Baseball fans may think that softball is an easier sport, but that’s not really the case. Fastpitch softball can be a challenging adventure for players, and tournaments are a fun way to demonstrate the players’ skills and teamwork.
However, tournaments can be very detailed and coaches, players, and parents may miss a crucial step. To help you keep track of the things you need to keep in mind, here’s a Fast-pitch Tournament Preparation Checklist you can use.
- Registration. Some tournaments may need you to register your team, so the coach should do that before the deadline. The coach should also take note and list down all the requirements and rules for the tournament so that they can comply with them.
- Taking care of the paperwork. The red tape is unfortunately part of the deal when teams join tournaments. So the players must complete their physicals first before they can even join in the practices. Then the coaching staff must also take care of other paperwork requirements:
- Birth certificates and photos of players
- Coach concussion certification
- Transportation permission slips
- Emergency contacts for everyone
- Medical and insurance information
- Fill up your roster. Usually the tournament officials need a list of all the players and coaches. But there are other positions that may need to be filled:
- Team captains
- Field prep volunteer. This is the person who’s responsible for preparing the field for all the team’s home games.
- Team manager. This person takes care of many of the administrative duties. They may be responsible for contacting all players when coaches have an announcement, and they may be responsible for all the team equipment as well.
- Get a copy of the rules. These are usually either printed or downloadable from the tournament website. Coaches need new copies each year, just in case there are any additions or changes to the rules.
- Check the equipment. This includes the uniform for the players. Each player needs gloves, bats, and proper shoes, while catchers will need more equipment. But practice gear and shoes may also be nice for the team players.
It’s important that the bats are allowed within the regulations, so that means they’re 34 inches long at the most with a maximum drop of -12. Usually the tournament has a list of allowed bats, and withdrawn or noncompliant bats may also be listed.
The uniforms and shoes should also follow the rules too. The numbers on the uniform should be visible. There shouldn’t be any logos or advertising symbols for commercial shops on the uniforms.
Other equipment may also include video cameras, and someone has to be responsible for these expensive toys. This person can make sure that these tools are used responsibly and that they’re secured properly when not in use.
Medical and first aid equipment must also be included.
- Inspect the field. It’s always a good idea to check the field even if the team has its own field. And it’s crucial if playing at the city park. The team needs to confirm that the distances of the bases, fences, and other parts of the field conform to the rules.
- Tryouts. The team should publish a schedule for tryouts so that girls can come in and participate. The announcement should mention the time and place of the tryouts. It should also mention any bit of equipment that the girls are required to bring along with them.
Once tryouts are over, the team can then post the final roster on the team website. Or the team manager can send an SMS message to everyone on the team.
- Practice schedules. Again, these schedules should be listed on the team website. If the team doesn’t have a website yet, the info may be pasted on a bulletin board. Or the team manager can get the cellphone numbers of all players and coaches so that an SMS message can be sent to everyone at once.
Still, it really is a good idea to start a website for the team instead. Someone may even be tasked to run the website. A website can easily be started online using Facebook, and most people already have a Facebook account anyway.
- Parent meetings. Once the final roster has been decided on, it’s a good idea to have the parents meet together along with the players. Both parents and players may sign an appropriate behavior agreement, with promises of good behavior and right conduct.
Coaches can also attend these meetings, and they can help with the organization. The parents can help organize fundraisers and man concessions stands. These fundraisers can be anything: a sale or auction, a party, or even a golf tournament. Someone has to be responsible in running these events, and taking care of the money generated for the team.
- Scouting assignments. It’s always nice to be prepared about your opponents. So it helps if you know the tendencies of the opposing pitchers, and which hitters on the opposing lineups are the most dangerous. Coaches, parents, or even players may be asked to watch how other teams play.
- Go over the rules with players. This isn’t just about the rules of fastpitch softball, although of course those matter too. But players also need to know the rules of good manners and right conduct. Coaches need to go over the rules on how players must react to jeering crowds, umpires who make unfavorable calls, and opposing players.
There may be other things that haven’t been included here, and that’s why coaches, parents, and players should meet. Questions can be raised and answered and issues can be discussed and resolved. Everyone can participate so that nothing is overlooked when preparing for a fastpitch tournament.
This Fastpitch Tournament Preparation Checklist is by no means complete, but it’s a good start. Just remember to focus on tournament rules, player safety, and proper behavior, and you can add to the checklist with other items as you see fit.