Soccer tournaments provide an opportunity to experience a bracing change to regular league play. You can try a small-team alternative to typical 11-a-side play or assemble a group of league all-stars to take to regional or national tourneys. A checklist helps you get a handle on the organizational challenges and gives you and your teammates the best chance of coming home with a medal or trophy.
Your team needs players, a name, funds for any fees and a completed roster. You can ask each player to kick in an equal share of the fee to hold a place on the team. If you are the team manager or captain, study the tournament structure and rules to find the best fit for your players; often you have a choice to enter your team in a recreational, competitive or over-30 division, at the adult or youth level.
You will almost certainly need shin guards for an outdoor tournament, though these may not be required for indoor tourneys. Pack at least two pairs of soccer socks for each day of the tournament and two pairs of soccer cleats that are broken in and comfortable. Take numbered jerseys in your team's main and alternate colors; you will likely have to wear a lighter color if you are higher seeded in your draw or division and playing a lower-seeded team. A soccer-specific backpack or duffel bag provides space for all your gear, including flip-flops to wear between games and a ball. If your hair is long, pack a scrunchie, hair tie or headband. Goalkeepers need two pairs of gloves, a long-sleeved jersey of a different color to that of the field players, and shorts or pants with hip padding.
You typically need to show up Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, at a central hotel or the playing fields' entrance, to check in for a weekend tournament. The organizers require a signed waiver for every player, picture IDs for adults, and player cards or other proof of age for youth players. Your final roster will be due. Make sure you obtain any player and coach wristbands needed for field entry, guest passes for family members and free T-shirts on check-in. Ask for phone numbers to call in case of weather delays or field closings, as well as for schedule changes or to track down missing referees.
Odds and Ends
A first-aid kit, including instant cold packs for sprains, adhesive and elastic bandages and sunblock, needs to be a part of your checklist. A cooler with bottled water is essential -- except at playing fields that ban them and require you to patronize on-site vendors. Check online for applicable rules before showing up at the gate. Energy bars and healthy snacks such as fruit can keep you going on a long day. A portable canopy can provide a shady respite at hot summer tournaments, especially if combined with portable camp chairs. And a camera for action shots and posed team photos helps capture tournament memories.