Tournaments- Stoa's Guide On Arriving At A Tournament

When you arrive at the tournament, there is a buzz of energy!  Parents are looking for coffee and competitors are looking for their friends. But the first thing you need to do is to orient yourself to the campus.  Timing is everything.  Don’t be late. The tournament is about to begin, they need you, so let’s get started!

Find the following:

YOUR CLUB SPOT: Will your club be gathering at a particular location on this campus?  If so, eventually, plan to unpack items from your car (lawn chair, lunch cooler, etc.) and meet your club members there.

CHECK-IN: Check in for students and parents is essential.  This is how your tournament leaders know you have arrived with your competitor(s) and are ready to judge rounds.  Pick up your name tag or badge.  Wear it.  It’s important.  Have your student do the same.

At check-in, pick up a map and a tournament schedule if they are printed out for you.  The campus map and the tournament schedule will be used again and again.  Some tournaments may allow you to bookmark them on your phone.  Whichever method is preferred, be prepared to know where to go and know when you’ll need to get there.


If you haven’t been to a tournament, it is wise to request “orientation.” At orientation the volunteers will “push” a ballot and show you where the ballot indicates the start time and room number.  The Ballot Push table staff can tell you where and when the orientation is.

If a parent doesn’t need orientation, they will simply follow the signs to the designated “Ballot Push” area, where they will wait in line to sign up for and receive a ballot. Ballots are private before, during and after the round. No one should know the students you will be judging.

You will return to Ballot Push several times during the tournament to get another ballot to judge.


As soon as your judging is over you will immediately go to Ballot Return.  There you will make comments on your ballot.  The Ballot Return staff can help with any questions.  Ballots not returned in a timely fashion hold up a tournament.  Don’t get lost!  Know where to go, and immediately fill out and return your ballot!


Parents and students can ask tournament leadership, “Where are postings?”.  Though postings are not posted until a few minutes before the round begins, they are important.  The competitor’s name and the room number will be posted for each event in that round.  Postings are pieces of paper adhered to a wall, window or other flat surface.  Sometimes postings are offered electronically.  Your student will see his name on the posting list and proceed to those places/rooms to compete.  

When the student arrives they should be ready to go into the room. Judges can encourage waiting competitors to go ahead and do their speech, even if it’s out of order on your ballot. (Please NOTE: Extemp competitors always go in the order listed on postings).  Keep in mind that it is important for the round to keep moving forward so the tournament doesn’t get behind.


If you have never been to a tournament before there are lots of questions. It’s a good idea to have your cell phone or computer bookmarked to tournament emails or the tournament link.  If a tournament should fall behind schedule, everything will have to adjust.  But even when things are going smoothly, you won’t want to miss announcements!  

“Where will announcements be?”  This is a great question for experienced tournament folks you are with or your tournament volunteers.  You won’t want to miss them because the students who are ranked the highest in preliminary rounds will advance to outrounds (quarters, semis, finals – it depends on the tournament). These “breaks” are announced to all the students.   It’s a great time to gather with club members, to clap and cheer and make a plan for what you will do next!  Breaks are announced and then posted on the wall.