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.
Most of us coaches would love to think that we are the magician’s behind the curtains of our teams…willing them to excel and exceed expectations. But when we wake up from dreamland, we realize that we are beholden to so many groups of people that when you sit down and really think about it…success is a truly wonderful thing, a group effort, and something to be celebrated. Now, let’s look at the:
The 6 essential pieces of cooperation
1. Administration: So coach, you’ve landed that sweet interview at the school of your dreams and they ask the Interview Hall Of Fame question: do you have any questions? Well, as a matter of fact you do! Your knowledge of your sport is only going to get you so far. You’ll also need to know how many assistant coaches your program will be funded for, what shape your equipment is in…and if you’ve got the budget to upgrade as necessary, what the facilities (locker rooms, gyms, weight room, etc.) are like, how the travel schedule is put together and what the mode of transportation is normally.
2. Support staff: If you think you can really succeed without the training room staff keeping your athletes in one piece, the sports information director getting the word out about how awesome your team is, and the strength and conditioning staff…well, strengthening and conditioning your team, you are living in la-la land. Not to mention the office workers who make copies, mail letters, and make sure your credit card bill is paid on time. They are crucial to what we do!
3. Parents: No matter the level (youth through the collegiate ranks), parents will play a major role in our sports programs. Whether they’re supplying orange slices, baking cookies, or making a holiday dinner for a college team that’s on the road and can’t make it home…they’re important and you’d be well served to embrace your team parents. Additionally, building a good relationship with your parents will help when one of your players makes the inevitable grumpy call home. The parents who feel involved and believe in you and your program will nip that in the bud.
4. Fans: There’s no such thing as a home court advantage without them! The ones that come to your games in body paint, or do pushups for how many points you have, or who travel all over the place just to watch you play. Those folks are awesome and it’d probably be a good idea for your program to figure out a way to celebrate the die-hards who are always there for you.
5. Athletes: You can know everything about your sport, but you can’t play. Your knowledge is useless without your athletes. They’ve got to buy-in (cooperate) to your offensive and defensive schemes, your ideas on off-season workouts, and ultimately…to you as a coach. They’ve got to be willing to work hard every day in practice and in even harder in the classroom. You’ve got to trust them to be good spokespeople for your program and ambassadors for your team.
6. Coach: I haven’t forgotten about us coaches! Our job is to be knowledgeable…that’s the way we earn the respect of our teams. We’ve also got to be caring…once we reach that combination, that’s when our teams start running through walls for us. We need to be able to make in-game adjustments that put our team at an advantage. In terms of functioning within a larger group, we have to be able to manage our athletes when they’re out of our sight (in the classroom, at night when they’re out with their friends), so training up quality leaders is huge. Finally, we’ve got to be our team’s biggest advocates. Whether we’re fundraising or just getting the word out about good things that are happening within our programs, it’s part of the job of the head coach to get out front on these things.
As Wooden says, “in order to reach the full potential of the group, there must be cooperation at all levels.” Hopefully you were thinking about some of the folks who help you and your team out and will thank them for their cooperation. Next up: competitive greatness.