Get them thinking.

The argument continues, WHY are England not producing players capable enough to win major tournaments for their country?.

Well, creativity is the word that is currently being banded about to coaches of all levels across England, HOW can we produce players like your Messi’s, Neymar, Gotze, Suarez and Aguero’s.  Nick Levett (FA National Development Manager) used an excellent example in regards to creating creative players. He quoted “As a coach we need to be clever and creative at finding ways for young people to learn for themselves. Did you learn how to use a computer from someone telling you what to do the whole time or by exploring and finding your own way round it? Do music teachers sit in piano lessons shouting at children “black key, white key, white key”?.  For me this example is an excellent way of getting coaches to think about how they can maximise the possibility of their players being as creative as they can.

After today’s session based around creativity this got thinking deeply about what actually is creativity?. (Franken, 2003) states “Creativity is defined as a tendency to generate or recognise ideas, alternatives or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems and communicating with others” . Personally I would agree with everything Franken stated although, I would go even further to add that in order to create creative players they need to be able to be put into positions where they have to think for themselves and have a confidence in order to try new things which comes down to the way coaches are able to produce sessions to implement all these things in order to produce these creative players the country is striving for.

For me as a coach who agree’s fully with the FA’s youth review in football on wanting to produce more creative players, I believe coaches needs to be able to produce an environment where players are not afraid to make mistakes, take risks and attempt new things, players should be made to make their own decisions in order to improve as thinkers as well as players. (Horst Wein) produced a statement to which I believe English coaches are currently not able to provide their players with the opportunity of doing because the term WINNING is too important to them. He quoted “Young players should not be pressured by their coach to quickly pass the ball in order to allow better team play or winning. They should frequently have the opportunity to be in love with the ball, to dare to improvise their play and take risks, without fearing the possible consequence of having committed a mistake”.

It’s all well and good saying coaches need to be able to produce more creative players but how do we do that? or is Gareth Southgate’s comment that “I am not convinced you can coach creativity and that players will do things naturally that are creative. Sometimes allowing them to see what creative play is and them recognising that a lot of things they do in games are already creative. is that they way players will learn best in order to be creative?”

The previous comment made by Gareth Southgate linked nicely into my own personal views and that in my experience using small sided games where the session is player led rather than coach led is extremely effective. Small sided games will present players with the opportunity to make key decisions on a regular basis, the chance to try new things/skills, enable players to be confident in getting on the ball and taking lots of touches compared to giving every player instructions on where they should be, when they should pass the ball, how many touches they should take.

As well as giving players the ownership on the session it will also give them the opportunity to create a fun session for themselves rather than the coach producing a session where players will be working robots up and down lines. As a coach I try my upmost to hit the players needs as much as possible by creating fun sessions where players are given the environment where they are comfortable to try things without having the fear of making a mistake, I give players the ownership of the session where they are comfortable to play in a area created by themselves where they are made to make decisions on a regular basis which will help to enhance them as learners as well as players. My opinion around small sided games being more effective compared to working in lines is backed up by (Raab, Hamsen, Roth, Greco, 2001) who stated “Young players who experienced small sided games show considerably greater growth in creative capabilities compared with young players who receive guided play sessions”.

Allowing players to develop as thinking learners, giving them ownership, the opportunity to make key decisions as players as well as people is key for me as a coach and letting them have fun along the way will go a long way towards that.


Levett. N (2015) Available at:, Accessed: 22nd October 2015.

Franken. R.E (2006) Human Motivation. 6th Edition. The psychology of engagement with everyday life. Andover. Wadsworth Publishing.

Wein. H (2015) Available at:, Accessed: 22nd October 2015.

Southgate. G (2013) Available at:, Creativity needs the right environment, Accessed: 22nd October 2015.

Rabb, M., Hamsen, G., Roth, K and Greco. P. (2001) ‘Amount of incidental incubation as a predictor for expert creative performance of Brazilian and German national team soccer players’ in ISSP World Congress of Sport Psychology.