The Leaguevine Blog

The Leaguevine Blog entries labeled with the tag 'scheduling'

Ultitrax™ Unveils New Leaguevine Data Connector!

Posted on March 26th, 2013 by Mark "Spike" Liu

This is a guest post by Scott Blankenburg. Scott is an Ultimate player, software developer, and the creator of Ultitrax™.

How does this affect the Leaguevine Community?

In short, Ultitrax™ provides organizers with a user-friendly way to create and manage Leaguevine game schedules!  Simply visit, answer four questions about your league's structure, and Ultitrax™ will automatically generate a Round Robin game schedule that can be exported to (and synchronized with) Leaguevine.  From this point on, all schedule, field, team, player, and score changes made via Ultitrax™ will be automatically replicated in Leaguevine!

What is Ultitrax™?

Ultitrax™ is a free sports management solution that allows organizers to schedule and add interactive scorekeeping to any website or Facebook™ Community in five minutes.  Learn more about the many great features of Ultitrax™ at

Origins of Ultitrax™

Ultitrax™ was created by Ultimate player and avid organizer Scott Blankenburg.  In the late 1970s, Scott was introduced to (and hooked upon) a then-unheard-of sport called "Ultimate." By the early 90s, he was captaining his college Ultimate team at the University of Miami where he majored in Computer Information Systems.  By the mid-90s, Scott founded the Connecticut Ultimate Club (CUC) --a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the sport of Ultimate in Connecticut.

While running the CUC, Scott developed several innovative league management tools including a popular software application called "Ultimeet" which integrated Friendster-like player profiles with sports management websites.  When Facebook™ exploded onto the scene, in the mid-2000s, Scott took the concept of Ultimeet to the next level by creating Ultitrax™ --the world's first free, professional-quality, cloud-based, Facebook™-integrated, end-to-end league/tournament scheduling and scorekeeping solution.

True to the "Spirit of the Game" (a code of  sportsmanship unique to the Ultimate community), Ultitrax™ is offered completely free of charge for all to enjoy!

Power Rankings in Ultimate

Posted on October 8th, 2012 by Mark "Spike" Liu
This is a guest post by tournament director Chris Schaffner.

The Question

What is the best way of ranking ultimate teams based on their performance? This fundamental question can be asked both in the context of a whole season or for a single tournament. While USA Ultimate's use of a season-based ranking algorithm has lead to quite some discussions, I will in this blog post focus on the simpler case of ranking teams at tournaments, where various factors such as home-field advantage, changing rosters over a season etc. play a smaller role. One possibility currently used in the Swissdraw format is that teams earn "swiss points" at the completion of every game. The number of swiss points awarded depends on the point differential (also called margin) of the game. So far, we have been using the following table to convert point differentials into swiss points:

There are a number of advantages in using the innovative Swissdraw format compared to the more common pool format. All teams can potentially play each other. The Swissdraw format is designed so that teams of similar strength match up quickly and within a few rounds, the ranking of the teams represents their level of play. This guarantees attractive games against different opponents of comparable strength. While I am personally a big fan of the Swissdraw format, I will argue that the currently used system to rank teams has the problem that teams are awarded the same amount of Swiss points for a certain point differential, independent of the strength of the opponent. This drawback has particularly bad consequences in big divisions with a widespread level of play, where in later rounds of Swiss draw, teams can still make big jumps in the ranking by winning/losing by big margins. In this post, I would like to suggest another method of ranking the teams which will make the Swissdraw format work even better.

Power Rankings

This method has been suggested already back in 1976 by Leake in the context of ranking American college football teams. A nice mathematical explanation of it can be found in Chapter 4 of Ken Massey's undergrad thesis.

The basic assumption is that every team can be assigned a numerical value representing its strength (or power) so that the point differential in a game is the difference in strength of the participating teams. For example, if Team Alice wins against Team Danny with a score of 15-10, this result could be explained by assigning a strength of +2.5 to Team Alice and a strength of 2.5 to Team Danny. (Of course, any two numbers with a difference of +5 would work, but let us try to keep the numbers as small as possible in absolute value.)

