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Youth baseball tournaments are incredible opportunities because they give kids the chance to travel and get out on their own, to play against new teams and meet new people, and to challenge their individual and team skills. As a coach, parent, or manager, however, planning for a tournament can be stressful. Here’s a quick guide for your next tournament to help you remember a few basic things for planning and organizing the travel and accommodations.
Arranging Transportation and Accommodation
If a tournament is out of town, you’ll need to arrange mass transportation for the coaches, team, chaperones, and equipment. In case your team isn’t affiliated with a school, talk to a local school and see if there’s a bus and driver available who can get you all there and back safely. Otherwise, look into a charter bus.
For accommodations, talk to the tournament organizers first, because they might have lodgings reserved for the teams. If not, find something that’s close to the tournament location and that provides all the basic amenities you’ll need to be comfortable. Determine how many kids are going, how many can appropriately be bunked up together, and figure out how many rooms you're going to need. This will vary if you need to have chaperones in each room.
Meal Planning on the Road
If you’ve got a long drive ahead of you, consider having the kids bring their own food for the first few meals, or arrange for someone to make sandwiches or other easy-to-eat foods for the bus. Once you’re at the tournament, find restaurants that offer cheap and healthy meals. Look for restaurants that offer lots of choices at affordable prices, such as buffet-style menus.
Or, look for options that offer shareable meals, like pizza or tapas. The important thing is planning ahead and knowing what restaurants are in the city before you get there. And don’t forget to talk to the organizers, as they may have worked out a deal with some of the local restaurants, or may even be planning to provide a few meals.
Packing and Preparing for the Tournament
Youth baseball tournaments are important milestones for young players, but as a parent, sending your child off alone can be nerve-racking. Luckily, you can help set your mind at ease by being prepared. Start with the basics: make sure you pack (or he or she has packed) enough socks, underwear, shirts, pants and shorts, sweaters, uniforms, and shoes for the duration of the trip, plus a couple of extras.
If you provide your own gear, don’t forget the bats, helmets, pads, and gloves. For older children, send along some extra emergency money, and don’t forget the cell phone charger! It can help to have a list prepared so that you don’t forget anything. Make sure the coach knows of any medical, dietary, or allergy needs your child may have, and don’t let your kid leave without triple checking for medications or special devices.
Planning for a youth baseball tournament can be difficult, but it helps if you are organized. Talk to people who have organized tournament excursions before so you know what to expect and can learn from their mistakes. It might help to write down everything you need to do, dates by which you have to have certain things booked, and the other people involved in the planning and organizing. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and make sure that parents and other adults involved know what’s expected of them.