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Issue 233 - Disciplining the Team

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 5 Issue 233
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



Whether it is a sports team, a business or family unit, a group of people must have discipline to perform their best.
The first step in providing a positive, disciplined environment is to make sure the team members know in detail in advance what is expected of them.
Coach Wooden had a preseason meeting in which the players were given three handouts. They were titled: Re: Your Education (10 items), Re: Practice (15 items) and Re: Normal Expectations (20 items). To view these documents in their entirety, click on this link Coach Wooden’s Handouts for Team Meeting. The three documents were reviewed item by item, however, no specific penalty for not conforming to the behaviors identified was discussed.
Coach did not specify the penalty for a transgression because he wanted to be able to deal with each situation on an individual basis. He also felt that an unknown penalty would be a stronger deterrent to bad behavior than one that was identified ahead of time.
Coach Wooden described how his policies changed over time this way: In my early years of coaching I had a lot of rules and a few suggestions. In my latter years of coaching I had a lot of suggestions and few rules.
Because Coach spelled out all his expectations so clearly and with such detail in advance and recruited players of good character, there were very few incidents that called for disciplinary action.
Coach described his method of discipline as follows:
My discipline was, in essence, a denial. I don't believe in physical punishment. I wanted my players to feel that the worst punishment I could give them would be to deny them the privilege of practicing or playing. They knew that my philosophy was to deny them a certain amount of time and I never told them in advance how much time.
On one occasion I had to discipline two of my best players. They were 8 minutes late for a pregame meal with no excuse at all. So, that night I just told them they wouldn't play for at least the first 8 minutes.  As it turned out, they didn't play at all in the first half. But then in the second half, forget it. Don't hold a grudge.
Former assistant coach Eddie Powell said that Coach Wooden’s discipline was:
Immediate and fair, and he never wanted to bruise the dignity of the person who was being disciplined. In that regard, Coach Wooden preferred to discipline in private and reward in public.
What Coach did not do was create drama and emotion in a disciplinary situation. Coach dealt with discipline on an individual basis on the spot, as opposed to having long after the fact team meetings regarding disciplinary situations where many people have to sit and listen due to the mistakes of a few.
Discipline is great. Just keep it clear and crisp.

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman
Twitter: @woodenswisdom




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Some Favorite Thoughts from Coach Wooden’s Library 

 When the conduct of men is designed to be influenced, kind, unassuming persuasion, should ever be adopted. It is an old and a true maxim, that a ‘drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.’ So with men. If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the great high road to his reason, and which, when once gained, you will find but little trouble in convincing his judgment of the justice of your cause, if indeed that cause really be a just one. On the contrary, assume to dictate to his judgement, or to command his action, or to mark him as one to be shunned and despised, and he will retreat within himself, close all the avenues to his head and his heart; and tho’ your cause be naked truth itself, transformed to the heaviest lance, harder than steel, and sharper than steel can be made, and tho’ you throw it with more than Herculean force and precision, you shall no more be able to pierce him, than to penetrate the hard shell of a tortoise with a rye straw.

Such is man, and so must he be understood by those who would lead him, even to his own best interest….
Abraham Lincoln







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