If there are more teams with many games played among them, it will become more difficult to assign strengths to the teams, but we can nevertheless try to optimize these numbers so that they fit the outcomes as well as possible. In fact, this problem is well-studied in the area of mathematical regression.
In more mathematical terms, we assume that the game outcome yij between teams i and j is the difference of their according strength βi - βj plus some error term ϵi,j which is independent and identically normally distributed for every game. Expressed in matrix form, we can write
where y is a column vector containing all game margins, the rows of the matrix X are all-zero except for a +1 in column i and a 1 in column j. The column vector β denotes the strength of the teams and ϵ is the column vector of the error terms with normal distribution.
There exist efficient methods (such as the least-square method) to compute strength vectors β that minimize the square of the errors:


Let us consider a simple example based on a made-up tournament with six teams. The game outcomes reflect the imaginary fact that their level of play is about evenly spread out among the top three teams and the bottom three teams where Team Alice is the best and Team Fred the worst team.
The results of the first round are as follows:

resulting in the following strength values and swiss points:

PowerRank denotes the team's rank according to their strength, whereas SwissRank is the team's rank according to the amount of Swiss points earned so far.

All game outcomes can be perfectly explained with those strengths. After the first round (and assuming no prior knowledge of the strength of these teams), it is impossible to compare Team Alice with Team Bob, because there is no connection between them yet.

After a second round with the following results:

We can compute the following strength values, Swiss points and according ranks:

Notice that Team Charlie would be ranked first if sorted according to swiss points, as it had the largest marginal of +5 in the second round among the winners of the first round. Analogously, Team Danny would be ranked last. However, the new method re-evaluates all previous games from the point of view of the latest results, with the (correct) outcome that assigning the biggest strength to Alice gives the best explanation of the results. In fact, the power ranks after only two rounds already reflect the order of teams we had in mind when making up the results.

The seventh column (entitled "predicted margin") is the difference in current strength of the teams involved in a particular game which can be interpreted as the margin predicted by the strength. The values in the last columns are the squared differences of the actually observed and predicted margins. If such a value is high, the model could not predict this game outcome well. Hence, big values stand for surprising game outcomes.
The least-square procedure tries to find strength values that minimize the sum of the surprise values in the last column.

Playing one more round with results:


By now the teams are clearly separated in strength. However, notice that the Swiss points still do not reflect the strengths of the teams correctly. Sorting according to number of wins as first criterion (and Swiss points as second) would put Alice on first place (she is the only one with three wins), but it would still place Team Eve ahead of Team Danny (both have one win and two losses).

Let us examine the example graphically in the following chart. Clicking on series in the legend will toggle its visibility. Clicking on particular points in the chart will show detailed explanations how that strength was obtained.
1: Team Alice2: Team Bob3: Team Charlie4: Team Danny5: Team Eve6: Team Fred123Rounds-6-4-20246Strength1: Team Alice: 3 (1st)2: Team Bob: 2.33 (2nd)3: Team Charlie: 2.33 (2nd)4: Team Danny: -2.33 (4th)5: Team Eve: -2.33 (4th)6: Team Fred: -3 (6th)Highcharts.comExport to raster or vector imagePrint the chart
For comparison, let us consider the graph of average Swiss points:
Average Swiss scores1: Team Alice2: Team Bob3: Team Charlie4: Team Danny5: Team Eve6: Team FredR1R2R3Rounds7.51012.51517.52022.5Average Swiss Scores1: Team Alice: 18 (2nd)2: Team Bob: 17 (3rd)3: Team Charlie: 20 (1st)4: Team Danny: 10 (6th)5: Team Eve: 13 (4th)6: Team Fred: 12 (5th)Highcharts.comExport to raster or vector imagePrint the chart
The Swiss score does not reflect the correct order of the teams, neither after round 2 nor after round 3. In contrast, the power ranking "gets it right" already after two rounds. The frequent crossings of the lines indicates that teams make jumps in their placement as illustrated here: (click on series in the legend to toggle visibility of the power ranks)
Ranks1: Team Alice1: Team Alice (power)2: Team Bob2: Team Bob (power)3: Team Charlie3: Team Charlie (power)4: Team Danny4: Team Danny (power)5: Team Eve5: Team Eve (power)6: Team Fred6: Team Fred (power)R1R2R3Rounds01234567Rank1: Team Alice: 22: Team Bob: 33: Team Charlie: 14: Team Danny: 65: Team Eve: 46: Team Fred: 5Highcharts.comExport to raster or vector imagePrint the chart

Here are the final evaluations of the games, based on the team's strength after Round 3, sorted by the upset/surprise value.

The first line can be read as follows: based on the strengths computed based on all game results, the biggest surprise of all games happened in the round-2 game, where Team Charlie won against Team Danny with a margin of +5 where the model predicted a margin of only +3.73.

