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Hosting A Backyard Sports Tournament

Looking for a fun way to get outdoors, keep the kids active and have fun? Host your own neighborhood sports tournament in your backyard! Take your pick — volleyball, croquet, badminton, soccer, flag football, softball or even synchronized dance can be turned into a just-for-fun competitive league.

Here are a few pointers to get you started:

Referee Duckies 1. Pick your players.  Will you have a kids-only league or mixed teams? Will there be a minimum age or an age limit? If you have both youth and adult teams, consider an end-of-season mixed game to show off your skills.

2. Choose a sport & rules.  Once you decide what to play, make sure everyone is playing by the same rulebook. Recruit referees and scorekeepers if necessary.

3. Choose teams.  Split up into manageable groups, taking into account the need for subs. Find out if anyone will be on vacation and create a team roster and calendar. Each team should have a leader to manage the roster and monitor playtime.

4. Designate home turf.  You can choose to host the event on your own lawn, rotate among neighbors or get together at a nearby park. Ask for volunteers to bring equipment to each game.

5. Consider rain dates.  If the weather doesn’t cooperate, plan for alternate gameCheerleader Duckies dates. However, instead of canceling the day’s event, plan on meeting at a community center or team captain’s home to practice skills and build camaraderie.

6. Create a bracket.  Decide how many games or rounds will be played and how elimination will occur. Will you have a wild card team? Playoffs?

7. Pick uniforms & team names.  Keep it casual or organize and coordinate your players in matching jerseys. Let kids decorate their own T-shirts or hats with fabric paint as a getting-to-know-you team activity.

8. Choose cheerleaders.  Whoever isn’t playing can become a cheerleader! Include parents and siblings in the fun and provide pom-poms, noisemakers and megaphones at each game. Recruit cheer captains to decorate banners or signs to post on game day.

9. Provide Prizes.  Play just for fun or hand out ribbons, awards or trophies to the winning teams. You can also award each player a ribbon just for participating. Ask the adults to contribute to a game fund and use the money to buy prizes in bulk.

10.  Throw an end-of-season celebration.  Make sure to reward the players with a season-ending party. Host it in your backyard, at a playground, local amusement park or favorite restaurant. Have the kids share their favorite moments from the season while you share photos or a slideshow of photos from the games. Take advantage of this party to plan next year’s season, too!