Training Creativity Out of Our Kids

Training skillful creative soccer players has been a passion of mine since I began coaching almost 25 years ago. There is nothing more enjoyable or rewarding than seeing young players gain confidence in their ability with the ball at their feet. I also look at this as an educational experience that extents beyond the soccer field. Nurturing kids in a environment where trial and error are rewarded and mistakes are not the end of the world produces people who are willing to try new things, take risks and innovate.

I’ve recently come a across a number of blogs and videos that discus how we are killing our kids creativity. They haven’t all been soccer related but I’ve seen connections back to coaching in many of the points that are made about traditional education.

This is the first video that came to my attention and started me thinking more about this topic.

I particularly like the story at 15:30. It’s a great lesson in the importance of finding what kids are good at and developing that rather than defining them by what they are not good at.

In coaching I believe that we kill creativity by placing too high a value on winning (in education they would say, ‘testing’). Yes, it’s a game, we want to win but how do we want to do it? We want our young players to win in a way that will help them win in the long term. Teaching them be confident on the ball, smart about where they pass it and creative in the ways they move will give them the best chance at a win-win (win today – win tomorrow).

This is a very difficult row to how in a culture where the end product is more important than the means used to achieve it. We take the zero-sum-game world we live in as adults and impose that on our children in their education (both physical and mental). Making the outcome more important than the effort means that there is nothing valuable in trying something that doesn’t work. It means that mistakes only hurt the team and should be avoided at all costs. Those costs include individual learning, developing and improving.


I know I’m not the first coach to say these things but I don’t think we can say them too often. If we coach long enough we will have the opportunity to see many players grow from young players through to their late teens. Their parents will only truly see this with their own children once. If we don’t guide the learning process for both players and parents we are missing a chance that won’t be repeated for that child.

Have a great day!

Tom

One Comment

  1. Jodi Murphy says:

    In sports you want to teach kids the fundamentals and rules and plays so they know how to play the game. But you also need to teach them to think for themselves on the field. They can’t wait for you to call every play/every shot because it leaves them at a disadvantageous to another team that can think on their own.