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Creativity in Coaching Children

Creativity in Coaching Children

By David Turner sports coach UK Coaching Children Lead


At sports coach UK we talk a lot about the ‘C’ System of coaching and it’s something we’re genuinely passionate about!  But what on earth does it mean? 

Well put simply, it is our model for explaining the holistic development of children through sport by developing their Character, Competence, Confidence, Connection, Contribution and Creativity.   We don’t see this as an exhaustive list, but these are the main elements you’ll hear discussed in our flagship coaching children workshop ‘Coaching Children (5-12)’ – formerly known as Coaching the Whole Child.

I hope I’m preaching to the converted here, but we believe that coaching children in the 21stCentury is about a lot more than winning under U/11s leagues and the result on any given weekend.  Now don’t get me wrong, winning is brilliant, so is the ability to learn lessons from defeat.  But I believe that if you truly want to keep children playing sport into adulthood then you need to make sport about more than just the winning.  That is why we feel the ‘C’ system can enrich a child’s sporting experience.

Ok so let’s talk about Creativity.  I think it’s one of the most fascinating ‘Cs’, why?  Well because it’s one of those fantastic things in life where children can and often will be better at it than adults!  If you don’t believe me then read my blog from 2013 ‘How do kids learn faster than adults?

sports coach UK’s Graham Ross and the legendary coaching children expert David Haskins recently teamed up to work with the Football Association to develop a fantastic ‘Creativity in Football’ resource.  

There are several definitions for Creativity, but this new resource suggests that the key elements of creativity are:

• generating or recognising ideas and alternatives

• useful in solving problems

• seeing and acting on new relationships

• turning new and imaginative ideas into reality

• thinking then producing.

Ross and Haskins go on to break down creativity in two more ways, firstly through the following model.

  • Skill: To perform the creative thought
  • Spatial Awareness: To understand the space required to produce the skill
  • Sensing: The ability to see and feel what is going on
  • Social Awareness: To understand whether the others around need to be involved or not
  • Self-awareness: To understand own personality, strengths, weaknesses and behaviours

Then secondly using an American system that categorises creative players into three groups:

  • Building Players:  This type of player will have good spatial awareness and recognise the space in which a team can make progress.
  • Organising Players:  This type of player will help others perform at their best. They will have enhanced personal and social awareness, and understand how others play, how fast they move and where they like to receive the ball.
  • Soloing Players: This is probably the old model of creativity – players who have a spark of genius and produce something all on their own.

Ross and Haskins go into further detail, by breaking down these categories even further, but i’ll let you read the resource to discover more about that.

So the obvious question is how can we promote and develop these characteristics in the children we coach?  Well the emphasis appears to be on the informal, unstructured play.  Is this more evidence that that U/11s league isn’t the be all and end all for player development?  Ross and Haskins conclude the resource by offering some key points to help coaches ensure they can develop the appropriate scenarios and environment for children to flourish creatively,

And here is the best part – it’s available for free from the sports coach UK website here.

Thanks to Graham, David and also Dr Ollie Holt for their work putting this resource together.

Useful resources:

Creativity in Football

Coaching Children (5-12): Positive Development Through Sport Workshop

How do kids learn faster than adults?

An Introduction to the FUNdamentals of Movement



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