Coaching for creativity

Guide 5 - 11

The England DNA aims to help coaches produce a different type of player.

One who has confidence in their technically ability, can make great decisions and, importantly, is able to change the course of the game with one piece of brilliance or creative play. This starts in the Foundation Phase; it’s the ideal time in a child’s development for them to put innovative behaviour to the test. Our job is to provide an environment that maximises creative returns – and this comes down to one key thing...

Remember: they're children, not mini adults.

- Pete Sturgess, FA national lead for the Foundation Phase

Compared to other primates, humans remain ‘children’ for longer.

During this time, they explore the world freely and are able to:

  • think flexibly
  • ignore traditional boundaries and barriers
  • believe anything is possible.

So, instead of imposing an ‘adult’ version of football onto a young team, take the time to embrace your players’ creative abilities by facilitating lots of active learning and problem solving.

Imagination is more important than knowledge

- Albert Einstein

The Foundation Phase should be seen as the ‘research and development’ department for adulthood.

This is a time for enjoyment, play and experimentation. It's important that you:

  • allow players to express themselves
  • encourage them to try things when in possession of the ball
  • notice when your team does things well
  • provide practice activities and feedback to support them further.

We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself.

- Lloyd Alexander

Whenever you’re coaching, remember that your players are developing in all areas, so be patient, forgiving and help them to learn from things that don’t go to plan.

You won’t maximise creativity in an environment that’s pressurised, restrictive or confining – or one that’s dominated by you, the coach. However, if you create a positive space, where mistakes are seen as learning opportunities, you’ll start to see more from your players.

This is the Foundation Phase; if young players can’t try new things at this stage of their development, when can they?


To learn more about Foundation Phase DNA, click here.

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