How to schedule a tournament for it to be on time?

Just a simple tournament tip:

Just giving away my secret sauce to an on time tournament:

Time of the game x 1.5 = average time between 2 games (counting warm ups, finding a ref, potential timeouts etc.) now with that you can plan your tournament to run without issues the whole time.

It works. Trust me. It just works.

Thanks to that you can schedule your finals at a specific time where people can tune in on a live stream, or show up for it on the court!


alos important: the group phase is always way faster than the elim phase - so don’t get comfortable with the timing you got use do on Saturday - the Sunday is always slower!

(why? fewer games ending early with a 5 goal difference, golden goals take time, more time outs etc)


so for a 15 min game , you add 7,5 min ? or 22,5 ? sorry i suck

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Not always true… we ran 30-40mn early on sunday on a 12 teams tournament

You add 7.5, your total is then 22.5.

yeah that make sense ( i thought you were saying the opposite : a break longer than the length game …)

i find that the teams are good at jumping on the court as soon as its on , because they are announced a few turn before ( berlin set up was so perfect , and rotatting a huge amount of games on 3 courts)

the slow part is actually the ref part ! imo the reffing schedule is always under estimated.

whats your best reffing experience ?


I was pretty sceptical about the reffing schedule for the berlin mixed - I thought I knew my polo peeps, and that they do not really work well with schedules etc

after talking to max power he convinced me to make a schedule for 2 main reasons:
if you see you name on an official looking list, it reminds you that you are expected to ref, this makes it easier to find people to ref
and secondly the time frame for 1h which we gave was supposed to tell you: don’t just leave after one game, stick around a bit

in the end I was super surprised how well the schedule actually worked and how a large majority of the players were very much on time and were sticking to the schedule
and where this did not work out smoothly you could always count on enough helpful polo peeps to fill the gaps or to rearrange their shifts
so: I highly recommend taking the time to make a ref schedule for any tournament with a tight schedule and multiple groups, especially if there’s multiple courts

for a 1 court tournament the “winners ref” rule works OK, but you are bound to get some significant delays there
the refs just finished playing, need a breather, some water and some time to put their bikes and gloves back to their stuff etc.

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Yes, we decided to go with winners ref for the German champs, and it was a bit of a problem at some points. We were kind of short on refs the whole weekend actually. So a schedule might have helped us here.


Letting the winning team ref is a very common procedure, it is easy and doesn’t require any extra work. It’s also one, that has a lot of flaws:

  • you have to ref immediately after playing, without a break, so your mind is maybe not in its best state
  • if you lose a lot you don’t get to ref a lot (and won’t get experience)
  • if you win a lot you have to ref a lot more than others
  • some teams may have 3 expert refs, others may have 0
  • you can have inexperienced refs end up reffing tough games.

In my opinion, reffing should be shared between veterans and newbies as much as possible. There should be always one experienced main ref supported by a less experienced assistant ref (also the new player can be main ref and the experienced player advises them at all times and tells them what to call and why), and every team should take part without exception and with about equal number of games. This to me seems the best way to give those newer refs a steep learning curve.

How could this be achieved? How do you make a simple and efficient ref schedule?


I do agree with django, I have clearly remember being an assistent to an experienced and motivated ref explaining why they called what they did and patiently answering my questions - and then a bit later having a supper supportive, more experiences assistent whonwas giving me lots of advice and their opinion - both experiences were ideal and imo the best way to learn how to ref!

here’s a way to do achieve this a bit more systematically maybe: have the players self asses their reffing level when singing up for the tournament or better yet during the bike check/registration and then make a ref schedule where experience refs are paired with reffing-noobies