John Wooden – arguably the finest coach there has ever been

Whichever direction I turn right now, I keep bumping into one name in particular – John Wooden.

I have found him referenced in books such as Mindset (Carol Dweck), The Talent Code (Daniel Coyle) and Bounce (Matthew Syed).

Quite simply, as well as being known as probably the best basketball coach (if not sports coach) there has ever been – he is arguable the finest manager of people in general.

The motivational techniques that Wooden honed over years and years of practise and refinement, enabled individuals to perform at a level which was consistently beyond their expectations. Yet, Wooden also managed to transcend these techniques across entire teams – so that the collective group performed at an extremely high level.

He was renowned for his short, simple inspirational messages to his players, including his “Pyramid of Success.” These often were directed at how to be a success in life as well as in basketball.

Wooden’s approach, according to Carol Dweck, is a perfect example of someone who is commited to the growth mindset ideal and also complements Coyle’s research which states the value of deep / purposeful practise.

According to both of these highly respected authors, Wooden is an excellent example of someone to model yourself upon if you wish to develop highly effective coaching, leadership and motivational skills.

Before I explain more, allow me to share a few key facts about John Wooden to help create a picture of the man, his achievements and his values:

  • John Robert Wooden (October 14, 1910 – June 4, 2010)
  • Nicknamed the “Wizard of Westwood”
  • He won 10 NCAA national championships in a 12-year period (7 in a row) รข?? as head coach at UCLA
  • He was named national coach of the year six times
  • He coined the popular phrase “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”
  • The Sporting News “Greatest Coach of All Time” (2009)

However, it took 16 seasons of incredible hard work for Wooden and his team to win their first National Title – this is a fact that many try and overlook. The majority want to focus on his years of success and not take into consideration all the effort, losses, tears and lessons that it took to get there.

In fact, during the majority of the years that preceded this title, Wooden’s team did not have proper training facilities or even their own home court (they used local schools and gyms for their home matches).

John Wooden’s Seven Point Creed (given to him by his father upon his graduation from grammar school):

  • Be true to yourself
  • Make each day your masterpiece
  • Help others
  • Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible
  • Make friendship a fine art
  • Build a shelter against a rainy day
  • Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day

I think the following statement accurately sums up John Wooden’s approach to life and is a fitting way to finish this article:

At the top of the Pyramid of Success was “Competitive Greatness” which Wooden defined as “Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required each day.”

Additional Links to learn more about John Wooden:

About the Author

Hi, I'm Tom Burkinshaw, I co-produce the Maximise Your Potential Podcast and Website and my goal is to help as many people as possible be successful in life, careers and business, by offering free coaching and mentoring through a series of unique interviews from inspiring people who all display exceptional self-belief, mental toughness and desire to achieve. Thank you for taking the time to visit Maximise Your Potential!