“Develop The Person First, the Athlete Second.”
John Wooden was the basketball coach at U.C.L.A. from 1948-1975.
God rest his soul.
He was perhaps the greatest basketball coach ever and he may be the greatest coach in history of any sport.
His teams amazingly won 10 NCAA Basketball Titles in 12 years.
From 1967 – 1973 his teams won seven titles IN. A. ROW.
This seven year streak is considered one of the greatest feats in sporting history.
He was a masterful Coach – a true genius and his nickname was “Wizard of Westwood.”
You might think of him as the Gable of basketball. John Wooden was a miraculous man and certainly deserves the respect and admiration of the American sport’s world. His priceless philosophy transcends all sports and his deep wisdom serves as a guiding light for all coaches and people no matter the sport or affiliation. Imho his philosophy is Universal and among the best in the world.
Lately, I’ve been doing some reading. Being somewhat of a sports-minded man, I’ve taken some time to study and analyze some of the greatest Coaches of all time with the express interest to learn how they accomplished such previously unimagined feats. I chose to focus on “how” these Coaches were able to do what they did, and the “reason” they could consistently end up on top and able to imagine the unimaginable, achieve the unachievable and impose the impossible. I studied the philosophy and belief systems that are at the “seed” of their coaching genius, for imho, that’s where you’ll discover the heart and soul of their method to mastery.
Coach Wooden’s Universal Teaching Philosophy:
“Develop the Person First; the Athlete Second.”
When I first heard, “Develop the Person First, the Athlete Second”, I thought this kind of philosophy was great for someone of Coach Wooden’s prominence, respect and power but what about the rest of us? Certainly, that kind of coaching was made for only a small number and a very special kind of coach – and not me. Furthermore, some might have thought “Hey, this Wooden character from a different era who didn’t know a thing about the real world or kids today” and erroneously conclude his game plan works only in basketball – or in the forgotten past. And, if we really get down to it, one might think that he was perhaps just trying to say something nice in the twilight of his career that has nothing to do with coaching basketball, or any other sport for that matter. As it turns out, John Wooden – as usual, was right on the money.
And his miraculous way of coaching is not the unattainable, unrealistic, outdated, bogus advice some might believe. Quite the opposite perhaps, as it just might be the absolute best path for any and all coaches to take. Coach Wooden was a master – a true genius. He perfected something. He found a way to take something considered extraordinarily difficult and make it look quite simple. That’s the definition of genius and the tell-tale sign of a master. Wooden considered himself not necessarily a Coach but rather a “Teacher.” He said we are all teachers to someone, whether we realize it or not. Many great coaches have found success by way of inventing a new way to coach a sport and made creative innovations.
Coach Wooden was not one of them.
He was much better.
Innovators of the sport hail from a group of many.
John Wooden was an innovator of men – and from a group of very few. He didn’t merely develop his athlete’s athletic skill and give them basketball success; he developed their inner man and gave them a successful Life.
Coach Wooden was a man who knew he was doing things the right way and pursued it with great passion, mindfulness and perseverance.
Through faith in his purpose, methodology and pace – and following his natural instinct that his major responsibility was to develop the person, he was rightfully granted the power of iNSPiRATiON.
To many, the power of inspiration is the Holy Grail of coaching; and also the Holy Grail of Life.
For if you stick to your inner feelings, and choose to go the path you KNOW to be right, even if it’s the path less traveled or perhaps full of resistance and doubt, you will come into your own – and that’s when things really start to happen.
The right path, the path to the light is oft dim and the one less traveled…that’s the reason you need “the light.”
For simply following his natural instinct, and doing the right thing, Coach Wooden was granted the ability to Champion one of the greatest sporting feats of all time.
And the secret to Coach Wooden’s success is right in the Title:
“Develop the Person First, the Athlete Second.” Perhaps all coaches from all sports ought post this potent piece of wisdom on their clipboards and locker room walls.
For this extraordinary man who created and lived it, was a great man indeed.
“Develop the Person First, the Athlete Second.”
The inside forms the outside, small grows to big, the seed becomes the tree.
I would imagine that coach Wooden learned a lot through his career and mostly because of his courageous decision to blaze a new trail laced in morality, integrity and some good old fashioned truth, albeit sometimes unpleasant, hard to swallow and inconvenient. I bet his athletes heard a lot of truth from him – truth’s that perhaps no one else had the nerve to tell them. And I bet his former athletes and current friends love him for that and realize he gave them more, way more than trophies, titles and wins.
He gave them life. I believe if we all followed Coach Wooden’s philosophy, our modern day sports would be much better in all arenas. His philosophy is universal and perhaps ought to be the game plan for each and every coach who ever hangs a whistle around his or her neck.