NICK BAKER: In the following video, you will see Nico Romeijn discussing creativity. Nico is currently Director of Coaching Education for US Soccer, but we see Nico here being interviewed in his previous role as Head of Education for the KMVB, the Dutch Soccer Association.
SPEAKER: What does creativity mean to you in your job as a coach educator?
NICO ROMEIJN: First, I want to say that I think the topic is very challenging because when you when you do a conference on creativity, at the definition of the word “creativity” is very important now. So, and we’ve got this background that we like to link everything to the reality, so we also want to link creativity to reality. So the definition of creativity. So when we are looking at the game, and it’s– for example it’s about attacking, defending, and so on. And it’s, it’s, always, it is important the goal, the goal of attacking, the goal of defending. For example, the goal of attacking is create chances, score, and so on. Defending is the other way around.
So when you, when you look at creativity, then you should be very good in making choices. Making choices in order to, in order to create chances, in order to prevent your opponent of creating chances. So for us, this is the definition of creativity, and it’s, as I’ve said, it’s really links to the reality, the reality of the game.
SPEAKER: When we talked there about making decisions, how do we actually improve the player’s ability to make decisions? Is that something they have within them, or can we coach that?
NICO ROMEIJN: No, we can’t we can really coach that, but I think they have got it in them because there is this theory about divergent thinking. It is, actually it is from Ken Robinson. It’s an English man. And it’s about that when you’re looking at very young children, and you ask them, OK, how many options do you have with a paperclip? And they will say, oh, about 80 options. So when you’re looking the same children, they’ve done the research when they are at the end of their school periods, they only see one option. So from nature, children have the ability to see many options.
So just put them in the right environment, and these environments you can force them to do certain football behaviour by the size of the area, you know, and how you position the opponent, and so on. And then it’s more or less about the attitude of the coach, because I think it’s very difficult for coaches to step back and to observe and at some moments ask questions. And then, at least, you give them some information. And it is more or less natural behaviour of coaches to tell them, we’re going to build up like this, and you have to use this action.
And this is the same we are doing into the school system, and at the end of the school system, they only see one option in a paperclip. And the same we’re doing in the learning process of players. At the end, they only see one option in building up, but it’s about the outcome. It’s about in order to create chances. So I think that’s the important part of educating creativity.
SPEAKER: So to use that same analogy about the paperclip, sometimes it’s about asking them to come up with lots of different ways of using the paperclip without me, perhaps as the coach, telling them what to do.
NICO ROMEIJN: Yeah, yeah. Exactly, exactly. Because it’s not about how they are doing it. It’s about the outcome, because football is about scoring goals. Football is about create chances and prevent and so on and so on. So when they are successful in their choices, then it’s OK. Then it’s OK, because that’s what the game is about.
NICK BAKER: What were the main points of Nico’s video? What does he think coach’s role should be in enabling creative players? How should a coach think about structuring the practise to help players be creative? In 2015, the FA launched to England DNA, the playing and coaching philosophy of the England teams. As part of the “How We Coach” section, the FA have identified 12 coaching fundamentals that are central to any practise delivered by FA coaches. These coaching fundamentals or key tools guarding our practises, form the basis for how we believe coaching practises should be designed.
As you can see, using games wherever possible and designing realistic game-related practises are central to what we believe good coaching is in order to develop creative young players of the future.