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  • Peter Miller

SGG episode #35: Coach Bo Ryan: “It’s not so much what you say, it’s what you accept”


Coaches are important educational leaders in our schools, communities, and universities. The Sport and the Growing Good (SGG) podcast provides embedded, front-line insights on winning and positive development. The SGG podcast can be heard here and on all major podcast platforms.

Bo Ryan is a Hall of Fame basketball coach, who achieved great success at multiple levels of the game. Notably, Coach Ryan led UW-Platteville to four national championships and the UW Badgers to more victories than any other coach in school history, including multiple Big Ten conference titles, and two Final Fours. His awards and accomplishments are too numerous to list and his impact on the game throughout the US is widespread and lasting. In this episode of the SGG podcast, we discussed:

1. Watching his dad’s influence on young people as a three-sport coach in Chester, PA.

2. How his dad kept things simple in sports – not trying to trick anyone or play favorites.

3. Coaches being in it for the kids, not themselves.

4. Always learning and working toward getting understanding between coach and players.

5. “It’s not so much what you say, but what you accept.”

6. Why “walk-throughs are a no-no.”

7. The “voice in the locker room when the coaches aren’t around” can mean 5-10 more wins a season.

8. The value of experience – you can’t learn a lot of these things in a book.

9. Growing up across the street from Coach Jack McKinney.

10. The role of camps as a developmental opportunity for young coaches.

11. “Do what you do, and do it better than what the other team can prepare for. We have never tricked another team or coach into a victory.” Stick to the absolutes.

12. The great compliment that Coach Wooden gave him.

13. Keeping players focused and “present” amid high-pressure, big-hoopla game environments.

14. “The best teachers are the ones that always make the students feel like they’re the ones that got the answers.”

15. How video from his UW-Platteville days helped some of his Badger teams learn.

16. The “impact of a hard cut”… an example of how each small part affects the whole unit.

17. “Spreading your wings” to learn from different types of coaches and settings.

18. “Getting five defensive players to guard three offensive players” and being guided by a few simple concepts.