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Issue 89 - Respect Every Opponent, But Fear None

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 2 Issue 89
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login




This popular quote from John Wooden reflects his definition of confidence: Respect without fear may come from being prepared and keeping all things in proper perspective.
The details of Coach Wooden’s approach to competition are worth reviewing, given the results he achieved.
Coach put it this way:
I don’t think you could find any player to tell you that I mentioned winning. I wanted winning to be the by-product of the preparation and failure to prepare is preparing to fail.
I always wanted them to have that satisfaction within themselves, that peace of mind within themselves, that they made the effort to execute near their own particular level of competency, not trying to be better than someone else, but being the best that they could be.
One of my players, a very interesting person (I'm sure some of you have heard of Bill Walton), once said we had to send a manager when we were dressing for a game, to get a program to find out who we were playing, because I never mentioned the opposition.
I wanted the emphasis placed on the improvement of ourselves.
Coach created a consistent level of respect for all opponents by the consistent excellent effort he demanded in practice every week, whether the next opponent was the last place team in the league or the number two team in the country.
There was no hype around the idea we really have to step it up this week, we're playing so-and-so and they're really good. In fact there was no mention of the names of the upcoming opponents. This eliminates fear/anxiety.
Coach did not want the players wondering: hope this game plan works.
Coach also demonstrated respect for his opponents by constantly trying to learn new things in his craft. He was a voracious reader of basketball publications and a great networker who was constantly getting new ideas from all of the coaches with whom he came in contact.
He had a basic understanding of the strategy his upcoming opponent might employ. For example, if his team was likely to play against a zone defense he might do some extra work against a zone defense without lengthening practice or mentioning the purpose of the work to the players. Eliminate fear.
Coach had an awareness of the competition and an ongoing  strategy of learning from others.
The main goal, however, was constant improvement of his own team, not implementing new strategies to counteract what an upcoming opponent might do.
The players were not worried about the competition. They were on the hook for one thing: their execution and effort.
Consistent excellence can be achieved when we: Respect every opponent, but fear none.
Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman
Twitter: @woodenswisdom




Watch Video

Application Exercise

Favorite Poetry


 Fear Not the Unknown Face of Fear


 You can’t predict what you'll be afraid of next,
just hope with time the fear will fade.


I look back at all
that frightened me
as child and laugh.
Before cancer, organ failure,
global takeover or sudden car crash,
there were UFOs, bolts of lightning,
Spielberg's E.T. and
thoughts of my parents divorcing,
Peewee Herman made me cry
as did the thought of my father
being deployed to fight in a foreign war.

There were the unknowns waiting in my closet,
the shadows lurking outside my window.
Thoughts of scorpions and black widows,
stinging and biting,
as I went to put on my shoes.

Then came the fear
of not being accepted as cool;
what brand is my shirt,
what brand are your shoes?

Fear to speak
afraid of judgment
afraid of asking for help
afraid of my own scary self
the fear of mirror reflection
afraid of peer rejection
fear of the snickers
afraid of the whispers
afraid of opinion
fear of the truth
fear of goodbyes
afraid of hellos
fear of the dark
afraid of the bed
fear of my own frightful head
worst of all the fears
the fear surrounding the dead

No fear now in the comforting voice,
assuring the fear is all inside my head.

Gregory Allen Uhan




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