and I encouraged them to ask questions. I want them to understand what I'm asking them to do and why. I will always stop to explain something. I have never wanted my kids to follow what I'm telling them out of blind loyalty or obedience; I demanded, as I have demanded from every team since, that they think for themselves.
 
I believe that had a lot to do with building their confidence. They weren't just robots out there, doing what they'd been told, but full participants in the process. They took it as it was intended, as a sign of respect—and this wasn't a team that had been shown a lot of respect by anyone before.
 
Basically, it was the way my mom and dad had raised us. They never told us what to do. Instead, they'd tell us, "This is your decision, but you have to understand the potential consequences," and they'd help us to see what those were. In that way, we learned to make the right decisions. And so did the girls on my teams.
 
At Cheyney we were the underdogs, and I liked that. Once we got some momentum, I didn't have to push those girls; they pushed me. They wouldn't let me leave the gym until they'd mastered whatever I was trying to teach them that day. I saw how they looked out for one another; if a player didn't quite understand something but was too embarrassed to ask about it, someone else on the team would do it for her, and nobody would leave that gym until everyone was straight. They were always asking one more question, and I would stay as long as they were willing to learn."
 
Are your team members full participants in the process?
 
 
 

Yours in Coaching,
 
 
Craig Impelman
 
 
 
 


 

 

 

Watch Video

Application Exercise

COACH'S FAVORITE POETRY AND PROSE

 

On Quitting

How much grit do you think you've got?
Can you quit a thing that you like a lot?
You may talk of pluck; it's an easy word,
And where'er you go it is often heard;
But can you tell to a jot or guess
Just how much courage you now possess?
You may stand to trouble and keep your grin,
But have you tackled self-discipline?
Have you ever issued commands to you
To quit the things that you like to do,
And then, when tempted and sorely swayed,
Those rigid orders have you obeyed?

Don't boast of your grit till you've tried it out,
Nor prate to men of your courage stout,
For it's easy enough to retain a grin
In the face of a fight there's a chance to win,
But the sort of grit that is good to own
Is the stuff you need when you're all alone.
How much grit do you think you've got?
Can you turn from joys that you like a lot?
Have you ever tested yourself to know
How far with yourself your will can go?
If you want to know if you have grit,
Just pick out a joy that you like, and quit.

It's bully sport and it's open fight;
It will keep you busy both day and night;
For the toughest kind of a game you'll find
Is to make your body obey your mind.
And you never will know what is meant by grit
Unless there's something you've tried to quit.

Edgar Albert Guest (1881-1959)

 

 

 

 

 

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