Coach ‘Em Way Up: Five Lessons for Leading the John Wooden Way reflects some of the fruits from co-author Lynn Guerin’s long professional and personal relationship with Hall of Fame NCAA basketball coaching legend John Wooden. Wooden and his teams played and organized themselves according to a personalized philosophy emphasizing the merits of leadership, personal connection, and accountability. The value of his lessons extends far past the confines of a basketball court, however, and they have served Guerin and his co-author Jason Lavin well in their professional lives. Guerin works as President of his family-owned coaching, performance development, and training firm Guerin Marketing as well as occupying the role of CEO with The John R. Wooden Course. Lavin’s credentials include his service as President of the John Wooden Course, CEO of Golden Communication and, overall, more than a quarter century of experience promoting the team, individual, and organizational performance. 


This sort of shared background does much to make the text’s authority unimpeachable. They do not take on a lordly tone, however, and the writing exhibits an even-handed point of view seeking only to aid readers rather than scold. It has a direct approach, never leaning too heavily on terminology, and breaking down the values behind Wooden’s philosophy in a comprehensible manner. Guerin and Lavin have not devoted their professional lives to honing their writing talents, but they express themselves with clarity and intelligence throughout the entirety of this work. 

The book has a solid and straight-forward structure. The twelve chapters offer Guerin and Lavin enough space to alternate their points of view, their styles seamlessly meshing during the book, and make their case for why Wooden’s prescription for personal success offers such potential dividends to its adherents. He includes scant visual material in Coach ‘Em Way Up but it serves a purpose for further fleshing out the book’s underlying concepts. The Individual Assessment included in the book makes it more interactive experience for readers but disregarding it will not compromise the book’s worth to readers. 


I advise anyone with a deep interest in this book’s contents, however, to take the assessment. It isn’t difficult to follow and doesn’t demand a lot of the reader’s time. It has an enormous value to this book and will possibly bring you face to face with problematic areas in the way you approach life and provide key insights into where your personal development stands. Guerin and Lavin clearly regard it as key component of the book, though their presentation is balanced as a whole. Wooden’s timeless lessons will continue to have an effect for years to come – his record as a college basketball coach, his personal life, and the impact he had on scores of promising young men is beyond question. Guerin and Lavin capture its essence with Coach ‘Em Way Up: Five Lessons for Leading the John Wooden Way and their book has the added value of something you can pass on to other inevitably grateful readers. It is brief but possesses great depth rather than coming across as a hastily concocted gloss job. 

Garth Thomas