Incentivizing league attendance

I’m looking for some suggestions for how to improve attendance in league.

Here is what happens currently:

  • League standings are based on average score per game, so if you miss a week, nothing bad happens.
  • A finals is held, but finals is for prize money only. The end of the regular season standings is what gets submitted for WPPR points. Because of this, people will often skip the last week if they are in a difficult group.
  • If you don’t come to more than half of the league nights, you don’t count as having played.
  • If you miss too many, you don’t get to play in finals (example: you must attend 6 of 9 to play in finals).

Things I think:

  • I want to be flexible enough to allow absences. Things come up. People go out of town. Etc. I don’t like the idea that you just automatically drop in the standings due to an absence.
  • I’d like to avoid the end of the season attendance drop from people who like their current position in the rankings and don’t want to risk falling.
  • I play in another league that uses the same format, but it also lets you drop your lowest 2 or 1 nights if you have perfect, or near perfect attendance. The thing is, the drops only impact your seeding for the final tournament. What ends up happening is the bottom half of the A bracket who have imperfect attendance just swap spots with the top of the B bracket who have perfect attendance. This ends up making a harder path for those with perfect attendance…most of whom rightly belong in B (skill-wise).

If I were a teacher, I guess what I’m looking for is a way to get students to show up to class, without making attendance a component of their final grade. :slight_smile:

Make it so the finals will determine your IFPA finish.

Allow x number of misses and still make finals. If you attend all sessions, allow x number of dropped scores. We have 6 regular sessions and you can drop/miss two.

Have lots of prizes at finals (thanks for you help with this at the NKY league!)

Make a badass trophy. Possibly a traveling one that gets names added each season. Also think about getting another trophy or a belt for the points winner each season.

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I’ll be in the minority on this but I think dropping scores only encourages people to be absent when they see fit. You’re format gives them an opportunity to take a week off and still be relevant in the standings so why wouldn’t they? It sounds like you either need to A) change the rules, or B) not worry about how people use their free time.

If you want people to be more attentive to the league, don’t have rules that encourage truancy.

Definitely an option. I don’t love that if you can’t attend finals, then the whole league is meaningless…and that you go through 10 weeks just to seed into an event where you can end up throwing that all away with a few bad games.

This is a great idea.


Yeah I hear ya but it’s also to put people in divisions. I love fighting all season to try and get into A div.

Our finals are best of 3 double elimination so it will take more than a few bad games to get ya knocked out.

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yeah but, thats how life works. if you cant attend things, you dont get credit for them.

yeah but thats how games work, everything prior is made irrelevant by ones performance in the finals.

Thanks for responding @gorgarsupperlip. Your point has been made.

My league drops the lowest night’s results for each player, so everyone can miss one league night without a major penalty (and people with perfect attendance still get the bonus of getting to drop lowest night).

In my view, the main advantage of this system is that it allows people to have less than 100% perfect attendance but still provides an incentive for attending every night and avoids situations in which missing a night benefits you (an issue I have with other leagues I play in that, for instance, give 80% average for missing a night). You could adjust this as you saw fit for your league; that is, if you wanted attendance to be a bit less important and your players demanded more flexibility, you could make it the lowest two nights.

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We divide into divisions for finals and use a ladder system. If you don’t attend finals you get the lowest position you could have earned.
Example: 3rd seed of 8 in B division can’t attend finals. They have a bye for the first two rounds of the ladder so they finish 6th in B.
Encourages attendance but if you can’t make it it’s not a huge penalty.


This is what we do in NEPL – we drop the worst TWO nights out of eight. So, attend all 8, you get to throw your worst. Skip two, hey it’s cool. Skip three, you’re probably not making good finals position. Skip four, you’re not eligible.


This response isn’t a solution unfortunately but I have spent a lot of time thinking about exactly these things so here’s some thoughts for you.

