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Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court

4.45  ·  Rating Details ·  2,497 Ratings  ·  214 Reviews

"I am just a common man who is true to his beliefs."--John Wooden

Evoking days gone by when coaches were respected as much for their off-court performances as for their success on the court, Wooden presents the timeless wisdom of legendary basketball coach John Wooden.

In honest and telling passages about virtually every aspect of life, Coach shares his p
Hardcover, 201 pages
Published April 22nd 1997 by McGraw-Hill (first published February 28th 1997)
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47th out of 119 books — 12 voters
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Community Reviews

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Otis Chandler
List of great observations and leadership tidbits. Doesn't give full stories examples behind each, so I found it a little hard to apply or let the lesson synch in. I switched to his auto-biography, They Call Me Coach (see my review) to get those.
Sep 05, 2016 Jeff rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
This is a fantastic collections of insights from the greatest coach who ever lived about life. One of my favorite insights came from his challenge to make 9 promises to yourself.

1. Promise yourself that you will talk health, happiness and prosperity as often as possible.
2. Promise yourself to make all your friends know there is something in them that is special and that you value.
3. Promise to think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best in yourself an others
Apr 13, 2010 Jerry rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
Hard to argue with Wooden and his 10 NCAA titles. Beyond much of the typical "to thine own self be true" fuzz, the practical philosophy that made this man a winning machine comes out, and it turns out it was because he didn't care about winning. He wanted preparation, preparation, and more preparation in order to give maximum effort, to fulfill every last ounce of potential. Down to the way the boys put their socks on. To maintain this sort of detail consistently and not be tyrant or megalomania ...more
Aug 05, 2015 Marvin rated it really liked it
This is basically a collection of quotes and insightful comments by legendary college basketball coach John Wooden. He is one of the, if not THE, most successful coaches of all time. And as evidenced from this collection, a very wise man. It would not be a bad idea to read and heed his words.
May 14, 2013 Ashlee rated it really liked it
The book "Wooden" by Coach John Wooden is an amazing piece of work that would inspire any athlete like me. Coach Wooden uses his helpful techniques in his short stories to tell athletes to persevere in anything they do. Mr. Wooden has written many other books, but I've only read this one. His other works are mainly focused on basketball, thus for professional basketball players. His players at UCLA had to read all of his works, but they helped them excel on the court. This book really stood out ...more
Dennis Olstedt
Jan 24, 2014 Dennis Olstedt rated it it was amazing
Great book! Great outlook on life. I personally loved this book because of the life lessons and the views of the world by John Wooden that helped me through my difficult time in my life. After reading this book my view of my life became clear and I am a lot less stressed and worried about my daily life. "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail" "Happiness begins when selfishness ends" "Don't whine, don't complain, don't make excuses" "Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-sat ...more
Ted Mallory
Just amazing. It's organized by themes, not chronologically- and it is not a memoir, yet when I got to the part when he told his team he had decided to retire, I cried. I've been using his Pyramid of Success for almost 10 years now as a coach, but I still found new insights and different ways of understanding what he teaches in it. Excellent book, up there with '7 Habits' by Covey, 'Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten' by Fulghum, and POSSIBLY even 'Man's Search for Meaning' by F ...more
Brian Johnson
“Happiness is in many things. It’s in love. It’s in sharing. But most of all, it’s in being at peace with yourself knowing that you are making the effort, the full effort, to do what is right.”

“Did I win? Did I lose? Those are the wrong questions. The correct question is: Did I make my best effort? That’s what matters. The rest of it just gets in the way.”

“In classic times, the courageous struggle for a noble cause was considered success in itself. Sadly, that ideal has been forgotten. But it i
Matt Sternisha
Jan 18, 2016 Matt Sternisha rated it really liked it
This was like reading a book of Proverbs, but not of old-fashioned Taoist meditations but of simple, modern, applicable observations. John Wooden is obviously a remarkable man, and a great teacher. The book reads with his passion for teaching pouring out of it - I think it's the only reason the book was written. I borrowed a friend's book, and the only disappointment I have is that I can't go to my bookshelf to pull my own copy off and copy a section or story for someone else to share some wisdo ...more
Douglas Sellers
Mar 24, 2016 Douglas Sellers rated it liked it
Just not a lot of content. A lot of thoughtful points but ultimately held together in a very loose framework.
Oct 25, 2014 Don rated it really liked it
Just as the title says, this is a short book of coach John Wooden's observations. His advise, based on his traditional Midwest American background may seem like corny sayings, but it is hard to argue with the achievements he was able to accomplish during his long career as the UCLA basketball coach. For those younger readers, you may not know that his teams won 10 national championships, including seven in a row and an 88 game winning streak. Yet, for Wooden, it was not about winning. He said he ...more
Nov 28, 2015 Daniel rated it it was amazing
This is a book I have read several times, like many others on my list. Having played sports a lot in my younger life I realized how important it is to have a plan, a way to organize, to format your day. This book by Coach Wooden shows one how to plan, be efficient in thought and action, and prepare for that which cannot be prepared for. It is such a wealth of words and thoughts, this book. Paying attention to your life, your ambitions and drive, it's what completes who we are and where we go in ...more
Feb 22, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it
I appreciated the place Coach John Wooden came to hold for so many young men. He held himself and his athletes to a high set of principals, hard work, and caring about others and made this more important, though in service of the game of basketball.

