Nothing ever goes as planned. Bad luck always ends up resurfacing. Depending on whether you are a football player, supporter or commentator, you nitpick. The success ? It’s not exactly coincidence. It’s true. The unexpected? It’s not completely contingency, not wrong. We spend mad energy (and crazy dough) inventing Jesuit subtleties to hide our disappointments. In the end it’s always the same. No matter how many assists or good intentions, almost nothing is enough. Two CSCs and a few years younger.
Last Sunday it was through Laporte, from the start, that the bad luck came back. And then, a few seconds after an incredible streak of domination lasting more than three minutes (and an opposing post hit after 17 passes), it was through Talbi that fate was again invited. A controlled meeting against the twelfth in the standings therefore changed into a draw open to interpretation: 2-2.
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However, at the end of the meeting, Régis Le Bris, their trainer, did not abandon his blue sweater-shirt combo of a Morbihan docker or his theologian accents. He seemed satisfied, Regis, with his team’s reaction to the inevitability that seemed to be on its way. There had been the injuries of Abergel, Kalulu and Mofi, now Koné, the suspension of Dango Ouattara the previous week. Yes. But his expression didn’t change much.
To speak to future generations – if they still love football – Regis broke into the same sermon as usual. The one he gives among his flock in Ploemeur, a southern suburb of Lorient, a few hundred steps from Stole beach – « the charm of Ploemer » according to the tourist office – and of his stirring ocean. With a youthful face and a crooked smile, he bluntly evoked the unbearable lightness of being: « The vagaries of the score, the scenario, adverse events happen in a season and certain adverse events that have happened today are the lot of everything that happens in a season. It was important to have a form of reaction, not to let go. (…) I like the coherence that emanates from all that. Often in fairly young teams like ours, attacking moreover, we can lose the thread in relation to adverse events.
Régis Le Bris gives his instructions to his captain Laurent Abergel during FC Lorient’s victory against Alexandre Lacazette’s Olympique Lyonnais (3-1)
Regis is a good
Regis didn’t last long. But he could have evoked this day of 2015 when he discovered the thought of Claude Fauquet (and the idea of competition). At the start of this shock, a paradox: we spend our lives following competitions, sometimes preparing for them, often commenting on them but never thinking about them. We act as if it was enough to train to succeed, on D-Day, the test. And when we don’t succeed (most of the time, let’s be clear), we say it’s the coach’s fault, bad luck, the field or the journalists. We never tell ourselves that we are thinking the wrong way. We never wonder if we forgot a step in our preparation. Claude Fauquet, former swimming DTN, sports philosopher and current mentor of Le Bris, poses the problem of the goal (in white): « We too often think that if the athlete trains well, the competition will go well. However, all athletes follow good training. Why some win and others lose « That’s right. Sometimes it’s even worse: some train less than others (follow my gaze) and yet they win more often — « as if by chance ».
The whole approach of Le Bris is therefore based on this relentless observation: we spend our lives talking about competition without actually knowing what we are talking about. So, as in philosophy class, we raise our finger and interrupt « and, sir, what is the competitive situation? ». Response from Le Bris in 2020, « it is unpredictable, emergent, contingent, made up of multiple interactions ». Which means, in French, that what essentially defines the situation of competition is its unpredictability. A ball never arrives where you expected, a teammate is never in the right place, a referee is never what you expected, a tendon can fail you at any time, a bottle of water can do anything to change. The only constant is change. What therefore defines the competition is the inability in which one finds oneself to prepare for it. The work of the coach begins with a roadmap in the form of a paradox: how do you prepare for the unexpected? How do you imagine the unimaginable?
Régis Le Bris (FC Lorient), like a Hake in the water
We the plants
Fauquet thus tells how, while revolutionizing the preparation of swimmers and then French rugby players, he deconstructed the idea of preparation and/or talent detection. It is no longer a question of applying mechanical methods, like pushing buttons to operate a machine. No, creativity is too deep a matter to be reduced to a mathematical formula. « In the world of sport, talent detection is traditionally understood as the application of anthropometric, physical and physiological criteria supposed to characterize a champion ». Clearly, men are not fridges. They are plants. And like plants, they need an earth to draw from and a sky to reach for.
How else to explain that suddenly Stéphane Diarra takes the ball and starts to look like Leo Messi? How to understand the emergence of a one-two in full surface between two (almost) anonymous (Quentin Boisgard and Siréné Doucouré) to score a goal of breathtaking intelligence? Where does it come from, this season, that we did not see the Hakes coming? Perhaps because we had forgotten that the work of the trainer was somewhat the same as that of the gardener. One cultivates the land, the other cultivates people. How ? « Rather than football being in the head of the coachexplains Regis, football has to get inside the player’s head, it’s a fundamental paradigm shift. You have to nurture your practice, have the ability to cultivate yourself and become your own teacher ». On the menu therefore: flipped class, individualization of preparation, pooling of principles around the same idea, reflexivity of training. Result: appropriation of the game model, individual contribution, collaboration in performance.
The gardeners of Ploemeur
The job of preparation is therefore not to organize a competition between robots but to offer a little football to protect us from chaos. Claude Fauquet proposes a new definition of talent. Rest assured you don’t have to give up juggling, lung capacity or high-intensity running. But physical skills are one thing, talent is another. If the first are worked on, the second is cultivated. Talent is « the ability to give meaning in a competitive situation » that is to say the power that some will have, on the given day, to offer coherence, certainty, tranquility in the midst of the storm.
This is the moment when the principle of play previously constructed in common has tranquilizing virtues against « contrary events » said Regis the other day. It is then that the miracle can take place. This philosophical preparation for competition makes possible the emergence of an incredible dribble (Theo Le Bris against LOSC), a free kick in full skylight (3 scored with 3 different shooters), an improbable solo number in full opposing defense (Stéphane Diarra against Troyes). Nothing ever goes as planned. This adage deserves a tattoo.
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