How to organise a sports tournament.

Written by Natalie Doyle

July 11, 2024

Tennis balls and racket held by a tennis player at a tournament

A lot of you found our guide to organising a sports event helpful so I thought you’d like a guide on how to organise a sports tournament. Here’s your step-by-step guide to making sure everything goes off without a hitch.

1. Choose your format

First things first, decide on the format. Will it be knockout, round-robin, or a mix of both? For example, a football tournament could have a group stage followed by knockout rounds.

2. Set a date and book a venue

Pick a date that doesn’t clash with major events (like international matches or local festivals). Next, book a venue. Ensure it’s suitable for your sport and has enough space for players and spectators. Local parks, sports clubs, or school fields are good places to start. Make sure you check out our blog post on how to make facilities welcoming for women and girls.

3. Gather your team

You can’t do it all alone. Get a team together to help with planning and on the day itself. Delegate tasks like registration, scheduling, and managing equipment. If you need help recruiting volunteers then have a read of this blog post on the subject.

4. Budgeting and funding

Figure out your budget. Consider costs like venue hire, equipment, referees, prizes, and refreshments. Seek sponsorships from local businesses or charge a small entry fee to cover costs.

5. Registration and promotion

Create an easy way for teams to register—Google Forms work well. Promote your tournament through social media, local sports clubs, schools, and community noticeboards. Flyers in popular spots can also help.

6. Fixtures and scheduling

Once you have your teams, create a fixture list. Tools like Excel or online schedulers can be handy. Make sure to leave enough time between matches for rest and any potential overruns.

7. Equipment and supplies

Ensure you have all necessary equipment: balls, nets, bibs, whistles, etc. Don’t forget first aid kits, water, and snacks for the players.

8. Rules and referees

Set clear rules for the tournament and make sure all teams are aware of them. Hire or assign referees/umpires to ensure fair play.

9. On the Day

  • Arrival: Get there early to set up.
  • Registration: Have a registration desk for teams to check in.
  • Warm-Up: Allow time for teams to warm up.
  • Games: Stick to the schedule as much as possible. Keep everyone informed about the next matches.
  • Breaks: Make sure there are scheduled breaks and refreshments available.
  • Finals and Prizes: Organise the finals and have a prize-giving ceremony. Trophies, medals, or even just certificates can make a big difference.

10. Enjoy and reflect

Once the tournament is over, take some time to enjoy the success. Gather feedback from participants to see what went well and what could be improved for next time. A thank-you note or email to participants and volunteers is always a nice touch.

Bonus Tips:

  • Weather Plan: Have a backup plan for bad weather, especially if it’s an outdoor event.
  • Insurance: Check if you need any insurance to cover injuries or damages.
  • Photography/Videos: Capture the moments! Photos and videos can be great for promotion next time.

There you have it—a straightforward guide to organising a sports tournament. Get ready to have fun and make it an event to remember!

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