Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tips For Running Baseball Tournaments

I've worn a number of hats throughout my baseball volunteering career. One that was particularly interesting was organizing and managing a summer baseball tournament. This is the type of tournament where town travel or all-star teams compete in age based flights. Tournament organizers normally charge an entry fee to pay for umpires, trophies, baseballs and also to raise funds for the league or team running the tournament.

Having both run tournaments and coached teams in them I've collected a number of lessons along the way. When running a tournament, if you don't pay attention to a few key areas there is a good chance some of your customers will not have the experience they paid for.

Choose participating teams wisely. Make sure they "fit" into the group they are playing in. Yes, some coaches will actually under sell their teams ability to give them a better chance of winning the flight. You should dig around if you suspect this.

Get the schedule out early. The earlier you release your tournament schedule the fewer scheduling conflicts teams will have. This saves tons of time and aggravation.

Communicate with managers. This is one of THE most important areas. One of the first things you should do is put together a contact list of all the managers of teams participating in the tournament and email it all the managers. Keep them up to date during weather situations. Respond promptly to requests. These are paying customers, treat them that way.

Define rules clearly. Nothing is worse than having to deal with ambiguity in tournament rules. While it's nearly impossible to think of everything situation, it is important that you "spell out" the rules as clearly as possible. This will save much hassle down the road.

Allow enough time for games to be played. Again, visiting teams are paying customers. Develop your schedule to allow adequate time for games to be completed.

Appoint ambassadors and Tournament Directors. The manager's of your town's teams who are playing in the tournament should be knighted as "tournament ambassadors". If visiting coaches or parents have concerns or issues they should be able to address any of the mangers as representatives of your league. It's also a good idea to always have an appointed "Tournament Director" on duty whenever games are being played. The Tournament Directors' job is to be the "go-to" person for any issues that arise.

Give the kids a great experience. If you want parents and coaches to say "wow, that tournament was well worth the money" make sure the kids get their money's worth. Nice trophies, good umpiring crews, groomed fields, clean facilities, good snack bar, etc. These are things that build your tournament's reputation.

If you follow the above rules you will develop the reputation of running a great tournament. This will lead to managers emailing or calling you months before you open up tournament registration.

Coach Bob,


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