How to Organize a Sports Tournament

No matter the sport, a local tournament of any size can be a lot of fun, raise money for your organization and provide the chance to attract people from outside the area for some fresh competition. Whether for youth or adult sports, a successful tournament takes some dedication, but organizing can be just as much fun as participating in the event. Read on to learn how to organize a sports tournament.

Get volunteers and organize a committee. No matter the size of the tournament, you need help getting things done. Find volunteers who are committed, well-organized and who have local contacts.

Choose the tournament date. Make sure the date does not conflict with other major events in your community, and that the sports facilities you need are available.

Make a schedule of items to be done. Work backwards from the tournament date. For instance, the week before the tournament you will have checklist items such as picking up awards or medals, posters, scoresheets and scoreboards, or timing clocks, if needed. At least two months before the event you will have checklist items such as advertising your tournament and booking officials.

Decide on the number of teams, brackets or divisions. Make sure the size of your tournament does not outnumber your available volunteers to be at each venue, and that the size fits the tournament budget.

Advertise. Your local sports organization is likely tied into a regional or state organization that allows you to send out registration information or post it online. Invite teams from your area, and take flyers to other tournaments you attend and approach coaches or team managers. If you have held a tournament before, contact teams that have attended in the past.

Secure the venue you need. If it is a local basketball tournament, for instance, get gym facilities from local school boards, colleges or community centers.

Order the items you need. Allow for plenty of time for medals to be engraved, for posters to be printed and for souvenir items to be produced with your organization logo and the dates of your event.

Reserve the officials you will need for the tournament. Local referee organizations need as much notice as possible so they can be sure they have enough officials to cover all your games.

Communicate with the teams attending your event. You will want to make sure they have information about local hotels, the draws or brackets and locations of games well in advance.


Approach corporate and retail sponsors to buy ads in programs to defray the cost of printing a program. Talk to the local referee association about potential issues and how best to handle them while the tournament is ongoing. Use website organizing software for registration and making brackets or draws. Easy-to-use programs will save you lots of time. Ask a few local hotels to provide a discount for block booking of rooms so visiting teams can stay at a reduced cost. Most are happy to provide this service in return for you directing teams to them.


Contingency plans are important, especially if weather is a factor. Make sure teams attending your tournament know what will happen in case of a weather delay or cancellation.