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What is creativity in Football?

There remains some confusion about the term, its application to the game, and the role of the coach in coaching creativity.
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SPEAKER 1: Protect it. Hide it, hide it.
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SPEAKER 2: The ability to think creatively in sport is often noted by coaches as highly desirable. Football coaches often referred to creative plays in terms of imagination, originality, and uniqueness. While coaches are tasked with creating environments that foster creativity, there remains some confusion about the term, its application to the game, and the role of the coach in developing creativity.
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SPEAKER 3: So for me, creativity in football is allowing players to have a go.
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SPEAKER 4: We’re basically looking for the players to express themselves.
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SPEAKER 5: It’s players using their brains to get out of tight situations, to out-think their opponents.
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SPEAKER 6: Well, for me, creativity in football is the ability of players to do things without instruction.
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SPEAKER 8: For me, from an individual perspective, it’s a player who would think outside the box.
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SPEAKER 9: Creativity is the ability to use technical and tactical skills in unexpected or surprising, or even amazing ways.
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SPEAKER 2: In these clips, coaches discuss creativity in terms of originality and individuality, being imaginative, generating new ideas, thinking out of the box, looking beyond the obvious, seeing the game in different ways, producing new resources and practises, doing things no one has done before, doing things that have been done before but differently, experimenting and taking risks, working at the boundaries of the game.
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In beginning to identify the key messages from these comments, there appears to be an agreement that creativity can be described as flexible decision-making in complex game situations, and that creativity needs space for its development. If we are going to foster creativity and not impose boundaries, then practises, activities, and things that coaches do can’t always be pre-determined. And if we accept that statement, then perhaps we start to see coaching for what it is– structured improvisation. It’s structured because coaches organise what they going to do. They have goals. They have outcomes, and they have aims. But sometimes they need to improvise based on their planning. Do we make this space bigger? Do we make it smaller? Do we introduce a second ball?
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Do we have multiple goals? Do we modify the game in some way? If we accept that, then coaching becomes structured improvisation. Inevitably, this impacts on the role of the coach and their relationship with their players, in thinking about designing for creativity that is specific to their club and their players and their situation.
In these clips, coaches discussed creativity in terms of:
  • originality and individuality
  • being imaginative, generating new ideas,
  • thinking out of the box,
  • looking beyond the obvious,
  • seeing the game in different ways
  • producing new resources/practices
  • doing things no-one has done before
  • doing things that have been done before but differently
  • experimenting and taking risks
  • working at the boundaries of the game
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Youth Football Coaching: Developing Creative Players

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