By Tyler Isaacson Youthsoccer101

I have included a story about a youth soccer team that is based on my own experiences and what I have witnessed over and over again during my 30 years of coaching.  

A brand new U8 team was finalized n the spring after a lengthy tryout process.  They had a few practices during the summer to help get the players familiar with each other.  They even had a trainer work with them a couple times per week for the past 3 weeks in preparation for their first tournament.  Coaches, parents & 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 they 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 great for a team bonding experience and nothing more.  There are so many variables that affect the 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 a scrimmage this summer and only lost by a goal, they just beat us 5-0”. 

Here are just a few of the factors that may have an impact on a tournament 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. They  just happen to be the best players on the field.

-This was your teams’ second game of the day and your opponents first.

-Your team played at 5:00pm the night before and then had an 8:00am game the next day.

-Your players enjoyed the hotel pool the night before.

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 & 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 and is founder of youthsoccer101.com an online coaching development tool used by over 100,000 coaches nationwide. He can be reached at tyler@youthsoccer101.com )