The Difference is in the Details
Coach Wooden told me, "The difference between the champion and the runner up is often found in the details." Everyone who knows Coach, knows he was a stickler for detail. He had a nauseating contempt for sloppiness and a failure to execute anything "properly." For example, after releasing the basketball for the jump shot, the hand and arm must come back down the same way they went up. In other words, if the shot was filmed and then run backwards from the point of release, this is exactly how it should look. And he always had reasons for his details. The reason for this one was, bringing the hand and arm back in this way ensured the elbow would continue to elevate throughout the shot, a major factor for effective shooting.
In this blog posting, I want to share with you another detail of his that few know about. Adidas came out with it's first basketball shoe in the late 60s. Up to that point, Converse had dominated the market; almost every basketball player in the world was wearing the Chuck Taylor Converse shoe. It was heavy but no one paid attention to that because we didn't know the difference. The Adidas shoe was half the weight. Most of this was due to the invention of the polyurethane sole. It was an amazing shoe; it felt like you weren't wearing anything at all. The only problem with the sole was that it came with a coating on it and was a bit slippery until it was worn and used for some time.
When the shoe came out, Coach Wooden immediately saw the advantage but knew he had to do something about that slippery bottom. He solved the problem. Personally, he rubbed the sole of every shoe with steel wool.
This blog would be ten pages long if I were to share with you all the details I remember. Suffice it to say, Coach Wooden addressed every single detail. I'll share a few more but there are many.
While most teams used nylon, sleeveless, practice shirts, Coach had us wear cotton T-shirts because they absorbed and disseminated perspiration much better and kept us dryer during the workout.
Pre-game meals consisted of a 16 oz New York steak, baked potato with one TBS butter, peas, melba toast, a mixed fruit cup, and hot tea.
Coach showed us how to put our socks on properly to avoid blisters. If the sock is pulled, it is stretched. A stretched sock will clump in a stretched area and that ball of sock will rub against the foot, causing a blister.
The difference is often in the details.