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Fostering Creativity in Young Athletes

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Unlike leadership, perseverance, teamwork and discipline, one character quality not often associated with young athletes is creativity. This doesn't mean, however, that sports-driven kids aren't creative; it's just usually not as nurtured as other qualities.

Still, fostering creativity in young athletes has multiple benefits. As well as encouraging new interests, creativity develops innovation and problem-solving skills, which help kids both in their academics and on the playing field. Here are 10 ways to help foster creativity in sports-minded kids:

1. Sports equipment as inspiration - Rather than landscapes and flower pots, inspire young athletes to create artwork using cleats, jerseys, footballs, basketballs and baseball gloves as their subjects.

2. Write a story based on a sports image - To foster creative writing, let athletic kids choose a sports photograph from the newspaper or internet, and create a story based on that photo.

3. Design a newspaper sports page - What young athlete doesn't want to be mentioned in the news? Nurture creativity by turning kids into sports editors, and letting them design, write, draw and photograph the sports page in a fictional newspaper.

4. Invent their own team - Sports-obsessed kids will love creating and naming their own sports teams. Inspire them to design their own team logos, mascots and uniforms.

5. Photograph their favorite stadium - Foster creativity in older kids by traveling to their favorite stadium, and asking them to create a photo documentary of all they see.

6. Design a new sport - One of the best ways to foster creativity is to let kids create their own games and rules. Young athletes will love inventing a new sport, and can be inspired further to design a play manual, complete with step-by-step photographs.

7. Sculpt a pose - Kids choose their best personal sports photo, then use clay, wire, paper-mache or other materials to sculpt themselves in their best athletic pose.

8. Design a player's card - Every young athlete dreams of having their own trading card, so why not let them create their own? Kids can experiment with digital cameras and different angles and poses to get the shot they want, then use software to design the rest of their trading card.

9. Show sports-themed artwork - Foster creativity in sports-minded kids by showing them professional sports-themed artwork by known artists, such as the baseball paintings by Max Mason or boxing paintings by George Bellows.

10. Sculpt a trophy - An athlete's greatest goal is always to win the big tournament and earn the highly-prized cup, trophy or ring. Let kids use that ambition to creatively design a new trophy for their favorite sport (or one they've just created); use cardboard, paper-mache or clay, or anything else their imagination comes up with.

These 10 fun projects would inspire any kids, not just sporty ones. But using kids' interests is a sure-fire way to encourage growth, and fostering creativity in young athletes is easy when you design fun projects and assignments around one of their favorite things - sports!

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