30 Apr 2018
Supporting the development of creativity in your youth team
With such a spotlight on the world’s most talented players, names like Ronaldo and Messi have become known in almost every household. It’s understandable why your youth players will try their hardest to imitate this high level of skill and creativity, sometimes aiming to win a game single-handedly. What is said for those who get outshone? Are we preventing all members of the team from realising their creative potential?
Negative comments from the sidelines may hinder the confidence of some lesser-skilled players, and this has a snowball effect on overall development. So think before you share your thoughts by shouting from the side of the pitch. After all, if a player does not have confidence in their ability, they are much less likely to attempt vital components of a successful game, like dribbling past an opponent or using skill to buy some time and space on the ball.
Avoid tactics revolving around giving the ball to the ‘best players’
As discussed in one of our other blog posts here, we support the overall growth of a team and all the players who contribute. In youth football, varying development speeds of the players means that focusing on one or two players within your team is a more short-term focus. Sure, these players will excel and feel confident on the ball, but the team aspect of the game is lost. You may win more by depending on the most talented players, however, imagine having a whole team of people feeling confident to contribute – this way your coaching would have a positive effect on everybody included.
Practice makes permanent
‘Practice makes permanent’ is one of the most simple terms that coaches of all sports come into contact with regularly, but it remains very relevant in the context of encouraging your players to be creative. It should be a focus of a coach to make all players develop their confidence and skill on and off the ball, so make sure not to focus your practices around your best players. It should be expected that these individuals cannot win a game on their own, and they may not always be in the best position on the pitch – and it is not recommended to try a difficult pass to these players, especially when there are far more easy alternatives who can be reached with much less risk.
By remembering to cover a range of outcomes in-game scenarios, players will feel more inclined to be creative on the pitch. They will have experienced a range of potential situations, therefore, the players in your team will feel more capable should the game not flow in a particular way.
It is important to have creativity on your team, the more players, the better. Your players become a lot more creative when they have the ability to run and dribble, whilst maintaining their spacial awareness. Players should be making conscious decisions to look around themselves, to ensure they are not risking losing the ball, and then looking for passes that will give the best advantage to the pass-receiver.
It may then be a good idea to teach your players to scan their surroundings before and when they are on the ball. It is a skill that, if neglected, will only result in panic and rushing for those who do not learn. When your players incorporate this into their game, trust between players should grow, confidence grows for individuals and everyone should see the benefits that result.
See if you can inspire some creativity in your youth team at your next training session.