How To Organize a Cornhole Tournament

how to organize cornhole tournaments

Cornhole tournament, or as Cornholers like to call it Cornament, is a championship that is organized between usually 10 or more cornhole teams/players.

Over the past few years Cornhole has attracted many new players. There are now enough active Cornholers nationwide in order for official tournaments to be held every year.

You don’t have to be a professional player to compete on official ACA tournaments. Many amateur teams are competing on these tournaments.

However you can also host your own cornhole championship!

The cause of your tournament can be anything you want. Maybe you want to raise funds for charity or just want to have fun and compete with other cornholers to shown them who is the cornhole kind in your neighborhood :)

Whatever the reason, this 14 step guide will show you exactly how to host a cornhole tournament.

Table of contents:

  1. Tournament types
  2. Planning
  3. Location
  4. Equipment
  5. Timing
  6. Ticket price
  7. Prizes
  8. Tournament rules
  9. Enrollment procedure
  10. Promotion
  11. Court setup
  12. Launch day
  13. Award and finish
  14. League

First lets cover why you should host a cornhole tournament in the first place

There are many reasons why you should host a tournament. If you are addicted to cornhole and have competitive nature then this is a fantastic, fun and exciting way to compete.

Another reason is to raise funds for local charity or your own financial needs. Whatever the reason this plan will help you organize paid cornhole tournaments and help you raise some cash.

Championships are also a fantastic way to have an excuse to hang out with your friends or acquaintances and to socialize with your neighbors.

How to run a cornhole tournament

Types of tournaments

Single elimination tournament bracket

Whichever of the following tournament types you choose, make sure to clearly state to every potential player which type you have decided to go with.

Also make sure to explain the rules of the tournament type on every marketing material.

You can copy and paste the tournament regulations you find here or you can link to this page.

  • Single elimination – this simply means that once you lose you are eliminated from the tournament. The winner continues by playing the next match against winner of other match. Basically, losers are disqualified and winners only get to play with other winners. This goes on till the final match.For single elimination you can use these printable brackets.The problem with this type of tournament is that half of the teams will be eliminated during the first round. Players have dedicated the weekend for your tournament and now they ended the game right at the beginning after the first match.If you decide to go with this type you will have hard time attracting enough teams for your tournament.What you can do is modify this rule and play each match until someone wins 2 sets. This way at least everyone will play 2 matches. However this will increase tournament duration.
  • Double elimination – After losing two matches team is disqualified. This means once the first round is over the winners go to one column and loser go to second column. In the second round winners play against losers. Whoever loses two matches is disqualified.
  • Round robin – This type of tournament is not recommended if there are too many teams. This is because all teams must play against each other and then the team who has the most winning matches is the tournament winner.So for example if there are 20 teams then each team must play 19 matches, which is way too many for a weekend tournament. Round robin is good for cornhole leagues.
  • Round robin + Single elimination – This type of tournament is called Playoff! It’s the longest but the best type of tournament for choosing the true cornhole king!Basically this is how it work.First, all teams play against each other. So the first part is classic round robin type.Then, based on number of wins several top performing teams are chosen to enter the playoffs. Lets say there are 20 teams, and you choose only top 6 for single elimination phase.Then using single elimination play the game is played until the winner is crowned.

Planning

Paper on a desk with pencil - learn how to plan your cornhole tournament

No matter how big event you intend to organize you need to plan way ahead. Even small 10 team tournaments require planning.

Also, putting everything “on paper” will clearly show whether you are financially capable of organizing a cornhole tournament.

