TD Motivation

I’ve run quite a few events over the last 3 years…in fact, I was stunned when I looked at my Stats on the tournament manager.

However, I’m finding myself getting tired of the controversies, the fights, the stress, the work…especially after some of the incidents that happened at a recent event.

I like organizing things, but I think I’m getting worn out with it. Collapsing at one last year didn’t help things at all.

I know deep down that if I’m not organizing most of these events, they don’t happen, or they certainly don’t happen the way I like them to run.

What I’m wondering is what keeps my fellow TDs going? Why do we bother? How do I re-motivate myself?

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Personally, I organize the events, then hand them off to, in my case, a more qualified TD to do the actual running of the event. This way I get the pleasure of getting an event going with out dealing with any associated drama (although again in my case there is very little drama in the events we host here).

Maybe you could find some willing to run the event after you get it all set up?

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I run stuff for selfish reasons - I like playing in tournies so hence I started to run them. Also in our area for the longest time we had one guy who was doing everything. He got burnt out and then a few of us started out running stuff. It’s expanded since then, and I am not sure of others motivations here but I just like to play in tournaments.

We’re pretty fortunate that the player base here is for the most part fairly cool people and not a ton of drama. I got to give out a warning yesterday at a tournament but the yellow/red cards I have have never been used. I agree it can be a lot of work so it’s important to have support when you can get it.

If you can groom people to start out as just helping and grow them from there that can help. We have a nice group of folks that can serve as officials and some are also up to help run tournies or co-run them with another person. I’m not the best at it and fairly lazy about some things, but like @BuffaloATX said, sometimes if you do a chunk of the work, others might be willing to help out day of…


Yeah I’d suggest to try and find someone to help run them then pass if off. Maybe you could do all the setup and submissions with the IFPA, then they could do the rest on tournament day.

I am lucky to have at least two others that can help run things if I cannot make it.

I’m also lucky that we have a wonderful crew of people and everyone gets along. There’s one bad egg, but it’s not the biggest deal in the world, so on that front, my stress level is very low.

I’ve been TDing for 4-5 years now. My responsibilities ballooned slowly over time. A year ago I was doing monthly tournaments, weekly league nights, Texas Pinball League, Texas Pinball Festival, and the Houston Arcade Expo. It got to be way too much, and I was starting to burn out big time. The complaining started to eat at me. Like you, I worried that if I stopped doing it, the events would either stop or be ran in a way I didn’t enjoy.

Ultimately, I ended up forming a board of directors to diffuse responsibility of league operations. It’s worked out fabulously. I no longer have to deal with book keeping stuff by myself, I don’t have to handle drama solo, I don’t need to attend every event, and I still have a voice in how things get done. The board has a very active slack workspace, and we’re constantly chatting and discussing rulings and ways to improve the league. It’s allowed us to expand far more than I would have been able to do by myself.


Yeah, I’m fortunate enough to have two very dedicated people that run the actual events for me, and a few others that are willing to step in if needed. If it wasn’t for them, I probably would have stopped running all the small events and league as it’s just not fun to shoulder ALL the responsibility (or blame if someone is unhappy…)
So on that note
Thanks @Snailman and @YeOldPinPlayer

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Cause Propane is expensive :slight_smile:


I’ve tried grooming several people over the last two years - and one by one, they burn out and in some cases fade away.

We’ve got a good group in management at Bluffs (where the bulk of my events have taken place) and everyone is happy to debate ideas but in the end the tournament/league work tends to fall back on me.

We recently added a location bar to our events in Toronto, and I’m wondering if the increased alcohol at the tournament was what drove me nuts - I’m not a teetotaller by any means, but I would describe myself as a “seldom” drinker. We don’t serve any alcohol anywhere else I run things…people can bring their own, but it’s usually pretty chill.

I think Gene might be right - I run events cause I like to play in events. I run our league because I took elements I liked from our other local leagues and set it up the way I think a league should run. Selfish because I’m a control freak? Lol…

Running my first tournament that’s gone pretty well I wanted to improve upon the tournaments that are here in the UK which are mostly scorecard focused and ran of excel spreadsheets (or worse!) which I think isn’t great. I play at more events in the US than in the UK because we don’t have that good a scene here but it is improving.

A few folks said I’d never pull off a great group matchplay tourney that was any good and I’ve absolutely debunked that! But there is a lot for one person to think about.

