How to Do a World Cup Bracket
How to Do a World Cup Bracket
The World Cup comes around every four years. If you didn't make a World Cup bracket this time, use this guide so you're more prepared in 2022 or make half a bracket now. Goal!
Keyword(s): world cup bracket
Doing your World up bracket is serious business. It doesn't matter if you have $5 on the line or just pride, you want to win.
During one month every four years, everything stops for soccer. In Iceland, a nation of 330,000 people, 99.6% of people in Iceland watched Iceland's World Cup opener.
It makes you wonder what the .04% of people who weren't watching were doing.
In Mexico, fans gathered in Mexico City to watch their team take on Germany. When Mexico scored, fans were so happy that they set off earthquake sensors.
Even if you're a little late to the World Cup fun, it's not too late to fill out your bracket for 2018. FIFA offers a bracket challenge for each stage of the competition.
You can take those lessons to France in 2019 and Qatar in 2022.
Read on to learn how you can fill out your World Cup bracket to win.
Don't Get Sucked in By the Name
There are historical powers in soccer. Traditionally strong teams like Italy, Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, and Germany are usually sure bets to go through to the knockout stages.
Or are they?
Italy and the Netherlands didn't even qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Argentina only qualified thanks to a last-gasp hat trick by Leo Messi.
You might be tempted to look at your World Cup bracket and pick these 'sure bets' to go through.
Don't do it.
There's a better way to look at your bracket objectively and pick the best teams to go through.
Don't Listen to the "Experts"
Everyone is an expert when it comes to soccer.
It could be the guy at your office who thinks that just because a player has an English accent, he's a superstar.
The pundits don't know any more than you do.
It might be tempting to look at the expert picks, but the reality is that you're better off ignoring them and taking an objective look at each team.
Take the Whole Team into Account
Just as you shouldn't get drawn to a team because they have a long history, you shouldn't get drawn to a team just because they have one great player.
Portugal relies on Cristiano Ronaldo to score goals, and he's one of the all-time greats. He'd also be the first to say that he can't do it alone.
Argentina is the Leo Messi show. If you look at that roster, they should be amazing. Yet, they struggled to qualify.
The media tend to focus on a team's star players. You have to remember that just because a team has one good player, it doesn't mean that they're going to get out of the Group Stage.
Soccer is a team sport and it's beyond one single player. That single player can rarely have an impact if the coaching and supporting team members are sub-par.
It seems that in World Cups, there is at least one team that succumbs to the enormous pressure and has some kind of drama within the team.
2018 is no exception.
No one could have predicted that three days before Spain's first match, Spanish club powerhouse Real Madrid would announce that La Rioja's head coach Julen Lopetegui took the head coaching job at Real Madrid and would leave his position as Spain's National Team manager after the World Cup.
Even fewer people could have predicted that the newly elected president of the Real Federacion Espa?ola de Futbol would relieve Lopetegui of his position the next day and install a caretaker manager.
Under Lopetegui, Spain was one of the favorites heading into the 2018 World Cup. They were 14-0-6 under Lopetegui.
Team drama is something that you need to pay attention as you're picking your bracket. There are teams like the Netherlands and France that are well known for in-fighting.
In 2010, France flamed out of South Africa in spectacular fashion. Infighting took that team over and it left that competition in disgrace.
You'll want to follow the news in the months leading up to the World Cup for any signs of drama and infighting.
That's a good sign that the infighting will distract the players from performing at their best.
There's at Least One Cinderella Story
It seems that at every competition, there's at least one Cinderella story.
In Euro 2016, that was Iceland. They famously beat England in the Round of 16, which was the shock of the tournament.
When you pick your bracket, you can be sure there's going to be one team that comes out of nowhere to take over the competition. You won't even see them on the teams to watch list.
In 2014, it was Costa Rica. In 2010 Ghana made a statement.
Who will the next Cinderella be?
How Did the Team Qualify?
There's no way to tell how a team will do in a World Cup. However, recent past performance can be a predictor of
Look at how each team qualified. Did they struggle? Did they blow away the competition?
Take a look at the teams they played to qualify and the result. Also, take a look at friendly matches over the last year.
Those results are a good indication of the direction of the team. The team's recent performance is probably the best method to use when you're picking your bracket.
It does take a little time, but a winning World Cup bracket makes it worth it.
Get Your Kids Involved
You can make your bracket a family event.
Include your kids in filling out your bracket and ask for their opinions. They might choose teams based on kit colors.
It's an opportunity to teach them about the sport and you can share your love for the sport and continue to make soccer fun.
It's also good to remember that there's a Men's World Cup and a Women's World Cup. Set a good example for your kids and pick brackets for both competitions.
