We all have different ideas about how to define success, but most often it seems success is defined by our jobs and the amount of money we make. If asked, “what do you do”, we’d most likely answer about what kind of job we have.
For most of my life, my own ideas about success paralleled the above statement, and during my basketball coaching years would have been further defined by the won-loss record of what ever team I was coaching at the time, and by how long I remained in one job or in one relationship.
“Coach” probably described me better than anything else. It was who I was, in my own mind. Unfortunately, I was a coach who was out of balance in his life. Yes, I was successful as a coach, but I was also a husband, father and classroom teacher, that worked harder at being the best coach I could be without working nearly hard enough in those other aspects of my life.
I think I would counsel young coaches today to seek balance in their lives: Seek balance between all the different parts that make up who you are; Seek balance between the ego and the rest of your life. Become successful on all fronts. Remember: We’re about being and becoming, not just about what we do for a living.
In my early fifties, I began to have a spiritual awakening. I was never religious but I wanted to get to know and bring God into my life. Now, the student was ready!
My growth, my understandings of life and about myself were undergoing quantum changes. A whole new paradigm of understanding was opened up to me. I was ready to take a deep and honest look at myself, and everything about my life.
I know now that everything in my earlier life was about my personal and spiritual growth, getting me to the place where I would begin anew to discover and know myself and begin to understand my purpose in life. This shift in thinking raised my consciousness about success, that now incorporated who I was as a human be-ing, not as a human do-ing.
Yes, being successful in my basketball teaching is important, but it’s what and how I am teaching and doing for others that really defines my being. Now, my relationships with my wife, my sons and their families, with my brothers and my friends carry much more importance than earlier in my life.
John Wooden’s Pyramid Of Success
I often come back to Coach Wooden when I talk about success, because I was impressed long ago by his definition of success, which was illustrated in his Pyramid Of Success (see image below).
I was first introduced to his Pyramid when my older son, Sean, then eight years old, was presented a plaque of the Pyramid by Coach Wooden himself. Sean had been allowed to participate as a camper at Coach’s summer camp, even though he was below the minimum age, because I was working the camp as a coach. He was the youngest camper there, but the coaches recognized him for being “most improved camper”, and for that he received the award from Coach Wooden. That memory probably is the single most indelible memory of his lifetime and one we discuss frequently.
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Sean is over forty now—a husband, father to two fine young people, a girl and a boy, both good athletes, and himself a coach for youth teams. He tries to incorporate into his life and coaching, the precepts so long popularized in Coach Wooden’s Pyramid Of Success.
Much of the successful longevity of Wooden’s Pyramid lies in the perpetuation of the principles being passed down through the generations. How many, like myself, have used Coach’s teachings, passing them on to our players, and having them passed on in their lives? I passed these teachings to my players and my sons and they are passing them on to their children and the players they coach. I hope that they will keep being passed on to my grandchildren’s children, and on, and on.
A Father’s Love. . . The Sons’ Respect
There were ups and downs in my marriage to my sons’ mother. During one separation, while we were overseas and Sean was in kindergarten, he stayed with me while my younger son, Todd, went back to the States and lived with his mother. This reversed four years later, when their mother and I separated for good, and Sean suggested (at the wise old age of ten) that perhaps Todd should have the same experience of getting to know me that he had had previously. Sean went to live with his grandparents and Todd spent his year in first grade with me.
Those two different years so solidified my love for my sons, they would become memories that sustained me through all the later years when we were apart. I never got to watch them as they grew, or participate in all the events that shaped their maturing lives, or to be their coach and have the pride of having them play for me.
For the next ten years, much of it spent coaching overseas, I was to spend time with Sean and Todd on only three occasions before Sean got married, at the age of twenty.
Now, Todd, three years younger than his brother, is married and has a son who is also an athlete. Todd has coached several sports and, like Sean works with his kids, teaches his son to be the best he can be.
My boys and I speak on the phone frequently and exchange emails. I am proud of the successes they have had in their lives.
