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Issue 258 - Decision Making - Lineup Changes

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 5 Issue 258
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



All of us have to make changes from time to time. Coach Wooden sometimes had to make changes on who would get to play in the games and who wouldn't. The following commentary by Coach Wooden (in italics) from Marv Dunphy’s: John Robert Wooden: The Coaching Process, provides us with some great advice on the proper fundamentals of making changes.
In a meeting around 1 October, I made it clear to the team that my philosophy was that seven or eight players were going to carry the load until games were won or lost. And they had to accept that.
Coach Wooden established a foundation by clearly communicating how many of the 15 players were going to get to play. Additionally, by making it clear that they had to accept this policy, Coach eliminated any potential confusion which allowed the players to focus solely on competing.
I took roughly 6 weeks, from October 15 to the last week in November, to determine those seven or eight players. Sometimes one member of that unit would have great difficulty in the first games in December. If I'm taking six weeks to decide on him, in relation to others, I'm not going to take one or two games to say I made a mistake. No, I'm going to try to be very patient in deciding who those seven are going to be and I'm going to be equally patient before I break it up.
Coach took a lot of time to decide who would play. He did not abandon his decision if it didn't work out right away. Too often people abandon a well thought-out plan if it doesn't work immediately. They prematurely try something new. I call that “idea of the week thinking”. It’s not productive.
If I’m going to make a change, I must alert the player that may be replaced to that possibility, and I would do that personally. Sometimes alerting him to that possibility, we would provide the incentive to eliminate it from actually becoming necessary.
Coach did not wait until he was ready to make a change to communicate with the player who was struggling. Sales managers too often wait until the end of the month to let the salesperson know their results are unacceptable. Whether it's weekly or biweekly coaching, progress is essential.
I would be very careful with the player that's going to move up. I certainly would never tell him, “You're going to move up this week.” I would let him know he's improving. When the time came, I'd move him in.
Don't promise somebody a promotion in advance. You don't want to over promise and under deliver. You can certainly encourage a rising star but communicate the promotion when you're ready to make the change.
Long time assistant coach Gary Cunningham added this perspective: “Coach Wooden didn't believe in change for change sake. Change had to be for a specific purpose.”
When you make a change make sure you are clear on the specific reasons. Coach Wooden would tell you: Don't mistake activity for achievement.
Are you patient and purposeful when you make changes?

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman
Twitter: @woodenswisdom




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Application Exercise

Favorite Poetry


Count That Day Lost

If you sit down at set of sun
And count the acts that you have done,
And, counting, find
One self-denying deed, one word
That eased the heart of him who heard,
One glance most kind
That fell like sunshine where it went --
Then you may count that day well spent.

But if, through all the livelong day,
You've cheered no heart, by yea or nay --
If, through it all
You've nothing done that you can trace
That brought the sunshine to one face--
No act most small
That helped some soul and nothing cost --
Then count that day as worse than lost.

George Eliot 






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