How to Develop Creative Players

English football was previously known for promoting the physical elements of footballers ahead of out and out skills, however the development of creative players is becoming increasingly prominent. So, just how do coaches go about developing more creative players?

Those who have been involved in youth football are likely to be familiar with terms such as “send it long” or “get rid of it”, however such comments are often having a negative effect on the development of young players. Instructions like these will regularly distract players from improving on the pitch, although many modern coaches are now going against them, following guidelines set out by the FA.


Creative players are now being encouraged more and more, even if mistakes and failures lead to defeats on the field. As a result, creating an environment which encourages players to have more confidence with the ball at their feet is now of the upmost importance. Let’s take a closer look at some of the strategies in developing creating football players.


Winning Isn’t Everything


Most players will naturally want to win, however it is important that they first understand exactly how it is that coaches wish them to play. Rather than focusing on getting the ball to the best players as quickly as possible, as is often the case with certain youth teams, be sure to stress the importance of all players on the pitch. As a result, give all players equal amounts of attention, thus aiding their development at the same rate. This will also help teammates to trust each other with the ball, expressing themselves and learning from their errors. Small sided training games are perfect for enhancing creativity, with realistic sessions being more beneficial than others.


Drills with Multiple Outcomes


In order to encourage creative players more, training sessions should be designed in order to have several potential outcomes, rather than being too restrictive. When coaches make things too restrictive, players will often find it difficult to transfer their skills during matches. As a result, drills on the training pitch should encourage players to try and solve problems, as well as mimicking real-game situations, with coaches often taking a backseat.


Many of the world’s leading players previously honed their skills by playing on the streets, with the small amount of space and speed of the game meaning that decisions must be made much quicker. Coaches should also look to bring in the good aspects of street football where possible during sessions.


Running with the Ball


Whilst not all players are destined to become the next Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, running with the ball will undoubtedly aid the development of players in all positions. Young players should be encouraged to have the confidence to run with the ball at their feet, which can in turn open up a whole host of opportunities on the pitch. For coaches, be sure to ensure that players keep an eye on what is going on around them whilst dribbling, helping them to both avoid the opposition and utilise potential gaps that have opened up.


Stay Ahead of the Game


The best players in the world are all excellent when it comes to having a picture of the pitch in their head, which is something in which not enough coaches try to teach. One small look over the shoulder or scan of the field has the possibility to create an opportunity both with and without the ball, with many younger players having their eyes glued to the ball at all times. Players should instead get into the habit of receiving the ball with an open body shape, enabling them to clearly see what is around them. Teaching players to make the right decisions in this area can be difficult, which is once again when using in-game situations during training becomes important.

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