10 ways to engage your players during international tournaments

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The excitement around international tournaments is a great way to inspire your players. They may be on their summer break, but their learning doesn’t need to stop.

Here are 10 ways to use these events to engage your players over the summer months.

1. Spot a skill

Ask your players to choose their favourite skill from the opening round of fixtures. It doesn’t have to be a 1v1 technique – it might be a save, shot, header, block, long pass or tackle that catches their eye. Ask the players to explain why they picked their skill.

England's Fran Kirby takes on two New Zealand players outside the box on the left.
Young players can be encouraged and inspired by the skills on show at international tournaments.

2. Commitment to practise

Challenge the players to practise their chosen World Cup skill for the duration of the tournament. Ask them to commit to the challenge by writing it down. For example: ‘By the end of the tournament I will be able to shoot with my left foot like…’. Check in on their development and provide tips for how they can improve. Encourage them to make a ‘before and after’ video so they can review their progress.

3. Challenge a friend

1v1 games with a friend or teammate are a great way for your players to test out their new skills. Encourage one player to practise an attacking skill and the other a defending part of the game. Get them to be creative with the games, challenges and scoring systems they create. 

A young girl prepares to head the ball after her partner has thrown the ball into the air.
Encourage your players to emulate their favourite players by learning new skills and challenging each other.

4. Sharing skills

Once players have mastered a skill from the tournament, get them to share it with a friend or sibling. Teaching somebody else is a great way to consolidate their own learning.

5. Scouting reports

‘Scouting’ one of the teams can help young players develop their observation skills. Get them to consider the following:


  • What formation does the team play?
  • Who are the star players?
  • What does the team do with and without the ball?
  • Do they change their playing approach in different areas of the pitch?  

Your players can present their findings when they return to training.

6. Tournament training

Play a tournament next time you’re at training and get those who have completed the scouting task to be the players/coaches of their chosen country. Their challenge is to communicate how their nation plays to the rest of their team. It is a great way for the players to develop their leadership skills.

7. Player stories

Dedication and sacrifice have played a role for many players at the tournament. Ask your team to research the journeys of some of the stand-out individuals. How did they become one of the most highly-rated players in the world? What adversities have they overcome to make it to the tournament? Ask your players to compare their own football journeys with those playing.

England's Lucy Bronze runs with the ball whilst under pressure from an opponent during a friendly with Canada.
Watching the world's best teams can help your young players develop their observation and analytical skills.

8. More than the game

International tournaments are a celebration of culture and difference. Challenge your players to find out key facts about one of the competing nations. Learning the capital city, flag and phrases from their chosen country’s language are good tasks. Get the players to share their discoveries at the beginning of the next training session.

9. Extra time and penalties

Tournament football creates many gripping scenarios. Note them down and prepare to use them in future sessions. For example, you might frame your next training match as extra time – with one team ahead by a single goal. Challenge the players to think about how they will play to be successful over the next 15 minutes.

10. Cardboard cups and photographs

A simple cardboard trophy is a great way to motivate your players at training – you might even challenge them to make a replica. Encourage the training champions to pose for a winning team photograph at the end of the session. Watch how competition and winning engages players. 

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