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Issue 128 - Knowledge + Preparation + Attention to Detail = Skill

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 3 Issue 128
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



Preparation and attention to detail that is not preceded by knowledge results in activity without achievement, not skill.
As Coach liked to say: If you’re a great teacher and don’t have any knowledge, what are you going to teach?
Knowledge is based on personal experience, research, what we learned from others and most importantly, proof (optimally through statistical data).
Quantifying whether a teacher in any endeavor is truly knowledgeable in a particular field or simply acting on their opinion (self concluded thought or untested information they received from somebody else), is a challenging but important distinction to make.
I would classify Ronald Gallimore and Roland Tharp (two UCLA psychologists) as knowledgeable of Coach Wooden’s teaching techniques used during the 1975 season.
They attended 15 practices where they recorded and codified 2,326 Wooden teaching acts during thirty hours of practice into ten discreet categories. (Psychology Today January 1976 and The Sports Psychologist 2004).
They were a little surprised by some of the data. Here is an excerpt from the study:
In direct contrast to the techniques advocated by many behavior modifiers, praise is a minor feature of Wooden’s teaching methods.
Total positive reinforcements, verbals and non verbals, constitute 6.9% of total acts. But scolds add up to 14.6% (total of scolds 6.8% and scolds/reinstruction 8%).Wooden scolds twice as much as he rewards.
Before drawing a conclusion from this, I would recommend you read the entire study. A little bit of knowledge is dangerous.
I regard Paul Hoover ( as knowledgeable on shooting technique.
Paul and his staff analyzed 10,000+ video clips of professional and college players (men and women) shooting and broke down the common components all great shooters have in their shot.
Their study encompassed almost every NBA player.
Like Thorpe and Gallimore, Hoover's results were surprising.
None of the great shooters square their shoulders to the basket. They all have their feet turned (to varying degrees) and have their shooting shoulder turned towards the basket.
None of the great shooters go straight up and down. All the great shooters have their feet move forward slightly and their shoulders slightly back creating a sway at the release point.
On three point shots, all the great shooters bring the ball down (dip) before they bring it up; creating rhythm and hand speed.
Like Thorpe and Gallimore, Hoover's conclusions are based on data, not opinion.
Coach Wooden established his practice routine for free throws after thorough research, questionnaires to the top free throw shooters and coaches and a complete statistical analysis.
He acquired knowledge before embarking on instruction.
When you are presented with information and wish to know if it is knowledge, ask the presenter the five magic words.
How do you know that?
Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman
Twitter: @woodenswisdom




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Application Exercise

Favorite Poetry


Polonius (a father) advises Laertes (his son) as he prepares to leave home and embark on his own


Yet here, Laertes? Aboard, aboard, for shame!
The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
And you are stay'd for. There - my blessing with thee!
And these few precepts in thy memory
Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportion'd thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar:
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch'd, unfledg'd comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,
Bear't that th' opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are most select and generous, chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all - to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell. My blessing season this in thee!

From the play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare 





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