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The Littlest Details Determine Your Success

Coach Wooden, the winning-est coach of all time in basketball said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” 

Coach Wooden: The Foundations: The Littlest Details Determine Your Success.

Coach had his players feet measured “right and left” by his trainer, ”to ensure that newly issued sneakers fit properly. He wanted no slippage.” Coach began working with his players “from the ground up” “feet first”. (“Wooden On leadership” by John Wooden & Steve Jamison, pp.136-137)

Coach’s First lesson: Putting on Your Socks and Shoes to Avoid Blisters

Coach Wooden’s first lesson for his basketball students was putting on their socks and shoes properly. Coach said, “You know basketball is a game that’s played on a hardwood floor. And to be good, you have to …change your direction, change your pace. That’s hard on your feet. Your feet are very important. And if you don’t have every wrinkle out of your sock… you get blisters, and those blisters are going to make you lose playing time, and if you’re good enough, your loss of playing time might get the coach fired.”

Coach would instruct his students by having a student sit down in front of the group and Coach “took the athletic sock and started to put it on” the students’ foot. Coach Wooden, “Now pull it up in the back, pull it up real good, real strong. Now run your hand around the little toe area…make sure there are no wrinkles and then pull it back up. Check the heel area. We don’t want any sign of a wrinkle about it.” The littlest details determine your success.

Coach then took out an Athletic shoe. He said, “Now put it in wide, now pull it up. Now don’t grab these lines up here, go down, eyelet by eyelet.. each one, that’s it. Now pull it in there…Tie it like this… There’s always a danger of becoming untied when you are playing. If they become untied, I may have to take you out of the game-practice, I may have to take you out. Miss practice, you’re going to miss playing time and not only that, it will irritate me a little too.” Coach then talked him “through double –tying his shoelaces so they wouldn’t come” untied. The littlest details determine your success.

From the Ground Up: The littlest details determine your success.

For your success in life you want your shoes to fit properly, your socks or hose to be “smooth without wrinkles” without small rocks in them to cause blisters. You want to move comfortably to do your best work.

Second lesson: Coach Wooden insisted on “a neat clean appearance”. First Impressions

He said, “I want players to practice with their shirttails in, their socks pulled up and I want a neat, clean appearance. Some don’t think that will make them better basketball players, I do. If they can discipline themselves in this regard, they can do the same when we get down to the fundamentals of basketball.”

First Impressions in Life & Business Are Lasting Impressions

Coach Wooden said his players were representing the UCLA Bruins and he wanted them to make a good first impression. The littlest details determine your success.

My Grandmother, Belle S. Frank, a women’s clothes buyer for a department store for over 20 years, said it best, “Look in the mirror; what do you see?”

If she did not like the cloths you had chosen, she would help you find other clothes to change into. If your hair wasn’t combed and you were not standing up straight she would remind you. To Grandmother it was important to dress and look your best at all times. She wanted you to be proud of your appearance. To Grandmother the littlest details determine your success.

Before you leave your house take a look at yourself in the mirror and make sure you look your best.

Third lesson: Coach’s Half Time Snacks: Healthy Foods for Your Body

Originally Coach gave his players small pieces of chocolate, but this created phlegm in his players’ windpipes. So instead during half time at games, Coach provided orange slices for energy and had his players put the rinds in the wastebasket he provided. Coach Wooden made sure his students had healthy energy snacks to eat to improve their energy. The littlest details determine your success.

During half time at basketball and football games, players today are still given orange halves to keep them hydrated with vitamin C, as well as other healthy snacks.

Eating healthy fruits and vegetables helps us to look and feel our best and have the energy to do our best work.

In Business the littlest details determine your success.

Experts say 96 percent of businesses fail. Not managing your cash and not paying your bills are major reasons why businesses fail. To increase your companies probability for success cut your company expenses by 10%. Changing the littlest details determine your success.

Below are three little details to remember for your success in your business and in your life: The littlest details determine your success.

1) Leader’s have to keep a “discerning eye” on their businesses and look from the ground up to see if something doesn’t look right whether it’s business cost over runs, morale problems or something else. They have to be watching over their employees like Coach Wooden does to be sure his student’s shoes are still tied. Leaders have to fix the problem. Coach Wooden made sure “the sock is smooth without wrinkles” like the balance line on a budget. In business look at your bottom line to see if you need to trim excess costs down by 10% to improve your business to keep it fine-tuned.

2) When hiring for your company team, make sure the person is a “good fit” for your company. Just like Coach Wooden made sure from the ground up, that his students feet, left and right, were measured properly as one foot is usually a little bigger than the other. Coach wanted his students athletic shoes to fit them properly. In business make sure that the person you hire is a “good fit” for your company; he or she has the necessary qualifications, training, attitude, and makes a good first impression.

3) Just like Coach Wooden had his students eating healthy foods to be hydrated and energized during half time at the game it’s important for you to keep your body energized with healthy fruits, vegetables, and other foods to do your best work.

As Coach Wooden said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

For a balanced life, changing the littlest details will make a big difference. What one little detail can you change in your business or family life to improve it?

Remember the littlest details determine your success. Everyday add a new Coach Wooden lesson or behavior to your tools for success! Please write and share your thoughts on this Coach Wooden article at

Our next blog on Coach Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success” will feature his second tier of his Pyramid “Self-Control”, “Alertness”, Initiative”, and “Intent.” Until next time “Make everyday your masterpiece”


Madeline Frank, Ph.D., DTM is an award winning teacher, Best Selling Author, 2017 Coach Wooden Certificate of Excellence, John Maxwell Team Member, Certified World Class Speaking Coach, sought after speaker, business owner, and concert artist. She helps businesses and organizations “Tune Up their Businesses”. Her innovative observations show you the blue prints necessary to improve and keep your business successful. She writes a monthly newsletter “Madeline’s Monthly article & Musical Tips Blog” and a monthly radio show “Madeline’s One Minute Musical Radio Show”. Her book “Leadership On A Shoestring Budget” is available on Amazon or Kindle.

Contact Madeline Frank for your next speaking engagement at


This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 5th, 2017 at 5:50 pm and is filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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