Football tournaments can be fun for everyone, but preparation is needed to get the most out of the weekend. While your players can gain new experiences by playing against other teams, and try out new moves and techniques, you need to be ready for all eventualities.

What Are The Rules?
Different tournaments sometimes have different rules and regulations in place. They also can play to non-standard rules, so make sure you are aware of these before the game’s started. Sometimes side tackling is prohibited, and goal kicks may be taken from different marks.

What Do You Want To Achieve?
Whether you want your team to try out new techniques, gain confidence, or build on their teamwork, decide what you want to achieve before the tournament. With a children’s team, it’s a good idea to provide football medals and trophies to avoid disappointment if they don’t win. Award a man of the match and focus on what everyone’s strengths and weaknesses were. Use these as a good way of seeing what needs improving back in training.

What Are The Conditions Going To Be Like?
You will need to know where you team will be playing and what they will need to bring. Check the pitch they’ll be on, and advise what type of shoes to bring. Water and food will need to be taken, but make sure the players bring sensible options. On hot days bring extra water to avoid dehydration. If the venue is far away, arranging group transport might be more efficient and cost effective than expecting everyone to get there separately. You could also provide a gazebo or some kind of protection from the weather, as there may be a lot of waiting around between games.

On The Day
On the morning of the tournament, make sure everyone arrives there in plenty of time, with the right kit and equipment. Try to install positive thinking, and encourage them all into enjoying the weekend.
Start off with warm ups and stretches. The team will be playing a lot over the tournament, so take steps to avoid any injuries. Warm ups should be intense, brief and take place before every match. They need to be prepared for each game, not just the first one. Finish with a team building exercise and quick chat, before going out onto the pitch.
Make sure the players aren’t over-worked, as they may be playing a lot of games. Rotate them throughout each match, ensuring all of them get the chance to start in at least one game. Don’t just play the best players, as they will tire quickly and it is unfair on everyone else who wants to join in. It can be a good idea to pre-plan who is playing on each game, so there is no confusion and arguments on the day.

After The Event
Make sure everyone reflects on the games after the event, pointing out what worked and what needs more development. If they lose, remain positive and encouraging. Positive reinforcement is a vital step in management and sport, so don’t be negative or derogatory.

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