When you think about a creative player you think of the ‘number 10’ Center Midfielder. This player is like the Messi or Carli Lloyd. The player who is usually diverse with their skills, being able to speed the game up or slow it down. Dribbling or quick passing decisions that most people wouldn’t see or do. Being a creative player is very important but you don’t have to be creative to be good.
The best teams have a mix of player styles
The ability to dribble through players or make the clever pass is great, but the best teams have a mix of different players.
Other positions besides the CM can have creative players. Wingers or forwards can also be these playing styles.
It could be a defender who is able to switch the field after baiting the opponents the other way.
Then there are the players who are not creative but they play simple and keep the ball. Being creative is not for everyone.
The best teams have a mix of creativity, simple and aggressive players.
Know your strengths and weaknesses
There are often different labels applied to soccer players…
Not always are that more than one label gets applied to one soccer player as their definitive playing ‘style’.
I was the “athletic” one [strong/fast]. In college and pro I was not the creative playmaker or the most skilled. At the end of my career I had good control, but this came through self-observation and self-improvement.
Knowing your strengths is important. Just as is understanding where you need to improve.
4 elements creative players have
- soccer IQ
- ability to make things happen in tight spaces (not losing the ball)
- control with the ball (passing skills)
- good field vision
So you can see they are not necessarily able to dribble around lots of people [although this is great] but they can make creative passes and open up the playing field.
At the older age groups of youth soccer you see much more of these skills becoming prominent.
Creative Player vs “The Athlete”
You can’t compare kids at young ages. Some of the more aggressive and creative players at ages 5-7 end up being less aggressive at age 12-13.
Then there are those kids who don’t look like they care at ages 5-7 but end up thriving from age 10+.
You just really never know, so the key is developing them while teaching life skills too.
So many kids end up quitting sports because they became discouraged because they compared or were compared to better players.
The key is having fun and if you wan to improve, you have to put in the extra work on your own.
Everyone doesn’t have that natural soccer talent or natural athleticism.
There are some kids who come in late in terms of overall development.
If they are given good opportunity and really want it good things will happen.
Creative players in my opinion are the ones who are more natural at a earlier age.
But then you could have that ‘athlete’ who comes in working hard at 13+ who ends up playing in the same level as the natural creative player.
The athletes usually end up being defenders or forwards you can use their speed and strength to dominate their 1on1 battles in front of goal.
Creative Movement off the ball
Meaning players who don’t have the ball.
Some players know how to be in the right places at the right time.
Do you know any players like this?
As an attacking player, get behind defenders once the ball goes wide because then the defender can’t see you and the ball.
This is called “movement off the ball”. These are also creative players.
Ages 8-10 you see that there is individual creativity with some players handling the ball. But you usually don’t see this age being creative off the ball.
Adolescents training needs
Ages 11-13 This age group still needs much 1v1 and 2v1-2 work. Yes, and of course ball control footskills.
Ages 14+: Age 14+ is a critical divide in skill level.
Most 14 year old athletes are freshmen. At this point we begin to see division into JV and Varsity levels of play. We also see changes in social expectations of play.
By ages 15+, athletes need to be solid with their chipping and long balls.
One major weakness in this age group is vision and decision-making.
Instead of 1v1 training, these athletes really need 4v2, 7v4, 7v7 opposed training [i.e., a higher level of decision-making should be demonstrated].
General Skill Expectations for Ages 12+
- Receiving & Passing
- Bouncing Balls
- Receiving while Turning (Simultaneously)
- 1v1, 2v1, 2v2, 1v2, 3v1, 4v1, & 4v2
- Crossing & Finishing
Kids should not only be taught passing, receiving, and finishing but also creativity which is not taught much in the U.S.
Most kids in America are primarily taught the tactical part of the game, which is one reason our American players haven’t been creative on the field.
Countries like Brazil, Spain, Colombia & Argentina always have creative players.
With technology used the right way, even players in the UK and Asia are starting to have this skillful style.
GFT will teach you what you do not learn at the club or rec level as they put most focus on the team.
2 vs 2 creative opportunity & decision making
This a great drill for improving overall vision and passing ability which will help a player become more confident and creative on the field.
One area of concern for this age group in particular is the frequency of heading the ball and collisions that can occur during the intensity of the game. EDUCATE YOURSELF about the statistics, dangers, causes, signs and symptoms, and prevention methods that are available for injury prevention. We take your safety seriously and want you to do the same.