Equipped with all this knowledge you can dive into the power scores for Windmill Windup and Wisconsin Swiss provided in the Further Analysis section at the end.


There exist a wide variety of sports ranking systems. Most of these systems do not reveal the details of their algorithms. The power-rating system presented here is a very basic variant that I suggest to use for ranking teams e.g. in the Swissdraw phase of an ultimate tournament. As outlined in Chapter 4 of Massey's thesis, the system could be extended in various ways to account for things like home-field advantage, blow-out scores etc. As illustrated in the example above, it converges faster to the real ranking of the teams.

Here is a list of pros and cons compared to the currently used swiss-point system:
  1. Your strength depends on the performance of your opponents. A large win against a strong opponent counts more than against a weak one.
  2. Converges faster to the "real" ranking, smaller jumps in rankings from one round to the next.
  3. Strengths say more about teams than swiss points (e.g. the difference in strength of two teams directly predicts the game outcome and point differential. This also allows us to get a sense of "surprising" results. This information might be of interest for spectators live at a tournament or when reporting about it afterwards.)
  1. Difficult to understand
  2. Games of previous rounds are "re-evaluated", you never have a certain amount of points for sure.
  3. Your strength depends on the performance of your opponents.
I think that the first concern can be mitigated by providing interactive graphs like the ones above to help the teams explaining how their strength was computed. The other two disadvantages are inherent to the system.

I am very curious to hear what you think about the suggested power-ratings in Ultimate. Do you see more advantages and disadvantages? Please leave your comments below.

Further Analysis

To see how these power rankings apply to events in the past, please take a look at some in depth analysis for 5 popular tournaments:

Further Discussion

If you want to get involved in discussions about ranking teams and devising optimal ranking algorithms, please take a second to join this new Google Group:!forum/sport-stats


  • Leake, R. J. (1976), "A Method for Ranking Teams with an Application to 1974 College Football," Management Science in Sports, North Holland.
  • Massey, Kenneth (1997), "Statistical Models Applied to the Rating of Sports Teams", Honors Project: Mathematics, Bluefield College.
Christian Schaffner has been managing the Swissdraw schedule and scores since 2009 at Windmill Windup, Europe's largest grass tournament. Since then, he has been involved in promoting and advancing the Swissdraw format for Ultimate tournaments. In his everyday life, he is a researcher in quantum cryptology at the University of Amsterdam. 

Creating a Tournament Schedule

Posted on December 20th, 2011 by Mark "Spike" Liu
This is a guest post by Ryan Thompson, the TD for Stanford Open and Stanford Invite
About the photo: An early draft of Saturday and Sunday game scheduling for Mens and Womens Stanford Open 2011
For more td-tuesdays articles:

Creating the perfect tournament schedule is an optimization problem - we want to minimize the schedule stresses (moving fields, multiple byes, etc) subject to various constraints of our team and tournament: number of fields, hours of light, 6 games minimum for each team, number of field sites, competitive balance, teams with early flights, max number of games per day per team (4), min number of games per day per team (2), not scheduling many games during finals, a minimum round time (with built in time for caps and changing fields), etc. It's ideal that you do much of this before you even decide how many teams to invite to a tournament. If you have four fields and want to host a 20-team tournament, the schedule stresses on each team would be so great that it's not even worth it.

A quick back of the envelope calculation that every tournament director should do at the beginning stages of planning a tournament: the maximum number of games your field site(s) and hours of light will allow you to host in a given weekend. For a 14-field tournament that could conceivably host games from 8:00 am (a little stressful on teams) to 6:00 pm Saturday and 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Sunday, that's 6 rounds on Saturday with 100 minutes between the start of each game, then 5 rounds on Sunday. Then you can host 14*(6+5) games at the tournament. If you have flexibility in the number of fields at the tournament, you may want to have 12 regulation-size fields with more space between than packing in 14 fields. Similarly, teams definitely appreciate making rounds a little longer so fewer games go to cap (along with less time spent at the fields - 9:00 am starts are nicer than 8:00 am).

Of course, this is the maximum number of games your tournament can accommodate. Often times, the true number of games is less, especially on Sunday, when prequarters need to come before quarters need to come before semis need to come before finals. Right there, that's 4 rounds with limited opportunities for byes. So the next step in developing your schedule involves your format options, along with deciding a minimum number of games for each team. In our previous example, we have a max of 154 total games over the weekend. At 6 games minimum per team, that means a maximum of 154/6*2 teams (51.3 in this case), which seems to be leaning towards a 24 team Open and 24 team Womens division. If you want to have finals and only finals during the last round (which helps with teams travel flexibility), that drops to 47.3 teams (maybe a 24 team tournament in one division and 20 in the other). Moving the start time up to 9:00 on both days takes a round off of both days, and now we're down to 38 teams.

