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Choosing the Right Soccer Tournament for Your Team

The first question a coach should ask when choosing the right soccer tournament is, What are you trying to achieve?

Are you looking for a pre-season test to prepare the team for a tough schedule ahead, or a post-season celebration to reward them for a job well-done?

Do you want to use the relative anonymity of a faraway event to test players in unfamiliar new positions, or do you want to do well in a prestigious event so that you can shout from the rooftops, and bring kudos and respect to your club for the next round of recruiting and tryouts? Or perhaps you have an older team that you want to showcase to watching college coaches?

Once you have answered these soul-searching questions to yourself, you can start the research process, but as you start to narrow down your selection, here are some other factors to consider.

Level of Play

Boy Playing in Soccer Tournament Choosing the right soccer tournament for your team’s level of play is crucial. By all means use a tournament as an opportunity to challenge your team by pitting them against higher level or older teams than they might face in weekly league play. Traveling further away will also enable you to see how your team gets on against unfamiliar opposition. But don’t go overboard.

Sending your recreational team to a prestigious regional tournament for select clubs will not only give your players a frustrating and demoralizing experience but will also have opponents and tournament organizers unhappy with you. Remember that the other team paid their money, too, and they also want to be challenged. Nobody benefits from a 14-0 score.

Most tournaments have websites that carry the schedules and scores of previous year’s events. Take a look at them and see if there are any familiar team names on there. Perhaps you will see a local opponent and use how they did to gauge how your team may fare. Or perhaps you can call coaches you know who have competed in the tournament to ask their opinion on how your team might stack up.


Take a close look at the tournament facilities when choosing the right soccer tournament, and consider the logistical challenges that might be presented by them. Are the fields all at the same complex or will you have to get in the car and travel between games, thus reducing the rest time your team has? Are the fields grass or turf? If they’re grass, what are the playing conditions going to be like in certain weather conditions?

Many tournaments are played on less than ideal surfaces and you may find yourself playing on fields that would not normally be acceptable in league competition.

This is the great equalizer of soccer teams. Poor conditions tend to affect weak teams less than they do good ones. A rough or waterlogged field that makes good smooth passing impossible does not degrade the performance of a team that cannot pass well in the first place. Preparing in advance for this eventuality could have a major impact on your team’s success.

Transportation and Hotels

When choosing the right soccer tournament, it is always a good idea to be aware from an early stage of the transportation options that will be available. It may be alright for the coach to fly to a far-away event, but what about the parents who have twins on the team and two other, younger children that can’t be left home alone? If flying is the only option, let people know early so they can start shopping for the best deals.

Once the team arrives, how do people get to their accommodation? Is the hotel near the airport and does it offer a free shuttle bus. How far is the hotel from the fields? Will cars have to be rented to get to and from the games each day? What time is check-out? If it is early you may have to be ready to take all your belongings with you to the field and go straight to the airport from there.

Most tournaments will have arrangements with local hotels, which will offer reduced rates to participating teams. Even so, be sure to book early as there are only a certain number of rooms available and it is always better if your team can all be in the same place.

You or your team manager can do lots of research about hotels in any given town by logging on to you can find the best deals, compare prices and read what other travelers have to say about hotels all over the world. They also provide a ton of ideas on things you can do in the area. It's well worth a look before committing to a reservation.

Selling Your Decision to the Parents

Once you have researched the available tournaments that meet your criteria, be ready to have to “sell” your decision to the parents of your players. Have the reasons why the tournament you have selected is the ‘right’ one for the team ready.

Coaches who have done all the preparation work in choosing the right soccer tournament will, more often than not, be backed in their choice by parents, based on the soccer aspect of the event. However, your work does not start and stop once you have picked the most suitable opposition and competitive atmosphere.

Be prepared for the questions about transportation and accommodation. Someone may ask why you are traveling to a different time zone to play.

So, why are you traveling to a different time zone to play?

There will always be one parent who thinks they have found a better tournament so be ready to explain why your choice is the most logical one.

After all, it’s the parents are the ones who will be dipping into their pockets to pay for it so they need to be persuaded!

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