John Wooden (October 14, 1910 — June 4, 2010), was an American basketball coach, later recognized as one of the greatest coaches in basketball history.

He began playing basketball while in high school. There he led his team to the Indiana State championship and was named team captain. Wooden later earned his degree in English and decided to get married and settle as an English teacher while also coaching the high school’s teams.

In 1948, he took over as a basketball coach for the UCLA. It wasn’t a sought after position since the team lacked many facilities, but Wooden took it as a challenge. Over time, he managed to discipline and bring out the best in every player.

His strategy helped the UCLA basketball team win 10 NCAA championships during 12 seasons.

Wooden remained an influential figure not only for his players, but for everyone else who could resonate with his authenticity. Instead of focusing on finding winning strategies, he always tried to improve himself and his character, which inspired others to do the same — and this proved to be the best strategy in making his players give their best in every game.

The best John Wooden quotes on success

Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.

Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.

Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.

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

Never try to be better than someone else. Learn from others, and try to be the best you can be. Success is the by-product of that preparation.

Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.

It takes time to create excellence. If it could be done quickly, more people would do it.

Never mistake activity for achievement.

You will find that success and attention to details, the smallest details, usually go hand in hand.

It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.

Although there is no progress without change, not all change is progress.

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

You can never make up for a lost day… Don’t think you can make up for it by working twice as hard tomorrow. If you have it within your power to work twice as hard, why aren’t you doing it now?

The best competition I have is against myself to become better.

Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.

When you hurry you’re more apt to make mistakes. But you have to be quick. If you’re not quick you can’t get things done.

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.

Nothing will work unless you do.

All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low.

John Wooden quotes on leadership

A strong leader accepts blame and gives the credit. A weak leader gives blame and accepts the credit.

You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.

Listen if you want to be heard.

I think that in any group activity — whether it be business, sports, or family — there has to be leadership or it won’t be successful.

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.

Young people need models, not critics.

You must be interested in finding the best way, not in having your own way.

I worry that business leaders are more interested in material gain than they are in having the patience to build up a strong organization, and a strong organization starts with caring for their people.

People want to believe you are sincerely interested in them as persons, not just for what they can do for you.

Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating.

Have utmost concern for what’s right rather than who’s right.

Make a decision! Failure to act is often the biggest failure of all.

John Wooden quotes on character

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.

Well, if you’re true to yourself you’re going to be true to everyone else.

You can do more good by being good than any other way.

Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character.

Love is the most important thing in the world. Hate, we should remove from the dictionary.

You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.

I think you have to be what you are. Don’t try to be somebody else. You have to be yourself at all times.

Adversity is the state in which man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.

The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.

Friendship is two-sided. It isn’t a friend just because someone’s doing something nice for you. That’s a nice person. There’s friendship when you do for each other. It’s like marriage – it’s two-sided.

Happiness begins where selfishness ends.

Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.

John Wooden quotes on teamwork

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 star of the team is the team. ‘We’ supersedes ‘me.

Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.

We don’t have to be superstars or win championships…. All we have to do is learn to rise to every occasion, give our best effort, and make those around us better as we do it.

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

The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.

John Wooden motivational quotes

Just try to be the best you can be; never cease trying to be the best you can be. That’s in your power.

Earn the right to be proud and confident.

It’s important to keep trying to do what you think is right no matter how hard it is or how often you fail. You never stop trying. I’m still trying.

Don’t give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you.

You have to apply yourself each day to becoming a little better. By applying yourself to the task of becoming a little better each and every day over a period of time, you will become a lot better.

Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life.

If you are afraid to fail, you will never do the things you are capable of doing.

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

Be prepared and be honest.

Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required each day.

Just do the best you can. No one can do more than that.

Learn as if you were going to live forever, and live as if you were going to die tomorrow.

If you’re not making mistakes then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.

Be true to yourself. Make each day a masterpiece. Help others. Drink deeply from good books. Make friendship a fine art. Build a shelter against a rainy day.

Discipline yourself, and others won’t need to.

I don’t believe in praying to win.

Today is the only day. Yesterday is gone.

It isn’t what you do, but how you do it.

Stay the course. When thwarted try again: harder, smarter. Persevere relentlessly

John Wooden quotes about basketball

What you are as a person is far more important than what you are as a basketball player.

It’s not so important who starts the game but who finishes it.

In the end, it’s about the teaching, and what I always loved about coaching was the practices. Not the games, not the tournaments, not the alumni stuff. But teaching the players during practice was what coaching was all about to me.

Defense is a definite part of the game, and a great part of defense is learning to play it without fouling.

If I were a young coach today, I would be extremely careful in selecting assistants.

I think permitting the game to become too physical takes away a little bit of the beauty.