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

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  4,957 ratings  ·  365 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 per
Hardcover, 201 pages
Published April 22nd 1997 by McGraw-Hill (first published February 28th 1997)
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Dec 16, 2014 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
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
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. ...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
RJ - Slayer of Trolls
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
In his own words, the life and philosophical observations of a man known as "Coach." Perhaps the greatest basketball coach of all time, John Wooden tells of his upbringing and his years of success including ten NCAA Division 1 Championships during a 12-year period - seven in a row at one point - leading to his development of his "Pyramid of Success." The lessons learned from this great and humble personage apply not only to basketball and all other sports but to all endeavors in life. ...more
Apr 13, 2010 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
Ty Wilson
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful little book filled the the brim with observations and words to live by from one of the all-time great coaches in sports history. Coach Wooden carefully lays out his philosophy of life and how it applies to all things. This is the kind of book I'll hold on to and re-read annually. ...more
Aug 04, 2015 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.
Douglas Sellers
Feb 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Just not a lot of content. A lot of thoughtful points but ultimately held together in a very loose framework.
Mar 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Excellent collection of anecdotes, sayings, and inspirational messages from one of the greatest athletics coaches of all time.
Joey Kittel
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books of all time.
Chris Duncan
Sep 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Amazing to read how humble the most successful college basketball coach of all time is. I had heard that he was a Christian so it was cool to read his perspectives on life during his eighties. He has a pyramid of success diagram in his book and the top triangle is split in two with faith and patience being at the top.

Two great lines from the book:

“Best thing a man can do for his children is to love their mother”

“I am happy that my teams at UCLA did well (they won 10 national championships during
May 14, 2013 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 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
Jeremey Duvall
Aug 26, 2018 rated it liked it
John Wooden is one of the most successful basketball coaches in history winning 10 national championships at UCLA including 8 consecutive. In Wooden, he details principles and lessons he’s learned throughout his 80 years of life.

The book format reminded me of Set Godin - short chapters that piece together to form an overarching narrative. I came away with quite a few highlights. It’s a quick read, but it won’t hit my all-time best list.
Mar 16, 2013 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. ...more
Kimberly Patton
Apr 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Short and to the point- Coach was focused on developing his players into great young men of character. I took away a few pointers about success and learned why he was such a great coach and loved by many.
Bobby Wuertz
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
No basketball coach has came close to his accomplishments and his persistence on the values of industriousness is the main point i took from this book that got him there. Wraps the book up great with his pyramid of success.
Jan 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
An excellent book that I gave to my brother...(and I still think he has yet to read it). lol. I hope he does.
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
This book should be required reading in schools. Period.
Sam Brief
Jan 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Some poignant lessons from John Wooden:

-Yesterday doesn’t matter. Tomorrow has yet to arrive. Today is here. Make it a masterpiece.
-Family is first. Always.
-No one is an overachiever. You can’t rise above your level of competency. “Giving 110 percent” isn’t possible. You have 100 percent available, and your job is to reach as close to that as possible with your effort.
-Winners make the most mistakes because doers make mistakes. If you’re mistake-free, then you’re probably doing close to nothing.
Bill Pence
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book of short excerpts, many of which I recognized from other books by John Wooden, is divided into four main sections:
Part I: Families, Values, Virtues
Part II: Success, Achievement, Competition
Part III: Coaching, Teaching, Leading
Part IV: Putting It All Together: My Pyramid of Success
If you have read any of the author’s other books, such as Wooden on Leadership, you will recognize much of the best of those books here. Because of the format of the book, you can read just a few, or many of
Asia Ali
Mar 01, 2011 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
Jamie Lahman
Oct 25, 2011 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 rated it it was amazing
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
Charlie Craveiro
Dec 05, 2011 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
Sherman Langford
Wooden was among the best ever. There is so much to admire about him. Clearly Wooden had life largely sorted, better than almost anyone ever in public life. And he had unsurpassed success. His homespun folksy definition of and approach to success in life worked. But as written in this book, it comes across just a little bit as a random collection of platitudes and bromides.

One specific gripe: Wooden claims to never have cared about the score in all those games he won, records he set, championshi
Wyatt Freier
Dec 13, 2012 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
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A book on basketball, this was not. It was as a book on how to be successful. Basketball just happened to be the disciple that John Wooden applied his philosophy to that was noticed more than how he applied it towards being a member of a family. Wooden was taught valuable lesson by his father that he applied to life in general. The main corner stones of success being hard work and enthusiasm. Wooden believed in the old adage that its not winning and losing that matter that its how you play the g ...more
Matt Garrison
Oct 17, 2012 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
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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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