A Parent’s Guide to Basketball Tournaments

April 26, 2018


As a parent, you probably have the desire to be present for as many special moments as possible. Parenting an athlete means that some of your child’s best memories will take place on the court – a place where they could use encouragement and support.

If your athlete is part of a team that travels, you may not know what to expect when you embark on your very first trip to your very first tournament.  All you probably know is that you want your child and the rest of their team to have a positive experience, learn something new in regards to sportsmanship and teamwork and have tons of fun.  The best way to ensure that becomes a reality is to be prepared by packing the right items, planning ahead, being prepared for the worst and going in with a positive attitude.

Getting Packed

Since you’ll be far from home and your child will be relying on you to have all the correct supplies, it’s important to think ahead in terms of packing.  Consider the things you’ve needed at an every-day home game, and amplify that list to include necessities for a day or weekend’s time.

For your athlete, you’ll need the obvious: basketball shoes, court grip, ice packs, mouth guards, a first aid kit, ibuprofen, a water bottle and snacks.  While their packing list is the most essential to your trip, you also need to consider yourself and what will hold you over to the end of the tournament. As a parent in the crowd, you may want to bring a camera, a change of clothes or sweater in case you get cold in the air-conditioned gym, glasses if you need them for distance and stadium seats for extra comfort.

If you will be making the road trip to the tournament, be sure to have packed your car with all the essentials. If you have the option, opt for a larger car, like a crossover or SUV for the journey. It will more easily accommodate your luggage and any extra teammates you may be carpooling with. A packed cooler of snacks and drinks will make it easier to travel longer stretches without having to stop, helping you to speed up the trip. Also be sure to secure any loose basketballs so they won’t be rolling around the trunk!

Planning Ahead

There’s nothing worse than the stress of getting lost and/or arriving late to your child’s event.  In order to ensure the day is as stress-free as possible, you’ll need to take some time to plan your route both to the place you’ll be staying and the school or gym itself. Make sure to have your directions and GPS routes situated before you depart. As with any important event, give yourself some wiggle room by leaving early and assuming the worst. Traffic may not be an issue, but if you don’t take it into consideration when leaving for the tournament, you could be putting yourself under added, unnecessary stress.

Chances are your child won’t be playing the entire day or weekend, but they may be occupied with their team.  In that case, you’ll want to be sure you’ve packed something to pass the time such as a book or project to work on during downtime.

Preparing for the Worst

No one wants to see their child get hurt, and hopefully it won’t happen at their tournament.  In case something like this does occur, it’s important to prepare for the absolute worst. Identify the nearest hospitals and walk-in clinics in case of an injury. Though there will likely be a nurse or other medical professional at the game to assist, be sure to bring your first aid kit and plenty of water to the seating area with you.

Steps your child can take to avoid serious injury before you arrive include eating healthy meals leading up to the game, staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest.

Staying Positive

Cheering is important, but it’s also important to remember that youth sports should be a positive experience for everyone involved.  Kids on both teams likely have parents in the audience who want to see them do well, want everyone to avoid injury and hope that their child has fun, all while learning something new. Nasty crowd members can put a damper on the day, so be sure you’re not one by taking a moment to ground yourself before the game begins and remembering to maintain an encouraging attitude through the end.

Sometimes there are cases where parents get too involved in the game, even in a positive way, and the coach or other staff members will ask the parents to take a step back. If this happens to you, be sure to listen. Trust that your child’s coach knows what’s best for the team and has everyone’s safety and experience in mind.

Overall, your child’s sports games should be enjoyable for all parties. Sit back and relax knowing that your child is in a safe environment, doing something healthy and having a blast doing it.


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