The year of John Wooden Planks

By Jim Chaps
The words “learn more about John Wooden,” just popped into my head. Definitely unprovoked, but distinct and clear. Why did that just happen? It was early January, I hadn’t made any resolutions yet; I decided to take this odd prompting and run with it. Well, actually, I planked with it.
To “learn more” about the “greatest coach of the 20th century” I did plank exercises while simultaneously watching John Wooden videos on my smartphone, daily for a full year.
Ground rules: The minutes of planking matched the day of the month. All of that day’s minutes had to be done in one continuous session. No “half now, half later” split-sessions candyland. Get interrupted, start over again from zero. Don’t get interrupted. First few days of every month – cupcakes. Double digits come soon enough.
Protect the shoulders! Stay injury free. Accommodate as necessary. The time display of the video was the stop watch. Hips have to be off the ground to count. I could push the pause button to catch a mini-breather as needed but stayed in position… pause no longer than 60-seconds. In this for the long haul. Deep breaths. (Some days use “the pause” more than others.) Twenty-minute planks are only two-thirds as tough as 30’s. Sundays are off. TGIS. Stay mindful — the real intention is to learn more about John Wooden.
These daily videos with Wooden incentivized overcoming the physical demands. I was eager to hear stories again, eager for the repetition of quotes, to hear him spitting poetry. He had some sick recitation skills. The various interviews and speeches on video blended with the steady, increasing-duration of the daily planks. Life-lessons got learned and laughter happened. Wooden, I learned, while he looked like a straight-laced, all-business, no-nonsense person, could be a wise-guy. Really. There are many videos of interviews with Wooden’s former players, with other coaches that knew him, with sports writers, leaders and motivational speakers which Wooden mentored. Their stories of Wooden are special and certainly help anyone that wants to, to learn more about him.
The name “John Wooden Planks” sparked more fun. Like “Before and After” on Wheel of Fortune. Like Home Sweet Home Run. Survive, stay alive. Stay injury free.
Fast forward the end of the year, the over-arching challenge became purely – patience. There was and is no way around this. One cannot improve how long it takes to complete 20-minutes of planking. Same with 21, 22, etc. Patience. Focus only on today, and breathe, endure and remember: you’re learning more about Wooden. Learning about the pyramid of success, about priorities. Learning to recite some lines of poetry with him. Every day but Sunday. No sleep until the planks are complete. Oh, yeah, I had to drag my-a-self out bed a few times, dang-near forgot the day’s planks.
On Dec. 30, closed it out, going for 31 minutes–New Year’s Eve fell on a Sunday! I did it. Finished the challenge, kept the pace. Now, yes, I feel victorious in completing the year. But these are some words that the world needs to hear. Knowing more about John Wooden can make any person better equipped to determine what is right from who is right.
Wooden’s wisdom applies to now:
“Keep an open mind.”
“Hear what the other person has to say.”
Wooden’s players at various times would challenge him and his “unjust rules.” Players had to be neat and clean. No facial hair was allowed. When Wooden coached during the late 60’s early 70’s, rebellious youth, rock and roll, protests, hippies, love-ins and so on were everywhere. Bill Walton had grown his hair long, plus a beard and sideburns during the off season after a national title. On the first day of practice Walton showed up looking like he ultimately did as a pro. Coach Wooden says, “Bill you know the rules, you can’t be here if you’re going to look like that.” Walton boldly spoke out to Wooden, “You don’t have the right to tell me how I can dress or shave or grow my hair.” Wooden paused briefly then replied, “You’re right, Bill. I don’t have that right. I only have the right to determine who is going to play for UCLA this year… and we’re going to miss you.” Walton went out to get his hair cut, shave the beard and sideburns and returned to practice.
