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5/20/14
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From Paul Hoover:
Dear Coaches and Program Directors,

Today I would like to share some words of wisdom regarding change and belief from two great basketball coaches: John Wooden and Don Meyer.

John Wooden is considered by many as the greatest basketball coach ever. His 10 NCAA Titles at UCLA will probably never be matched at the men's level.

Don Meyer, a coaching collegiate legend, passed away this weekend from cancer at age 69. Meyer was known as one of the great basketball minds and a tremendous basketball clinician. He had 923 collegiate wins. Meyer also revered Coach Wooden as a coach and as a man.

Two weeks ago I called Coach Meyer. I had never met him but my friend Herb Welling told me to call him and talk in depth about basketball, change and a favorite subject of his: "The Hop."

I was talking to Coach Meyer on the phone about how I often encounter resistance from coaches regarding my shooting program. He made a great comment that I now think about every day. Coach Meyer said, "Great ideas come with great resistance. Bad ideas seldom come with any resistance."

Coach Meyer was 100% correct. It is really about believing in what you do and going forth with passion. If you don't fully believe in what you are doing, the message that you send to your players will probably never get there.

That being said, it is crucial to be open to change as well.

Last week I was talking to former UCLA Coach Craig Impleman on the phone. He is married to Coach Wooden's granddaughter and is founder of the John Wooden Course. He told me that what made Coach Wooden so unique was that he never believed he knew everything.

After each season, Coach Wooden would take time to focus on a different aspect of the game (free throw shooting, rebounding etc). He would first do a great amount of research and collect data. Then he would find out what college teams dominated in these areas and then would proceed to call those coaches to discuss how and why they dominated. Then Coach Wooden would come up with his assessment on everything he collected.

I am always amazed at the high percentage of coaches today that don't research, don't collect data and don't talk to other coaches. Many truly believe 100% of what they were taught by their coaches. Did their coaches do research? Did they collect data? Probably not.

I want to share a tremendous quote about Coach Wooden that Coach Impleman sent me. The quote is from Denny Crum, Hall of Fame Coach from Louisville who was an assistant with Coach Wooden at UCLA.

Coach Crum said: "Here's something else that set him apart from 99 percent of the other coaches: Coach Wooden never thought he knew everything. In spite of the fact that he'd been winning championships every year-four or five of them when I got there as an assistant coach-he wanted to keeping learning, improving as a coach and leader. I had spent a few years coaching at the junior college level when I joined him as an assistant in 1968. I brought with me some experience and my own ideas-which he welcomed. Those he liked we put in during practice. If they worked, fine. If not, we took it out. He never thought his way was the only way. He continued like that right up to his final game. We used to have disagreements, really argue over things, and people would ask him about it. Coach would say, "I don't need 'yes men.' If they're going to yes everything I do, I don't need them around." When I came up with an idea, he would never tell me, "Well, this is the way we've always done it and we're winning championships. So, no, I'm not changing." He was open to change."

Belief and being open to change is so important in coaching and improving your teams. Those who fail in these two areas usually fail in coaching as well.

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