Top 5 Youth Sports Tournament Tips

When March Madness lasts a whole season!

I LOVE March Madness!

Not just for the "Big Dance" NCAA tournaments, but because it also is the time we start going to travel tournaments with our club basketball teams. Here's five of my favorite tips to share with families that may be new to the excitement and wondering what to expect:

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  1. Check out the schedule, the gym locations, and map out your anticipated route in advance. Program into your GPS or print out the map to take with you as a frame of reference. If you are going to a college, university, or private school with a large campus, you may also want to look up a campus map to scope out parking areas near the gym locations. Download any apps that you'll need to keep the info at your fingertips. 
  2. Plan to arrive 30-45 minutes before your first game of the day. That allows your player to get their uniform and sneakers on, fill up their water bottle, stop at the restroom after your drive, and figure out which court they'll be playing on. To stay on schedule, some tourneys will start games a little early when that opportunity arises. Be ready!
  3. Bring a cooler with healthy snacks and drinks for your player and family. You can keep the cooler in the car, and just go out between games to replenish your tote bag/backpack/duffle. You'll save a few dollars, and also be sure to have items that (a) your child likes, (b) are not total junk, and (c) can fuel your player throughout pretty long days with multiple games. You can still plan to have a meal or two out, but give your player and family some options. Not every town or tournament will have a decent snack bar handy.
  4. Bring some cash to have on hand. You'll have to pay to get into 95% of the tournaments, and be warned - in addition to food concessions, many also have t-shirts or other gear to tempt you and your player. PRO TIP: I suggest putting the weekend pass bracelet on your tote bag, purse, or keyring instead of on your wrist so you don't have to mess with it when you are in the shower or pool, etc. 
  5. Take advantage of the down time with your team! This is the time at the hotel, or in the hotel pool area, or at the pizza place where your team is having a meal, or in the stands when you're cheering on another team from your club or hometown region. Bring a football or a frisbee and some camp chairs to hang out in parking lots and get some fresh air. Team bonding and parent socializing each help to build trust, and fun memories. That trust leads to better connections both on and off the court moving forward. 

Do you have any tried and true tips you'd add to this list? Would love to see them in the comments.


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