Many school owners struggle with the idea of tournaments and competition. Exposing students to tournaments comes with risks, but also many benefits. If done well, a tournament team can provide financial gain, improve student growth and develop a retention-based esprit de corps around your brand.
It is important to remember there are pros and cons with tournaments in the areas of finances, student growth and retention, professional development, working with parents, and staying true to your art when developing a tournament team that will work for your school.
Many schools choose to create a tournament team for the sole purpose of increased camaraderie, training and competition experience, which is fine, but keep in mind there is an opportunity to gain financially. Of course, you’ll have to invest money in travel but if your develop your team correctly the profit will outweigh those expenditures in the end.
Tournament teams are a tool for student growth and retention. Regardless of an athlete’s age, competition can breed:
• good character
• a broader world view of both the arts and of life outside of the arts
• improved skill under pressure
• team camaraderie
• motivation to work harder to achieve individual and team goals
Tournaments are great for retention. Students who participate on tournament teams are able to see their progress from year to year encouraging them to stay at your school.
Tournament teams can be used for professional development. Attending tournaments gives you and your staff countless opportunities to make professional connections with other school owners and competitors. It also offers the chance for new motivation, allows you to stay on the cutting edge of what’s relevant in martial arts today, and forces you to continue to grow and avoid stagnation.
Tournaments build a partnership with parents. Your students’ parents can be your greatest advocates — or your greatest antagonists. Developing a tournament team can improve your relationships with team members’ parents, because these parents are typically in full support of your teaching and your school. This can lead to more referrals and a larger pull within the community. These parents will express appreciation to others about how you handle successes and failures with their children.
Tournament teams often are a tool for staying true to your traditional art. Losing site of your traditionalism or confusing the culture of your school because of competition can be a real concern for some school owners. But, just because you decide to participate in tournaments does not mean you can’t stay true to your traditional art’s values and standards. Letting this worry drive your anxiety will produce blinders that will prevent you from viewing opportunities with an open mind.
Although it comes with headaches, running a tournament team can reap significant rewards for your students, your staff, your school, and you, as a professional instructor - perhaps even as a competitor yourself!
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