These are the main thing to consider:

  • Place – if you have a big backyard then you got this problem solved. But if you intend to play indoors or at somebody else’s backyard then you need to plan ahead and reserve the place several weeks in advance.
  • Food and drinks – you need to have a good solution for catering the participants. There are two possible solutions for this problems. You can either include drinks and food in the price ticket or you can rent a place in your backyard where players can buy beverages on their own. There are many food entrepreneurs who are be more than happy to sell food at your event. You can also invite Food truck. However the first solution of you being responsible for beverage will lower your profit margins.
  • Entertainment – cornhole is a fun game and tournaments should also be fun and exciting!Make sure that you have some other activities available during your championship.Invite local DJ’s, setup a nice music, invite your comic friend or organize some interesting games for kids.
  • Assistants – if you think that you can organize whole tournament on your own, you are wrong! You need to have reliable assistants that are going to help you with organizing the court, making sure everyone plays by the rules, keeping the correct scores, organizing food and beverage catering, and much much more. You won’t believe who many things can go wrong!
  • Prizes – you need to define exactly what percentage of ticket price will go for covering the prizes. Also you need to find sponsors who are will give you free copies of their product to tournament participants.
  • Promotion – synonym for a cournament disaster is not attracting enough players!You’ve done everything right – prepared the court, bought or rented the equipment, organized DJ’s, etc. But you sold only 40% of the number of planned tickets.Make sure you have a great promotion strategy. Employ everything you know about marketing and ask everyone you know to spread word about your upcoming tournament.That being said, make sure you start your promotion early so you have enough time for promotion and so that everyone can organize and plan their weekends ahead.


Location – Where to host?

Tournament field and location

Cornhole can be played indoor or outdoor.

While outdoor is much more fun, if its winter or bad weather then you simply don’t have any other choice but to organize it indoors.

Outdoor – you can organize cornhole tournaments literally anywhere as long as you have enough space to setup cornhole courts. Make sure that the distance between each playing field is at least 10 feet. Backyard, beach, school yards are just a few examples on where you can host your cornhole tournament.

Indoor – if its cold or rainy outside then you need to take the game inside. Just make sure that the place is big enough and also that the minimum distance between roof and highest point of a cornhole board is 12 feet. School halls or sports arenas usually have big enough playing fields where you can host your tournament. Also some bars are going to let you host a tournament, especially because they will earn money from selling drinks to tournament participants.

Equipment

Cornhole bags and board equipment for tournament

You as a host should be responsible for providing equipment to every player.

If you don’t have enough bags and boards then you can always rent or borrow from your friends. Also some cornhole shops will be more than happy to borrow you equipment for free if your tournament purpose is for raising money for charity.

You need the following equipment:

  • Boards – official cornhole board dimension is 24 x 48 inches. You should have 2 boards for each match. If 10 teams are attending your championship then make sure to have at least 22 boards. 10 for playing and 2 as a backup if some get broken.
  • Bags – standard dimension of a cornhole bag is 6 by 6 inches. It should be made out of sturdy materials such as canvas. Each team should have 4 bags. When playing against each others, each team must have different bag colors. You can lower your equipment cost by creating your own cornhole bags. Take a look at this DIY project on how to build your own bags for cheap.
  • Score boards need to be clearly visible from any part of the cornhole field.
  • Tape for marking pitching boxes – pitch box is a place from which cornhole players throw bags. Its located on the left and right side of a cornhole board. Make sure to clearly draw the foul line on each pitch box.
  • Lights – if you are hosting your tournament outside you better have some lightning solution once it gets dark. We suggest that you buy cornhole nightlight sets and LED reflectors.
  • Drink holders – this is a handy accessory for holding beverages. It needs to be placed outside of a cornhole playing field.

Take a look at other cool cornhole accessories that will improve playing experience on your tournament.

Timing

Cornhole calendar timing for organizing a championship

As you already know traditionally cornhole is a backyard lawn game that is in most cases played during summer days. If you intend to play it outdoors then make sure to check the upcoming weather.

The best time to organize a tournament is off course during weekends. More specifically on Sunday, because you want to have at least one week day before the tournament to setup everything.

Tournament should start early in the morning, but you should decide on the exact timing.

