Friday, December 19, 2014

What to Expect at a Travel Ball Tournament

Knowing what to expect before you arrive at the tournament puts everyone at ease and allows you to have more fun.  Although we can't cover all the possibilities, we will explain the most common setups that you will experience from a spectator's perspective.  Some of this information provided is based on OnTurf Sports tournaments.  It always helps to know the name of the tournament that your son or daughter is playing in so that you can do your own research before the weekend.  Please make sure to check into the specifics of each tournament as the situations will change from what is noted.

Sanctioned tournaments are well defined events that follow a set of rules and guidelines established by the sanctioning organization.  Baseball Players Association (BPA) and Perfect Game (PG) are the two sanctioning organizations used by OnTurf Sports.  You will see the BPA or PG name, image and/or logo if the event is sanctioned.  If your team is attending a non-sanctioned baseball or softball tournament, the tournament director should communicate the rules and guidelines that will be followed.  In a non-sanctioned tournament, the tournament director does not have to follow any set rules and simply establishes which rules will be followed.

The items below follow the general sanctioned tournament guidelines.  Variations do occur.

Please see the sanctioning organization website for game rules at BPA or PG

  1. Tournament Length: Tournaments will range from a single day up to 7 days for a national championship tournament.  Typically tournaments will be 2 or 3 days, Friday through Sunday, for youth ages 8u to 14u.  Older age groups may go 4 or more days, Thursday through Sunday, depending on the size of the tournament. Tournament lengths will vary around the size of the tournament, the sanctioning organization, and the time of the year including or excluding holidays.  Your coach should know how many days are scheduled for the tournament.

  2. Tournament Format: A 3 or 4 game format is standard for youth ages with 4 to 7 games for older age groups.  This means that depending on how your team plays, your team will play at least the number of games noted.  In a 3 game format, your team will play at least 3 games if no interruptions happen during the tournament (ex. weather).  Please understand that OnTurf Sports does not use the term "guarantee". There are very few tournaments that actually guarantee a set number of games.  Although it boils down to terminology, weather among other factors can force a tournament to alter the schedule.  Everyone wants to play all the games planned but with only a set number of days to play, tournament directors should avoid the word guarantee unless that is their intention.

    The tournament format also includes how the teams are eliminated or separated based on their performance.  There are too many options to describe in this article but some examples are pool games to single elimination and pool games to championship or consolation rounds.

  3. Schedule: OnTurf Sports releases the tournament schedule no later than the Tuesday before the tournament.  The coach or team representative that registered the team for the tournament receives an email from OnTurf Sports providing the schedule information and any special instructions as soon as the schedule is available.  The schedule release is also communicated through Twitter and Facebook for all to see.  Other tournaments will use different methods to release the schedule.

    In a 3 game format tournament, the first game on Friday is not be before 6 PM in May unless a special exception has occurred.  Once June has started Friday game times may start at 5 PM or earlier depending on the size of the tournament.  Game time starts are always variable and everyone must check the schedule on the day before the tournament starts to make sure they have the right game times.

  4. Game Results: OnTurf Sports posts the game results on the website and a paper record is posted at the main portion of the complex for everyone to see.  Not all tournaments post the game results.

  5. Gate Entry Fee: There are two different methods on how gate entry fees are collected.  The gate entry fee is either included in the tournament entry fee paid by the team to play in the tournament or a per person gate entry fee is paid at the tournament by the spectators.  If the gate entry fee is paid by the team, the tournament listing and price will specifically describe that the gate entry fee is included with the tournament entry fee.  Otherwise spectators will be charged the gate entry fee at the tournament.  For OnTurf Sports events, a gate pass is provided to the spectator that works at all the facilities being used in the tournament as either a day pass or a tournament pass.  The amount of the gate fee varies depending on the tournament.  When your team plays in tournaments not run by OnTurf Sports, please make sure the gate entry fee is explained.

  6. Food and drinks: Food and drinks are available for purchase at most tournaments.  Tournaments may have restrictions on what can be brought into the park.  Coolers and large containers are typically prohibited.

  7. Directions: OnTurf Sports provides facility directions in multiple forms.  With each tournament listing, the facility information including the directions are provided on the OnTurf Sports website.  Each park will be listed on the game schedule as well noting the park name and field name or number that corresponds to each age group.  The directions for each facility are also provided in an event packet emailed to the coach prior to the event.  Your coach is encouraged to email the packet to the entire team.  Other tournaments should at minimum supply a park address through email or a website.

  8. Scoreboards: The use of scoreboards varies widely with many public supported facilities no longer installing them.  Many times in a publicly used facility, the scoreboards are broken or not maintained in working condition (ex. lights burnt out).  Other parks simply have never installed scoreboards due to the expense.