Today’s leagues and organizations could benefit by correctly interpreting and applying much of Wooden’s logic. Some, likely the gullible and scoffers think, “Wooden’s time is past, his ways won’t work in modern society.” There are plenty of dilemmas to which Wooden’s wisdom can bring clear, wisdom-based, balance, understanding and peace of mind. “It’s about what is right rather than who is right.”
Some more Woodenisms from memory following a year of John Wooden Planks
(not a complete list):
Make each day your masterpiece.
Be true to yourself.
Make friendship a fine art.
Be quick but don’t hurry.
Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.
It’s about what is right, not who is right.
We should stay open-minded with others.
There is no progress without change but all change is not progress.
Patience and Faith connect the blocks of the pyramid leading to “competitive greatness.” The cornerstones are “Industriousness” and “Enthusiasm”
Be quick, but don’t hurry. (worth gold and repeating)
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
The star of the team is the team.
Be true to yourself. (That actually is at the top of the list of seven point creed he got from his dad. Be true to yourself.)
Today is the only day that matters.
Make friendship a fine art.
Make today your masterpiece.
It’s better not to do something for someone that they could do and should do for themselves.
Count your blessings everyday.
The star of the team is the team.
Never mistake activity for achievement.
Don’t try to be better than anyone else; never stop trying to be the best that you can be.
There is no progress without change, but all change is not progress. (echo?)
Hard work and enthusiasm are the cornerstones of the pyramid of success.
And what exactly is the definition of success? Here’s where the sound bites stop – and the enduring lesson lives: (This definition is ESSENTIAL John Wooden. He preferred to be called a teacher. He wanted to be called a teacher, didn’t like the nickname of “Wizard of Westwood” and wrote his own definition of success)
By Teacher John Wooden: Success is peace of mind attained only through self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable.
Did I do my best? Today. Repeat. Today. If I did my best, I can have peace of mind, knowing I made the effort to do my best. Today. That is success.
The simplicity and compassion of this definition is immense. I’d never heard it before. I was totally consumed and driven by actual outcomes, results. If you’re not first – you’re last type of stuff. I pushed the pause button and wept. I sobbed on the floor because it felt like a huge burden was just lifted off of me. Just do the best I can do – today. Success in Woodens books.
Perspective and relevancy:
Wooden and Never Giving Up go together…. He persevered with coaching in near obscurity for 32 years, 15 years he coached in high school, before he won the first national title. Only then did UCLA run 10-out-of-12. He persevered, always working to improve. He did have some great athletes including legendary superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (present for three titles); another two title teams had co-superstars Bill Walton and Jamaal “Silk” Wilkes. So, five more championship seasons were teams “without” superstars. The star of the team is the team.
Persistence. Every day, best effort. Patience, faith, hard work and enthusiasm are vital. The aim is competitive greatness, with peace of mind — knowing you truly did your best. Today.
Please try this challenge — even for a week or a month. Protect your shoulders! The abs are a given, the low back, hips, knees and shoulders feel serious stress – be careful. Patience is vital, you can’t be in a hurry. (Be quick, but don’t hurry.) The 20 minute plank takes at least 20 minutes. You’ll be learning about and from one life’s greatest teachers. Do your best. Today.
Sports Spectrum fans, please DO TRY this at home!
Highly recommend the TED Talk given by Wooden. The video is about 17 minutes long. The Wooden TED Talk video barely had a million views when I started using it as a planks-timer. Hoping to have it grow to 10 million. Some music videos have billions!
Also SUCCESS – produced a teaching series and has a website for The Wooden Effect at:


