How to Organize a Basketball Tournament

Tips for Organizing a Basketball Tournament

Youth leagues play tournaments too! But just because the players are pint-sized doesn't mean the event is going to be any easier to organize.
Youth leagues play tournaments too! But just because the players are pint-sized doesn't mean the event is going to be any easier to organize.
Creatas/Creatas Images/Getty Images

Once you put together your checklist of things to do, organizing a tournament might seem a little daunting. However, there are many sporting associations that you can partner with for assistance. The U.S. Basketball Association and the Amateur Athletic Union, among others, have resources to help make planning easier. An association can provide a lot of support for the groundwork of your event, such as marketing, scheduling, compiling brackets, communication and insurance. Since their staffs are pros at doing this, they can help you avoid some pitfalls. An established association can also provide sanctioning, which will add an air of authority to the event. While the cost of these services varies, your league may also have to become a member of the association, which could cost several hundred dollars per year.

Also give yourself plenty of time to plan the event. The Amateur Athletic Union recommends starting the preparations at least 180 days before the tournament starts. Otherwise, the weeks leading up to the event could become a mad, stressful scramble, and some important tasks might fall through the cracks.

One person can't do all the work alone, so make sure you have enough hands on deck to keep things running smoothly. From getting enough qualified officials and referees to recruiting volunteers who can man concession stands and wrangle teams, having warm bodies to do the small stuff will ensure a smoother overall event. Find qualified officials through your state's basketball officials association. Get volunteers by asking parents, spouses and friends of league members to help and be sure to offer potential volunteers a place to sign up on the tournament's Web site. You can also try recruiting volunteers through social media and various other online resources.

Finally, don't forget that unless you're holding a charity event, a tournament is a way for your group to make money. While you'll be planning for concessions and tournament merchandise, also consider renting tables to outside vendors who sell shoes, clothing and other basketball gear. They'll have access to a larger customer base, which will help you turn a profit. Outside vendors also lend an air of spectacle and excitement to your event.

Now that you have a better idea of what's involved in basketball tournament planning, it's time to get the ball rolling on your own event!

Related Articles


  • Amateur Athletic Union. "Event Operators Wanted." (March 29, 2012)
  • Brown, Robert. B. "Round-Robin Tournament." Discovery: Ohio's Systemic Initiative. (March 29, 2012)
  • Fayers, Matthew. "Mutliple-elimination knockout tournaments with the fixed-win property." Disc. Math. Vol. 290. Page 89-97. 2005. (March 29, 2012)
  • Gus Macker. "Gus Macker History: The Legend of Gus." 2012. (March 29, 2012)
  • Gus Macker. "Tournaments." 2012. (March 29, 2012)
  • Junior Hoops of America. "Mid-America Youth Basketball (MAYB)." Feb. 9, 2011. (March 29, 2012)
  • Mull, Richard F., Kathryn G. Bayless and Lynn M. Jamieson. "Recreational Sport Management." 4th ed. Human Kinetics. 2005.
  • PrimeTime Sports. "Host Opportunities." (March 29, 2012)
  • PrimeTime Sports. "Tournament Competition Rules." (March 29, 2012)
  • Ryvkin, Dmitry. "The Predictive Power of Noisy Elimination Tournaments." CERGE-EI. Working Paper Series 252. March 2005. (March 29, 2012)
  • United States Basketball Association. "Host a Tournament." (March 29, 2012)
  • United States Basketball Association. "USBA FAQs." (March 29, 2012)'s.htm