I thoroughly enjoyed this piece about one of my favorite soccer players of all time:
And yet, in part because of the juvenile nature of soccer analysis, we have barely scratched the surface of understanding quite how Messi does it. This is most true when looking at his movement. Messi may get the ball more than most, but he, like all players, still spends the majority of his time without it — making runs, hiding in space, creating space for his teammates. It’s an integral part of his game that we know almost nothing about. The outcomes are there for all to see, but the process is obfuscated — we observe and quantify what Messi does on the ball, and are blind when he is off it.
Truly something special.
Messi is a master, unlike most of the players out there. And, because mastery makes complex things look simple we all fail to completely appreciate or understand what’s really going on. It’s also quite possible that Messi, himself, isn’t entirely sure what he’s doing – it’s probably more instinctive than anything else, a combination of practice and his unique perspective on how to play the game.
Real mastery is like this for pretty much everything in life and we’ll never quite understand how the best of the best do what they do. I like that though as it shows that the distance between science and art is a lot closer than we realize.
Perhaps they are one-in-the-same.