Do's and Don'ts of Preparing For a Tournament

  • January 15th, 2019
  • Tom Bean

The new Pro League from the International Hockey Federation takes it's bow this weekend. Designed in a similar vein to UEFA's Nations League, the 9 best men's and 9 best women's teams from around the world will battle against one another to become Pro League champions.

The nature of tournament sport demands teams to peak at just the right time. One slip up could soon have your team saying goodbye to the title, therefore preparing properly for competition is more vital than ever.

Discover the Do's and Don'ts of tournament preparations.


Replicate tournament play in training

Tournament matches come around quickly and are often played at a quick pace with teams knowing that chances can be limited. Therefore, playing small-sided games at a high intensity is a great way to get players in the mindset of taking their opportunities. Also, this prepares them for learning from what happened in the previous game to then focus on the next one.

Set clear goals

Having a clear goal gives the team a direct focus for the tournament. During preparation, keep the players motivated by setting regular goals; these will help them recognise progress and build confidence.

The consistent and achievable goals will create a team environment which brings them together to continually strive for the next target and help them accept and deal with mistakes as a group - something which they will rely upon in the tournament.

Manage expectations

Players need to know where they stand in the coaches mind when going into a tournament. Younger players will judge their standing within the team by their game time, therefore they must know what to realistically expect.

Throughout the tournament, you will need your full squad to be ready to play. If players expect more minutes, disharmony can develop so when called upon, players mindsets could have a detrimental effect.

Therefore as a coach, by being transparent from the start, players can digest and accept their roles so come tournament time, they're completely focussed.


Get too technical

Habits can't be retrained in a month, so when it comes to your tournament prep, don't over complicate training. It's best to keep things simple and work on tactical aspects rather than technical skills.

Going into tournaments, make sure your players are completely comfortable and clear on the way you want them to play and their specific role to make the system work. Avoid blurring their thought-processes with complicated technical points.

Over train

It's easy to fall into the trap of trying to cram in lots of practice before the tournament starts. Firstly, you risk burn-out from your players. Overtraining and failing to reduce the intensity can cause physical fatigue for players.

Secondly, there is a chance of overloading players mentally. Keep a coherent idea of two or three tactical points you want to make, have them clear in your mind and stick to them. You will relay them effectively to your players and will avoid any confusion when implementing them in training or the tournament.

Disregard parents queries

Parents always want their child to be playing more, to be having a more influential role within the team etc etc. They also have a big influence on their child's mentality, so half of managing your players comes down to managing their parents expectations too.

When parents come to you to give their opinion, however much you value it, it's important to take it onboard and relay to them why you have chosen to do what you do. Remember they will have put a lot of time, effort and likely money into their child's sport and their feelings are often translated into their kid's. Therefore by being transparent and keeping them motivated, you have half the job done!

It can be tough to get your preparations right in the build up to a tournament, however by following these simple do's and don'ts, you'll soon be ready to take on the challenge.

What is the Pro League?

After a world cup year for both the men and women, international hockey is experiencing a boom in popularity and with the introduction of the Pro League in 2019, the FIH will hope the game continues to grow.

With top level international hockey being played on 5 continents from 19th January thru to June 30th, there's never been a better chance to see the best in the world ply their trade.

The round robin leagues of the top 9 nations in the world culminates in a grand final weekend in Amsterdam, NL where the world will see the inaugural Hockey Pro League champions be crowned.