Examining the effect of task constraints on the emergence of creative action in young elite football players by using a method combining expert judgement and frequency count

Tom de Joode, John van der Kamp, Geert J.P. Savelsbergh

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Abstract

In adult football, small-sided games are associated with increased action variability and suggested to promote more creative actions compared to regular 11v11 formats. This aligns with predictions from an ecological approach to perception and action that creative actions emerge in environments that grant variability in action, instead of being an expression of the individual player's ability to generate ideas. To further evidence for this prediction, the current study aimed to expand this observation to elite youth football players. To this end, the number of different and creative actions in 4v4 small-sided game and a 11v11 regular-sided game among 10- to 12-year-old elite football players were examined. We analyzed a total of 7922 actions, which were categorized for type and creativity. Based on a subset of these actions, a panel of elite football coaches judged action types occurring below 0.5% as significantly more creative than more frequent action types. Hence, we used an occurrence of 0.5% as threshold to distinguish creative actions from non-creative actions. The results showed that the total number of actions, the number of different action types, the number creative actions and the number of different creative action types was significantly higher for the small-sided game format than the regular-sided game. In conclusion, this study confirms that in elite youth football, small-sided games induce a more variable and creative action repertoire. This shows that practitioners can design learning environments that promote the emergence of creative actions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102502
Number of pages7
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Volume69
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

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