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Issue 486 - "Worry Free Performance" (Coach Wooden 10 for 10)

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 10 Issue 486
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



Between 1964 and 1975 Coach Wooden coached five different groups of players in ten National Championship Games. Coach Wooden’s teams won all ten games. What follows is a look at Coach Wooden’s approach to competition and how it impacted their performance.
Coach was able to separate his goals from his definition of success. His goal each season was to win the Pac-8 conference as that would allow his team to participate in the NCAA tournament. He never shared this goal with his players nor did ever talk to them about winning or winning a particular game. He wanted their focus somewhere else.
His definition of success was: "Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable." This definition was the cornerstone of his competitive approach and communication to his players in the preseason, regular season, and post season. It never changed. It was unaffected by circumstances or results. The consistency was verbal and modeled by his demeanor and behavior. "Respect all opponents but fear none."
The result of his approach (best effort) was that he could win the Conference Championship (his goal) but still not feel he was successful (his best effort). The natural outcome of this was constant self-evaluation with a focus on constant improvement irrespective of the results on the scoreboard.
This same approach (best effort vs. winning) impacted the mental state of his players. They were not focused or worried about the other team or the final score. They were laser focused on their best effort based on what they had done in practice.
Coach demanded constant proper repetition of all fundamentals in all drills. Proper rebounding technique was taught in imaginary drills and form rebounding drills. An improper pass was not tolerated in a rebounding drill. An improper rebound was not tolerated in a shooting drill. A shooting drill was also a passing, rebounding and conditioning drill.
The players knew and had been drilled on what Coach Wooden meant by best effort. It was demanded in every drill, every practice, and their behavior on and off the court. They knew their Coach was serious about his request for their best effort, but they also had less performance anxiety because they knew that was all he expected, and they knew they could deliver it. No hype required for peak performance (best effort) …peak performance was every day.
Coach Wooden put it this way: "I want to be able to feel and want my players sincerely to feel that doing the best that you're capable of doing is victory in itself and less than that is defeat. It is altogether possible that whatever success I have had or may have could be in direct proportion to my ability not only to instill that idea in my players but also to live up to it myself."
What is the laser focus of your team members?

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman




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Application Exercise



Old Fashion Letters

Old-fashioned letters! How good they were!
And nobody writes them now;
Never at all comes in the scrawl
On the written pages which told us all
The news of town and the folks we knew,
And what they had done or were going to do.
It seems we've forgotten how
To spend an hour with our pen in hand
To write in the language we understand.
Old-fashioned letters we used to getv And ponder each fond line o'er;
The glad words rolled like running gold,
As smoothly their tales of joy they told,
And our hearts beat fast with a keen delight
As we read the news they were pleased to write
And gathered the love they bore.
But few of the letters that come to-day
Are penned to us in the old-time way.
Old-fashioned letters that told us all
The tales of the far away;
Where they'd been and the folks they'd seen;
And better than any fine magazine
Was the writing too, for it bore the style
Of a simple heart and a sunny smile,
And was pure as the breath of May.v Some of them oft were damp with tears,
But those were the letters that lived for years.
Old-fashioned letters! How good they were!
And, oh, how we watched the mails;
But nobody writes of the quaint delights
Of the sunny days and the merry nights
Or tells us the things that we yearn to know—
That art passed out with the long ago,
And lost are the simple tales;
Yet we all would happier be, I think,
If we'd spend more time with our pen and ink.

Edgar Albert Guest (1881-1959)






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