How to organise a sports tournament

Updated July 19, 2017

Organising a sports tournament is a good way of providing entertainment for a day. This is why many parents organise tournaments for their child's birthday. Some clubs or leagues, however, use tournaments to decide the winners of competitions in a more competitive environment.

Organising and carrying out a tournament is a fairly simple task but requires some minor administration. If run well, it will be very successful and enjoyable for all participants.

Decide what sort of sports tournament you want to host. The main criteria is deciding which sport you wish people to play at your tournament. If, for example, you are hosting a basketball tournament, then you must ensure you have access to at least one court, you have a basketball, etc.

Furthermore, you should decide on any age restrictions you wish to place on the tournament - are you organising an adults or children's tournament, or can both compete?

Advertise your tournament to the public. Target specific local clubs who play the sport for which you are organising a tournament. For example, if you are hosting a baseball tournament, then contact all of the local baseball clubs and see if they are interested in competing.

Publicise your event to a wider audience by putting up posters, and maybe even contacting the local press to try and gain more exposure. People will be more interested in your tournament if there is some kind of prize for the winners, so try and contact local businesses to get a free prize from them in exchange for displaying their business logo and details at the tournament.

Determine the format of your tournament, the number of teams competing and the number of players on each team.

The number of players on each team will probably impact upon the size of the playing area you use and the length of the fixtures in the tournament. For example, in a soccer tournament, you could play five-a-side, which requires a smaller pitch, with shorter goals and shorter length of match than an 11-a-side tournament.

Do a draw to work out which teams will compete. Study other tournaments in order to work out the most suitable format for your competition.

For example, the FIFA soccer World Cup sees 32 nations contest a group stage comprising four teams in each group, which then leads to the top two sides in each group progressing to a knockout stage. Sixteen teams become eight and then four, then two in the final.

Ensure that you have enough interest to carry out your tournament, and that you have all the necessary equipment for your competition to go ahead. When supplying any equipment, always make sure that it is safe, and that it meets the requirements set out by that sport's governing body. If you are hosting a football tournament, check that, for example, all players' equipment meets NFL guidelines - as the tournament's organiser, you are ultimately responsible for the health and safety of the participants.


Always carry out thorough checks of all equipment that you use. As tournament organiser you are responsible for ensuring your tournament is completed in a safe and secure environment.

Things You'll Need

  • Access to sporting facilities
  • Pen
  • Pad of paper
  • Whistle
  • Stopwatch or wristwatch
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About the Author

I have been involved in coaching and administration of youth soccer with the Herts FA for several years. I have many years experience with the technical side and equipment of soccer, cricket, rugby, snooker and poker. I studied the health and fitness and dietary side of competitive sport while at University. Currently, I am not ready for on-camera opportunities, but this could change with access to training and equipment.