John Wooden is a coaching rock star and legend. So I thought, what better gift to give my readers during this holiday season than a series on Wooden’s Pyramid of Success? Join me for a series of posts that will delve into both the foundation and apex of his Pyramid and examine Wooden’s thoughts on Industriousness, Enthusiasm, Friendship, Loyalty, Cooperation, Competitive Greatness, and finally, Faith & Patience.
According to the incorrect science that is Wikipedia, loyalty is faithfulness or devotion to a person, country, group, or cause. So in this case, I think they’ve gotten it right. When building a team, we coaches try to build a group of players who have a belief in what they don’t see…or faith as some would call it. Faith that their hard work will pay off in the end. Faith that all of those sprints and drills and hard practices will end with a successful season. And without tangible evidence of that payoff, the only thing that they can hold onto is the loyalty they have to their teammates and their program…in other words, they play for each other. Let’s look at some of the ways that loyalty will increase your team’s chances of success.
Player to player “Loyalty is a cohesive force that forges individuals into a team.” Quite simply, there can’t be a connection that’s higher than your players with one another. Their love and loyalty toward their teammates will take them to higher and higher heights. Loyalty will make them play defense harder, hit with more force, and serve with more accuracy because they feel like they’re part of a bigger unit.
Coach to player “Respect helps produce loyalty.” Yep, I wrote that correctly. Coach to player respect…that’ll produce loyalty for sure. Your players need to know that you respect their effort, their desire to be successful, and their ability to process the complexities of your sport. Once they feel that care and respect, the loyalty they’ll feel toward you , as their coach, will be tangible.
Player to coach “Loyalty is a powerful force in producing one’s individual best and even more so in producing a team’s best.” If your team is loyal to you (after you’ve done the stuff from the point above), your collective unit can be better than it should be and go farther than others thought you could. Why? Because each person will work their individual hardest and that will only benefit the entire team in the long run. They’ll go hard for you and just as important, the older players will squash any unhappy grumblings from non-starters or newbies.
All to program “How can you work to the best of your ability unless you have someone or something to whom you are loyal?” We’ve got to create a team chemistry that’s strong enough that there’s a sense of history and a sense of pride in our programs. Your players should feel compelled to leave their mark in some positive manner through their loyalty to the continual development and betterment of your program.
It takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. Cultivate loyalty within your teams and watch the fruits of your labor result in successful seasons. Next up: cooperation.