The Cruyff Turn

I never did tricks…I saw something and I did it, it just came out. There was an opponent there and you had to outplay them, so that was the easiest way.
— Johan Cruyff

The Cruyff turn is one of the most iconic moments in football, it was a creative solution to a problem.  In this short clip Johan Cruyff discusses his thought process and how he "outplayed" his opponent, I found this absolutely fascinating.

  • "I never did tricks" Does these mean Cruyff never practiced moves like this in isolation, they weren't planned or rehearsed, perhaps he needed context to perform such skills? He follows this up with "It just came out", implying this is the first time he had attempted this move, its worth remembering this took place at a World Cup, not a friendly or training game.

  • "I saw something and I did it" What did he see? The space available? The body shape of the defender as he closed him down? (perception and action)

  • "There was an opponent there and I had to outplay him, that was the easiest way" It is hard to believe this was the 'easiest way' but for an elite player like Cruyff perhaps it was, what is 'easy' or straightforward to us as coaches might not be seen through the same lens as the player. Why pass back when I can do this?

  • What are the implications for us as coaches? How do you design practices that create affordances such as this? How do you encourage your players to take such risks in high-pressure moments? Perhaps even more difficult in youth football where the player will initially get this wrong more times than he'll get it right.

A 30-second clip which generates so much thought, such is the brilliance of Cruyff.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, you can contact me here.