Pep Talk

I have been thinking a lot about coaching in recent weeks.

Last week we discussed the expert pedagogue in our Sport Coaching Pedagogy unit at the University of Canberra.

Whilst I was preparing a SlideCast that focused on David Berliner and Jon Wooden, Pep Guardiola was resigning as coach of Barcelona.

I enjoyed Richard Williams’ discussion of Pep in his Guardian post. I thought the points Richard made resonated with many of the issues we were discussing.

Steeped in the club’s history and traditions, the young Catalan, in his first senior coaching job, was able to distill the essence of the Barça style and to present it as a new philosophy of the game. He did so with a grace and an intelligence, and a refusal to seek personal attention, that shamed some of his rivals.

if anyone revived the practically extinct idea of class in football, it was him.

In discussing Pep’s coaching, Richard observes:

However marvellous his achievements to date, it is simply too early to install the 41-year-old in the front rank of history’s great football coaches, for one reason: we do not yet know whether his success was the product of an approach that is transferable and applicable to another environment, or whether it was the product of a particular time and place.

He adds that:

it would be interesting to see him coming to terms with the need to synthesise different styles of play into a winning approach, rather than refining the focus as tightly as he was able to do at Barcelona. Never again, one imagines, will he be in charge of so homogeneous a group of players, with so much in common in terms of their background, attitude and core skills.

I do think there would have been a fascinating conversation between John Wooden and Pep Guardiola. I am sorry I missed the opportunity to link the two in our discussion of the expert pedagogue. Both have reminded me of the essential quality of humility in leadership.

John Dickson suggests that humility is “the noble choice to forgo your status, deploy your resources or use your influence for the good of others before yourself”.

Photo Credit

Joan Gamper Trophy

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