Today there will be countless numbers of soccer players participating in tournaments all across our country. In Colorado alone there are four major tournaments occurring this weekend, each easily with over 1,000 players. With the mayhem that this can bring and the expectations of clubs, players and parents to participate and compete in these and countless other tournaments throughout a calendar year coaches need to be able to navigate this landscape and be aware of some of the larger issues within tournament play.
Tournaments Cause Additional Stress and Strain
The general rule of thumb to use when planning a soccer schedule is to keep a high training to games ratio. Younger age groups (U6-U10) should be targeting a 1:1 – 2:1 training to game ratio while older age groups (U11-U16) should be more in the 3:1 – 4:1 ratio and the senior game (U17+) ideally is in a 4:1 – 5:1 range. When tournaments cause this ratio to quickly flip upside down players are more likely to be heavily fatigued and injury rates go up.
Tournaments Are Great For Team Bonding
I believe that it is vital for your team to get off the field and develop relationships outside of soccer. What better place to do this than at a tournament. Going out to meals after games, staying in a hotel together and even just traveling with teammates to a game can help create these relationships. Find some meaningful activities to do with the team when away from the field to help develop these bonds and the results will show up on the pitch.
Tournaments Can Be A Cash Grab
Many clubs make a premium off their tournament schedules. Be cautious of the overpriced tournament and signing up for tournaments that are likely to be canceled as they can be expensive outings. Getting a set number of guaranteed games and playing during months with fairly good weather are good ways to make sure you get your moneys worth out of a tournament.
Tournaments Can Be Loads of Fun
While there are negative elements of tournament play, overall it is typically a great experience for your team and can be a great way to have fun, compete at a good level and help develop your team in a different way. Take care that your players get proper recovery where possible and that players eat right, get proper hydration and sleep and have a good warm up and cool down to fight injuries. Overall have fun and enjoy the promise of a fun tournament!