This Is HardCore: The Wizard


The world of coaching lost one of its finest members last week. John Wooden, “The Wizard of Westwood,” died at the age of 99 at the UCLA Medical Center on June 4, 2010. In my article on coaching (FIGHT!, June 2010), I commented that Wooden was such a great coach he transcended his sport. I believe his teachings were just as applicable to MMA as they were his chosen sport of Basketball. Listing John Wooden’s accolades as a Hall of Fame player and coach would take a book. Most notable of his accomplishments was as basketball coach of the UCLA Bruins. He won 10 NCAA titles in 12 years, including seven in a row. This feat remains unparalleled in modern sport. What makes Wooden timeless was his understanding of what it took to turn a young man into a winner. Not surprisingly he was just as good at turning his young athletes into men. He spoke about how to work, how to practice, how to live, how to play and how to win. Be sure to check out his pyramid of success. I am sure that many books will be written in the upcoming years about Coach Wooden’s life, his teachings, and his insightful words. I have included some of his greatest quotes (found on ESPN and This is but a small sampling of his genius. Read them with no bias towards Wooden’s chosen sport. When the inevitable biographies come out read them and learn about a once in a lifetime coach and a great man. Whether you are coach, fighter, athlete, teacher, parent it makes no difference. His words will teach and guide you. John Wooden will be missed.


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

“Never mistake activity for achievement.”

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

“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.”

“Be prepared and be honest.”

“Be quick, but don’t hurry.”

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

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

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

“Winning takes talent; to repeat takes character.”

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

“I’d rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent.”

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

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

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

“Ability is a poor man’s wealth.”

“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”

“Consider the rights of others before your own feelings and the feelings of others before your own rights.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It’s courage that count”

Adam Singer is the owner of The HardCore Gym/American Top Team of Athens in Athens, Ga.

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