Cost to entry

Cost to enter a tournament money

Average ticket cost for cornhole tournaments is between 20 and 50 dollars per team. If players are enrolling as individuals then the ticket price should be divided in half.

Entry ticket price depends of your financial goals and number of players that you are going to accept.

Keep in mind that half of the ticket money should go to prizes!

Prizes

Tournament award board for prizes for 1st 2nd and 3rd place

Before players enroll they need to be know exactly what are going to be the tournament prizes.

First you need to decide if you are going to award only the tournament winner or the top 3 positions.

Here are some suggestions on how to apportion the prize money:

  • If top 3 teams get the prize then you could use the 60-30-10 percentage – so 60% goes to the winner, 30% to second and 10% to third position.
  • If top 2 teams are awarded then we highly suggest to use 70-30 percentage model

Sponsorship

If you want to go a step further and save on the prize money, you can find someone to sponsor the event. Instead of taking half of the ticket money for prizes you can offer sponsors to advertise on your tournament in exchange for a fee. This can be additional source of revenue which can be used to cover cost of prizes.

Make sure your sponsors know who is going to attend your tournament so they can know exactly who they are targeting whit the sponsorship promotion.

If you find sponsors who are only willing to offer free copies of their product then you can combine both prizes. For example you can lower the money prize and give products from your your sponsors.

Tournament rules

Tournament should be play according to official cornhole rules. Although many players have their own rule variations, make sure to clearly define the cornhole tournament rules.

Dedicate at least 15-30 minutes before start of the tournament to explain the rules to each player.

You can download this printable PDF rules checklist and share with every tournament participant.

Enrollment procedure

Woman carrying form for tournament enrollment

You should make registration procedure as easy as possible. Consider offering multiple enrollment options.

You can choose several of the following:

  • Email – provide an email address on places wherever you advertise the tournament. Make sure to state which information is required.
  • Mail – if you are advertising the tournament offline (local newspapers, fliers) then provide a mailing address where players can send enrollment form that you provided along with the advertisement.
  • Phone – its always a smart idea to include phone number wherever you promote the cornhole tournament. Just make sure to have a separate phone number dedicated only for tournament enrollment and support. You don’t want to give away your private number to strangers.
  • Website form – these days it’s very easy to setup a website that has a simple opt-in form. You can use WordPress to setup a simple page and use Contact Form 7 plugin to create a contact form with custom fields.
  • At the tournament – For those who procrastinate or who have heard about your event the same day when it begins, its a nice idea to have an option to enroll directly at the tournament. Some organizers like to charge slightly more for this option. For example if regular enrollment fee is 40$, some like to charge 50$ at the day of tournament.

Which information should you require from potential participants?

This is up to you, however these are the recommended details that you should obtain from every player prior to the start:

If you are accepting individual enrollments then make sure to allow even number of people so you can later form teams.

Promotion ideas

Tournament promotion ideas including Facebook ads

If you are not new to this game then you probably already know someone who will support your tournament and enroll as soon as you open the registration.

Smaller tournaments with up to 10-20 participants don’t have to be promoted at all.

However if you intend to organize it on a larger scale, especially if you wan to raise some considerable money for charity, then here are some promotion ideas:

