101 Best Don Meyer Quotes on Coaching and Life

don meyer quotes

Coach Don Meyer was a legendary college basketball coach. He was a master teacher of the game of basketball and life.

Every coach knew and appreciated Don Meyer. He was your favorite coach’s favorite coach. Legendary coach Pat Summitt said about Don Meyer, “he taught me how to teach others how to play the game.”

See more from Pat Summitt at 21 Things to Remember.

Coach Meyer once held the record for the most wins in men’s college basketball with 923 wins. He held the record until it was surpassed by Duke University coach Mike Krzyzewski with 1,202 wins.

He coached at Hamline University in Minnesota, Lipscomb University in Tennessee, and Northern State University in South Dakota.

Don Meyer ESPY Speech

Coach Don Meyer 2009 ESPY Jimmy V Award

Don Meyer won the 2009 Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the 2009 ESPY Awards. He gave an all-time classic speech.

Don Meyer quotes on coaching

Here are some of the best Don Meyer quotes on coaching in basketball and in life:

There is nothing more important than rebounding … don’t just give it lip service.

When the legs go, the heart and the head follow quickly behind.

Every day you teach attitude.

TEAM Attitude.

If a farmer and his family can get up at 5:30 every morning to milk cows, surely we can get up at that time to practice basketball.

Simplify the game as much as possible. When you add, you must subtract.

It is foolish to expect a young man to follow your advice and to ignore your example. 

Get all the good ideas but you can’t use all the good ideas.

You build your program from the ideas of great coaches.

Players who are late are saying that their time is more important than the team. 

He taught me how to teach others how to play the game.

Pat Summitt

Listen better tomorrow than you did today.

We had ten turnovers tonight. Each one gets worse as you go. It’s like prior arrests: the tenth one might not have been that bad, but when you had nine prior ones, it looks pretty bad.

A coach who is not teaching leads to the worst thing in a program – players not learning.

Recognize and reward players who put the team first, not just the gifted ones.

Successful programs consist of people working hard, working together, while never worrying about who gets credit.

We want players to think about the NBA: Next Best Action.

We use the ‘F-word’ in our program. Our ‘F-words’ are faith, family and friends.

All the greats know how to keep it simple.

Young team members must gain experience. Older team members must maintain enthusiasm.

Play every play like it’s the big play because no one knows when it is the big play.

Teach life lessons.

Tough minded enough to do the necessary things–this is the epitome of what a team is.

You aren’t going to win championships unless you make layups and free throws.

To be a team, you must be a family.

We want to work at a level that no one else can possibly understand.

Plays are not as important as players, and players are not as important as teammates.

On a good team some people are willing to do the dirty work. On a great team, everyone is willing to do the dirty work.

Watch people teach.

You’re probably not as bad as you think are when you lose and you’re definitely as good as you think you are when you win.

Let’s get everything we can out of the time we have left.

Your program must have an overriding purpose, which is clearly visible and which teaches lessons beyond winning.

We painted a beautiful picture, but we just didn’t finish it. Finishing is the difference between a beautiful picture and a masterpiece.

Coldly evaluate your performance.

The three people that must be great daily for your team to succeed… the head coach, the best player, and the point guard.

You have to learn to play with what you’ve got.

Proper prior planning prevents pitiful poor performance.

The team that should have won did win.

Good shooters take the shots. The best shooters take most of the shots.

There are jackasses on every farm.

We sure didn’t play great, but we played hard. And I can live with that.

Successful basketball coaches are those that subscribe to a system that is based on sound fundamental teachings.

Arete. (Greek for excellence, moral virtue, or realizing full potential)

Adapt. Improvise. Overcome.

Those who work the hardest are the last to surrender.

Keep things simple and execute those things sharply.

Aim for goals higher than 10 feet.

What you accept in victory, you must accept defeat.

Don Meyer

Don Meyer three team rules

  1. Everybody takes notes.
  2. Everybody says “please” and “thank you, “yes ma’am” and “yes sir”.
  3. Everybody picks up trash.

Don Meyer ESPN E:60 story

Don Meyer quotes on life

Here are some of the best Don Meyer quotes on life:

If you want to be interesting, take interest in others.

Always take notes.

Make each day your masterpiece. – John Wooden

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

What makes a masterpiece is what you take out.

If you win a rat race you are still a rat.

Shout praise and whisper criticism.

Small people talk about other people. Average people talk about things. Great people talk about ideas.

Peace is not the absence of troubles, trials, and torments but calm in the midst of them.

Forget about what we’ve done. Think about what we’re going to do.

I learned from Warren Buffet. I look for three things, intelligence, energy, and character. If they don’t have the last one the first two will kill you.

Complacency is the forerunner of mediocrity. You can never work too hard on attitudes, effort and technique.

Be a craftsman. Take pride in how you do what you do.

When I go in for heart surgery, I want a full-time surgeon. I don’t want some guy who just does it part-time between rounds of golf. You want a guy who is doing it all the time and is always reading and learning about the most recent techniques.

People don’t pay for average. No one wants to go on an average date with an average girl, eat an average meal, see an average movie, and have an average make out session.

Reputation is what people think you are; character defines who you really are. 

The first step to intelligence is to realize we’re stupid.

Read each day.

There are two types of pain: the pain of discipline and the pain of regret.

Make the big time where you are.

All you can control in life is your effort and your attitude. Effort is how hard you try. Attitude is how you respond.

You can’t want something for someone more than they want it for themselves.

Have character, don’t be one.

Tell people you love them. You may not get a chance tomorrow.

Most of us would rather be ruined by praise, than saved by criticism.

The first step to intelligence is to realize we’re stupid.

For every 100 who can handle failure there is but 1 who can handle success.

Witness for the Lord always, use words when necessary.

You usually get exactly what you deserve.

Don’t whine, don’t complain, don’t make excuses. – John Wooden

Read the Bible every day and let it speak to you.

Leaders pick up trash. It keeps the leader humble and the parking lot clean.

You have to clean out the pig barn every week because you know your pigs are in there doing their jobs every day.

Always be a ‘quarter’ friend: if a guy was down to his last quarter, would he call you? Always have time for people.

Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming. – John Wooden

Life is a team sport.

Happiness begins when selfishness ends.

I’ve never met a selfish person that was happy and I’ve never met an unselfish person that was unhappy.

Life is not all about you. – Rick Warren

We always need to be prepared and work hard in practice so we can be just like the farmer who has put that fourth cutting of hay in the barn. After he does that, he can feel good about what is going to happen the rest of the winter.

Life is terminal for all of us.

Leave every place a little better than you found it.

The only thing success should do is make you more humble.

Discover your gift, develop your gift, and then give it away every day.

Kindness is a language that the blind can see and the deaf can hear. – Mark Twain

Humility comes from wisdom as does maturity.

Don Meyer resources

Handout: Very Impressive Person

Handout: The Easy and The Hard

His website: CoachMeyer.com

Don Meyer book recommendations

These books were recommended by Coach Meyer on his website and in talks.

Make the Big Time Where You Are by Frosty Westering

How Lucky You Can Be: The Story of Coach Don Meyer by Buster Olney

The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization by John Wooden and

Scroll to Top