Everything Is Timing – Johan Cruyff Edition

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cruyff quotes

Johan Cruyff is the most intriguing sports figure of the last 50 years.  He had the ability to say something you have never heard before, that is at the same time blindingly obvious.  How could he see the most obvious thing in the world that nobody else could see?

He understood speed.

What is speed? The sports press often confuses speed with insight. See, if I start running slightly earlier than someone else, I seem faster.

He understood that technique exists only in the service of the game and of the team.

Technique is not being able to juggle a ball 1000 times. Anyone can do that by practicing. Then you can work in the circus. Technique is passing the ball with one touch, with the right speed, at the right foot of your team mate.

He understood how difficult it is to do the easy things well.

Playing football is very simple, but playing simple football is the hardest thing there is.

He understood understanding.

“You see it when you understand it.”

He understood leadership.

“Players that aren’t true leaders but try to be, always bash other players after a mistake. True leaders on the pitch already assume others will make mistakes.”

He understood the power of individuality.

“Every disadvantage has its advantage.”

And most importantly, he understood timing.

“There’s only one moment in which you can arrive in time.  If you’re not there, you’re either too early or too late.”

Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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  1. A question for clarification, and since unfortunately it can’t be directed to King Johan directly anymore, maybe you want to step in, Mark. In the Olympics, Brazilian team barely qualified for the Quaters (also, in the women tournament, later Goldmedalist China finished group stage on the fourth rank, though they were never threteand to be eliminated back than). And I read you’re final post of Power Rankings as if you consider this to be a case of good timing. Is that true? If so, was good timing a mere coincidence (or, more precisely, an ex-post ascription, for if France had won the decisive match, I think they would have had good chances of beating Argentina and Russia as well) or was it – at least partially – something the team and Bernardinho have had planed? Judging by the expression of his face in the match against France, the coach didn’t not be confident that his timing (if he really was thinking about that) was apt.
    Or is it, that the world’s best teams are very close in their level of performance, and since their are no draws in volleyball, i.e. someone has to win, and in the absence of any better explanation – or faced with an infinite ammount possible explanations of small differences – we simply say: “Well, that was timing…”?


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