Tournament Director's Toolkit

This collection of documents is offered as help for folks running tournaments. Consider them as suggestions, aids for managing your tournament from start to finish. They are not intended to reflect the official procedures/rules of the NDCA. If you have documents like this you want to share, please pass them along (

An overview of potential best practices is seen in this Powerpoint. Many of the documents below are derived from and extend this presentation. (It was suggested during the original presentation of this Ppt at the 2016 NDCA Coach Development Conference that a better understanding of the relationship of tournament director and tournament attendee is host/guests rather service provider/customers. A combination of the two probably makes the best sense.)

  • First things first. If you already run a tournament, you don't need this, but if you're just thinking about running a tournament, start here: So you want to run a tournament.
  • Guide to A fairly exhaustive guide to how tabroom's debate tabbing software works, beyond the helps available in the program. Available both as a pdf of the entire guide, and a webpage breaking it down into smaller bite-sized pieces. Since this was written, tabroom has vastly improved its help screens, and this one has not been updated lately, but you can print it out and most of it is still accurate.
  • Setting up registration at a tournament: The difference between a smooth registration process and a traffic jam is knowing how works, and how to use it to move people quickly out of the world and into your events. This pdf works regardless of whether you're actually doing your tabbing on tabroom. And consider this a strong recommendation: have an adult (maybe even the tournament director) run registration and, especially, collect the money and enter the amounts collected into the system. 
  • E-Ballot instructions. Using e-ballots and want to make sure your judges are plugged into First, here are the instructions from one tournament, in a docx file. Edit it with your own wifi specs, and claim it as your own: Word file for editing Or, take this general PDF and distribute it without your own specific site instructions. It is probably a good idea to have a station set up somewhere for your judges to get connected throughout the tournament: often even the most constant of judges find they're no longer plugged into tabroom for some reason or other.
  • One approach to tournament conflicts, for teams and for judges Distribute these before every tournament. (Note: these are not the NDCA's official rules on conflicts for its own tournament.)
  • Mutual Judge Preferences Recommended as part of an invitation to events where a lot of the attendees in the LD field might not be familiar with MJP (although this population may be dwindling). This explains how MJP works in general, and urges all teams to use it as the best tool for engineering the activity towards their own preferences. (This article was also published in Rostrum.)
  • If you're going to us MJP at your tournament, do it right. MJP analysis
  • It is important to control who attends your tournament, for a variety of reasons. You may want to limit your tournament to official entries from bona ride high schools, for instance, which is standard practice. And you may want to manage the size of the fields to maintain balance in the competition. The waitlist is the tool for this: Managing Entries: The Waitlist.
  • Need a pyramid to figure how many people will break at what level? This one is elementary, but it does the job. Break Round Breakdown
  • Complete Guide to Running an E-ballot Tournament. The title of the document says it. This is a tried and true process for maximizing the use of e-ballots, especially with there's a lot of new PF judges and the like. 
  • Whether it's a one-building one-fielder, or a mega-tournament over a dozen buildings in twenty time zones, this is the process that has proven effective.  
  • How to handle the assignment of speaker points. This will especially help get new judges, e.g. PF parents, on the same page. 
  • An introduction to PF for parent/new judges. There's thoughts here on what to say at a short opening assembly, and a possible handout. You might use this in conjunction with the NSDA's original handout
  • How to judge A collection of how-to materials for judging both speech and debate. Print up some of the relevant ones for your tournaments where you're training a lot of new judges.