Tournaments

What can you expect at tournaments?

There are a few kinds of tournaments depending on what level your child plays:

1 day (Saturday or Sunday) local tournaments schedule:

One day tournaments are LONG days! Be prepared to get to the tournament by 7am and if your team plays well throughout the day, you may not leave the facility until as late as 8pm.

Usually all teams start pool play at 8am. How well the team does in pool play will dictate what bracket they will play in the afternoon and bracket play typically starts as soon as pool play is over.

2 day and longer tournament schedules:

Teams are assigned either morning or afternoon pools, again pools are assigned by rank in the tournament. Morning pools typically start at 8 am and afternoon pools between 2 and 3pm. Obviously first tournaments of the year are based on last year’s performance until teams play in a region ranking tournament. After the games are over, teams are assigned to bracket play the following day based on performance. Oftentimes there are ties and each tournament handles ties differently. Some tourneys go by point differentials and some make the teams play a tie breaker game, or cross-over match.

Pools are arranged by rank. The diagram below shows how pools are assigned by ranking of the teams. The first team in pool one is the highest-ranked team in the tournament and the first team in pool two is the second-highest ranked in the tournament and so on until the last pool, then the number/ranking order goes backwards:

We’ve found that the Pool Play schedules almost always follow this format:

1 vs 3

2 vs 4

1 vs 4

2 vs 3

3 vs 4

1 vs 2

In the event of a three-team pool, teams play each other for three games each.

Bracket play:

Top 1 and 2 finishing teams in each pool typically plays in gold bracket, the third place team in the pool plays silver while the fourth place team in the pool plays bronze, consolation or flight.

For two-day tournaments, gold brackets typically play first in the morning, silver plays slightly later and the rest after that.

Three-day tournaments or national qualifiers vary by tournament. Some have two days of pool play with the second day of pool play based on how you played the first day. Some tournaments have cross-over matches on the second day based on how you play. These cross-over matches may be tie breakers in winning record, so even if your team loses matches during pool play, high scores can help them in the future. Be sure to check the websites of the tournaments for details.

What can I bring to a tournament facility?

Some supplies we recommend packing are:

Food

Depending on where the tournament is located, you may not have time to leave to go get “healthy food.” Most gyms and tournament facilities do not allow outside food into their locations and only serve the proverbial nachos, popcorn and hot dogs. Every now and then you might find sandwiches.

Athletes are allowed to bring small coolers in for drinks and food. While gyms discourage big coolers, you can set up shop outside. For us, we recommend packing the following for your athlete as we’ve found that picky eaters and food allergies make communal team meals difficult to accommodate.

  • Plenty of food, including lunches
  • Snacks
  • 4-6 waters and sports drinks for your athlete.

Accessories

You should ALWAYS check the tournament website or call the tournament site to see if you will need seat savers, fold out chairs or stadium seats for comfort. We also recommend dressing in layers and keeping a blanket in the car! You never know what the atmosphere will be like from one gym to the next.
Bring a book or something to do as there is always some downtime in between games. Don’t expect your athletes to sit or hang out with you in between games; most coaches want the team to hang together or stay with coach.

Parking

If we’ve seen it once we’ve seen it a hundred times, parking at tournaments almost always stinks is rough. It is truly a case of “the early bird gets the worm.” Be prepared to walk a ways if you have a late start for the day.

Admission

Cost of entry for tournaments varies from $3-$12 per spectator. Always have cash.

Food

Athletes typically just need a few snacks and waters/gatorades.

Accessories

You should ALWAYS check the tournament website or call the tournament site to see if you will need seat savers, fold out chairs or stadium seats for comfort. We also recommend dressing in layers and keeping a blanket in the car! You never know what the atmosphere will be like from one gym to the next.
Bring a book or something to do as there is always some downtime in between games. Don’t expect your athletes to sit or hang out with you in between games; most coaches want the team to hang together or stay with coach.

When do we find out when we play?

Larger, more competitive programs typically have their schedules finalized by October/November while smaller clubs may wait a little longer like January. How many tournaments you play depends on the team. We see that it averages around 10 tournaments per season.

Although tournament schedules are firm by the start of the season, times for the pool play are never final until Wednesday or Thursday prior to the game. You can find the schedule posted on the website of the hosting team. Some tournaments may post the schedule on Tuesday but we have seen it change Thursday prior. Coaches typically tell the athletes at the practice prior to the game or email or text the team the pool play schedule by Wednesday or Thursday prior to the tournament.

What is my role as a parent at tournaments?

We have to address this because we’ve seen it all.

You shouldn’t always expect to talk to your athlete during tournament, and that’s ok! Most teams and coaches expect players to hang out/bond with them, not with the parents. Here are a few other guidelines we think you’ll find helpful to guide your expectations and conduct:

  1. Keep your cool! It’s a game andstuff happens. These athletes are learning and they make mistakes. Even professionals make mistakes. Have a hard time keeping your mouth shut? Chew gum.
  2. Don’t scream at the athletes, ref, down ref, OR THE LINE JUDGE! The score keepers and line judges are players – they learn the game by doing and they WILL make mistakes. We have never seen a game changed by screaming parents, but we have seen them get kicked out. Wrong calls happen all the time. It’s something that comes with the sport and unfortunately you have to go with it. We have found it is NEVER one bad call that dictates a win or loss.
  3. If you don’t like how your coach coached, treated your player, how much your player played (or didn’t play), we advise that you don’t say or email anything during or after the tournament. Rather, let your athlete talk to the coach first and if you don’t like the answer, intervene. If you’re still unhappy with the way the situation is being handled, talk with the club director.
  4. When traveling to out-of-town tournaments, depending on the club/team/coach you there is a possibility that you may not be staying with your child in a hotel room, or get to spend time with them or talk to them in between games/days. We recommend that you ask those questions about their travel policies. We have seen this policy hurt and upset families. Know in advance.
  5. What if my athlete gets injured during a game? As hard as it may be, if your athlete gets injured during a game, we’ve found that in most cases parents need to sit tight and not approach the court unless summoned by a coach. We realize it is a natural instinct for a parent to run to the rescue of your child/player, HOWEVER it is not always advantageous. Take a deep breath and when or if the coach summons you and/or your kid is moved off the court to the bench, THEN go assess the extent of your athlete’s injuries. Otherwise, wait until the end of the match and escort them to the training tent.