Again, these are maximum numbers of teams, and the actual format constraints and field site constraints can bring this number down further. We'll look at these now. Generally, if teams need to move between various field sites, they should have a bye between games. Because of that, it's helpful to schedule an entire pool's games on the same fields, then have a bye (or 30 min break in schedule) so that teams can move between sites for crossovers or play-in games. This also ties into format constraints - a pool of 6 requires 3 fields to finish in 5 rounds. If there are certain clusters of fields that can only support 2 fields, pools of 6 are not the best idea. However, pools of 5 only need 2 fields to finish in 5 rounds (and each team gets 1 bye). Useful for planning: pools of 4 require 6 games and 2 fields, pools of 5 require 10 games and 2 fields, and pools of 6 require 15 games and 3 fields. There's a little flexibility here - two pools of 6 require 30 games, so in 6 rounds they only require 5 fields (or six rounds on four fields on Saturday and one round on 6 fields on Sunday morning).

You can also play with your pool setup by having power pools - if there's a large competitive difference between the top 8-12 teams at a tournament and the bottom set of teams, power pools are sometimes a good option to a) encourage better teams to attend the tournament and b) to get more close games between teams. But be careful with power pools - at tournaments where teams are more evenly matched or seeding is more difficult, power pools provide unnecessary protection for higher-seeded teams and allows teams to back into the Sunday brackets. If you do decide to do power pools, they don't have to be the same size as the lower pools. Two power pools of 5 and four lower pools of 4 is a pretty good 26-team format.

While a general Saturday format is pretty easy to come up with, the Sunday format may present more headaches in scheduling. Even at high levels (although not at the highest), teams with a 10 am consolation game will likely not stick around for a scheduled 3:30 game, especially if flights are to be made or watching finals looks like a more appealing option. While this is frustrating not only to the tournament director, but also to any opponents who DID stick around, there are things a TD can do to minimize end-of-day bailing. The first is to schedule more consolation early in the morning, with as few byes as possible. Similarly, don't drag out consolation brackets for four games per team - give teams more games that matter on Saturday or Sunday morning with pool play and/or crossovers, rather than sending teams straight to consolation. Also, if you have the flexibility, try to set up games between teams that have had their prospective opponents bail on them. It generates goodwill with the teams for being accommodating, and it helps teams get their money's worth (especially if they're traveling a long distance).

Traditional Sunday bracket play is 3 or 4 rounds of A bracket play, with smaller consolation brackets for 5th-8th place and 9th-12th place (if there were prequarters). With a full round of 16, a 9th-16th place bracket can be played, but teams probably won't want to play out the entire bracket - 2 games per team in consolation is acceptable. For lower brackets, try to group teams in groups of 4 or 8, ensuring that teams get their 6 game minimum and making sure there aren't many byes. If you end up without multiples of 4, consolation pool play is an option, as are NFL-playoffs-style 6-team consolation brackets. As I mentioned before, try to minimize byes (especially for consolation brackets) and schedule as few games as possible during the finals. Don't schedule games after finals.

An extremely helpful tool in the tournament-planning process is an Excel spreadsheet with field numbers across the top and round times along the left side. There you can visually plot out where pool play games go, where games in various consolation brackets fit on Sunday, and make sure that pool games happen on adjacent fields. It takes some playing around to make sure you can fit all of the games in a manner that makes sense, respects the various constraints I've discussed, and minimizes the schedule stresses on the teams so they can focus on playing ultimate and having fun. Another thing to think about regarding seeding and formats: use the USAU formats manual to get ideas for how various seeds should be distributed in pools, as well as how different pools' first and second place teams should match up in the bracket. But be careful to only look at the 1-advance formats (and ignore their consolation brackets); the formats manual is intended to place teams at Sectionals and Regionals, not give the best consolation or bracket matchups for a regular season tournament.

It sounds complicated and complex, but a little work here can drastically reduce the amount of day-of tournament scheduling you do and team complaints you receive. It's also helpful to print out the game schedule by field (your excel spreadsheet) in addition to the score reporter brackets. A lot of people running tournaments for the first time (or stepping up to larger events) don't realize the number of things it's important to take into account when scheduling an event. And with that said, I'm more than happy to discuss formats, schedule, field layouts, and more via email ( Good luck, and happy TDing!


