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Issue 47 - The Coach as a Leader - Part 3 (Consistency)

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 1 Issue 47
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login

The Coach as a Leader - Part 3 (Consistency)

The first block on the second level of the Pyramid of Success, Self Control, is an essential quality for any leader and team if they are going to perform near to their capability.


It is necessary that the leader demonstrates self-control if he expects his team to have self-control.


Coach Wooden worked at maintaining his self-control on the bench during games. He explained why he thought that was important in the following manner:


I felt that my players would be more under control if I seemed to be under control. If I get out-of-control how can I tell them that if they lose their self-control they're going to be outplayed, when I apparently am losing my self-control on the bench.


I think your actions can determine to a great deal the actions of those under your supervision.


People sometimes lose their self-control when they are surprised. Prior to each season Coach sent his players a letter in which he clearly stated his expectations and how they as team members and individuals could expect to be treated. This process helped eliminate surprises and created an environment where self-control by all was maximized.


The following is an excerpt from the letter Coach sent to his 1972-73 team in August of 1972.


You must discipline yourself to do what is expected of you for the welfare of the team. The coach has many decisions to make and you will not agree with all of them, but you must respect and accept them. Without supervision and leadership and a disciplined effort by all, much of our united strength will be dissipated pulling against ourselves. Let us not be victimized by a breakdown from within.


You may feel, at times, that I have double standards as I certainly will not treat you all the same. However, I will attempt to give each player the treatment that he earns and deserves according

to my judgment and in keeping with what I consider to be in the best interest of the team. I know I will not be right in all of my decisions, but I will attempt to be both right and fair.


As a leader, Coach believed that maintaining self-control and thus emotional balance was critical in maximizing performance, especially when dealing with adversity. He summarized it this way:


I believe that for every artificial peak you create, you also create valleys. When you get too high for anything, emotion takes over and consistency of performance is lost and you will be unduly affected when adversity comes. I emphasized constant improvement and steady performance.


It is self-control in thought and action that creates consistency.


Finally, as Coach liked to remind us:


The more concerned we become over the things we can’t control, the less we will do with the things we can control.


Yours in coaching,



Craig Impelman


Twitter: @woodenswisdom



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Application Exercise

Favorite Poetry

If you think you are beaten,
you are;
If you think you care not,
you don't;
If you'd like to win,
but think you can't,
It’s almost a “cinch”
you won't.
If you think you'll lose,
you’ve lost;
For out in the world
you'll find
Success begins
with a fellow’s will;
It’s all in the
state of mind.
For many a race is lost
‘Ere even a step is run;
And many a coward fails
Ere even his work begun.
Think big and your needs will grow;
It’s all in a state of mind.
If you think you're outclassed,
you are;
You’ve got to think high
to rise;
You’ve got to be sure
of yourself
Before you can ever
win a prize.
Life's battles
don't always go
To the stronger
or faster man;
But sooner or later
the man who wins
Is the fellow
who thinks he can!

C. W. Longenecker

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