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8 Tips to Take the Stress out of Running a Tournament


A tournament, done well, represents everything that is great about youth sports. For the players, there’s the joy of competition and lasting memories spent with their friends. For organizations, hosting a tournament can be great exposure and even a chance to make a profit. 

While there are many benefits, running a tournament also takes a lot of planning and time. Follow these tips to make sure your next tournament maximizes fun and minimizes hassles. 

Tip #1: Have a Plan

The first step to organizing a youth sports tournament is creating a planning committee and naming a director. Clubs need to establish accountability and leadership to ensure all details are covered and delegate tasks. The director can keep individuals on-task and set meeting agendas. They will also become the go-to person for questions and communications.

Tip #2: Set a Budget

A big part of organizing a youth sports tournament is setting a budget for how much the club can invest in the tournament. Organizations will recoup funds as teams pay registration fees, but they still need to determine how much money to spend. Setting a budget will also determine how much the club needs to earn during the event to make a profit.

Tip #3: Set a Date and Location

After the committee and budget are in place, the next step in tournament planning is determining the date and location of the tournament. Organizations should make sure the event is not competing with events in the area or other key tournaments. 

Tip #4: Schedule Officials

With the date and venue set, clubs should schedule officials as soon as possible to ensure there are enough officials to properly run the tournament. Knowing the number of available officials can also impact the tournament size and format.

Tip #5: It Takes a Village

Youth tournaments need volunteers to function. These can be staff members, parents, players, or others in the community. The tournament committee should have a detailed list of jobs with expectations and levels of commitment needed so volunteers know exactly where they need to be and when.

Tip #6: Advertise What You’re Offering

To be successful, tournaments need teams and participants. Clubs should start advertising the event as soon as the date and location are set. They can send out notices to other teams, post flyers around the area and on social media, and use word-of-mouth advertising at other tournaments the team attends to promote the event.

Tip #7: Explore Revenue Opportunities

To help cover the costs of running a tournament, clubs need revenue streams Consider:

  • Sponsorships from local businesses. They can include signage around the venue, tables set up promoting and selling their products, or logos on schedules and programs. Organizations can also offer digital sponsorships, adding business logos and information to websites and social media.

  • Concession stands. Work with the venue to determine if they can sell concessions and if there are any laws you need to follow. Then decide what to sell and where to get the food, snacks, and beverages. Don’t forget to staff the concession stand as part of the overall volunteer list.

Sell merchandise. Determine what merchandise you will sell and make sure to place an order well in advance of the event. Consider offering a sponsorship opportunity for a logo on the merchandise as part of your available sponsorship options.

Tip #8: Be Proactive in Communication

Send communication well in advance of the event to relay details and logistics of the tournament.

  • Players and their families will need to know the address of the venue, details on where to park, location of registration, timing of the event, available amenities at the facilities, and hotel information if needed.

  • Coaches and players should be equipped with the tournament format, rules, and guidelines so they can prepare for the event. Game times should also be sent to teams ASAP after brackets are set so they can make travel arrangements to arrive on time.

  • Volunteers will need to know roles and schedules so they can be in the right spot and not wasting valuable timing trying to learn on the job.

Follow these tips and you will set yourself up for a tournament that will make your event a must-do event for clubs year after year.

Sports in this article

Ice Hockey