Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Tournament Time

Dear Chris,

I have this weekend off. It's my last weekend without a soccer game until Nov. 17. Coaching two teams means I have three tournaments back-to-back-to-back before the season begins. Then 10 straight weekends of league games with a midseason tournament thrown in.

I love tournaments. I guess it stems from the brief period of depression I go through at the end of each game I coach. Win or lose I'm sad when games are over. But there are some games that I feel like I just need to escape quickly before the ref changes his mind and tells me I actually lost. In tournaments, there is always another game right around the corner, either that day or the next morning.

Players love tournaments, too. They love playing a game, hanging around with their teammates and then playing again. Parents enjoy them as well, those that get a kick out of watching their kids compete anyway. You always have the whiners who complain about the heat or what they are missing by being there. I tend to ignore them.

I have to be careful, though. I have to clearly define the purpose of each tournament in my mind beforehand. Then, I have to be absolutely sure I remember that purpose throughout each half, each game, each day and each weekend.

The most important word in preseason tournament is "preseason." Remind me of that if I ever look like I am forgetting it. The purpose is to get the girls used to playing with each other, try some people at different positions, work on our shape in two different formations, and most importantly give all of them a lot of playing time. If I approach the tournament to win the trophy, I will forget most all of that.

There will be some teams that have come to win it. That's fine, I guess. If that's what they want to do, who I am to suggest otherwise? But even if you don't enter with the goal of winning the thing, you can still get caught up in the excitment of that close championship match or that do-or-die group match. If I replace a weaker player with a stronger player in that situation, please just smack me in the head.

Okay, all that sounds great, but in one of our preseason tournaments we will most likely be playing a team that is considered the best in the state. They probably are, and if they aren't they are in the top two. I am going to use that game as a measuring stick -- our best against their best. I am fascinated by devising ways to beat teams better than us. I absolutely love that. I can't help it. And I don't get paid that much, so that will be my little gift to myself. Afterall, one game won't destroy the development of a player, will it?

So just smack me now and get it over with.

When I think of more, I'll write.

You know who.


Soccer Dad said...

Well put!

Good luck at your tournaments! They are a lot of fun if everyone can keep it in perspective! We'll be at the BCBS Fall Classic Aug 25/26 - gives us a little more practice time than if we went to Twin Cities, though they're begging for a U11G team right now for a fee of $125 - almost too good to pass up...


Old Soccer Guy said...

The Twins City tournament can be good, but it can also be miserable if you get mismatched. $125 is almost too good to pass up. Tough call. Pretty quick turnaround to get the parents on board, but if the competition looks balanced, it could be good. Two weak teams from my division last year got thrown in with some great teams and got thumped. But when I brought my teams in the past, we've had good experiences. And I should say that those two weak teams from last year are on the list to play again this year.

Also, the Twins DOC is a great guy.