PDP Co-Founder and psychology researcher, James Vaughan, explores creativity in footballers with a focus on the coach’s perspective. What does it mean to foster creativity in players? How can we better understand the process of encouraging creative problem solving on the field? Vaughan offers practical insights and solutions to an often abstract topic.

Creativity is often described as the use of imagination to invent something. Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson refines this idea by explaining creativity as ‘the process of having original ideas that have value’. The need for value in this definition, and understanding the accompanying complexities this brings, becomes essential when exploring creative behaviour in sport. While the context for creative behaviour may change – sport, art, dance, design, entertainment – decades of research have identified two fundamental ideas.

Firstly, that all humans have the capacity for creativity, in some domain, at some point in time (the key is to find this domain and maximise these moments in time). Secondly, that there are two key components of creative behaviour: novelty and functionality.

The novelty, or originality, of creative behaviour can be broken down into two sub-categories: Psychological (P) creativity and Historical (H) creativity. Within football, P creativity occurs when an individual discovers a useful behaviour that is novel to them, such as a new skill, technique or movement pattern. Therefore, P creativity can be thought of as the discovery of an individual performance solution – a way of getting the ball from A to B that is unique to the individual.

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James Vaughan
James Vaughan
James Vaughan is a Co-founder of Player Development Project and currently based in Stockholm where he is coaching at AIK and working towards his PhD in Creativity & Motivation in Football.
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