Nov 26

Coaches’ Corner: Life Lessons Learned from Coaches in Other Sports

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There are two coaches I have followed throughout my coaching career. They were very successful in the sport of Basketball: former NBA Chicago Bulls and LA Lakers Head Coach, Phil Jackson, referred to as ‘Zen Master’ of Basketball because of his unorthodox approach to coaching his mostly black athletes. The other is John Wooden, Head Coach of UCLA Basketball, called the ‘Wizard of Westwood.’

Jackson had a winning record every year, and still has the highest winning percentage of any ‘Hall of Fame’ coach, and further has the highest of any NBA coach in 500 games or more. Along with his NBA-record eleven Championships, he is the only coach to win at least ten Championships in any of North America’s major professional sports. At the end of the 2010 season he had the fifth most wins of any NBA coach, and was one of only six to have over 1,000 wins.

For some interesting reading and reflection, here are some of Jackson’s books:

·      Take It All!

·      Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior.

·      The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul.

·      Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success.


John Wooden won ten NCAA National Championships in a 12-year period – seven in a row, an unprecedented feat. In “Wooden: A lifetime of observations and reflections on and off the court”, he shares his life, coaching philosophy, and his timeless wisdom. Throughout his long life (łage 99), he passed on his values and life lessons to his players, emphasizing, …“success is about much more than winning!” Wooden is well-known for his quotes on achieving success, on leadership, and establishing the ‘Pyramid of Success.’ If you look him up on the Internet you will discover many tales about Wooden, his approach to life, and his commitment to the profession. He coached and mentored some of the most outstanding NBA players during his time at UCLA.


John Wooden Quotes:


…Be more concerned with Your Character than Your Reputation…

…Because Your Character is what You really are…

…While Your Reputation is merely what others think You are…


…Never mistake activity for achievement…


JohnWoodenSuccessPyramidResource: www.coachwooden.com

1 comment

  1. Michael

    Great post and well worth remembering and reminding. There are few great coaches, and many wannabe’s. Coaching is an art, and can’t be learned in the classroom, although many basic skills can. Pick some great coaches, and just try to emulate them. Incorporate one’s own style, and adapt to one’s swimmers.

    Some of swimming’ greats are Peter Daland and James Councilman. There are many more – as noted in the ASCA publications.

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