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“Dwelling in the past prevents doing something in the present.” —John Wooden

Coach Wooden’s quote is usually applied to encourage people not to focus on past disappointments. On another level, Coach used this approach for himself to make sure that although he was already the most successful coach in college basketball, he did not dwell in the past (rest on his laurels) but rather did something in the present (aggressively continue to improve himself).

I had the opportunity to visit with Hall of Fame Coach Hubie Brown because I wanted to share with him that Coach once told me that the best basketball clinic he had ever seen was presented by Coach Brown.

Coach Brown recalled that his presentation that night started at 8:30 p.m. and Coach Wooden had sat in the front row for three hours making copious notes on everything that he was presenting, though Coach Wooden was not speaking himself until the next morning.

He also recalled that Coach Wooden had stopped him that night in the hallway of the Marriott to ask him further questions about transition defense. Coach Brown and Coach Wooden enlisted three young coaches walking down the hallway to make up their five-man demonstration team and continued their discussion until 12:30 a.m. 

Coach Brown said Coach Wooden gave his own presentation the next morning at 8:30 a.m. and hit a homerun.

Coach Brown continued, “There was one thing that was different about John Wooden than most of us who spoke at coaches clinics. Most celebrity coaches arrived, made their presentation and left. John Wooden would attend the entire clinic, listen to all the presenters, sit in the front row and take notes from the beginning to the end.”

For Coach Wooden there was no dwelling in the past, only doing in the present.

Photo by GaudiLab/

Craig Impelman
As Coach Wooden’s grandson-in-law, Craig Impelman had the opportunity to learn Coach’s teachings firsthand and wrote about those lessons for his site, He is a motivational speaker and the author of Wooden’s Wisdom, a weekly “e-coaching module” that is distributed to companies nationally.