Coach Equipment

There Is Creativity Only In "We"

The new kind of creativity in today's soccer

Author: Matthias Nowak
Life Kinetics Premium Coach, creative and technique trainer FC Bavaria Munich (Women)


Premium Coach, creative and technique trainer FC Bavaria Munich
Matthias Nowak © fcb-ff.de

In today's era of "standardized and aggressive playing", creative players are needed in every position.

Exactly what do we mean by creative soccer? Is creativity trainable at all, and if so, how?

Günther Netzer, the former German world-class player and soccer expert and entrepreneur recognized today readily speaks of the lack of creativity in the sport when he is bored by a game.

A look back

We all like the creativity of the Brazilian samba soccer players of 1970 and go into raptures when we think of the German national team of 1972 or the Dutch national team of 1974 with "Soccer-Total."

Pele, probably the most popular and beloved soccer player in the world, called the "Soccer king," is the epitome of the creative, "productive" form of this sport. His playing was relaxed, improvised, and effortless. His way of playing followed no definite pattern of action, but was the result of a flow, marked by enthusiasm ,,, by pure creativity. This kind of creativity was art and belongs to the past.

Today's situation

If we want to know how soccer has changed, only the parameters of space and time have to be brought into view. When Pele, Netzer, and Cruyff dominated the playing field, ball contact time (the time span between an individual player taking the ball and passing it) was certainly in the two-digit seconds range. Nowadays with aggressive counterpressure, it optimally has to be between 0.8 and 1.1 seconds to stay "in business." To meet this requirement profile today, "more performance" is needed in the technical capabilities of the players on and with the ball, and a new form of creativity... a collective rhythm of creativity...

This new kind of creativity is trainable, this applies to all players. The paradox in this:

Players nowadays need regular and systematic creative training to be able to be creative at all!

Creative training, as I understand it, rests on the following principles:

  • Principle of body coaching and crunchtime coaching
  • Principle of quick action
  • Principle of stress reduction
  • Principle of synergy-docking points
  • Principle of stimulus • Principle of relaxation
  • Principle of balance
  • Principle of visual perception
  • Principle of sustainability
  • Principle of person-oriented training

Some principles are familiar - I will touch on these only briefly - while some are less familiar or not at all familiar - I will discuss these principles in detail.


Principle of body coaching and crunch time coaching

The basis of creative soccer is optimal body awareness. Creativity begins in the feet and needs a large portfolio of agility patterns

This large portfolio of agility patterns is to initiate his "own process" for the player and to pursue the objective of developing his own optimal body awareness. His own optimal body awareness leads to an improved technique.

My crunch time coaching includes the constant modification of plays from the aspects of time and space. The new "Can-Do" of the player is constantly stimulated under the most massive stress situations for the game day. With this "real transfer" for today's game, creative training goes distinctly further than the world-renowned Coerver coaching.


Principle of stimulus / Principle of relaxation


"The brain runs on fun“. Fun training promotes a spirited and aggressive mentality. The principle of relaxation refers to factors that promote the creativity environment.

  • Complexity of the playing position
  • Positive team players
  • Anti-authoritarian leadership style of the head coach
  • "Encouraging creative trainer"
  • Creative competition (motivating challenges)

Other factors affect the outcome decisively: The teamwork culture, the teamwork environment, the team squad. In connection with the principle of relaxation, think of players like Messi and Klose and their very different performances in their teams and in the national team...


Principle of balance and sustainability

Knowledge of the balance between creative playing and excellent fighting spirit is given special attention with regular technique/creative training. This is assured by the aforementioned crunch-time coaching.

"When I don't practice one day", I notice it. When I don't practice for two days, the team notices it, and when I don't practice for three days, the public notices it. (Air Jordan)

Sustainability is to guarantee that implanted stimuli bear fruit over the long term in the team.


Principle of quick action / stress reduction / visual perception / synergy-docking points

These principles are responsible for creativity also being visible on the playing field.

My question to you: Are victories decided in the head on a high level of play?

Before you answer that - another question: Soccer is a highly emotional game (that's why we love it so!) - so, how precisely do you define head in this connection?

To go back to my first question, my answer is: Yes - because the head is important - and No - when we reduce the head only to thinking. And right here I call upon the aforementioned principles.

Let's look at the possibilities of soccer action alternatives in game situations, to grasp why "thinking" alone is not enough. The individual phases of a typical action:

a) Considering and deciding on alternative actions
b) Planning the chosen action
c) Executing the action
d) Evaluating the outcome of the action


Quick action

Creative soccer requires soccer players who are able to analyze many alternative actions in the shortest time for their feasibility and then to decide most quickly which of the alternatives is the right one.

Decisive for this: The more information the player has available in advance of this decision from his perception, the more likely it is that his decision is correct.

Stress reduction

So much for the rational aspect. However, as mentioned, soccer is a highly emotional game. Every player has an individual "inner stress level." Mental toughness and sufficient protection against oxidative stress therefore play a critical role when it comes to best performance. Stress produces delays in action, wrong decisions, and imprecise actions. Stress level can be measured with the help of noninvasive screening methods. My main task consists of minimizing this stress level. My entire concept enables the players constantly to call upon their full performance potential through reduced stress levels.

Dr. Stefan-Raadts confirms: "Recent research on the character of young soccer talents shows that in particular the ability for emotional control is a key to success."

Creative training therefore enables the player to be creative in the shortest time, to make the right decisions, and to execute them properly.

The goal is therefore the maximum increase in qualitative performance characteristics (quickness of action, accuracy of action, and correctness of action) with consideration of stress reduction.

Principle of synergy-docking points

By mutual learning processes, the players can elicit, expand, and deploy their creative potential mutually. The question of who brings about creativity the most, and with whom, is one of the most interesting developments in creative training.

I am still obligated to give you an explanation of my statement "All players need creative training." Why? Because I have to confess something to you (and now at the end of the article it is easier for me): I also believed for years that only certain players need individual creative training. Now I know that creativity and quickness in play can be trained today only in a group. Finally, we also experience creative play only by joint actions.

Good passing and correct anticipation need a group rhythm and not individual quick procedures. Successful teams need less the outstanding individuals than instead egos with different profiles who synergistically supplement one another in the team. My favorite example of this is the FC Barcelona, despite and just because of a Messi.

Principle of "person-oriented training"

The idea originates from Dr. Stefan Raadts. It is a question of providing a platform outside of the playing field. The players here have a "space" for matters and topics outside of sports, such as anxiety, pressure, and frustration. This "other way" of forming a relationship between trainer and player naturally makes high demands on the pedagogical capabilities of the trainer. Dr. Stefan Raadts: "It's not only a matter of the purely athletic benefit of person-oriented training, but also of effectively combating burnout and depression of players subject to stress."

Result: This holistic creative training is perhaps the most effective innovation for today's high-speed soccer. Gunther Netzer can therefore be helped.

Questions on the article? Contact: mn66@hotmail.de

Source reference:
Burow O.A. (2000) I am good, - we are better. Success model of creative groups. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta.
Burow O.A. (1999). The individualization cases. There is creativity only in the plural. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta.
Cummings A. & Oldham G.R. (1998). Where creativity thrives the best In Harvard Business manager 4
Stefan Raadts, Emotional regulation and quick action


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