In college one of the biggest Influences on my style of coaching was one of the very first papers I wrote as a Physical Education major on an article by Tharp and Gallimore titled , "What a Coach Can Teach a Teacher". The article was in Psychology Today and Tharp and Gallimore were Educational Psychologists - so it didn't have a typical "jock" spin to the research. It contained a chart of over 2,000+ observed acts of teaching, verbal and non-verbal, during the '74-'75 season (of which no one knew it would be his last). I then took that chart and recorded my own coaching techniques to develop a similar set of statistics for comparison. BOY, did I have a long ways to go!
However, it gave me some guidelines - a template of what a Master Teacher on the basketball court would look like. The importance of providing information, the concept of scold/reinstruct, and the technique of praise-reinstruct-motivate stuck with me for a long time. My son became a coach and in college wrote a paper on Tharp & Gallimore's follow up 25 years later. I picked up a 1st Edition copy of Coach's book "Practical Modern Basketball" and became a student, which is still applicable today -although some terminology has changed a bit. I've developed quite a collection of Wooden's books, which I'll highlight sometime in the near future.
I eventually was fortunate enough to have worked Coach Wooden's final basketball camp at Cal Lutheran University, when then owner of SportsWorld Camps, Max Shapiro, coaxed him into "one more", from what I remember, in order to start a trust fund for a soon-to-be-born grandchild. Of course the first thing Coach did at camp was to have the kids (and Coaches) sit down and teach them how to put on their socks and tie their shoes - with a full explanation of why it is important to do so. As I watch the Lakers on TV now, I remember Luke and Nathan Walton as youngsters and Bill limping around after one of his many surgeries to fuse an ankle. Because I wanted to soak as much of greatness in as I could, I would walk with Nate's camp coach (who was in our division) and we'd accompany Bill to the dining hall. So I was always last for every meal - but to hear Walton talk so glowingly about Coach Wooden was priceless.
Because my goal was to make the most of the week, it was imperative to take Coach Wooden up on his offer of breakfast with the staff every morning in the dining hall at 6:45 AM. Coach would tell all the stories we've read in books, but it was something special to hear him tell them in person, just dripping with wisdom. Most of the "seasoned" coaches led by Mike Kundstat and our camp director, Tom Gregory worked Coaches camp year after year and would be there every morning. I wonder if that's what guys call me now... "seasoned? I digress. Kundstat, from Texas, and others from out of state would bring their entire families to stay in the little dorm rooms. The families enjoyed a California vacation while the coaches enjoyed camp and learned so much along the way. Of course, us younger coaches also had to enjoy the "night life" in the area. The week really drove home the adage "you cant hoot with the owls, if you want to soar with the eagles!"
At the end of camp Coach Wooden took time with every camper and coach to take photo's and sign memorabilia. It wasn't until this final day that I realized that after this whole week of giving so much to the campers and coaches - Coach Wooden had been retired from UCLA for 17 years and was 82 years young! Coach signed my copy of "They Call Me Coach" with the inscription,
"Thanks for taking an interest in this coach"The humility and gratitude behind his "..taking an interest" inscription has been a cornerstone of my approach throughout my 25+years. Of course I would take an interest. Since then there is nothing like being around wise people. I'm hoping some of it sunk in at least through osmosis.
Coach also signed two copies of the Pyramid of Success one for me and one for my son, coming with the inscription,
"Shawn, Best Wishes. John Wooden"At age 10, it was nice for Dad to bring something home but it lived on a shelf surrounded by Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Now, as a high school basketball coach himself, it hangs framed near the entry way of his house, as he and his wife expect their first child.
Of course the Pyramid has been a guideline for every team that I've ever coached. After winning a CIF Championship at our Ring Ceremony, each of the 15 members of the team received a copy and their own corresponding "block" of the Pyramid representing which characteristic they contributed to the group. Each coach was "awarded" a quality from the mortars, which I believe are all too overlooked by others, in your Pyramid. Amazingly we had members that covered all of the qualities in the Pyramid, and that is what contributed to our achievement.
And I will always try to live by another "Wooden-ism"
"I'm not what I should be, I'm not what I want to be, I'm not what I'm going to be, I'm not what I could be, but I am better than I used to be."