Book Review – They Call Me Coach by John Wooden

Coach John Wooden epitomizes what a coach should be. Earlier this year, he passed away at the age of 99. Back in the 60’s and 70’s, his UCLA team dominated the college basketball scene. The book,”They Call Me Coach”, is his autobiography.

Coach John Wooden was a rather soft-spoken. He was precise on his practice and games. Prior to becoming a coach, he was a great point guard at Purdue University. He became a Hall of Fame inductee both as a college basketball player and coach. When he speaks, he sounds like a poet or English teacher because he uses poems and quotes to make a point.

The book vividly illustrates how Coach Wooden had solid principles that he lived by. The two key source of his life and coaching philosophies comes from a Seven Point Creed from his father and his Pyramid of Success.

The Seven Point Creed states:

* Be true to yourself.

* Make each day your masterpiece.

* Help others.

* Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.

* Make friendship a fine art.

* Build a shelter against a rainy day.

* Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.

The Pyramid of Success is a list of foundational principles that are layered by:

* Competitive Greatness

* Poise

* Confidence

* Condition

* Skill

* Team Spirit

* Self-Control

* Alertness

* Initiative

* Intentness

* Industriousness

* Friendship

* Loyalty

* Cooperation

* Enthusiasm

His story can help anyone in any field to become better and ultimately achieve their best. Coach Wooden’s story is success through solid core principles. He was a master of the details. In the book, there is a story on how important it was to put your socks on correctly. He even taught his players how to do that. Another key aspect of Coach Wooden is that he does not directly talk about winning. Instead, he teaches his players to do their best. If they do their best, then the result does not matter as much.

Coach Wooden coached a variety of great players including Lew Alcindor (aka Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Bill Walton, Gail Goodrich, and many others. He treated each player fairly. Fairly is not the same as equally. He had to spend a bit more time with the star players, but he recognize and acknowledge the importance of every single player. Many of his former players succeeded in basketball at the professional level- but most of them succeeded in other areas including business, medicine, teaching, ministry, etc.

This book is a must-read for anyone who coaches which includes athletic coaches, parents, business leaders, supervisors, etc.