For those of us who had poor father role models, John Wooden's principles, presented in small vignettes that are recurring themes, help by distilling what matters down to basics. He takes those basics and shows how they can be used to build a life yo
Mar 16, 2013 Sean rated it it was amazing
Excellent advice from a modern Stoic. For Wooden, success is found in making each day your masterpiece; gaining peace of mind from knowing that you have prepared for life's challenges by doing your best each day.
Chase Lin
Jul 08, 2015 Chase Lin rated it it was amazing
Not just one of the best motivational but one of the best books I've ever read. Although John Wooden is a basketball coach, what he aims for is building extraordinary human being than players. He's proud of his players go into pro, but he's more pleased to learn his players become successful lawyers and doctors. His philosophies on building better characters and teams can easily apply to other fields of work and life, so you don't need to be into sports to understand the fundamental concepts of ...more
Dec 18, 2014 Keith rated it it was amazing
Not being a sports fan, this is a book I would have never read it if wasn't given to me as an assignment. Having read it, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Though writing as a sports coach, Wooden provides nuggets of wisdom that are applicable to all aspects of life. Wooden’s life, career, and ultimately writing were based upon character and hard work, two aspects of our society that have largely fallen by the wayside. This book is a very good read that should be required for anyone that is in a position ...more
Asia Ali
Apr 06, 2011 Asia Ali rated it it was amazing
This book is very positive. it shows you and tells you how to carry you life in a very positive perspective. To be very truthful i couldn't take my eyes off it. i stop to think the things i have been doing in my life and one thing they talked about was honesty and i havent done that with my parents to offten because i dont know how. but this book is really positive. it motivates you to do better, be better,and treat people better as well as your self.Wooden also talks about love , relationships, ...more
Edgar Mora-Reyes
May 03, 2013 Edgar Mora-Reyes rated it liked it
Aunque este tipo de lecturas (deporte, racionalismo, ideologías y motivación) las evito, por el alto contenido pragmático y utilitario, esta obra ha sido una grata sorpresa.
En este libro se pone de manifesto cierta sabiduría y los excelentes consejos de John Wooden, un hombre que revolucionó la manera de practicar el deporte, mas allá incluso de lo salvajemente competitivo de Lombardi y otros entrenadores americanos (USA).
Un hombre fiel a sus valores y que reflexiona continuamente sobre el "éxi
Jul 24, 2013 Jay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to better themselves and develop a more positive outlook on life
Recommended to Jay by: a friend
If you're reading this review I'm guessing you know how much success Coach Wooden had in his career.

Q: Should you read this? A: Yes, you will be better for it.

