UCLA legend John Wooden is the ideal role model for all coaches

We know that Division I basketball is a big-time money maker for some of the 347 college DI basketball teams in the country.

We know that many times winning is the most important thing. Very little of life lessons or skills are taught.

We know that some DI college coaches will break rules to get ahead.

We also know that some Maine high school coaches try to emulate DI coaches. They try to intimidate officials and are yelling constantly at officials and their players.

Instead, more coaches should try to emulate the most successful of all the DI college coaches in the way he coached and the way he won — John Wooden. The  low key and classy Wooden of UCLA had a coaching style much different than those of today. He would often sit calmly on the bench with his program folded in his hands. He coached at UCLA from 1948-75.

Some of the reasons for some coaches poor behavior and the tendency for them to want to be in the big show are the installation of the coaching box, TV coverage, instant replay and the Internet. In Wooden’s era, coaches had to remain seated until the clock was stopped. They could not excite crowds, show off, get closer to officials and run up and down the sidelines.

Let’s hope that coaches at all levels are truly upset about the Rutgers College situation involving head coach Mike Rice who  was fired after a video on ESPN showed him abusing players.

The behavior Rice exhibited of grabbing his players, using obscene language and throwing basketballs at his players was caught on a practice video and he should have been fired five months ago when it was first discovered.

Instead, it looks like the Rutgers administration wanted to cover it up and thought they could keep it quiet.

And to top it all off, Rice got a $100,000 bonus for finishing the season for not being fired.

Now Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti has resigned and President Robert Barchi is coming under scrutiny as well he should for not requiring Pernetti to take immediate action.

Coaches at all levels, elementary school to college, should never use intimidation,verbal abuse, mental abuse, or physical punishment toward players in practices and in games as ways to build a winning team or program.

School administrators should also not intentionally look the other way so long as the program is winning.

Coaches at all levels should instead follow Wooden’s example. Wooden, who won 10 national titles at UCLA, famously stated that  “a coaches best friend is the bench.”

Coaches should follow Wooden’s suggestion because the most effective way for coaches to get their players’ attention is to take away what they want the most and that is playing time. The coaches use the bench when they want to get their coaching points across to their players in games or practices.

I used the Wooden method and it was very effective. If we wanted to get our players attention after stating what we wanted them to do and then they didn’t do it, then we immediately had that player sit down.

We had four rules on offense and four on defense and if these rules were broken in practices, then the player ran a lap and came back and sat down until another rule was broken. We practiced these rules constantly so the players were well aware what was expected of them.

If they broke two rules in games, then they were taken out and they sat until someone else broke two rules. Depending on if it was a five- or a seven-man rotation they had to sit out either one or two substitutions for breaking the rules.

Some coaches will bench a player for a game without informing the player why he is being benched. This is a form of mental abuse because it is very unfair to punish players and not let them know why they are being benched.

In the future, let’s hope more coaches will emulate coach John Wooden and let’s hope that the coaches bosses insist that their coaches behavior is more important than winning.

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