Managing Competitions

Some ideas to help you arrange competitions

How do I start?

Running a competition may sounds easy, but if you have never done it, then it can be difficult to know where and how to start.

How many players should/will participate? How do you organise the various matches? How do you keep track of the results? What about making it fair for all? Should you "seed" the players? Answers to all of these questions can be found here, together with some free tools to assist you.

For the most part, the information given below applies to competitions where either teams or individual players participate. Therefore throughout the rest of the page, we will simply refer to "players", although the same procedures can be used for teams, unless specifically noted.

How do I run a competitions?

First of all, you have to decide what sort of competition you want to have, as there are several different types, including the following common ones: To a large extent, the choice depends on how many players are competing and how long you want the event to last.
Let's look at each option in turn......

League Competitions

League competitions (or "Round Robin" competitions) are usually run when there are many players of several different standards, and you want to run the competition over quite a long period - typically several weeks or months. The players are divided into different "Divisions" according to standard or ability. Each player has a match or multiple matches) against every other player in the same Division.

At the end of the period, all of the players in each division are placed in order according to the results of their matches so that each division will have a winner, a second place etc., etc. Typically the winning player of each division will be promoted to the next higher division for the next cycle/season (sometimes more than one player is promoted) and the losing player of each division is relegated to the next lower division (again, somtimes more than 1 player is relegated).

How many times each player plays every other player and also how frequently the matches are played - determine how long the whole cycle or season lasts. For squash Leagues involving individual players, the divisions usually comprise of 5 or 6 players and each player plays every other player only once. Assuming each player has only one game each week on average, this means the league cycle would typically last 4 or 5 weeks. This website,, provides a very easy way to manage this type of league.

However, for Squash Leagues between teams, there can be up to 10 teams in each Division (or more), and the League lasts for a whole season - typically 6 months or more, requiring each team to play one match per week, and to play each other team more than once during the season.

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Ladder Competitions

Ladder competitions are usually run for individual players, rather than teams. This type of competition requires very little 'maintenance' and generally is the type of competition run by a club where the players do not want to be tied to playing frequently, but ant to just arrange a game with another player of a similar standard from time-to-time.

In this case, all players are arranged in one long list. The aim of each player is to rise up the ladder as high as they can by challenging players above them and if successful, they move above the player they beat.

As players rise up the ladder, they will find more players from below will challenge them in turn, trying to beat them and thus causing them to move down again.

Ladders tend to just run on and on without any specific time constraints, although they can be re-started from time-to-time. This website,, provides a very easy way to manage this type of ladder.

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Knock-Out Competitions

A knock-out competition (sometimes called an elimination competition) involves holding matches between a pair of players and as the name suggests the loser of the match is knocked-out of (or eliminated from) the competition.

The winner proceeds to play a match with another player and again the loser of that match is knocked-out of the competition. Typically the whole competition would take place over a period of only less than a week - possibly only one or to days - as the total number of matches played is reduced (compared to a round-robin competition).

Since each match results in one player being eliminated from the competition, the number of matches required is easy to work out - it's simply equal to one less than the total number of players that have entered the competition. Thus if 28 players have entered the competition, there will be a total of 27 matches played before the winner can be declared. Often, there is also a play-off for third and fourth places - requiring one additional match to be played.

In addition, There are several variations and nuances for this type of competition, and it does require quite a bit of preparation and control if all this is done manually. For example, to make the competition more exciting (i.e. so that the best players are more likely to end up playing each other only in the latter stages of the competition) players can be 'seeded'. This means allocating a 'seed number' to the best players with number 1 seed being the player most likely to win the competition and the number 2 seed being the next most likely, etc. The seeding of the players is most often based on the past performance of the players

Arranging the draw such that seeded players don't meet in the early rounds, whilst at the same time randomising the placing of non-seeded players requires some careful manipulation. At the same time, tracking the progress of the competition to make sure the right players meet in the next round also requires much care.

However, there are tools to help you if you want to run this sort of competition. This website provides free excel knock-out competition templates allowing you to automate all of the tricky parts of running a knock-out competition, whilst at the same time allowing you flexibility with how the competition can be managed.

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