John Wooden died June 4, 2010 at age 99. Twitter was founded in 2006. He retired in 1975 thirty-one years before Twitter yet he was a twitter coach. Why? How? We know that Coach Wooden is acknowledged as one of the greatest coaches of all time in any sport. Fortunately during his last season coaching in 1974-75 two psychologists Roland Tharp & Ronald Gallimore studied his methods and reported on his coaching style. (Tharp, R. G. and Gallimore, R. (1976). Basketballs John Wooden: What a coach can teach a teacher. Psychology Today, 9 (8), 74-78. (Tharp & Gallimore, 1976)) In their observations of 2,326 discrete acts of teaching during thirty hours of practice they observed the following:
- 6.9% were compliments
- 6.6% were expressions of discipline
- 75% was PURE INFORMATION
They were short, punctuated, numerous and seldom longer that twenty seconds! There were no lectures or long drawn out harangues. There was minimal use of praise and reproofs. What does this have to with Twitter, not much directly until you think about what Twitter is intended to do – Get you message across in 140 Characters. That is what John Wooden did and he was doing it years before Twitter was invented. He was a Twitter coach before there was Twitter. There is a powerful lesson here for all of us to be Twitter coaches, know your message and convey that message in 20 seconds or less (140 Characters). If it is longer than that forget it, because the athlete is not going to get it. Be a Twitter coach and improve your effectiveness as a teacher.
If you want to learn more Wooden’s teaching methods I suggest you read Yo Haven’t Taught Until They Have Learnedby Swen Nater & Gallimore and a 2004 follow-up to Gallimore & Tharp’s original study in the Sport Psychologist journal (Gallimore & Tharp, 2004). For additional insights into his growth as a coach I suggest you read: Wooden: A Coaches Life by Seth Davis. His success did not happen by chance. It was an unbeatable combination of impeccable preparation and sound teaching.