Lynn Guerin and Jason Lavin have in their book Coach ‘Em Way Up: 5 Lessons for Leading the John Wooden Way compiled an impressive guide fashioned after John Wooden’s coaching technique. John Wooden was UCLA’s basketball coach who broke records by leading his teams to win 38 straight NCAA tournaments and 10 national championships in 12 short years. He was a beloved mentor and teacher, and his lessons are more relevant today than ever. That Guerin and Lavin not only studied with him and helped to develop his teaching method into a system that can be applied sports, business, and to our individual. Coach ‘Em Way Up: 5 Lessons for Leading the John Wooden Way is the result of those years of study and application they’ve used in their own training practices.


One of the basic lessons of this book is found in the introduction. Employment means nothing. Be employable. Employment can be taken from you at any time. You can do a great job and still lose your job. Employability can never be taken from you. How does one become employable? According to Guerin and Lavin, and of course John Wooden, the answer doesn’t lie in skills and training alone, but in one’s character. In this book you’ll discover how reaching competitive greatness is a result of 24 principal behaviors that are outlined in Wooden’s coaching technique. “Preparation, effort, and enthusiasm. It came through being disciplined, alert, conditioned, and skilled. By putting the team first. By maintaining poise and showing confidence. By exercising patience and always having faith. Those were only some of the words that appeared on his (Wooden’s) Pyramid.”

 Coach ‘Em Way Up: 5 Lessons for Leading the John Wooden Way has rules to live by that generations past learned as children. These rules could easily be defined as the substance of moral character. What is special about this book is that Guerin and Lavin have included a detailed self-assessment chapter that will prompt the reader to begin their journey to success. They include a score card and show you where you stand in Wooden’s pyramid to success, and best, what areas need work.


John Wooden’s teams at UCLA won often, with a record of 664–162 and trophies to ten national championships. But what the authors stress, and this because they met the man, worked with him, and understood his character, is that “Wooden never talked about winning (or losing) and certainly never entertained the idea of “winning at all costs.” How could that be? Wooden’s coaching concentrated on the areas of his teams’ thinking, and that is what his pyramid, and this book, address.

Indeed, these authors valued and respected a man who lived for 99 years and still sought to improve his character until the day he died. What a great influence Wooden had on authors Gurein and Lavin, and what a great book in Coach ‘Em Way Up: 5 Lessons for Leading the John Wooden Way they’ve passed on to us because of their experiences.

DL Gardner