8 Reasons for Youth Soccer Tournaments

Youth Soccer Tournaments are a great way for players, parents, and teams to get together. Soccer Tournaments have their benefits and their drawbacks. This article will outline the benefits of playing in soccer tournaments. I point out the positives in terms of how players, parents, and coaches may look at them. I am not advocating for any of them. This is strictly for informational purposes from my own experience in working with youth travel soccer teams, coaches, parents, and administrators.

I understand that there is a large debate about youth soccer tournaments and if they are appropriate for youth and for the youth soccer player development model. This is not an opinion on player development, rather a list of how your young soccer player can improve development by playing in soccer tournaments. Understand that just playing tournaments is not the answer, you need to do much much more. 

1. Team, player, and parent bonding. Regardless of what anyone says about tournaments, good or bad, there is a lot of team bonding. This includes players, parents, teams, and coaches. Players love it because they get to spend extra time with their teammates outside of training or playing. They get to spend some time at the hotel, on the field while waiting for their game, shopping, or at a restaurant for lunch or dinner. You can also meet new friends from other clubs who may be staying in the same hotel or that you meet during the tournament. Parents on the team traveling to the tournament also get a chance to interact and get to know each other. Coaches and soccer club administrators also get a chance to interact outside the training field.

2. Another positive aspect of traveling to tournaments is that coaches can evaluate how the team adjusts between games. This is a good way to get a few games in one weekend and get to see players play in different positions and see how they perform in certain situations. Most of this is tactical evaluation, however it helps to analyze the team's performance.

3. Competition is one of the reason's that kids get into playing soccer. The kids love attending the tournament, because it's fun and they know each game means something. Although they may not want to play every single game of their lives under so much pressure, they do enjoy a few games in a tournament. This is especially true for older kids. There are very few U10 players who crave this type of competition, but there are a few.

4. Kids as well as some adults and coaches love to travel. Soccer tournaments offer a chance to get away for a weekend and do a "mini vacation" with the kids. The teams usually play about 3-4 games during the weekend. This allows the players to travel on Friday to their hotel. Play a game or two on Saturday, then another one or two on Sunday, depending on results. Two games can take up to 4 hours, so the kids and family get some time to hang out and possibly go do some sight seeing depending on where you are visiting.

5. Another reason soccer club teams like attending tournaments is because you play other teams not in your area. New competition brings about some exciting times and brings out the best in many kids. Older travel soccer teams usually want to represent their club and area with pride. The youth soccer tournaments allows them to play and measure up against other clubs and teams from other states.

6. There are many "College Showcase" soccer tournaments that allow kids to be looked at by numerous collegiate coaches. These tournaments are a win win for both players and college coaches because they get to see several kids with one recruiting visit. The players get to be seen my coaches who are attending.

College Showcase tournaments are not the only tournamens that coaches attend. There are many other non-showcase tournaments that coaches also attend. The exposure of playing in different states also helsp out kids who want an opportunity to play in college. That being said, colleges and university soccer programs are not the only ones looking for players at soccer tournaments. There are several kids that have been picked up by European clubs during high level tournaments.

7. If you love playing, then tournaments are a special treat for you. During tournaments, you get to play up to 3-5 games in one weekend (2-3 days). Although this could have some negative impacts on your body, the truth is that kids who enjoy playing will get just that, many games in one weekend. Again, this article is to identify some of the positives that some may see and the reason many soccer players, parents, coaches, and administrators love tournaments. There is some research now that too many games in one weekend may be harmful to young players.

8. Finally, many coaches and parents may not want to admit to this, but tournaments all you to win trophies! No one can deny how much kids love trophies. That's one of the reasons many organizations give out participation awards. They realize how much kids and their parents love the awards. Participation awards are one thing, but many players, coaches, clubs, and parents are out there looking for 1st place trophies! There is no denying this and it's probably one of the main reasons why kids and clubs are out there. When you win the tournament, you get to take photographs, take a medal or trophy, and you can brag about with your friends. That's one of the biggest reasons why tournaments are so popular among youth soccer travel teams.

There are also the parents who love living vicariously through their kids, so they want to win every game and tournament. They will travel several hours by car, sometimes even fly, just to play some outrageously expensive tournament that could cost up to $5000 per team. This is understandable for the elite players, like the 0.5% of the very gifted talented soccer players, but not necessary for majority of kids. 

With all these benefits from playing in tournaments, you can almost guarantee that if your son or daughter plays on a travel soccer team, you will end up traveling to a tournament at an early age, sometimes as early as 8 or 9 years old. Although not always recommended, you should try to keep these to a minimum so that the young kids that are not ready for travel won't get burnt out from so much soccer traveling. 

If I missed another benefit of playing in tournaments for players or parents, please leave us a comment.

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