I spoke with Benji Heywood about how often (and at each level) teams play 3, 4, or 5 games in a row, since UK and European tournaments have very different practices and rules. Here's my email response--\n\nOur youth directives are very different. We have much stricter standards for youth events, see: USA Ultimate Youth Formats Guidelines . I was involved in drafting those guidelines, and I can help you interpret some of the more oddly-phrased requirements there.

Mens Centex has traditionally been a grueling tournament with 4 pools of 6, 5 games straight (to 13) on Saturday and 3 (to 15) on Sunday. Most tournaments try to avoid 5 games in a day (I advocate a 4 game max per day in my article). Middle to high level college teams take rosters of 20-30 players because tournament play is brutal and exhausting. This is also part of why USAU College Championships have so many upsets - teams with a strong 7-10 players can do much better playing 2 games a day, even against 30-man squads of fit players.

3 in a row is common at any tournament at any level (with the exception of HS championship events). 4 in a row is more of a hardship, and there is usually a bye if teams play 4 games in a day, but some teams get the last round or first round bye, which means 4 in a row. But those teams also prefer the first or last round bye. In 12-team tournaments with two pools of 6 (increasingly common), we usually see four games on Saturday per team, then everyone plays 1st round Sunday and then in 3 4-team brackets, for a total of 7 games.

Because travel costs are so great, I think TDs feel pressure to pack in 7-8 games per team per tournament, and on weekends because of school and jobs. That means 3-4 games each day, and when there are 5 or fewer games in a weekend, it's not worth the money to go to that tournament over a tournament that promises 7 games.

Ryan Thompson started playing ultimate at Columbia High School at age 13, before playing five years for Stanford Bloodthirsty. Ryan's first TD experience was the Delaware Valley Youth League finals in fall 2007 (and 2008), before helping Cultimate with Stanford Invite from 2008-2010, running Stanford Open in 2010 and 2011, and running Stanford Invite in 2011. Ryan currently lives in Washington, DC while playing for Philly Southpaw and coaching Georgetown University.

Writing a Tournament Schedule

Posted on October 25th, 2011 by Mark "Spike" Liu
This is a guest post by Benji Heywood, Director of Competitions for UK Ultimate
For more TD Tuesdays articles:
Photo courtesy of Windmill Windup

First things first - this isn't going to be a format-manual kind of article. That would be very long, and there's sure to be some particular constraint at your venue or with your number of teams that makes your case different... Instead, I'm just going to talk about some of the things that might help if you're inexperienced at writing schedules. First, and most important:

The Golden Rule of Scheduling: 
You WILL get it wrong

I've written hundreds of schedules, for big events and small, and the most crucial advice I can give is to get someone else to check it. Really check it, not just glance at it and assume you've got it vaguely right. No matter how careful you are, there'll be an error in there. I still miss something every single time. It might be that a game is missing or played twice; it might be that the pools are seeded so as to have rematches in the Quarters; it might be that you moved some games around to avoid some other problem and now a team is playing two games at the same time. 

It might be something tiny, like the order of games in a pool (usually best to play the most important games last) or the fact that you could rearrange it so that quarter-final opponents could watch each other. There are a million ways to make a complete mess of it, and also a million small improvements that could tidy up an already usable schedule. It's like writing an essay - there's always something else you could tweak, right up to the moment you hand it in.

An example from this year, which I particularly enjoyed: I put the women's matches on the far pitches at a big tournament, and got complaints that it was too far from the toilets - girls can't go in the woods so easily. There's always something...

Schedules are complicated, and you cannot keep the whole thing in your head; when you make a change, it's very hard to go through and check that you didn't cause another problem, because it's all so familiar already and checking is boring. Get someone to look at it with fresh eyes.

Games and game-breaks

Different countries accept different schedules. In the UK, we run schedules that mainland Europe wouldn't consider; USAU run schedules that we wouldn't touch with a 30-foot pole. The UPA format manual, for example, might have you playing in a pool of seven, then a bracket with as many as 3 games to finish - 9 in a weekend. The player base is perhaps used to that, and will bring huge squads that can cope with the demands of playing maybe 4 times in 5 slots; at UK tournaments, or indeed at fun tournaments with smaller squads, that sort of schedule is not going to be popular - we have an absolute horror of 3-in-a-row at official tournaments. In the UK we always try to play 3 games per day, 2 of them back-to-back (so that you only warm up twice); in much of Europe, playing even 2 in a row would be considered a shockingly bad schedule. So i guess a big thing to think about is your intended audience - squads of 20 or squads of 8? Athletes or drunks?

