Adult baseball tournament tips

Ways to make your tournament experience go smoothly.

I look at baseball tournaments as mini vacations. They are a chance to get out of the house for a few days, travel and spend time playing my favorite game. 

Whether it's an event held a few hours or a time zone away, there are things to do to prepare. How far you are going and how long you'll be gone always plays a factor into the decision making, but some things will apply most of the time. 

I'm going to go through my tournament prep here for you and pass along some tips that help me. Everyone has their own routine. Some things may be obvious. 

Long term prep

⚾️ Planning

I try to plan out what tournaments I want to play early on. I may not be able to go to all of the ones I want to, but choosing the ones I prefer ahead of time gives me a chance to figure out what I need to do to go to each. 

Factors that play into which tournaments I choose include whether one of my teams are planning to go, how far the tourney is from me, how many days it goes for and cost. You can find a list of Adult Baseball tournaments for 2022 here if you want to check some to play in. 

Since I'm self employed, scheduling time off isn't difficult, but factoring in lost work time is a significant cost to consider. This plays a part in deciding which tourneys I go to. Deciding early also gives me plenty of time to set aside funds for each tourney. 

⚾️ Budgeting

Much as I wish cost wasn't a factor, it is. So along with deciding the tourneys I'll play in, I decide on a budget for each.

To do this, I research hotel rooms and travel costs months in advance to figure out what the bare bones cost of the trip will be. Then I factor in entry fee, food and miscellaneous expenses. 

All of this together gives me a ball park of what I will need to put aside for each tourney.  From there I can start to fund each desired trip. 

⚾️ Booking

Reserve hotels early. With most, free cancellation is an option. You can change to a different hotel if you desire and not lose out on a deposit if for some reason you can't go. 

An Airbnb or similar accommodation is another option, especially if you want to go in with a group of teammates. Be aware that cancellation policies vary widely with these. But if you are sure you will be going, booking early can often get you the right place for a good price. 

If you are flying, booking early can get you a better price. In general, the closer it gets to the travel date, the pricier the tickets become. There are exceptions, but better to not be scrambling to close your departure date. 

⚾️ Family, work etc.

Get the time scheduled off of work for the tourneys you plan to go to. Typically, the earlier you put in the request, the more likely it is to go your way. 

If you need to make arrangements for your kids (for example, if you are a single parent like me), make them early on so that it won't be a worry as the trip approaches. 

Same goes for pets and other things that may need to be looked after while you are gone. Get friends or family to help out if possible.

⚾️ Train and practice

You don't step on the mound to pitch without warming up. You don't go up to bat without taking a few swings first. Likewise, you shouldn't go into a tournament unprepared.

Depending on the tourney you're going to, there's going to be a lot of baseball condensed into a short period of time. As an example, when I go to the NABA California Kickoff next weekend, my team has 4 pool play games in 2 days.

As adults, it's important that we take care of our bodies. Part of that care is making sure we can endure that amount of play, stay competitive and do it all without injury. 

The best way to do that is to start the training early. For mid season or end of the year trips, I'm already pretty well conditioned to baseball.  Prepping for the tourney might be an extra bullpen during the week, extra days of batting practice and high rep, low weight lifting to build extra endurance.

For preseason tourneys, I start throwing, taking groundballs and hitting at least 6 weeks before. I'll increase volume and intensity gradually. The final week before the first tourney, I'll be throwing 2-3 days including a bullpen or two, hitting in the cage a few days that week and doing infield drills daily. If possible, I'll catch a bullpen or two as well. 

Getting yourself conditioned to play is important and should start early in the planning process. 

Mid range prep (1 month away)

⚾️ Pay up

Tournaments aren't free. Someone is putting the team together, entering it into the event and collecting payments from players.

Pay that fee. Do it early. Get it out of the way..

Don't be the one that pays last minute. Team managers have enough to do without having to track down money. Getting payment done early helps ensure there's a spot for you on the team. It's one less thing for you to worry about too. 

⚾️ Order and purchase

You might want a new pair of pants, a new helmet or a sweet set of batting gloves to sport at the tourney. Order them or go get them at the store long before you need them. 

Give yourself plenty of time for orders to get delivered. In the case of a new glove or a bat, give a little more time to get them broken in. You want to be comfortable with your gear on the field.  Don't wait til game time to try it out.

You won't want to be scrambling to close to the tourney either. You may not be able to track down what you want in time. Don't settle. Plan ahead and get what you want. 

⚾️ Vehicle inspection 

I drive to most of the tournaments I go to. Yes, the 9 hour drive to Phoenix can be a bit taxing. But I like having the freedom to take my time. It also allows me to bring whatever I want with me. 

These long drives make it important to inspect and ready my car for the trip. Check fluid levels and quality, tire wear and other vehicle conditions. Make sure the spare is good to go and a small roadside kit is packed for emergencies. 

If maintenance is called for, get it done a few weeks to a month before leaving. It gives you one less thing to do in the final week or so. Also, if there is a problem after service (rare, but it happens), the extra time gives it a chance to manifest and be fixed while you are still close to home. 

No one wants a break down 100s of miles from home. 

⚾️ Train and practice 

Keep going on the practice. If you haven't already, start ramping up intensity to get to game speed. 

In practice,  start working on game scenarios. On the mound, go through your full pitch repertoire to see what's working. Move locations around. Pitch to live batters if possible.

