Coach John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success: Empirical Evidence?
Deanna Perez, Boston University, USA
Theme: Life skills/learning strategies (includes coping)
Poster Number: 123
Program ID: POS-2
Presentation: October 4, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Coach John Wooden defined success as “peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” He elaborated on this definition by creating the Pyramid of Success, a diagram of 15 psychological skills demonstrating how an athlete can achieve success. His Pyramid has been applied by teachers, coaches, athletes, and psychologists alike. Recently, Wooden’s Pyramid helped inspire Gilbert and colleagues’ Pyramid of Teaching Success in Sport, which visually displays the qualities necessary for successful teaching in sport. Researchers have previously coded Wooden’s methods of coaching; however, the connections between the blocks of the Pyramid have yet to be studied empirically, and/or explicitly linked to existing research in psychology literature. The current theoretical study reviews these connections and finds support for Wooden’s definition of success. For example, at the foundation of the Pyramid is cooperation, which leads upward to intentness. Researchers have found that cooperation, or cohesion, significantly predicted commitment to team goals. Because Wooden defined intentness as concentration on the team objective, commitment to team goals may be considered a valid operational definition. The building blocks of self-control, friendship, initiative, intentness, and competitive greatness in particular have enjoyed much support in the empirical literature. Self-control may be likened to theories of self-regulation. Friendship shared many commonalities with researcher’s definition of cohesion. Initiative and mental toughness were found to be much the same. Intentness (or a lack thereof) was supported by research on burnout. Wooden’s concept of competitive greatness shares many commonalities with the psychological concept of flow. That so much research could be found supporting Wooden’s theories highlights both the progress that sport psychologists have made and the well-foundedness of the Pyramid itself.