Thursday, January 11, 2007

How to run a high school Ultimate tournament

On Saturday January 27th I will be presenting at the UCPC on the topic, "How to run a High School Ultimate tournament".

My presentation will cover issues from basic tournament essentials to how to expand your event to the next level. For the past five years a big part of my life has revolved around high school Ultimate tournaments, so I have developed many strong opinions on what makes for a successful event. Over the next couple weeks I would like to further expand on my ideas by posing the following questions to the PlayUltimate community:

1) In your opinion what are the most important traits of a well run HS Ultimate tournament?

2) What are your Ultimate tournament pet peeves?

3) If you've ever organized an Ultimate tournament, what advice would you give to people who are thinking about running a HS Ultimate tournament for the first time?

4) What do you think is the most crucial element that separates well run HS tournaments from poorly run HS tournaments?


Julian Hausman said...

1. I really think having a good lodging location that is nearby (but also cheap and not a complete hole-in-the-wall).

I really like when at the captains meeting, there is a copy of all the rules and schedules (like time-outs, caps, map of the fields, schedule, playoff format) given to every captain (at one tournament I went to, this sheet was laminated, which was really cool because it was kind of wet out).

Every good HS tournament should have a designated photographer that just goes around, takes pictures of the game, and puts them up on the tournament website. It’s great when there are pictures of a tournament because it proves that it happened and just shows that everyone there had a great time (good publicity for next year).

It’s really cool when there is merchandise (discs, shirts, ect.) for sale, because I like to get a souvenir from each tournament I play in.

2. When the Tournament Director doesn’t know what is going on.

When caps aren’t clearly announced to everyone (ex. TD just yelling instead of an air-horn)

This next one is for fall tournaments, but it really bothers me that at tournaments that are designed to give teams a lot of game experience as a “tune-up,” pools are set up where the location of the teams isn’t taken into account. Okay, I’m not going to try to mask what I am saying anymore or be convoluted; my team went to a tournament that was at least 6 hours away. We get there, only to find that our pool consists of two local B teams and a team that is located about 15 minutes away from us and we play all the time. Every other pool consisted of teams that we have never gotten the chance to play, and if we travel all that way, we don’t need to play a team we can play in our own backyard (both teams didn’t want to play this game, and we asked to change pools before the tournament started, but our request was denied). I want to make it clear that I was only bothered by this because this wasn’t a championship tournament, it was created to give a lot of teams the chance to play opponents they normally wouldn’t; if a two teams are scheduled to play each other in a tournament that means something, you play the game out.

A tournament should be hosted at a site where all the fields are in equal condition. There should not be “that one field with a baseball diamond that runs through it” or one with an overhanging tree. Each field should be safe and in good condition.

3. My best piece of advice is to have everything prepared very early, and to have a backup plan for any scenario. (Know what to do if someone gets hurt, have a plan if the weather ruins the tournament). Do as much as you can before the day of the tournament, such as getting together all the cones, lining the fields, having all the things for the tournament HQ already packed in the car, ect.)

Always try to make the tournament as inexpensive as possible for the players- the cheaper the tournament; the more teams are willing to travel usually.

Make sure you bring garbage bags. Give them out to captains at the captains meeting, make them clean up their own mess, its less work for you at the end.

Don’t give teams distilled water.

Fruit like bananas and oranges are good to hand out. Bagels are nice too.

This is pretty obvious, but make teams turn in money and forms way before the first game starts (if you can do it the night before at the hotel, or first thing in the morning, its best).

Sell cold Gatorade from the HQ if its hot, people will buy.

First aid kit is a must. Its also a good idea to have Ibuprofen and athletic tape on location.

4. I guess I said most of things that separate the two, but just make sure to have a plan for anything that could go wrong, because people will look to you when things do.

gapoole said...

1) Organization is paramount--having the location, teams, and format finalized ahead of time is the most important thing. Fields are the second most important factor. They should be full-size, with full-size endzones, well-marked, and safely spaced. Finally, the amenities make the difference: field bags on both days, first aid support, and fairly-priced merchandise (Gatorade, discs, shirts, etc).

2) Poor communication, especially with regard to start times, caps, pools/format and field changes. Disorganization can really affect a team and its leaders. Also, having unequal fields is both aggravating and unfair.

3) Spread the word early, enforce deadlines, and accept teams from all over. Encourage SOTG and provide free housing for distant teams, because the community is what really makes Ultimate so special. Provide for the weather--cold drinks, hot drinks, ponchos, field houses, hot showers, and pizza go a long way to improving the tournament experience.

4) Having fair competition, excellent organization, and a smoothly-timed event are crucial. Stick to your schedule. I think that TD-appointed Observers could help run the games, and the tournament as a whole, much more effectively.

gapoole said...
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