John Wooden's 8 Laws of Learning

In his time as the head coach at UCLA in the 1960’s and 70’s, John Wooden won 10 National Titles, finishing undefeated in four of those seasons. He was the first person to ever be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame both as a player and as a coach. So it’s no surprise that his legacy is used today in so many ways to teach leadership and coaching. One of the things he’s remembered for is his “Eight Laws of Learning.”

1) Explanation

Thoroughly explaining to your players what they need to do is important. Your explanation should always begin and conclude with the purpose of what you’re teaching. For example, if you’re attempting to teach a full court press defense, explain the reason why it will benefit the team to do it (it pressures the other team to get the ball past half court, it can force turnovers, etc.) Detail not just why you do it, but how you do it.

2) Demonstration

Because many young athletes are visual learners, the demonstration aspect of teaching will resonate much stronger with them than the explanation. As you walk through the steps of the drill, demonstrate each part yourself or with other coaches/players. Move slowly at first so players fully grasp the progression of steps in the drill. Repeat the drill a few times, moving through it more quickly each time.

3) Imitation

Now is the time for your players to do the drill you’ve taught them in the exact way you’ve taught them. Make sure they start slowly, as you did with your demonstration, so that everyone participating continues to understand the progression of steps. Players should also understand the roles of other players on the court in the drill so they’ll know what to do if they’re in a different position.

4) Repetition

5) Repetition

6) Repetition

7) Repetition

8) Repetition

 This is not a typo; Wooden simply believed that strongly in repetition. Like anything you learn, the more you do it, the better you are at it. This applies to everything, especially sports. The best way to raise your free throw percentage is to…shoot a ton of free throws. The best way to perfect your serve in volleyball is to continually practice serving. Allow the players to repeat the drills over and over again, progressively adding pressures that imitate game/match scenarios.