You'll also have to explain to your kids why the U.S. Women's National Team is a perennial favorite, while the men's side continues to struggle.
Make Your World Cup Bracket a Winner
Filling out a World Cup bracket is a fun way to get into the action. It's even more fun when you win.
As you're filling out the bracket, remember that anything can happen at a World Cup. That's true now more than ever.
The main thing to remember when you're filling out your bracket, you want to set aside the expert predictions and historical performance. Focus on the qualification process and have fun.
If you think that it's hard now, wait until 2026 when the competition expands from 32 to 48 teams. It's a World Cup and anything can happen.
Want to learn more about bringing the love of the game into your family?
Contact us today to learn about our academy and how we can help kids improve their soccer skills.
The Brain Benefits of Sports: Can Soccer Make You Smarter?
The Brain Benefits of Sports: Can Soccer Make You Smarter?
You know that exercise is good for your brain, but just how good is it? Learn what the mental benefits of sports are in this piece.
Keyword(s): benefits of sports
The 2018 World Cup has given us another chance to geek out about a sport most of us played when we were seven.
Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world. Players like Messi and Ronaldo use their skills on the pitch to become celebrities. It's a fast-paced sport that's easy to understand, and thrilling to watch.
But did you know that soccer can actually make you smarter? One of the many benefits of sports is that it improves your brain power.
Since a soccer game is 90 minutes of pure cardio, you're basically training to be Einstein.
But how exactly does soccer make you smarter? Read on to find out.
Soccer Can Help Your Memory
Studies show that practicing sports can help improve your memory. Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that regular exercise boosts the size of the hippocampus.
The hippocampus is the area of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning. Scientists say that participating in moderate exercise for 120 minutes a week will improve your memory.
Let's say your child has a spelling test coming up. We all know that without spellcheck the only way to learn how to spell is memorization. If your child has been practicing soccer for thirty minutes a day, it could help them on the test. Studying helps too, but it's less fun than soccer.
Soccer Can Make You Smarter
Okay, that might be a stretch. But scientists have proven that exercise does help your problem-solving skills.
The benefits of sports come from its ability to get the blood flowing to your brain. This blood flow helps reduce insulin resistance, inflammation, and stimulates cell growth.
Getting blood pumping is important for bringing oxygen and nutrients to your body. When your brain has more blood flow then it's easier to support growth and maintenance of new brain cells. Keeping those brain cells alive makes it easier for you to process information and provide solutions.
Soccer Can Make You Less Stressed
If soccer can help improve brain function, stress is the easiest way of killing it.
Stress creates cortisol, a hormone that clouds our brains and makes it hard to think straight. Scientists have linked too much cortisol to anxiety. Anxiety is a disability that feels like it brings your rational brain to a screeching halt. Stress and anxiety also deplete the brain cells that help create new memories.
Regular exercise lowers cortisol levels, which reduces stress and anxiety. Studies have also found that it creates new cells that help create new memories.
So if you've been feeling stressed at work, or your child looks haggard after a test, break out the soccer ball. Remember, thirty minutes a day helps keep the blues away.
Soccer Makes You Happier
If you've ever seen Legally Blonde, you already know about this one. Exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy. Despite the legal inaccuracies in this movie, they got that part right.
The science linking happiness and physical activity is exhaustive. They all say pretty much the same thing. Adults who report being happier are also the ones who exercise regularly.
It isn't only the brain chemicals that make us happier either. The benefits of sports on our health and sense of accomplishment go a long way towards happiness.
Team sports like soccer also help. They allow us to engage in physical activity while we socialize with other people. Socializing helps us create bonds with others. Studies linked a sense of community to a happier, healthier mindset.
Playing soccer with others can also help with your motivation. Exercise is difficult, and we'd all much rather sit inside and watch TV. But if we have other people depending on us, we're more likely to get out there and kick around a ball.
Soccer Sets Kids Up for Success in the Long Run
Every benefit of playing sports we mentioned applies to kids as well.
Regular exercise can stimulate brain cell growth. This growth is especially important for young minds. Sports also help them gain focus, which helps them succeed in the classroom. It'll help lower their cortisol levels. This will make it easier for them to work through problems and think clearly. Plus kids who exercise a lot early on tend to value exercise later in life.
Soccer will also teach them other important life lessons. It will give them a sense of community, which is vital for a child's healthy development.
Soccer also teaches children hard lessons, like how to stand up for themselves and lose well. Despite our best efforts, not every game is a win. Soccer teaches kids how to work hard and improve themselves. These are important lessons even if they never play soccer past high school.
Ready to See the Benefits of Sports in Your Child's Life?