THE CHALLENGE COMPLETED! New Year is the time of resolutions, and for Jim, now is the time to celebrate successfully completing A ONE YEAR challenge (began last January) to learn more about legendary U.C.L.A. basketball coach John Wooden. Jim created a challenge to do “plank” exercises while watching videos and interviews with Coach Wooden. “The wisdom of the coach of the century is still right here for us.” Many of you know that in addition to songwriting and innovating with guitar, Jim is a life-long athlete. He was a YMCA Healthy Living Director and coach. For his unique “learn more about John Wooden challenge” each day Jim did x-number of minutes of planking to match the day of the month.  “On the 17th of the month, I’d did 17 minutes, 18th I did 18, and so on. I started looking forward to the first of the month–sort of! There are great videos are out there, a great TED talk, SUCCESS clips, plus interviews with former players, fellow coaches and people talking about the Pyramid of Success, the wisdom and his sense of humor are/were incredible.” Jim says. “The insights Coach Wooden shared– they are liberating. I am so glad I did this.” Jim is finishing an article about the experience. The title “John Wooden Planks” plays upon Wheel of Fortune’s “Before and After” phrases.  “Try this challenge, even for a month–If you dare!” @chapsjim #woodeneffect)


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

UNHINGED Released!

The album UNHINGED (Welcome to the Folkhouse) is available at top music streaming services. Please help Jim by saving some of the music, the full album or individual tracks to your playlists on services like: Pandora, Spotify, Shazam, Amazon, Tidal, iTunes, iHeart, Deezer and more! “It’s my best work yet.” Best heard with headphones, earbuds and nice speakers.

A full album experience FREE

“I really wanted to make a simple way for my own mom — now in her 80’s, to listen to the whole album very easily,” Jim says about why he posted a “one-click, full album” of the ground-breaking UNHINGED project on YouTube. “It may be a blessing for everyone because UNHINGED is arranged to flow as a singular album experience.” UNHINGED Hear Now on YouTube, Full Album Experience

Handlepick / GuitarArcs™ The trucks of guitar picks™ ((GREAT FOR NEW PLAYERS!))

“These ENCOURAGE – not discourage – people to enjoy playing music!” Much of Jim’s attention during the past couple of years has been devoted to developing the patented, arched, guitar picks. Jim says, “They will have a positive impact on guitar-playing in the years ahead. They’re fun to play, easy to hold, less hand-stress to control and you can feel MORE FREEDOM of expression. The wooden archpicks we’ve come out with are incredible–they reveal tone from the guitar that isn’t able to be heard with small traditional picks.”  GuitarArcs™ The Trucks of Guitar Picks™  Info here about the patented arch-shaped guitar picks. “A great idea doesn’t work unless you do,” is a favorite saying. “I really believe that the new players will be encouraged, less frustrated and more efficient at picking and strumming their guitars. These arch-shaped picks effectively solve the longstanding, pick-control problems – with improved physics. Arched guitar picks don’t ‘salve the symptom’ they solve the problem. Some great guitar builders recognize how this innovation will catch on during and continue for years, to create a better, more efficient, more enjoyable guitar playing experience. They will widen the scope of active guitar players and re-engage the people with sore hands, arthritis, dexterity issues to feel able to participate, equipped with these arcs. And yes, they’re arcs, not picks…. like we don’t call trucks – cars. There’s a difference. It will take a little bit of time to catch on, but really they are great.”


  Best album ever from Jim!  Includes Verse 2 of Star-Spangled Banner, Hora De Montar (FOLKHOUSE revealed… Groundbreaking “split-ear Spanish – English” technique is awesome in headphones for the chorus). The audio tracks were released to major streaming services in the autumn of 2017. “I hope that people will breathe and relax for the full album experience.”  The full album audio tracks linked together for a singular “album experience” in one 34-minute graphics-video.

John Wooden Planks

From Jim:  The first of the this year I felt inspired to learn more about the basketball coach and teacher, John Wooden. Daily since January 1, I’ve started a “John Wooden Planks” challenge. Each day, except Sunday, I do plank exercises while listening to John Wooden interviews on YouTube. The day of the month is how many minutes of planking I do for that day. The videos display time, so that’s the stopwatch… push pause to catch breath, stay in position and return to the planks asap–press play to resume when back up. Sweat happens, especially end of month! It was a crazy idea, but now I look forward to the discipline each day. Like “Make Your Bed” has instilled in a lot of us too. There is so much to appreciate in the life and teaching of John Wooden. His definition of success is special to me and may be for you: “Peace of mind that comes from self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable.” I still am awed and released by it. I laugh a lot too, listening to him and those that knew him. There are gems like “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” “Be quick but don’t hurry.” “Never try to be better than someone else, but never stop trying to be the best that you can be.” Thank you, Coach Wooden and the many people, especially teachers and coaches that incorporate your spirit, grit, wit and legacy into our culture today. We all benefit from great coaches and teachers. “Be true to yourself.” Cheers. More to follow.

