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The following is an excerpt from Coach’s preseason letter to the team in 1970 (UCLA had won its sixth national championship in seven years) in which he communicates his goal for the upcoming season to his players:

It has been almost four months since our basketball season came to a close. It was a very successful season, but it is now history and we must look toward the future. The past cannot change what is to come. It is what you do today that counts, and I sincerely hope that you are looking forward to an outstanding 1970–71 season and are eager, not just willing, to make the necessary personal sacrifices to reach that goal.

Dave Meyers, former UCLA All-American and captain of the 1975 National Championship team, commented on how Coach communicated his goals to the team: “Coach Wooden didn’t talk about winning—ever. His message was to give the game the best you’ve got. ‘That’s the goal,’ he would tell us. ‘Do that and you should be happy. If enough of you do it, our team will be a success.’”

In his book Coach Wooden’s Leadership Game Plan for Success, Coach commented on the unusual idea of not letting goals be a distraction:

If you want to extend a winning streak, forget about it. If you want to break a losing streak, forget about it. Forget about everything except concentrating on the very hard work and intelligent planning necessary for never-ending improvement.

Coach summed it up this way:

Define your dreams, hopes and aspirations. Then file them away. Focus on running the race rather than winning it.

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.