#1576 Areté +1° #318: Your Socks

Coach Wooden On How Put Them On

Hi, this is Brian.

Welcome back to another Areté +1°, a micro-chapter from our new book, Areté: Activate Your Heroic Potential.

451 of my all-time favorite, hopefully potentially life-changing ideas.

This is a micro-chapter from the sixth Objective in the book: Dominate Your Fundamentals.

Here we go.


John Wooden’s UCLA basketball teams won ten NCAA championships in twelve years, including an eighty-eight-game winning streak. (Go Bruins!)

ESPN says that Wooden was the greatest coach of the twentiethcentury. That makes him, arguably, the greatest coach ever.

Couple things to note here.

First, quick question: You know how many years Wooden coached before he won his first championship?

Answer: He was at UCLA for 15 (!) seasons before he won his first title. And, he coached for a number of years before even showing up at UCLA.

As Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll points out in Win Forever, it took Wooden quite a while to figure it out but, once he did, he could “win forever.”

Keep that in mind when you think about Wooden’s awesomeness. He wasn’t born a great coach. He MADE himself a great coach, one incrementally optimized Masterpiece Day at a time, aggregated and compounded over an extended period of time, growth-mindset style all the way.

Second, another quick question: You know what Wooden did in the very first practice before he’d even let his players take the court?

He’d teach them how to put on their socks.

Imagine the absolute best players in the country coming to the absolute best program in the country and their coach won’t even let them touch a basketball until they learned how to properly roll a sock over their foot and put it on just right.

Why’d Coach do that?

Because he knew that championships are built on a solid foundation. And there’s nothing more fundamental for a basketball player than putting on your socks right. If you can’t slow down long enough to do that right, you’re in trouble.

Gotta make sure those wrinkles were out of the socks lest we might get a blister in practice. Get a blister and our performance in games will suffer. Therefore, put your socks on right, son!

… All that to arrive here: What are your “socks?”

You know, those super simple, mundane, unsexy “easies” that are too easy to overlook.

Which one are you going to +1° today?

Dominate the fundamentals.


Win forever.



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