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Coach John Wooden on Leadership

The basketball coach must never forget that he is a leader and not merely a person with authority. The youngsters under his supervision must be able to receive proper guidance from him in all respects and not merely in regard to the proper playing of the game of basketball.

Next to their parents, youngsters spend more time with and are more likely to be influenced by their teachers than anyone else, and the coach is the teacher who will provide by far the most influence.



These ideas regarding leadership are from an essay by Mr. Wilfred A. Peterson entitled “The Art of Leadership.”

1. The leader is a servant.
2. The leader sees through the eyes of his followers.
3. The leader says “let’s go!” and leads the way rather than “Get going!”
4. The leader assumes his followers are working with him, not for him.
5. The leader has faith in people. He believes in them, and thus draws out the best in them.
6. The leader uses his heart as well as his head. After he has considered the facts with his head, he lets his heart take a look too. He is a friend.
7. The leader plans and set things in motion.
8. He is a man of action as well as a man of thought.
9. The leader has a sense of humor. He has a humble spirit and can laugh at himself.
10. The leader can be led. He’s not interested in having his own way, but in finding the best way.
11. He has open mind.
12. The leader keeps his eyes on high goals. He strives to make efforts of his followers and himself contribute to the enrichment of personality, the achievement of more abundant living for all, and the improvement of all.

Other important basketball coaching principles from Coach Wooden:

1. Basketball is a game of habits and it takes time and patience to develop proper habits and to break bad ones. One of the greatest faults of most beginning coaches is likely to be a lack of patience.
2. The coaches and players must never become dissatisfied but must work constantly to improve. have perfection as the goal but it can never be attained.
3. Remember it is not so much what you do but how well you do it. Do not give them too much.
4. Do not tie the players down so rigidly that you take away their initiative, they must have some freedom of movement, but must react to the initiative of teammate in order to keep floor balance.
5. Do not overlook the little details, as it is the little things that may make the difference.
6. You must prepare to win to be a winner, and you cannot prepare others without being prepared yourself.
7. Convince your players that conditioning is often the deciding factor when teams are evenly matched and properly prepared. However, if the better conditioned team is able to take advantage of their conditioning, they must keep the pressure on early in the game in order for it to pay off in the latter part.
8. Give public credit to your playmakers and defensive men at every opportunity.
9. The coach should do the criticizing and it should always be constructive. Permit no player to criticize, razz, or ridicule a teammate in any respect.
10. Insist that the scorer acknowledge the passer whose pass led to his score and that all acknowledge any teammate who makes a nice play.
11. Be constantly analyzing yourself as well as your players and be governed by the result of your analysis.


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