This is a great read that will make you a better person and help you qualify your measure of success. I coach high school wrestling and this book has greatly influenced my coaching philosophy for the better.
This is a book you could read in its entirety and enjoy, or just leave on your coffee table or in your bathroom and appreciate just
Charlie Craveiro
Jan 04, 2012 Charlie Craveiro rated it it was amazing
Many people know about the famous UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. There is also Many people who do not know about why John Wooden had such great success. The book by John Wooden and Steve Jamison called,”Wooden: A lifetime of observations and reflections on and of the court” is about how John Wooden has achieved success, peace of mind, and wisdom throughout his life. The prologue of the book so to speak consisted of praising of by many different people towards Coach Wooden and his teachings. ...more
Jamie Lahman
Jan 13, 2012 Jamie Lahman rated it it was amazing
The whole book could be expressed in one single quote; "Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming." John Wooden was a man from a home where the greatest accomplishment would be getting a college degree. His primary goal as a kid was to make himself happy which meant excelling in school and giving it everything he had until his last day as a student at Purdue University. The lessons he learned ...more
Billy Bowe
May 20, 2008 Billy Bowe rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Ages 15 and Up
Recommended to Billy by: My Coach
After reading the book Wooden by John Wooden with Steve Jamison I have been able to take a lot of new helpful information away from what John Wooden has provided his readers. Wooden is a very inspirational man who has knowledge of not just basketball, but life in general. In this piece he provides you with information that will keep you level headed and how to keep an optimistic outlook on life. This book consists of many short pieces put together that relate to the real world and tips to help ...more
Tanner Brown
Apr 03, 2012 Tanner Brown rated it it was amazing
I personally all out loved this book. Overall I would call it a book about life, not a book about basketball. The way Wooden stops and analyzes things that we look over every day is awesome! Some of the topics made me notice things that I never thought about before. This book really makes your head run on some things. I feel the best part of the entire story was that he wasn’t just coaching his team just to play basketball; he was coaching them to be better human beings in the long run. I liked ...more
Matt Garrison
Dec 10, 2012 Matt Garrison rated it really liked it

The book "A lifetime Of Observations And Reflections On And Off The Court" is a really good book I thought that showed me how life can be if you are just positive in life. It even showed me how life should really be lived. It is a Autobiography.
"Coach Wooden was not only the greatest college basketball coach of all time, he was a builder of character. His players attributed much of their success in later life to the Coach's wisdom and guiding hand.This is a book for high school students, and
Wyatt Freier
Dec 13, 2012 Wyatt Freier rated it it was amazing
Over the past few weeks I have been reading the book “Wooden - A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court” by John Wooden. Coach Wooden coached basketball at the University of California, Los Angeles or UCLA. In Coach Wooden’s time at UCLA he won ten NCAA National Championships. Seven of those ten wins were in a row. You might think that his book is all about basketball, but the book is not. The book is about life lessons and how to be the best person you can be.
One of my
Scott Taylor
Feb 13, 2011 Scott Taylor rated it it was amazing
Although I had to wait a while to read this book - put it on hold over a month ago at my local library - it was worth the wait.

This is a collection of Wooden's sayings and famous quotes. That might seem haphazard as a book concept, but there are so many common themes that they really work together as a seamless whole. Peppered throughout the book are examples from life experiences, such as the description of Walton's whiskers. And the pyramid of success section. His opinion on success.

Prior to
Stuart Kimball
Jul 26, 2013 Stuart Kimball rated it really liked it
John Wooden is , at least, one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time.
This book is one anyone interested in success of any sort will find to be full of useful ideas.
Perhaps my favorite is told at the beginning.
Coach Wooden began each years practice sessions by gathering his players together in the locker room. Picture people like Kareem Abdul Jabar, Bill Walton et al huddled together, watching intently. The first item of business was how to properly put your socks on, followed by how to
Mar 27, 2016 George rated it it was amazing
This was a quick but great read. The book is a collection of very short notes / observations / thoughts by John Wooden on life, sports, and leadership, but the subtext to the book is really self development and achieving success as per Wooden's definition. This is a great first exposure to Wooden's philosophy and perfect for someone who just wants some quick insight. Because it is so simple a book (that's meant as a compliment), it would be a great gift to a young reader, too.
Jun 23, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it
Great little book of wisdom and anecdotes. It seems Coach Wooden was always able to keep things in perspective, foremost because he stressed preparation, not the result. If he felt he had given his all in practice, the result would take care of itself, even if it was a loss.
"The greatest joy one can have is doing something for someone else without any thought of getting something in return."
Leaders pay everyone respect. They are fair. They make everyone on a team feel valued, with individual pr
May 29, 2014 Blair rated it really liked it
This book is a great introduction to John Wooden's philosophy. For those interested more in the basketball part of it I would recommend one of his other books, but this book is great for what it is. John Wooden is an example of truly living values more than just about anyone else I can think of, and it showed in his coaching and how he lived his life. I don't think there will ever be a team in NCAA mens basketball that maintains a winning streak for more than two consecutive seasons, and that is ...more
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John Robert Wooden is a retired American basketball coach. He is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player (class of 1961) and as a coach (class of 1973). He was the first person ever enshrined in both categories; only Lenny Wilkens and Bill Sharman have since been so honored. His 10 NCAA National Championships in a 12 year period while at UCLA are unmatched by any other college bas ...more
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