I grew up playing sports so it’s no surprise that my kids also compete athletically. Now that my daughter plays travel ball, that means a number of summer sports tournament weekends. To that end, we’ve developed a system to prepare and – you can ask anybody on our team – I am known for having EVERYTHING. While this post is softball-centric, it applies to pretty much any summer sport. Heads up, this post contains affiliate links. You will not be charged extra for purchasing through these links but I may receive a small commission for the referrals. I am linking to the items we use and I stand behind them.
Prepare for Anything
We live in the midwest so that means weather changes on a dime. Just two weekends ago we were certain the tournament would be rained out but it wasn’t. Instead, we spent the weekend in the sun. Most of my childhood summer memories involve the ballfields. I played softball and my siblings played too. I’ve got fond memories of that time and most of them because my parents had the wherewithal to be prepared.
I’ve honed this list over time and I think it’s pretty comprehensive at this point. In this post, I’m going a step further to explain the specifics of certain items and the benefits of including them. Don’t have time to read the post right now? Download my Summer Sports Tournament Prep list for free!
This might be the most important part for any Summer Sports Tournament. It’s all about keeping the kids cool and hydrated. I really want a rolling cooler but I make due with I’ve got. There is plenty of room for what we need but I’m hoping to upgrade soon. Here’s what our cooler typically looks like:
- Gatorade Squeeze Bottle, 32 Ounce – these bottles are GREAT for sports because you don’t have to put your mouth on them, you can just squeeze the water out. We suggest you fill them 1/3 with ice, 2/3 with water.
- Large jug – 1/2 ice, 1/2 water. We prefer this one because it can be hung on the fence/dugout as well – Igloo Sport Beverage Cooler with Chain Links (Majestic Blue, 1/2-Gallon)
- Spray bottles – we got a pair at Target (I think) but these are similar –Plastic Spray Bottles Leak Proof Technology Empty 16 oz Value Pack of 4 Made In USA By Pinnacle Mercantile
- Cool towels – we have two different kinds – Frogg Toggs: The Original Chilly Pad and 1 Hottest Selling Elite Microfiber Cooling Towel on the Market | 100% | Ideal for Your Favorite Sport As Golf, Yoga, Tennis, Gym, Hiking & Running | Instantly Giving You That Powerful Burst of Energy. Both have pros and cons but we can’t really pick a favorite.
- Cold packs – again, we use two different kinds, the Blue Ice variety and some rice packs we make ourselves in case somebody gets hurt or overheats.
We suggest storing everything in the fridge or freezer up until the last possible minute. The kids start filling water bottles and spray bottles the day before the tournament so they can be in the fridge overnight. Drop some ice cubes in to fill them up in the morning.
The Big Bag
Let me be very clear that I hoard bags. My favorite is this amazing Thirty-One bag I got from my kids (a.k.a. my parents) because it is huge and sturdy. I keep the scorebook for my daughter’s team so I add in a few extra things that most people don’t.
First, I have a deal with the girls that if they play hard they earn post-game candy. It’s perfect for a little sugar boost in between games and by sharing candy they don’t have too much sugar. Our favorites are Sour Patch Kids Candy (Original, 30.4 Ounce Bag) and Twizzlers Candy Bites, Mixed Berry, 10-Ounce Bag. Second, I bring poster-board to post the line-up in the dug-out so the girls can keep track of the batting order themselves. It’s really good for them and gives them a little responsibility.
Other than that, these are all pretty important components:
- Snacks – crackers and granola bars are the staples but I mix it up as much as possible
- Sunscreen in a waterproof bag – we like Neutrogena the best and they have a sports line that is amazing. It is light, doesn’t seem to cause breakouts, and doesn’t have that awful sunscreen smell; try to go with an SPF 50 or higher
- Pens, pencils, sharpies, hair-ties, clothes pins, safety pins in a waterproof bag – you can never have enough of these
- String and scissors – these fit in a side pouch and are beneficial if you are using a tarp and/or canopy (among other things)
- Grocery bags – do I even need to explain the importance or usefulness of these?
- Roll of paper towels and wet wipes
- Bug Repellant and Rolling Lint Brush
- Silverware that you don’t mind losing
First Aid Kit
You can see one in my big bag but it warrants its own heading because First Aid Kits are so important to have during tournaments. Kids can do a lot of little things to themselves from blisters to cuts and they can’t be bleeding while playing. We’ve had multiple encounters with kids who just needed a bandage to cover a scraped knee that busted open. For more, read this great post on Summer First Aid. Make sure you have plenty of cleaning agents, bandaids of all sizes, gauze, and tape.
Canopy and/or Tarps
We have used both over the years but I’m a believer in using the pop up canopies. They are versatile, easily moved, and can be anchored with spikes or water jugs. Tarps are convenient for covering dug outs (and many other things) but they require being tied down with string and can be difficult to work with in wind.
The Importance of Summer Sports Tournament Prep
Being prepared makes you the go-to parent for many reasons but isn’t it best to make sure all of the kids are covered? Beyond that, you never know when a kid is going to need something or when another parent may have forgotten something necessary (don’t we all?). I’ve even helped kids on other teams (many times) because it’s the right thing to do but it also sets a good example for my own kids. Sportsmanship is still the greatest lesson we can teach young athletes.
Download my Summer Sports Tournament Prep Sheet for your next event!