Serve Up Volleyball Leagues And Tournaments

As a manager of properties with recreation areas for more than ten years, I have heard the question many times: Should I add a volleyball court? If you have the interest of patrons, space and funds available to build one, the answer is yes. Volleyball is a popular sport among all age groups. No matter what type of facility, you can make volleyball work.

Indoor Or Outdoor

Indoor volleyball works for recreation centers that have either extremely hot or cold weather. In these conditions, an outdoor volleyball court is less feasible because patrons can only use it for three months out of the year. Centers can make indoor volleyball a success by developing leagues, setting up tournaments or both.

Indoor Leagues

Setting up an indoor volleyball league can be difficult without an established history of the sport. Therefore, if you are just beginning to offer volleyball, weekend tournaments are a great idea. Tournaments allow busy patrons to play for recreational purposes while adding a little competition. Advertising a tournament to an established patron base is one way to build up the roster.

Outdoor Recreation

An outdoor volleyball court works for recreational purposes at parks and similar areas where on-site management is not present at all times, and court scheduling and conflicts are not an issue. For example, apartment communities benefit from this type of recreation facility. A center in South Carolina, for example, benefits from an outside court because the weather is moderate the majority of the year. If an indoor facility does not already exist, the cost to build an outside court is more practical than the cost to build a gymnasium.

How To Start

In a slowing economy, sponsorship and registration fees can be difficult to obtain. Therefore, make sure entrance fees for participants are reasonable. I’ve found a team registration is typically easier to obtain than individual dues. With the fees, you can fund refreshments and trophies. Additionally, if you allow teams to provide their own team logo and include T-shirts with the registration fee, it will add to the ongoing success of the tournaments. T-shirts are relatively inexpensive to make, and allowing teams to design their own makes participation more rewarding, and provides additional advertising.

Scouting Out Sponsors

Sponsorship can help build participation as well as spectatorship. Oftentimes, I have used a sponsor before asking for sponsorship in order to show a positive return. For instance, I present the sponsor with a package already using the name rather than asking what type of sponsorship can be provided. Presenting a sponsor with “The First Annual Thompson Sporting Goods Volleyball Tournament” in return for any level of sponsorship can start the sponsor relationship. Also, allowing the sponsor to set up a booth at the tournament to sell volleyball-related items will help the sponsor understand who the sponsorship helps and how it is received by patrons.

Any level of participation should be given the highest return, such as T-shirt logos, tournament naming, banners and announcements at the tournament. From there, subsequent tournaments can be negotiated for more sponsorship. Choosing a smaller, local sporting goods or convenience store is easier than trying to gain sponsorship from a national retailer. I often visit local vendors first to build community involvement and hopefully long-term customers for the vendor.

Cashing In

The final consideration is advertising to ensure patrons and sponsors receive the recognition they deserve. Invite local media to tournaments or write your own press release and include photos of participants and sponsors. This is where the sponsored tournament name receives the most return and where other patrons--who may have never visited the facility--learn about the great things you are doing there.

Volleyball should be part of a recreation facility because it is inexpensive. You really do not need bells and whistles for this type of recreation because the necessary equipment is so minimal. The sport has already been popularized by the Olympics and emerging high school teams. Once those high school and college students graduate, the desire to play volleyball remains. Offering this recreation to them helps build loyal patrons at a limited expense.

Kati Trammel is an advertising and public relations specialist in Lakeland, Fla. She can be reached at