Written By Darren Darracq
What Can a Tournament Director do to put on a better Tournament? I believe there are three phases to putting on great tournament.
1. Marketing of your Tournament
3. Working the Tournament
Each one of these phases is important. If you do all three, you will be very successful. You fail at one and it opens an avalanche of Complaints.
Posting on a Website that has a lot of traffic is good. But if that is all you are doing then hopefully you have no competition in your area. Send emails to teams inviting them to your event. Include pictures of something. It sounds like we are in elementary but it grabs people's attention if you have a picture of the park, awards or maybe the logo for the event. For coaches that have not been to a park before they love seeing what the park looks like. Another effective way to get your message out is social media. Facebook and Twitter seem to be the most popular in use. Calling coaches can be effective but will use up a lot of your time. These days texting coaches can be somewhat effective. What we have found is if you use all these you will get coaches to engage. If you use only one or two of these methods you will be missing out on some coaches. Posting your events as soon as possible and displaying the teams coming helps getting more teams in your event. I call this the “following the herd.”
The Price of your event, format, and Complex you are using go a long way into getting teams signed up. Getting teams to sign up for an event at at new location can be the most difficult no matter who the TD, price or Format you use. Teams are creature of habit and are leary of trying new complex’s at first.
Every part of the Country seems to do things different. Tournament Formats with the 2 non Seeded pool games into a double elimination Bracket can be popular in some areas and 6 and 7 Games Guarantee in other areas. Many parts of the Country take a Gate Fee to enter the event, those places seem to limit food and Drinks inside. Some places you pay at the plate and some places the umpire fee is mixed in with the entry fee. Find out what works in your area and go with it. Generally Umpires love paying at the plate but Coaches don't like having to carry cash with them all day. Showing a smaller Price for a Tournament can be helpful for coaches that will have to collect money ahead of time. Many Teams still collect money just before each events.
Having a good communication can be as simple as putting all the information on your website tournament posts. One of the more important items is posting “House Rules.” A House Rule could be allowing a last out to run for a pitcher or catcher. One of the more controversial House Rule is how you seed your brackets. This will cause a TD the most grief if they don't have it set in stone before the the TD has to figure out who plays who.
I recommend sending out an email two days before the tournament with all the rules and everything coaches need to bring for check in. Some other items to remind coaches in this email are; is there a gate fee, schedule, whether food is allowed in complex, complex address, rainout number, who the UIC and TD are. If you have an item that will be controversial at your park; house rule, gate fee, not allowing food and drink in, not supplying water in dugouts; tell the teams ahead of time. They may not like the issue but this will give coaches time to tell their parents ahead of time which will take away an added headache during the event.
One of the hardest ways for TD’s to communicate with coaches is after the Tournament Starts. Coaches don’t always have phones on them so you may not always have a way to relay the message. Social media, Facebook and Twitter can be effective. The Coaches may not always get the message but there will be parents on each team that follow it and can relay it. We found The Rainout Line is a great way to get the message out. You can put a message in a free smart phone app. This message will be placed on a phone line, social media, text and email. Coaches can sign up for it and it’s free.
3. Working the Tournament
This is the most visible part of the three phases. When a team walks in the complex is it easy for them to find the TD and check in?. Having the TD and the staff wearing something that identifies who they are. This helps with building a professional appearance. Maintaining the fields between games looks great and coaches and parents love seeing it. Some complexes have certain rules on this and could limit your ability to work on the fields. Something you will get judged on and most would never guess is keeping clean bathrooms.
Post the schedule and rules where everyone can find it. Updating the scores at the complex and online immediately after games are over are a must. Posting the rules along with the seeding process to the elimination bracket will go a long way in your event running smoothly.
Using an experienced umpire crew that know their fastpitch mechanics and are dressed professionally will go a very long way in putting on a good tournament. Have a visible UIC that can answer questions for coaches. Having a UIC that roams the fields and observing the umpires gives another professional appearance to the tournament.
One of the most difficult things TD’s have to do is when you have delays in the Tournament after it starts is communicating the changes to all the teams. Social Media is one of the best ways to get the message out fast. There are some Smartphone APPs like the rainout line that you can type up one message and it will go out on a phone, text, Email and social media. Getting the message to more than the head coach helps with everybody getting the message faster, which again, makes your event run so much smoother.
There are many other ways to put on a good tournament and this is just some of the basics.
Darren Darracq: Darren is a Fast-pitch enthusiast and has been a Parent, Coach, Tournament Director, National/Recreation Director For years in the DFW market. He works with Kenneth Wilson, Martin Poole, Kevin Shelton and Mike Miller who have formed a Company called DFW Fastpitch to promote the game of Fast-pitch by raising and maintaining a high level awareness by posting information about local fast-pitch activities while including regional and national stories of interest to the DFW Fast-pitch community.
Additionally, they intend to employ their experience to aid the local Fast-pitch community in an effort to raise the level of the game in DFW. Part of that effort will include running the highest quality tournaments and events.
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