  • Social media – FaceBook is a fantastic way to create group or pages for cornhole fans in your local area. You can promote your group through paid FaceBook ads or by directly inviting people.
  • Website – if you have your own website or email list that is related to cornhole or bag toss games then you can post an ad about your championship. If you have an engaged email list then you can easily send an email sequence where you can give a hint about the upcoming tournament.
  • Meetup.com – this is a very popular website where you can post your local meet ups. Here you can find social gatherings in almost every country. There are many cornhole leagues and tournaments posted already.
  • Sponsors – if you have tournament sponsors, then you can ask them to spread the word on their website and with their employees or partners.
  • Word of mouth – this is the most effective method, especially if you have organized tournaments in the past. Contact all of your friends with whom you played cornhole and simply ask them if they would like to participate in your upcoming tournament.
  • Affiliate marketing – if the main purpose of tournament is NOT to raise money for charity, then you can promote it through offline affiliate marketing. Simply offer discount on registration ticket to everyone who refers 1 or more players. Off course the more they refer the higher the ticket discount they’ll get.
  • Paid online ads – if targeted correctly, FaceBook ads can be a great source of highly targeted visitors. You can setup a FaceBook Ads campaign and target only people within your local area who are interested in cornhole or bag toss related sports. If you want to go even a step further you can target based on demographic and online behavior. Make sure you have setup a landing page where people can register.
  • Local newspaper classifieds – if you live in a city that is highly engaged in a specific newspaper or offline classifieds then try advertising it there.
  • Online classifieds – there are many paid and free websites where you can post your ad. Take this as a last option since these kind of websites are way too broad and can attract all sorts of people. Again, make sure that you have a separate phone number that is dedicated only for tournament purposes.
  • Free prizes – to make your tournament more attractive you can find sponsors who are willing to provide you with free copies of their product in exchange for ads on tournament cornhole fields . Products should be worth at least 10$.

How to setup the field

How to run a cornhole tournament

Its important that you start preparing the court and all necessary accessories at least one day before the tournament.

Make sure to start early and that you have people to assist you along the way:

  • Boards and bags – make sure that you have enough boards and bags so that all teams can play at the same time. For example if there is 20 teams then make sure to have between between 20 and 40 boards. If you are on a tight budget then you could go with 10 boards but then there will be a slight delay between games. Also make sure that you have 4 bags for each team. 
  • Scoreboards – make sure that you have clear and visible scoreboards for each game. Scoreboards should be placed behind the cornhole board and players,so outside of the playing field. If you plan to have 10 active games at the same time, then you should have 10 scoreboards prepared. One for each match. 
  • Backup equipment – you never know when something is going to break. Make sure to have at least 2 cornhole boards and 8 bags for backup. 
  • Brackets – Day before the tournament prepare and print the tournament brackets.
  • Form teams – if players were only allowed to apply as a team, then great you can skip this step. However if you allowed single player enrollments then you need to form teams before the tournament starts. You can let players choose their teammates or you can draw their names from a hat.


Launching the tournament

ribbon cutting for opening the tournament

Day before the tournament you should call every player to confirm that they are coming. Make sure to tell them to come at least half an hour earlier.

The big day has come, its time to open your first cornhole tournament!

Now that all players have arrived, the tension rises. Everything needs to go smooth as you planned!

Make sure that you have clear plan on how to welcome the players. Keep them occupied while others arrive. You can offer them food and beverages, show them where to change and where is the court so they can practice a few throws.

  • Explain the rules – once all players have arrived make sure to explain the rules to each one of them. Keep in mind that there will be some beginners who are relatively new to cornhole, so make sure to dedicate between 15 to 30 minutes for this task.Off course make yourself available for everyone who has questions about the game rules. Its a great idea to print out the official rules and hang them on some visible spot where everyone can read them. Here you learn more about cornhole rules, also you can print this PDF which contains brief overview of most important rules.
  • Introduce tournament referees – dedicate 5-10 minutes to introduce tournament judges and explain their role during the tournament.
  • Choose who is going to play in the first round – simply draw from a hat or flip a coin to decide which teams are going to compete in the first round.
  • First throw – for each match referee should flip a coin to decide which team is going to throw first.
  • No delays – depending of the number of teams, tournaments can go all day long! Make sure that at any time somebody is playing. You don’t want to have delays between matches. That is why its important to have enough backup equipment and assistants.
  • Prepare the catering – sport tournaments are exhausting events. That is why you need to have food and beverages prepared. If you as an organizer are going to finance the catering, then make sure that you have enough food and drinks for the whole day. However if players are responsible for their own food, make sure you have enough tables where they can eat. Also its a nice idea to put drinking holders beside each cornhole court.

