USHA Tournament Guidelines

Intro: These guidelines supplement previous articles/guides and is written to standardize tournament procedures at USHA events. Of course, every nuance can’t be foreseen and the tournament director will have to use his best judgment in those circumstances.  For extensive step-by-step instructions, download the GUIDELINE FOR TOURNAMENTS [pdf].

This Printable USHA Sanctioning Agreement includes a time line.

Call or email the USHA to get your tournament placed on the USHA Tournament Calendar online, announced in Court Shorts and in Handball Magazine.

Entry info:

See Handball Magazine for samples.  Set entry deadline 10 days to 2 weeks prior to event to give yourself time to call people you heard were coming and didn’t enter, late entries, etc., and still allow you to do draws and prepare a start time listing. Include “no refunds after deadline.” As a general rule, we accept late entries until we’ve made the draws and set starting times. Once that is done, late entries are invited to show up and enter on a stand-by basis, much like getting on an airplane on a stand-by basis. When a no-show occurs, we will put someone into the event as long as they are ready to play when the court is available and their ability level doesn’t hurt the integrity of the draw. We would not insert a player who would have been a top seed into a spot which is way below their ability level. In other words, the insertion can’t ruin the integrity of the draw.


Recommend to have round robins for four players, especially when they can’t be combined easily. Five players will mean four matches and a bye for five rounds of play. This can be very tough to get in over a weekend unless the players are young and enthusiastic. If combining, call the players to see if they still want to play or would choose a different event. When Combining, the USHA will not combine younger players with older players if the older group had enough entrants to make their own event. As an example, if you have two 35-plus players and 8 40-plus players you would not move the 35s into the 40s, they would have to play Open or B. Likewise, if you have 2 B entrants and 8 C entrants, would move the B players to Open. It’s not fair to the players who have enough for their own bracket to be combined with younger, better skilled players.

Round Robin Tiebreakers

1) Head to Head results
2) Most Games Won  (as in who lost in three games vs. two)
3) Fewest Games Lost
4) Most Total Points Scored
5) Fewest Points Scored Against
6) Playoff
7) Coin Toss

Always give the no. 1 seed to the defending champ.  No other seeds are automatic.  Players winning skill level events must move up to the next level.  Try to separate players who may play each other on a regular basis.  People like to play new people.

Draw changes:
Should a seeded player cancel after the draw and times have been posted but no match has been played, the draw should be adjusted for a fair tournament.  Once a match has been started in the specific event, the draw should remain the same.  Forfeits can be avoided with last-minute replacements but the replacement should not hurt the integrity of the draw.

The goal is to provide players a second chance as well as an opportunity to compete against competition of similar abilities.  With that in mind, the USHA allows players who lose their first match and/or lose in the second round when 50% or less of the players have a preliminary match.

First-round forfeits:
When weather or other travel-related difficulties arise that cause a player to show up late, the USHA can make exceptions to the forfeiture rule.  Players who call to notify the director of travel complications will have a better chance than players who just show up.  Accommodations for players traveling to the event from more than 100 miles away should be considered more than those for local players.  This accommodation is for a player’s first match only.

Additionally, players who are on the road to the event can be given the grace period of being the last match to go off, i.e, a player with a 4 p.m. start time wouldn’t be forfeited until all the 4 p.m. matches have been assigned courts, then the clock would start ticking on the 10-minutes.

Whether or not to forfeit should never be in the hands of the opponent waiting to play.

Rest Time:
Players playing two events should be accommodated as best possible in the scheduling.  However, players choosing two singles or two doubles events will be more likely to face back-to-back matches.

Tournament Director’s responsibilities on site:

1)      Make sure courts are in safe condition (sweep/dust mop courts as needed)

2)      Have a rulebook on hand to settle any disputes

3)      Have an in-charge person on site at all times

4)      Follow host’s injury-reporting procedures

*** For outdoor play***


Stop play when players have trouble reacting to the opponents’ shots.


Stop play at the start of a drizzle and don’t resume until the entire possible playing area is completely dry.

In both these cases, the players will probably want to play longer than it’s safe and resume prior to the surface being safe.  You are in charge of their safety.

Also, in regard to the playing area and where the spectators are allowed to view the matches, the tournament director should have the “live” court area outlined in paint, or chalk at the least.  As an example: in Toledo , the red paint at the back of the court is the end of the “live” area.  If a player is interfered with by a spectator, referee or player from another court within this area, a hinder should be called.  (It is up to the referee and tournament director to keep this area safe and clear.)  However, if a player goes beyond the red line, they are allowed to make the play but they will not be given a hinder if obstructed by a spectator, etc.

Here’s how the One-Wall Rulebook handles this:

1) Spectators. The referee shall have jurisdiction over the spectators, as well as the players, while the match is in progress (See Rule 5.6). A ball that hits an official or spectator before hitting the wall shall be judged as if it had hit an opponent (See Rule 4.7A2). If a “non-seated” spectator or official interferes with a player in his attempt to play a ball, it is a hinder. In the interest of safety, when sufficient playing area cannot be provided, the referee may call a dead-ball hinder for interference that prevents a player from having a fair chance to see or return the ball (See Rule 4.7A7).

7) Other interference. Any other unintentional interference that prevents a player from having a fair chance to see or return the ball.