With hitting, add in sessions batting against live pitching, if possible. We can get cage and tee vision if we aren't careful. Seeing live pitching gives you a chance to make adjustments and get used to seeing pitches of different speeds, breaks and locations. 

With fielding, try to get in team practices if possible. For middle infielders, it's important to get the chemistry around second base dialed in. Establishing and practicing cutoff and relay duties helps make it routine in games too. 

Extend length of training sessions as well. Multiple 2-3 hour games in a span of days can test your arm, knees, legs and back. Getting yourself accustomed to it before hand makes it easier when the reps count. 

The week before

⚾️ Pack

About a week before you plan to leave. Start packing for the trip. This includes street clothes, uniform items and toiletries. 

Doing this a week before gives me chance to figure out if I'm missing anything I may need, like a belt, socks or long sleeves. It's a way to get some peace of mind that I'm not forgetting anything. It also gives some time to get any last minute things I might need. 

⚾️ Eat well and sleep well

We should be doing this anyway. But let's face it, as adults this isn't something we always do well. 

At the tournament you're going to to be using a lot of energy. Travel can wear you out too. Eating well when away from home isn't always an easy option.

Giving yourself good nutrition and plenty of rest at night can help make the time at the tournament go better. Get recharged before your baseball trip. 

⚾️ Check your equipment bag

Go through your equipment to make sure you've got everything you need. You don't want to get to game 1 and realize you forgot your cleats. 

So even if you have a habit of  leaving all your equipment in your bag after each use, double check.

✔anything else you use in a game

I make sure to do this before every trip. I play all 9 positions so there is a lot of gear to account for I. Infield/outfield/pitchers gloves, catcher and firstbase mitts, catchers gear, cup, 2 pairs of cleats, helmet, batting gloves, etc. I have a separate roll up bag for my bats. 

I always feel better when I know my bag is in order. 

⚾️ Go shopping (if driving)

I go shopping to get in-game snacks, road snacks, sport drinks and water. I keep these all together to throw into the ice chest before the drive. 

Most players have their preferences. Some like seeds. Others like granola bars. Whatever it is you like, get it before you go. That way you know you have your favorites.

⚾️ Plan out the trip 

By now you should have your schedule. Plan out the route you'll take to the tournament. Decide what time you plan to leave. Check what typical traffic is like along the way.

Check out what's around your lodging. Look for places to eat or get groceries. See if there's anything interesting around that you might want to check out while you are there.

Map out the fields and game times. Figure out how long it takes to go from one place to another. If necessary, plan what you will do about meals on game days. 

For example, on day one of my up coming tournament, my first game is at 3:30. My second game is an hour away and starts at 7:30. I'll have to leave game 1 and go straight to game 2 and likely won't have time to stop for food in between. So I'll be sure to bring something I can eat with me to game 1.

If I end up having time to stop, great. If not, I'll be prepared

⚾️ Train and practice

The last week before the tourney, I don't let up on training.

I get a few batting sessions in working as much on barreling up as possible. At this point I'm not changing any mechanics. Just getting them dialed in. 

I will also throw at least one bullpen session mid week. Even if I'm not scheduled to pitch at the tourney, this gives my arm a good work out and keeps everything in game mode. Ball handling and footwork drills will be done every day, too. 

Travel Day

⚾️ Load up

It's time to get going! Well, not yet.

Obviously, before you take off, you'll want to load up your stuff. Luggage, equipment bag,ice chest. 

Missing anything?

Now is the time to check. Make sure you have all bags. Did you grab you're phone charger? The bag of snacks. Did you hug the kids goodbye. 

Yes, it's exciting to get going on the trip. But take a minute to make sure you have everything you planned to bring. 

⚾️ Arriving

Getting where you are going is a relief. Hopefully it was a fun, safe and hassle free trip. Now it's time to make yourself at home. 

Get checked in to your lodging. Touch base  with your team manager. Bring your stuff to your room and get unpacked. Get situated and comfortable. 

It should go without saying, don't leave valuables in the car or in view in your hotel room. It's always better to be safe. 

One tip I always follow is to have a little emergency cash stashed somewhere separately in case I lose my wallet or card. Just in case. You never know. 

Catch an early dinner and relax. There's going to be plenty of excitement when you get on the field the next day. 

Game Day

It's finally here. The start of the tournament. Since you first planned to play this event, you've been counting down the days. Now there's no more waiting. 

I won't go through my game day routine. Everyone's is different. Yes I have certain things I do every game day. I won't say they are superstitions, but I won't say they aren't either. 

Here's a few tips that have always helped me. 

✔Pre-hydrate. Drink plenty of fluids before you even head out. It's easier to maintain hydration through the day than to play catch up.
✔Eat. You may not feel hungry, but get something in your stomach. You don't want your energy to be zapped half way through game 2.
✔Bring extras. I always have an extra pair of socks, pants and an undershirt in my bag or the car. A second pair of cleats too. Better to have them in case you need them. 
✔Remember your water and snacks. Don't forget them at the hotel or leave them in the car. 
✔Get to the field early. That gives you plenty of time to find parking, get your stuff to the field and find your teammates. Start stretching and going through your warm ups.
✔Smile. You're getting ready to play baseball. 

Go out there and get a hot start. Enjoy your time at the tournament. Leave it all on the field. And have fun. 

What tips to you have to make tourney trips better. Feel free to let me know in the comments. 


Play ball



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