The type of schedule you run depends on the type of event - at fun tournaments it's crucial that everyone gets a similar number of games, whereas at a regional event it might be more important to qualify the correct 3 teams, and who cares if the guys who got knocked out on saturday just go home? Again, I can only speak for the UK, and say that any schedule in which the busiest team would play more than 2 more games than the least busy team would be no good to us. Whenever possible, we try to write so that there is no more than one game difference between the team who plays most and the team who plays least. You all pay the same entry fee, so you should get the same number of games (within the constraints of funny numbers of teams or additional qualification games).

Basic advice

You cannot write a fair schedule. All you can do is decide where to compromise. Anyone who's seen a full round-robin, like for example in English football, will know that teams rest players for certain games  - so even the league is not completely fair. The order of matches matters. And it's clear that any schedule where you don't play every opponent is open to unfairness in seeding. There is no such thing as a fair schedule. Give up on that idea now. Constraints (such as a maximum number of games without exhausting players, or maximum number of fields or time-slots, or horrible odd numbers of teams) merely add to the unfairness that is already somewhere in there. But here's a couple of things that might help a little...

First off, unless you're running something complicated (like an event that qualifies a certain number of teams for another event - and let's face it, if you are part of a bigger championship there'll probably be scheduling help available anyway) then the first thing you look at is how many games you want people to play. Set a maximum and a minimum, and then choose your pool sizes, number of crossover rounds, and brackets to meet that number. It's a non-trivial task to fit a fair schedule to the right number of games, but it's always a far better idea than wasting your time inventing fabulously fair schedules with multiple crossovers and power-pools and then realizing you'll need until next Wednesday to play all the games.

Deal with teams in multiples of 8 wherever possible, and multiples of 4 at worst. If you've got funny numbers, 99% of the time you're better off pretending that you've got a multiple of 4 and putting byes in the schedule. We've tried a whole bunch of times to write schedules with clever bits where pools of 3 go into power-pools of 3 then a modified bracket etc... it almost never turns out well, and I don't think we've ever really used one of those schedules at an actual tournament. They lead to things like rested teams playing unrested teams, people having three games off in a row, fields lying empty, and all sorts of weird stuff. That may be fine for a qualifier where the most important thing is simply to make sure that the best x teams qualify, but it won't wash at an ordinary event. If you want to finish with neat brackets, start off simple, in 4s and 8s. 

If you put in any form of crossovers, triple check what will happen in the next matches. Seeding the pools is non-trivial if you want to avoid rematches later on.

Remember that odd-numbered pools eat up pitches - for example, 2 pools of 4 (8 teams) can be played on 2 pitches in a day (6 time slots); 1 pool of 5 also requires 2 pitches all day (6 time slots again - 5 slots if you're prepared to make some people play 4 games in a row). It still frustrates me, but that's just the way it is. Thinking of nice 3, 5 or 7 team pools in your head is no use until you actually sit down and squeeze it onto your pitches - more often than you expect, it won't fit.


I could go on. I could write about 50,000 words on the intricacies of scheduling - for example, the UPA format manual is a fantastic document that tries to cope with any number of teams, and it's looong; and even then it doesn't come close to covering all the possible situations that might apply at an event (e.g. not enough pitches, constraints on back-to-back games, the team from far away can't start before midday) and doesn't touch the finesse parts of the schedule itself (as opposed to the format) like making sure that back-to-back games are not at opposite ends of the venue, making sure there's a decent lunch break for every team, making sure that the girls are near the toilets...

All I can say to you here is keep it simple, only accept entries in 4s where possible, and if it gets complicated, find an expert. Offer to pay the guy who wrote that great schedule at that other tournament you went to, even - you'll get no thanks for writing a good schedule, but the abuse you get for a bad one means it's worth doing what you can to get it right. A genuinely well-written schedule is of real value to every player who shows up, even if they only notice it when it's gone wrong - so if you need to pay someone to make sure it's done well, I'd say this isn't a place to be scared of spending a few dollars. A good schedule might not make people come back next year, but a bad one might well put them off.


Benji Heywood has chaired the UK Ultimate Scheduling Committee since its inception, and is regularly consulted about events both large and small. He has also TD'd a number of events, and as Director of Competitions oversees all official UKU tournaments.