Previously… Past Performance Recaps:

Pirate Treasure Trot –

Port Charlotte (FL U.S.A.) High School’s Pirate Treasure Trot 5k and 1-miler will be on Saturday, Aug. 19 at 7 a.m. GuitarArcs™ arched guitar picks that Jim and his brother developed and that Jim uses on all songs he plays with a “pick” – er, ARC , is a sponsor of the race. The race packets will have fun “design coloring page” for all participants. The products align with the mission to encourage creativity, empowerment, enjoyment and inclusion. Hope to see you at Port Charlotte High School’s track/football stadium on Aug. 19th.  Pirate Treasure Trot – Info

Venice, FL USA – Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017 The Art Experience event at the Historic Venice Train Depot -Artist event Jim will provide music for The Art Experience event hosted at the Train Depot. Music and visuals by local and visiting artists. Any artist is welcome to bring visual works for judging and critique — entrance fee is $10. Wonderful atmosphere. See you there! More information about The Art Experience via Facebook – “The paintings must be in color, any medium and all painted on a common theme, decided upon at the previous month’s session. The piece must NOT be signed, framed, or matted. For $10, the general public can attend, enjoy pizza and wine, and get one vote. The artists pay $15, get 3 votes, and all proceeds are divided among the winners. Our purpose: To Become Better Artists”

THANK YOU — What a great evening with everyone. So awesome to play on this cool, crisp evening. Set list included: Sending Love, Estuary, Destiny, You Are Here, Time To Ride, Highway 23, cover of “The Y” and others. Thanks to Andy Browne for taking some video highlights and posting ON YOUTUBE HERE.  Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. North Port, FL at Common Grounds Meeting Hall


The music video ecard of Silent Night by PeaceFoals is available – and everyone can freely share it. The song from “A PeaceFoals Holiday” an EP of four songs was originally released four years ago. Jim: “People listen to this little album all year round, it’s really pretty amazing. Making the video Christmas card of Silent Night with the nativity scene hopefully can help spread the love and hope of the true meaning of Christmas. Not sure who originally said this, but ‘Our lives are God’s gift to us; what we do with our lives is our gift to God.'”



From Jim: Very happy to be able to play guitar and sing with Laurie Colton. Laurie is a creative force at the great Venice Theatre and she led this 2-night cabaret “Songs in the Key of Pink” on a Thurs. and Friday, Aug. 18 and 19, 2016.  The show featured great songs written by women who’ve faced breast cancer.  Additional bkgd… Laurie and I first sang together doing a cover duet of “Hurt” in church, 2005 when her hub, Cleveland sports fanatic, Evan delivered a sermon about Johnny Cash. Please get tickets as soon as you can. Thanks…  Venue: Venice Theatre Pinkerton  140 W. Tampa Ave. Venice, FL 34285




From Jim: Saturday, April 30th’s show in North Port, Fla. was a great experience. Thanks to everyone that was there and to you for checking in to see how it went. Played some of my earliest-written JimChaps songs that were written when I was 18 and singing them at The Hinge my freshman year at college. Common Grounds in North Port, Fla., with R.J. Malloy, Joe Morea and Mikie J. made me and everybody there feel welcome and appreciated. The show was simulcast on WKDW 97.5 fm in North Port and R.J. allowed me to use the stability ball and wireless mic set. Thanks, too R.J. for the wisecracks on Facebook about the jumping jacks and eye-shadow, still laughing about ’em… Thanks too to Robin for helping with the merchandise and nice feedback about some of the graphics and tee-shirts. Set listing: Destiny, Sending Love, World Laughs With You, One-Eyed Mouse, Tennis Shoes, Tell Yourself You Can, Time To Ride, Love at Second Sight, Concord Hymn, Highway 23, Estuary, The Sea, You Are Here, cover Angie, You Save Me, Seeking Truth, Flow, New York For Firemen, Last-Minute Charlie, When You Are Old (To Zenny From Yeats), cover Things We Said Today. Details of this evJimChaps at Common Groundsent: Saturday, April 30, 2016 – North Port, FL USA Common Grounds 7:30 p.m.  Tickets $10.  Venue info: Common Grounds Hall, Entertainment. 12737 Tamiami Trail North Port, FL 34287. North Port, FL 34287 Phone: (941) 564-3040




More streams than ever: Hey Omnifone, thanks for the listeners you are delivering to JimChaps music across the pond. The year of 2014 was the best streaming year yet for Jim and PeaceFoals (the band with Brandon Zachary and Cory Cocco) Jim’s biggest streamers were: Flow and Sending Love both songs feat. PeaceFoals from the 2013-released Triple Treat acoustic project. Spotify, Rdio and Deezer have shown great support. “I am really grateful that people are starting to notice these songs,” Jim says, “people like to have options like this, thankfully there is bandwidth and people that want original music.”