photo of John WoodenPhoto Credit: WikiMedia Commons

Quotes by John Wooden

Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by John Wooden. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.

Wikipedia Summary for John Wooden

John Robert Wooden (October 14, 1910 – June 4, 2010) was an American basketball coach and player. Nicknamed the "Wizard of Westwood," he won ten National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) national championships in a 12-year period as head coach for the UCLA Bruins, including a record seven in a row. No other team has won more than four in a row in Division I college men's or women's basketball. Within this period, his teams won an NCAA men's basketball record 88 consecutive games. Wooden won the prestigious Henry Iba Award as national coach of the year a record seven times and won the AP award five times.

As a 5'10" guard, Wooden was the first player to be named basketball All-American three times, and the 1932 Purdue team on which he played as a senior was retroactively recognized as the pre-NCAA Tournament national champion by the Helms Athletic Foundation and the Premo-Porretta Power Poll. Wooden was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player (1960) and as a coach (1973), the first person ever enshrined in both categories.

One of the most revered coaches in the history of sports, Wooden was beloved by his former players, among them Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Bill Walton. Wooden was renowned for his short, simple inspirational messages to his players, including his "Pyramid of Success." These often were directed at how to be a success in life as well as in basketball. Wooden's 29-year coaching career and overwhelmingly positive critical acclaim have created a legacy of great interest in not only sports, but in business, personal success, and organizational leadership as well.


Good things take time, as they should. We should not expect good things to happen overnight. Actually, getting something too easily or too soon can cheapen the outcome.



Don't let what you can't do stop you from doing what you can do.



You will never outperform your inner circle.



Don't whine, complain, or make excuses.



Good coaching is about leadership and instilling respect in your players. Dictators lead through fear -- good coaches do not.



It is important for us to see that our mentors are human and therefore fallible; it makes our own shortcomings more tenable.



There is no substitute for work. Worthwhile results come from hard work and careful planning.



It's too late for preparation when opportunity strikes.



Failure isn't fatal, but failure to change might be.



Mix idealism with realism and add hard work. This will often bring much more than you could ever hope for.



If you do enough small things right, big things can happen.



Be more concerned with what you can do for others than what others can do for you. You'll be surprised at the results.



If pursuing material things becomes your only goal, you will fail in so many ways. Besides, in time all material things go away.



I don't believe in praying to win.



No one can really honestly be the very best, no one.



I'm not afraid to die.



Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.



A leader's most powerful ally is his or her own example.



Reputation is what others perceive you as being, and their opinion may be right or wrong. Character, however, is what you really are, and nobody knows that but you.



Sincerity may not help us make friends, but it will help us keep them.



Measure yourself by...what you have accomplished with your ability.



My assistants and I often would spend more time planning a practice than the actual practice itself.



Big things are accomplished when we master the little things.



Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books -- especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.



You've never heard of them- and you never will .



Never be disagreeable just because you disagree.



Don't get discouraged: it is often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock. Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.



The team that makes the most mistakes usually wins, because doers make mistakes.



Knowledge is not enough to get desired results. You must have the more elusive ability to teach and to motivate. This defines a leader; if you can't teach and you can't motivate, you can't lead.



If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it again?



Fairness is giving all people the treatment they earn and deserve. It doesn't mean treating everyone alike.



A knowledge of and the ability to properly and quickly execute the fundamentals. Be prepared and cover every little detail.



Nobody is a real loser-until they start blaming somebody else.



Make each day a masterpiece.

Longer Version:

Make each day your masterpiece. Life is now. Life is not later on.



Promise to think only the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best from yourself and others.



Promise to wear a cheerful appearance at all times and give every person you meet a smile.



Be observing constantly. Stay open-minded. Be eager to learn and improve.



A coach's primary function should be not to make better players, but to make better people.



1. Be on time. 2. Never criticize a teammate. 3. Never use profanity.



When opportunity comes, it's too late to prepare.



The importance of repetition until automaticity cannot be overstated. Repetition is the key to learning.



Every day, try to help someone who can't reciprocate your kindness.



Reverse the ball one time for a good shot, two times for a great shot, three times for a layup.



Character is more important than any other leadership trait.



Losing is only temporary and not encompassing. You must simply study it, learn from it, and try hard not to lose the same way again. Then you must have the self-control to forget about it.



Every day was a good day at UCLA.



The man who is afraid to risk failure seldom has to face success.



Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings everyday.



Adaptability is being able to adjust to any situation at any given time.





If I were ever prosecuted for my religion, I truly hope there would be enough evidence to convict me.





How hard you work at correcting your faults reveals your character.





Make friendship a fine art.



I grew up on a farm. We learned that there was a season to plant, a season to water, and season to harvest. The planting and watering could be laborious, but without those stages, there would never be a harvest.



Practice self-discipline and keep emotions under control. Good judgment and common sense are essential.



Good judgment, common sense, and reason all fly out the window when emotions kick down your door.



A good banker isn't careless with pennies; a good leader isn't sloppy about details.



There is great joy in doing something for somebody else with no thought in receiving anything in return.