Award the winner

Cornhole trophy with real cornOnce the tournament ends its the perfect time to announce the winners and award them with the prizes.

Depending of the tournament size you can even setup a small platform and give trophies to winners.

However if your main purpose is to raise money for charity then make sure that all prizes are funded through sponsorship.

Award ceremony is the perfect time to thank all participants for playing on the tournament.

Also if you have organized any raffles or givaways this is the perfect time to announce the winners and give away prizes.

When announcing, make sure that you have quality microphone so everyone can hear you loud and clear.

In order to increase perceived value of the tournament you can post images, match results or name of the winners on your blog or social media profile. This is especially important if you plan to organize cornhole tournaments frequently.

Continue with a league

Or at least make it a monthly or weekly habit…

Now that the tournament has ended you can enroll the participants to your cornhole league.

Now that you had a chance to meet all the players who attended your tournament its the perfect time to invite them to your own local cornhole league.

This means that you are going to organize it regularly on a weekly or monthly basis.

Leagues are perfect opportunities for regular meet ups and for starting local gathering on meetup.com. Tournaments are great starting points for leagues because you already had an opportunity to meet other players to decide who is going to be a good fit for your upcoming league gatherings.

What is cornhole player association?

cornhole player association

Cornhole player association, also know as CPA, is a very popular term among many professional cornhole players. However there are still many cornholers who have never heard about this association.

CPA is a group of professional cornhole players who are devoted to growing this game to professional levels. This associations stands for growing cornhole beyond current amateur and backyard levels to a professional and global sport.

In order to do that the whole gameplay needs to be standardized. Every rule needs to be officially set, including the equipment and play field standards.

These type of groups are very important for every sports that is in transition of becoming a professional and globally acceptable sport. If you think about it, every major popular sport started as a backyard game. Each global sport had an association group that helped with the standardization and transition process.

For example basketball has WNBA, drag racing has NHRA and boxing has WBA.

This is also important in order to set standards and avoid injuries.

For example what if extreme sports such as racing didn’t had standards?

There would be much more injuries because helmets for example and cars would be built in garages without any proper safety standard to follow.

Many professional cornhole players would be surpriesed to hear that this CPA idea almost failed at the beginning. The problem was that it was started in the wrong time while cornhole wasn’t popular enough.

Some cornhole players decided to approach other players one by one in order to grow the association and create a stronger voice of this cause but many of them didn’t take it seriously because for most cornholers it was just another recreational backyard game.

In order for any official tournament director to take into consideration this sport, CPA needed to have support from many people.

The problem was that there were still not enough players in the US in order for this sport to grow to a professional level.

Luckily in period from 2005 and 2010 popularity of cornhole and number of organic cornhole players grew exponentially. This secured the need for a professional cornhole association.

During 2011 Steve Vanderver released a brief statement where he explained that CPA is in charge for defining the rules for official cornhole gameplay, tournaments and league. Also CPA will be the main go-to-place for information about cornhole events, tournaments and any other cornhole related happenings.

With over 30.000 of players across the United States and rise of popularity in countries such as Australia, this game definitely deserves to be standardized and taken more seriously.

Backyard yesterday, tournaments today…hopefully Olympic games are next :)

Download tournament rules

Download printable championship brackets

Final words

As you’ve probably realized, organizing a cornhole tournament is a big and time consuming task.

You definitely can’t do it alone, so you need to delegate tasks!

Make sure that you delegate to responsible persons who you already know and trust. This will make everything much easier.

 

So now that you know exactly how to host a cornhole tournament its YOUR TURN!

 

Submit your own tournament here and we will make sure to notify all of our email subscribers to help you spread out the word.

Also for a 10$ fee you can advertise your tournament for 10 days on this website. The ad will be shown on the right sidebar.

 

Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below :)

If you know somebody who is planing to organize cornhole tournament then use the buttons below to share this page.

How To Organize a Cornhole Tournament
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