The First Soccer Tournament: Nobody Told Them It Would Be Like This!
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This U8 team was formed a few months ago after a lengthy tryout process. A few practices were held during the summer to help the players get familiar with each other. Coaches even had a trainer work with them a couple times per week for the past three weeks in preparation for their first tournament. Coaches, parents and players were eager to participate in their first tournament as the “A” team from the club.
They lined up for their first game, and before you knew it they were down 3-0. Coaches were scrambling to change the formation, parents were screaming “boot it,” “run harder,” “get more aggressive,” and players were terrified and wanted to stay on the bench. The team did not win a game the entire tournament, and everyone was wondering what exactly went wrong.
I can tell you from experience, especially at the younger ages, tournaments are for the team bonding experience and nothing more.
There are so many variables that affect results in tournament games that you will drive yourself crazy if you treat it as something anything more than a social event. But Coach, “We played them in the regular season last spring and only lost by a goal. They just beat us 5-0”.
Here are just a few of the factors that may have had an impact on the game:
- The opponent was short players so they added a few “guest players” for the tournament. These are players that are not on their team but they borrowed from another team to fill in for their missing players.
- This was your team’s second game of the day and your opponent’s first.
- Your team played at 5 p.m. the night before and this game’s start time was 8 a.m.
- Your players enjoyed the hotel pool last night.
I could go on and on about the outside factors that could make a real difference in the outcome on the field. As a coach of a U8 team, if you set the expectations of having a fun getaway with your team without caring whether you win or lose the games, it will go a long way in creating a positive experience for the player, parents and coaches.
There will be plenty of time as your players get older, to compete for the gold medal but for the younger ages make it fun, make it special and make it a great memory!
Tyler Isaacson is a club president, travel coach, recreation coach, youth player, college player and dad. He has 30 years of playing and coaching experience. He is the founder of youthsoccer101.com a leader in on-line coaching education used by 50K coaches.