If you're looking for a fun way to add the benefits of sports to your child's life, then sign them up for soccer. Our coaches will work with your kid to help them develop the skills they need to be successful.
For tips on how to prepare for tryouts, you can read our blog.
The Pros and Cons of Specializing in a Sport at a Young Age
The Pros and Cons of Sport Specialization at a Young Age
Are you thinking about helping your child specialize in a sport, but worried that they may be too young? Read on to learn the different pros and cons of sport specialization.
Keyword(s): Sport specialization
Once upon a time, kids who enjoyed playing sports would take part in several different sports throughout the course of the year. They would play football in fall, basketball in winter, and baseball in spring.
Then, they would repeat the process once fall came around again. It helped them get a feel for different sports and spread their athletic wings.
But in recent years, sport specialization is something that's become more and more common among kids. Nearly 50 percent of kids today specialize in playing just one sport and spend the entire year training for and playing it.
There are many pros and cons that come along with sport specialization. If you're thinking about having your child specialize in a sport, you should consider both sides before you do it.
Pro: Kids Can Perfect Their Skills in One Sport
The biggest advantage that comes along with sport specialization is that it will allow your child to devote all of their time to getting better at the sport of their choice.
Let's say they really love playing soccer. With sport specialization, they'll get the chance to put all of their focus on becoming a better soccer player.
They won't have to worry about putting their soccer cleats away in the winter so that they can focus on basketball. Instead, they'll spend their winter working on improving their skills so that they're ready to go once soccer season comes back around again.
By taking this approach, your child will be able to grow as a soccer player by leaps and bounds. It will put them in a better position to play soccer at the various levels and could even improve their chances of playing in college or in the pros one day.
Con: Kids Miss Out on Obtaining Other Athletic Skills
Thanks to sport specialization, your child will be able to perfect the skills that are necessary to excel in their favorite sport.
But one of the downsides of this is that they won't get the chance to work on perfecting their skills in other sports.
They might know how to kick a soccer ball into a net. But they won't necessarily know how to make a tackle on the football field or shoot a basketball through a hoop.
There are also some other sports your soccer-loving child might excel at, and those sports could ultimately help them pick up certain skills that would improve their skills on the soccer field.
For example, if your child chooses to run track during the offseason, it can help with speed and agility. Or if they play baseball, they'll be able to improve their hand-eye coordination.
Those who practice specialization sometimes miss out on the chance to add skills to their repertoire.
Pro: Kids Can Build Up Their Confidence Playing One Sport
There aren't many kids who are good at every sport they play. Every now and then, you'll come across a kid who is so athletic that he or she steals the spotlight in every arena.
But for the most part, your athletic child is probably going to be excellent at one sport and so-so at the others.
With sport specialization, your child will be able to take the sport they're most passionate about and use it to build up their confidence. They will practice hard, get good results on the field, and become more confident in their abilities.
But there is a chance that confidence could be shattered if they play another sport that they're not so good at. They might start to doubt themselves when they step outside of their preferred sport.
Con: Kids Tend to Get Tired of Playing One Sport All the Time
Most kids who enjoy playing sports enjoy playing more than just one.
But sport specialization can rob them of the opportunity to take part in a variety of different sports throughout the year.
As a result, kids can get burnt out over time and lose their love for their favorite sports. In some cases, kids will even quit a sport before they reach high school simply because they've had enough of it in elementary and middle school.
You should speak with your child about burnout and recognize that it's a very real thing. The last thing you want is to push your child too hard in one sport and have them come to hate it.
Pro: Kids Can Make Sure They Truly Love a Sport
While you do want to be careful with regards to burnout, sport specialization can give your child the chance to experience all a sport has to offer. This will allow them to see how much they actually love it.
When you play sports in college or at the pro level, you have to be ready to devote yourself to it. When you practice one sport from a young age, you'll show your devotion to your sport and prepare yourself for everything it will throw at you.
Con: Kids Can Suffer Overuse Injuries Playing Just One Sport
When kids only play one sport, they tend to use the same muscles over and over again when they're practicing and playing.
This can lead to overuse injuries that will put kids on the sidelines long before they should have to worry about injuries at all.
If your child uses one repetitive motion when playing sports--like pitching a baseball or softball--they could be at an increased risk for injury.
By encouraging them to play other sports throughout the year, you can give some of their muscles a break and allow them to develop in other ways.
Is Sport Specialization Right for Your Child?
Only you and your child can decide if sport specialization is the right choice for your family.
Whether you settle on it or not, you should think about enrolling your child in soccer to see what it has to offer. We can tell you all about the benefits of playing soccer with us and show you and your child how much fun soccer is.
Check out our blog to read some helpful soccer tips.