Tournaments serve as a great benchmark for your team’s progress throughout the season. They are a great time to review overarching team goals established in the fall and make the necessary adjustments moving forward. But what are the best strategies to get the most out of your college tournaments? Let’s see what the experts have to say.
Make a Buddy System
When asked about setting tournament goals, nearly every captain we interviewed referenced a buddy system - typically comprised of a mix of new and old players.
“We pair rookies and returners as buddies at the beginning of the year based on personalities and who we think would complement each other the best.”
“Buddy groups are formed from a questionnaire sent out by our coach. The questions ask about personalities, intensity levels, and competitiveness. Each player is different, so the questionnaire helps us group players into pods that fit like players with like players.”
“We want everyone to start fresh at the beginning of the year, so we mix up returners and newcomers so everyone is playing with new people.”
These buddy systems are used throughout the season to keep players accountable, inspire healthy competition, and help players reach their personal goals in the game.
“We have microgroups of 4-5 players that check in every practice and set goals together. We have a little mini-competition among these groups where whenever a player does something cool, they get a point for their microgroup. It is a fun and spirited way to encourage healthy competition and growth among our team.”
“We have a buddy group system where each system is accountable for helping their buddies to achieve their individual goals. We encourage them to engage in group discussions before tournaments to set goals for themselves. After the tournament, the buddies meet again to debrief and set new goals for the next tournament.”
Buddy systems are a fantastic team-building tool among teammates. Players can push each and often offer more comprehensive support to one another than a single coach or captain alone.
Review Tournament Outcomes As A Team
A tournament isn’t over when the last point of the day is scored. All of our expert captains emphasized the importance of reflecting on the weekend as a team to identify positives, negatives, and next steps.
“Talking about the tournament promptly afterwards is a good way to reflect while it is still fresh in our minds. It helps us come up with concrete ways to improve and edit our practice plans so that we can do better at the next tournament two weeks out.”
What are some of the best ways to review a tournament with your team?
“We have a positivity spirit circle where everyone goes around and says one positive thing about what they did and one positive thing about the person to their left.”
“We have team meetings to assess and review what we did as a team at the past tournament and whether or not we achieved our set goal.” - Element
“We use an app to keep detailed about each game. Then we recap with our team and ask our players what we can do to do better and help them improve for the next tournament.”
“Everyone has some sort of leadership role. We have a strategy committee after every tournament to talk about what they saw the past weekend.”
In a perfect world, teams can get together immediately after a tournament, or shortly thereafter, to confer about the games. However, for travel tournaments or busy college schedules, this isn’t always the case. As time passes, it’s easier to forget little things that happened that could ultimately make a huge impact on future gameplay.
To avoid losing important information to fuzzy memories, several team captains touted the importance of utilizing film when reviewing tournament performance.
“Film is a great resource to help us determine goals because it helps us see our systems from a different perspective. We can watch what we did over and over again, establish what worked and what didn’t, and then designate focused time on fixing those aspects of our game. It is especially good for rookies and young players to watch film because they can see from the bird’s eye view things like why they weren’t thrown to and understand what they can do better.”
“We have film watching parties to review out game. It’s important to see what worked and what didn’t because the end result of each game isn’t as important as how we got to that result over the course of the game.”
Progress Tournament Goals With Your Season
Good tournament goals are tailored with the team in mind.
“We have different tournament goals based on where we are in the season. We often focus on different parts of our game for a specific day and adjust that goal based on our opponent.”
“Most of our tournament goals are made around the individual goals set by the players themselves.”
“Our tournament goals depend on what the team has struggled with over the course of the season and where we need to improve to give us the best shot at success against major competitors.”
This means that your goals for tournaments will change each time to better fit where your team is as a unit. Asking questions like, “What should players be focusing on at this tournament? What is the desired outcome for both rookies and returners this tournament?” are a great way to identify fitting tournament goals.
“The specificity of our goals vary from tournament to tournament. In the winter, we aim for less tangible, harder to quantify goals focused on the fundamentals. In the spring, our tournament goals take on a more statistical character.”
“The first tournament we are focused on getting rookies excited about ultimate and focusing on the basics. As the season goes on, we set more concrete tournament goals such as 90% end zone success rate. Towards sectionals and regionals, we will set goals for number of wins.”
Setting progressive tournament goals allows players to more clearly see their progress both individually and as a team. Moreover, they give players a more cohesive understanding of exactly how they’ve improved over time and a clear direction on where to focus their efforts next.