The spring season is upon us. What does this mean? Spring events are beginning to pop up all over the place and we want to help you pick the best place to go. Whether you are a manager, coach, DOC, parent, or board member we hope to help you navigate which events are right for you and your team. All tournaments, while they seem the same, are truly unique. Let’s break that down.
The first question you need to ask yourself is my team an academy team (U9-U12), a premier team (U13-U16), or a team seeking college exposure (U17+). Next, you need to determine what motivates you to attend an event? Snap Soccer believes the largest event motivators include the date, field quality, competition, and location.
First, let’s discuss how the motivators apply to the search, then we will discuss how your type of team applies to the search.
Date of Event
The date of a youth soccer tournament is always important for all ages. Make sure to avoid weekends when you know most of your team is out of town, like Spring Break, or if your team has two-sport athletes. Additionally, if your team has players that play either middle school or high school soccer you will have to take this into account.
Fields the Event is Played On
While field quality is always important, it is less important for ages playing on small-sided fields, you can pretty much put a 7v7 and 9v9 field anywhere. If your team plays full-sided (11v11) you will need to be a bit pickier when looking for events. You will want to make sure that the fields are fully regulated and that you are not playing on a grass baseball outfield.
Competition of the Event
While soccer competition is not normally a huge motivator for an academy-level team, it is to some. With that being said, we recommend looking for larger-scale events either focused on “Academy” or an event that has boys’ and girls’ weekends. If the event is split into two weekends that is a good sign that age groups will normally have several divisions. Split weekend events apply to premier and college exposure teams even more. As your team continues to get older there will be fewer and fewer teams to compete against. Especially if your team is highly competitive. For older teams, we also suggest looking for college showcases.
The location of a soccer tournament is very important for all teams. We like to think every team treats each event like a vacation. Of course, game time is all business, but this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your time off the field. So, when searching for a tournament make sure you are looking in desirable locations. Whether that be proximity to the beach or the mountains or big city versus the country, find the tournament that strikes a balance with your priorities. It’s always a better experience when there is stuff to do off the fields.
Types of Team
With no question, academy-level soccer teams represent the densest population of most events. Simply put, there are more kids playing soccer at younger ages. If you are looking for an event for an academy-level team you are able to cast your net pretty big as most events welcome U9-U12 teams. The only events you will want to stray away from are showcase-level events.
Premier and academy level teams act pretty similarly, the only caveat is that as teams get closer to the U15/U16 level, you start to see fewer and fewer teams. With that being said, you will have to be a little pickier as far as your event search is concerned. Snap Soccer suggests touching base with Tournament Directors to see how age groups are shaping up.
Team Seeking College Exposure
Teams seeking exposure to college coaches need to be most aware of their motivators when searching for an event. As always, events marketed as “College Showcases” will be your best bet, second, we recommend picking large established events as they tend to lend the most competition, and college coaches are more likely to attend. Lastly, we recommend picking events in locations central to schools with college soccer programs. You’d be surprised at how many college soccer coaches are at events in cities such as Huntsville and Montgomery.
Tournament Search and the Big Issue
We’d like to close out by mentioning a few situations that teams run into when deciding which event to attend.
Big Fish Small Pond
This can apply to any team. You’ve played all your local teams and are continuously not challenged and/or are just simply looking for some different competition. If this is the case, your team will need to commit to making the leap to a new location in order to guarantee you will be playing teams from a new area.
We recommend attending one of our events in Huntsville, AL. These events will bring in teams from multiple different states.
Fields not as Promised
If playing on pristine fields is one of your largest motivators, you need to be sure you are aware of what the fields look like for your chosen events. There are great facilities all around, but not everywhere.
We recommend attending one of our events in Foley, AL, or Panama City Beach, FL. All events in these locations are played on brand new fields. Below are a few.
We hope you found this information helpful. As always, you can find all of our events at snapsoccer.com/events and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out.