The interesting thing I’ve noticed about rules over the years is there is no perfect solution - every rule you change generally has both positive and negative effects. I’ve spent many hours with spreadsheets playing with how a rules change would affect results. Someone is helped and someone is hurt with every scenario. So I look at it as what are my goals for the league (fun and social while optimizing WPPRs for those who like them and giving away as many prizes as I can throughout the season to lots of players not just to the top ones). I see attendance drop off in the summer and also a small drop in the last few weeks each season. I don’t think I could change the league rules to get all of them to prioritize the league over vacation, work, and other fun stuff that comes up for them which wins over league. But any rule I change may help one player and hurt another player. I might get a player back who wasn’t attending regularly but another one doesn’t like the change and stops attending regularly. I had to accept that I made the rules to meet my goals for the group and they won’t always make everyone happy… my goals may not be the same as their goals. Players are always falling off my roster but new players are finding us too - ebb and flow.

So… if you are meeting your goals for the group, my take is don’t worry about the people who taper off (or those who take advantage of the system in a way to get themselves in to one division or another - there’s always a way to take advantage). If you feel you are missing on one of your goals (your concern about A players being in B and B players having a tough road in A perhaps) then make a modification that addresses that specific concern - but you will still be helping some and hurting others. B players who qualify in A are sometimes honored to be there even if they don’t win the prize in the end. Other players would much rather be in B with an easier road.

And for reference, ours is 12 weeks and we drop the lowest 3 results to determine finals night divisions. We submit to IFPA separately from the league season finals - the finals are just about trophies and prizes but I invest most of the member fee in to those prizes to make sure lots of players have a chance to get stuff, not just the ones who get trophies. Everyone plays in finals. I run 3 concurrent tournaments with A/B divisions for trophies and Consolation just for small prizes so there’s no value in sandbagging to C. There are recommendations for changes I’ve received but if they negatively impact one of my league goals that I’m currently achieving, I won’t make the change. However, we’ve reached this point based on lots of player ideas and feedback that I incorporated until I feel pretty darn good right now that my goals are met.


I’m struggling with how to handle this in NKY league. I don’t want to exclude someone from playing in finals, but I don’t want an A player stealing the B crown just because they got bumped down from missing one too many sessions. Plus people on the waitlist not getting to play when they probably could’ve made it to more sessions. Hmmm

You could always restrict the better players however is best for your local league. If you don’t qualify in an eligible league, you’re out or are playing in a compensation finals with everyone else (PPL did 2 vs. 2 knockout format).

I’ve rarely seen the PPL restrictions in use other than for good players missing half of the season.

Yeah that’s an option for sure. I guess I’d rather just have everyone commit and come to the minimum number of sessions. Good ideas either way for Ryan to consider.

Sounds like Pinburgh :slight_smile:


For us, it works great because you can miss a week for a travelling tournament or a family/personal event and not get punished in the long run. If you can make the maximum number you’re rewarded slightly, but at the end of the day it’s nice to say, for example “See you next week, I’m going to Pinvasion/on a work trip” and not have to worry about things.

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That’s what the two drops are for. I’m talking if they miss more than that.

It’s usually more like A player ends up in B or C because of missing nights, then gets all in their head about it and gets crushed by someone who was just happy to be there and play pinball :wink:

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We’ve found the ‘drop your two lowest weeks’ model works best to accommodate more casual players without compromising the cohesiveness of the series. It’s forgiving, people can easily understand it, and it accounts for unplanned misses.

It does have some incentive for people to ‘skip’ - but not significant.

In FSPA, we’ve long had a ‘pre-play’ model that if not used, results in 0 points in the standings (and a separate system to protect the handicapping model). The preplay model has a lot of extra overhead associated with it… from people needing to understand the rules, tracking it, capping it, etc. The ‘drop 2’ system is way more streamlined and easier for players to grasp. While the pre-play model, if all rules are followed, sticks more to a competitive format.

We also have used other ‘incentives’ - like doing promos or raffles that apply only to those present that night. Nothing major, just stuff to liven it up and make you feel good you were there that night.

In our 25 years of running leagues… I’m convinced that rigid schedules is still the top 1 or 2 turnoff for attracting and retaining players. The ‘commitment’ scares a lot of potential people away. Having a system that can absorb ‘lifes suprises’ is essential to defuse that.

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I would be willing to try out a system where you get to drop.

People don’t mind that at the end of the season, they take a sudden drop if their attendance wasn’t great? Or do the drops get factored in all along?