A well-run tournament is a work of art. While it may look easy to run a tournament from the outside, there’s a lot of work behind the scenes that makes an event shine. Wondering how you can get your events to that level? USA Volleyball Manager of Events Megan Ward has five tips to make your tournaments run more smoothly and successfully.
Of course tournament directors plan and prepare for their event, but make sure to decide on a location/facility, have all required documents, and set up a timeline before you start planning in depth. Based on your location/facility, you will know how many teams/courts you can have before opening registration. This allows you to decide what scheduling formats and USAV policies to implement. Your event will need to be sanctioned and approved by the region your event is being held in, so make sure to reach out to that region for their specific hosting protocols.
Create a timeline of important dates including registration, refund, roster deadline, etc. Posting these dates early will help keep you on track and notify teams of deadlines.
Make sure all participants, including event staff, are USAV members. This ensures all participants are aware of USAV policies. Ensure that your event staff have completed SafeSport training; it’s required for every staff member, and they can help detect potential SafeSport issues during the event. Take time to anticipate possible emergencies that may arise during your event and plan responses for each issue. Include facility staff and event staff as facilities may already have emergency guidelines in place.
Events never go as planned, so be ready to adjust at any moment. Whether a team drops out the night before and you need to change your schedule, or the power in the facility goes out during the event, be ready to pivot. You can’t control everything that could happen, but staying flexible will help your event run as smoothly as possible.
Overcommunicate with your teams and spectators. Sharing as much information as possible before the event helps teams arrive prepared. Post information in multiple areas and send important information before teams arrive. A FAQ page or Team Letter are great ways to highlight important information for all attendees.
Continue communication during the event. If there are schedules changes, delays, an emergency, etc., make sure to inform your attendees when appropriate and as time allows.
Don’t forget to enjoy and be present when it’s time to actually play volleyball! Whether it’s a multiday event or a single-day tournament, you have just provided an opportunity for athletes to play the game they love.
See what works and what doesn’t, make notes throughout the event, and discuss these notes in a post-event discussion. Embrace all the feedback!
Events Manager Megan Ward has worked at USAV for nearly three years and currently runs two of the organization’s biggest tournaments: Girls Junior National Championship and Sunshine Classic. She’s also helped manage events at both the collegiate and professional levels.