The difference between a good player and a great player can often come down their ability to consistently show creativity under pressure – to be able to move beyond tricks and flicks, to a new level of control which makes them truly illusive. James Vaughan, expert in the area of creativity in football, breaks down the subtle, instinctive characteristics that separate the legends from the rest.

Imagine a player has just received the ball from their goalkeeper and is attempting to play forward (task) against a high press (football problem or challenge); how many options can they see? It depends on many variables, including: the movement of teammates (the playing model), the range of their passing (their technical ability), their playing style and mindset (culturally conditioned preferences) – the way they think.

In football, creative thinking is a type of varying, unexpected and flexible decision-making, a kind of player- specific tactical creativity. This tactical creativity can be explained as the ability to see lots of solutions – wall passes, through balls, scoops, bounce passes, chips, one-two’s, fakes, dribbles – to specific in-game problems, such as breaking down a defensive block, getting behind the back four or playing out under a high press.

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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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