After the Last Tournament Match

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From Bruce Kaplan, a coach and parent from Springfield, VA:

I've had the pleasure of watching the team play twice here in the DC area. In addition to spending some quality time with his team after each match, at the end of the tournament the coach also took the time to individually thank each parent who had made the trip. This gesture stuck with me, I plan on doing the same with my parents this weekend. Committing a holiday weekend to a soccer tournament is a real sacrifice for the parents and the rest of the family. Soccer is only part of what we teach.

The coach should be the first to thank the players and parents at the end of the tournament. The appreciation should be unconditional. Only one team wins the tournament, but every team can leave on good terms. If the results weren't good, destroying the team with criticism or a display of anger or resentment won't make things better. After the tournament, no matter what the result, the coach should:

  • thank the players for their hard effort
  • recognize special efforts for kids who met or exceeded goals,
  • recognize partial progress, first steps, or new success on the part of other players
  • thank parents for their support and time, letting them know how important they are to the effort,
  • reflect on and reinforce the long term goals of the individual players and of the team, and
  • ask for continuing support toward those goals.

Getting all this done after the last match is a bit of a scramble, because players and the drivers will be scrambling to get to the next available flight or to check out of the hotel before incurring an extra charge. Having the parents come over to the bench as the kids change out after the last match is about the best way to organize this. You probably have about 45 seconds or 6 sentences, not much more. If you realize that most of the players and parents are actually focused on getting something to eat and getting to the airport, it may help shorten the benediction a little.

Every team but one goes home with a loss, but no teams should go home as losers.