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Smart kicks

Tuesday, 08 June 2021, Universität, Forschen

Psychologists at the University of Graz prove creative excellence on the football pitch

This Friday, the 2021 European Football Championship will kick off in Rome with the first match between Turkey and Italy. Andreas Fink from the Institute of Psychology at the University of Graz knows that it is not only physical fitness that matters when it comes to scoring goals, but that creativity also goes a long way: “We understand creativity to be the combination of several characteristics: players who are imaginative, surprising and effective, and all at the same time, can influence the final score.” 

In a recent study, Fink and his team saw that creativity in football can be predicted by the activity of many networks in the brain. Particularly important are the brain areas involved in movement perception, memory, visual attention and the integration of information from different sensory perceptions. And it all happens surprisingly quickly: because creative players often only need a quick glance at the situation for their next pass to be spot on.

These results complement new findings at the interface of psychology, sport and brain research, which increasingly demonstrate how important thinking skills are in the field of sport, explains the psychologist. The studies are conducted in cooperation with researchers from the German Sport University Cologne. “In the longer term, our results could help to develop a balanced training programme that incorporates both physical and psychological performance in order to optimise player success,” says Fink. 

In a new episode of the University of Graz science podcast “Hör-Saal: 15 Minuten Forschung,” Andreas Fink discusses whether footballers – and also amateur athletes – can use their creativity just as successfully off the pitch. >> to the episode  

Listen to the episode on:

Apple Podcasts
Google Podcasts


>> Listen to the podcast on UniTube (German only) 


Rominger, C., Koschutnig, K., Memmert, D., Papousek, I., Perchtold-Stefan, C., Benedek, M., Schwerdtfeger, A., & Fink, A. (2021). Brain activation during the observation of real soccer game situations predict creative goalscoring. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, nsab035. https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsab035


>> ORF Video Wissenswert

What happens in the brain when we are creative? The biological psychologist Andreas Fink tries to answer this question. >> View Sedcard

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