The first time I heard about John Wooden, the famous and former late coach of the UCLA basketball team, was when I found one of his books at an estate sale. I did not know much about him at the time but when I read his book, I was very impressed with his wisdom on life. Since then, I have purchased several of his books for my family and they have been a great blessing to all of us.
When researching Coach Wooden on the internet, I found the following write-up by Don Yaeger, a New York Times best -selling author and award winning motivational speaker:
"The first day of practice at UCLA was always a day full of anticipation and excitement as the new recruits awaited the arrival of Coach Wooden, known affectionately as the Wizard of Westwood. As they waited, each wondered what secrets of the game, what strategies for winning would spring forth from the famous coach on Day One.
“Please take off your shoes and socks,” Coach announced to the team, seating himself upon a locker from bench.”I’m going to show you the proper way to put them back on.” The new players looked at one another in disbelief – had the old man lost his mind? What on earth did this have to do with basketball? Not wanting to question their leader, they all complied and waited for what would come next.
“Now, when you pull on your socks,” he said showing them through example, “I want you to make sure that there are no wrinkles or gaps," as he put his socks on. “Make sure your heel is full seated in the heel of the sock; run your hand over the toes and make sure to smooth out any bumpy areas.” Then he showed each player how to properly lace his shoes and tie them snugly so that there was no room for the shoe to rub or the sock to bunch up.
As Coach Wooden got up to leave the locker room for the gym, the players behind him were silent, still wondering what their coach would possibly be doing by starting out the season talking about shoes and socks. Here they were, the best schoolboy players in America, and this legend had just spent 30 minutes teaching them about shoes and socks.
Just then, Coach Wooden would turn around and, with a glint in his eye say,”That’s your first lesson, you see, if there are wrinkles in your socks or shoes, or if your shoes aren’t tied properly, you will develop blisters. With blisters, you’ll miss practice, if you miss practice, you don’t play. And if you don’t play, we cannot win.
“If you want to win Championships, you must take care of the smallest of details.”
Coach then walked away, his first practice complete.
John Wooden understood the importance of the little things in terms of preparing for something bigger. Many people thought that he was a great coach because he had such a talented collection of players, but the students who played for him knew better: Coach Wooden was great because he focused on the small, basic tasks that are the building blocks of every major victory.
“His secrets are rarely about anything dramatic but instead, are focused on the tiny details of each day that most of us overlook.”
What a great reminder to remember to begin our days with the basics: God's Word, prayer, and to not ignore or minimize the tiniest details that could escalate to serious issues in our life. In my opinion, the John Wooden's coaching style was to be actively watching for the “little foxes” that could potentially destroy the vine.”
We have a Good Shepherd who carefully watches over us. Through His Spirit He reminds us to pay attention to not only the "big" things but also to the “little foxes" that we could easily ignore and that could fall through the cracks - things that could impact our marriages, friendships, positions, businesses, finances, health, etc.
What has God’s Spirit been bringing to your attention? Are we listening for and acting upon the prompting of God’s Holy Spirit in our life? Or, are we just hearing and saying to ourselves as the new recruits thought to themselves on their first day of practice when asked by Coach Wooden to please take off your shoes and socks, “What on earth did this have to do with basketball?”
The answer: EVERYTHING!
“Preparation doesn’t start when the buzzer sounds to begin the big game; it starts with the first action at the first practice on the first day of the season. Greatness is not achieved in a moment – it is the result of hundreds of small acts of preparation along the way." Don Yaeger.
“Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines...” Song of Solomon 2:15
“The prudent give thoughts to their steps.” Proverbs 14:15b