When I was detailing for Sean what my new website was going to be about, he asked if he could write a testimonial for me. Then, Todd wanted to be involved too, and that’s how this article came about.
I was filled with a wonderful emotion that they would want to do this, and at the same time, was concerned about how my readers would view my having testimonials by my sons. I wasn’t sure how or if I could use what they might say in with all the other testimonials I’d received from people all over the world who had purchased my DVD or with whom I had worked throughout my coaching career. It was after some considered thought that I decided I would write this story, using their testimonials, and dedicate this article to my sons and to the many other fathers and mothers who may have had similar life circumstances that separated them from their sons and daughters.
Now, some three decades later, my sons and I continue to share a relationship based on love and respect. We have now what I always hoped we would have had , if we had never been separated—success together!
Here is Sean’s testimonial:
I have been pretty lucky to have Coach Ronn (my Dad) in my life for over 40 years.
The reason for telling you right off the bat that he is my father is because honesty is one of his teaching tools. Throughout my life he has been a source of inspiration for me as a player, a coach, and as a human being.
This past year I coached a 5th grade team. We recently played in a tournament where we competed against 5th, 6th, and 7th graders. Due to my use of Coach Ronn’s teaching methods, we prevailed as tournament champs. Our team was not the most talented team in the tourney. We were, however, the best fundamentally sound team, and most importantly, the best defensive team. In four
games we allowed our opposition just over 16 points per game while we scored just under 33 points per game.
I encourage any parent or coach wanting to learn how to improve their teaching knowledge, in any aspect of the game, to use my Dad's DVD.
Ronald (Sean) Wyckoff
And, here is Todd’s testimonial:
I can remember when I was a little boy, going to basketball practice with my father. Reflecting on these times, I now realize how involved and genuinely concerned he was with the development of his players. I will always remember him preaching defense to his players. Coach Ronn, my father, has always been a defense-oriented coach, realizing that the best offense in the world can't win without defense.
Over the 38 years of my life he has always reminded us that a good player is one who has developed the basic skills of the game from a young age.
I was very involved in basketball when I was in school as a player and later as a youth coach. I can tell you from experience that basic skills will get you a long way in this game. In high school I played basketball all 4 years and utilized every ounce of knowledge that I had gained from my father as a child. It seemed second nature to me to want to play defense better than everyone else. I was voted Mr. Defense 4 years in a row. The defense that I played allowed me to be the second
leading scorer on my team, as my defense turned into fast break offense for me.
As a youth coach, I used (Coach Ronn’s) my father’s principles of teaching basic skills of defense before teaching offense. I had very successful teams, ranging in ages 7-10 years old.
So, in real life it has been proven, at least for me, how important defense is to this game and how much of what (Coach Ronn) preaches is dead on. I never realized how much I learned from my father until much later in life, but all those years of attending his practices must have sunk in. I believe I would not have been as successful as a player and coach without the involvement of my father during my developmental years.
I will always be grateful to my father’s unknowing influence and dedication to this wonderful sport of basketball. He is more dedicated to the understanding and development of young players than anyone I have met in my life-that should tell you something by itself.
Wishing you continued success in your lives, this is for you, Sean and Todd—
my love and respect.
Yours in Sport & Spirit,
Coach Ronn Wyckoff has spent more than fifty years in basketball. As an international consultant, his programs have reached hundreds of players and coaches around the world. He has coached four national teams and conducted national player camps. In forty-plus years of coaching boys, girls, men and women, from the playgrounds to national teams, they won over 70% of their games. The international club teams he coached won over 80%.
His 4-hour teaching DVD, “Basketball On A Triangle: A Higher Level of Coaching and Playing", has received high praise. His soon to be released book of the same title has received accolades from those who have reviewed it, as being unique in it's detailed approach to teaching life lessons through the teaching of the game, as well as teaching coaches how to teach fundamentals.
For more info go to http://www.Top-Basketball-Coaching.com