Having the courage to make decisions and take action. Never be afraid to fail. You have nothing to fear if you have prepared to the best of your ability.



Conditioning is essential to success in basketball.



Good players can take coaching; great players can take coaching and learn.





I would not tolerate profanity from anyone, anytime. I'd blow the whistle, pull you from the court and put you on the bench and talk to you before I would put you back in.







Profound responsibilities come with teaching and coaching. You can do so much good -- or harm. It's why I believe that next to parenting, teaching and coaching are the two most important professions in the world.



The choice you make, makes you.



Ten strong horses could not pull an empty baby carriage if they worked independently of each other.



Consideration for others brings many things.



The close games are usually lost, rather than won. What I mean by that is games are mostly won because of the opponent making mistakes during crucial moments.



The most important key to achieving great success is to decide upon your goal and launch, get started, take action, move.



I think anyone's success depends on working hard, Industriousness and Enthusiasm, enjoying what you are doing. You can't work your best if you're not enjoying what you are doing. No way you can force yourself to.



When it's over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best you were capable of? If yes, you will probably be ok with the outcome.



Dwelling in the past prevents doing something in the present.



Don't be afraid to fail. The greatest failure of all is failure to act when action is needed. Use the information that you've acquired in the past through the experiences you've had and act with self-control -- but act.



The greatest failure of all is the failure to act when action is needed.



An effective leader allows exceptions to the rule for exceptional results or when circumstance demands.



Respect every opponent, but fear none.



A Coach must never forget that he is a leader and not merely a person with authority.



Love is the most powerful four letter word.



Dictators lead through fear; good coaches do not.



What you do in practice is going to determine your level of success. I used to tell my players, 'You have to give 100 percent every day. Whatever you don't give, you can't make up for tomorrow. If you give only 75 percent today, you can't give 125 percent tomorrow to make up for it.'





Once you become a good person, then you have a chance of becoming a good basketball player.



Whatever you're doing, you must have patience.



The best way to improve your team is to improve yourself.



Constantly be aware and observing. Always seek to improve yourself and the team.



Generally speaking, individual performances don't win basketball games.



As I grow older, I appreciate things that I didn't appreciate much when I was younger. I am thankful more than I used to be. I've been reasonably healthy, and I feel blessed. And each morning I can think, this is going to be a good day!



Most people think of poise as calm, self-assured dignity; but I call it just being you.



Let's face it, we're all imperfect and we're going to fall short on occasion. But we must learn from failure and that will enable us to avoid repeating our mistakes. Through adversity, we learn, grow stronger, and become better people.



Passion is temporary. It doesn't last long. Love is enduring. And that's the important thing. If we all had love in our lives to the degree that we should, it would be much happier.



We can plan a roadtrip or a workday down to the last detail but the unexpected will always arise. If we are not malleable, we will get left behind.



Before success comes patience... when we add to our accomplishments the element of hard work over a long period of time, we'll place a far greater value on the outcome. When we are patient, we'll have a greater appreciation of our success.



When we aren't alert, we miss opportunities to improve ourselves. We should always watch for circumstances or situations that can help or harm us and be eager to learn from these encounters.



Intensity makes you stronger. Emotionalism makes you weaker.



I continually stress to my players that all I expect from them at practice and in the games is their maximum effort.



There are three things an athlete must do. You must be in physical condition ... You must execute properly and quickly the fundamentals ... and you must have eagerness to sacrifice personal interests or glory for the welfare of the team.



Success is a personal matter -- only you as an individual can tell if you did everything within your power to give your best effort.



Motivating through fear may work in the short term to get people to do something, but over the long run I believe personal pride is a much greater motivator. It produces far better results that last for a much longer time.



Confidence -- Poise and confidence are not possible unless you have prepared correctly. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Poise and confidence are a natural result of proper preparation.



Without organization and leadership toward a realistic goal, there is no chance of realizing more than a small percentage of your potential.



The individual who is mistake-free is also probably sitting around doing nothing. And that is a very big mistake.



It's not how big you are, it's how big you play.



It isn't about what you do, but how you do it.



Perfection is impossibility but striving for perfection is not. Do the best you can. That is what counts.



It's important to keep trying to do what you think is right no matter how hard it is or how often you fail. Never stop trying.



A player who makes a team great is better than a great player.

Longer Version:

A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group, for the good of the group -- that's teamwork.



The best players don't win championships. The best team players win championships.



Why can't we have patience and expect good things to take time?



In life, worthwhile accomplishments and acquisitions take time. Usually the better the reward, the more time it takes to acquire it.



You must believe in what you're doing, that what you're doing is the proper thing, the right thing. And you must have faith that things will end up as they should, which doesn't mean as you want them to, but things will work out as they should.



As long as you try your best, you are never a failure. That is, unless you blame others.





Be true to yourself. Make each day a masterpiece.

Longer Version:

Be true to yourself. Make each day your masterpiece. Help others. Drink deeply from good books. Make friendship a fine art. Build a shelter against a rainy day. Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.



Be true to yourself. Be true to those you lead.



Drink deeply from good books.



The uphill climb is slow, but the downhill road is fast.


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