6 months on I am thinking that it’s a lot of effort that takes you away from enjoying the game but then if we all thought that there would be no games! I’m lucky to have a few great helpers in the three (not so) wise men of pinball! :slight_smile: My hats off to all TD’s especially those that give up playing to ensure running a good event. I manage to play but always with the corner of my eye on the proceedings.

Lucky that there is a lot of support from Josh, Andreas and many many others who have given me help.

Keep the faith!



I’ve been doing it for a few years and for the most part, still enjoy it. I run 4 leagues a year (~20 - 25), monthly tournaments (~10 - 15 people) and the occasional launch party.

Sometimes I want to strangle people, but most of the time I still have fun. I have two guys that help out with paperwork, entering scores, setting up software, etc. That leaves me to do the things that I want to do, which I think is key. I want to mess with the cameras, do the announcements, make the rulings, etc. They don’t mind the small jobs I’ve given them and I’m very appreciative of their help.

What annoys the hell out of me is the people that complain AT me like it’s my fault. “The rollover at the top still isn’t fixed”…“Sorry, it’s not my game, but I’ll let the operator know again”. Or the “The ball jumped over the flipper, that’s #&$^&@#”. “Sorry dude, it’s not #&$^&@#”, it’s Pinball…deal with it".

What I absolutely love and what keeps me coming back, is watching someones eyes light up the first time they get multiball, win their group or their division. Or that one person that walks up and says “Hey, thanks for running this event, I had a good time”.


Let it go. The players will decide if it’s being run well enough.

Team effort is key in the Texas area. I couldn’t do it without @BuffaloATX @Law @Snailman
Looking forward to helping get the scene in San Antonio going by running the tournament for the South Texas Arcade and Gaming Expo in February.


For myself, if I limit the amount of tournaments I do to one or two a year, then I can focus on improving the quality as much as possible. I don’t participate in the tourney because I find it easier to justify many of the decisions I’ve made without worrying about negative perception (I do realize I am spoiled because there are so many tournaments in my area that I don’t get FOMO from skipping a few). Controversy can be minimalized by extra time put into preparation. The more situations you take into consideration the smoother it will run when those situations arise.

Right now, my motivation comes from trying to get the Amazing Pinball Race to eventually be a circuit event. Kind of driven by my desire to make a noticeable mark in our community, as I’m sure you have in yours from running so many events.

I definitely recommend running less events and improving the quality of them as much as possible. If enough people want some small tournaments to pass the time, someone will eventually (hopefully) step up and be that person who has that motivation.


This is exactly why I started doing it. I still do it for this reason (ArcadeExpo and Pinball Madness tournaments would fall into this category) but I also run events now to help the location I’m operating in get bodies in the bar buying beer and dropping tokens. For the most part I have little to no drama from the regulars but it definitely picked up recently after I was essentially accused of cheating by playing in my league and driving the bus in finals.

Sometimes I wish I could hand off the league to someone else that might be better at growing things or is a little better at the political football of competing personalities but I don’t know that I have anyone willing or capable of keeping it together for the foreseeable future.

I’ve also stopped playing in some of the tournaments I’m running. For larger events, it’s often exhausting doing both—although I’ve found that sometimes the distraction of also running things help keep me out of my head and I tend to play more relaxed.


I don’t think you should be asking how to stay motivated in such an environment, I think you should be looking at how to fix the environment so that running tournaments is less stressful.

What is the source of the fights and stress?

Is it the machines? (badly maintained, no keys, etc)
Is it the location? Are you getting kicked out before tournaments end? Does it get too crowded to effectively run a tournament at times?
Is it the players? Is it everyone, or just a few bad actors?

If the source of your stress is a small number of people, then the best course of action may be talking to them individually and explaining that they (and a small number of others) are making TDing very unpleasant for you to the point where you are considering stopping. Ask if there is a way to resolve this issue. It’s possible these people don’t realize the draining effect of their behavior and can make changes to make your life easier. If not, you have the option of asking them not to come to your tournaments.


The reasons that brewmanager stated in the original post are 1/4 of the reasons I am giving up TD’ing next year (aside from my yearly event at my house in December). Granted, I am going to have some big “life stuff to do” in the first third of next year and that is the biggest reason for my decision. Secondarily, I have gotten a promotion at work which, even though it means more money, it also means more time involved in doing work for that extra income. But, there is the very important fact of having to put up with stuff. Oh, trust me, I know that there will ALWAYS be pinball drama wherever you are and whatever you are doing and at whatever level of the pinball world you are in…I just have come to the point where having to deal with that drama is far outweighing the fruitfulness of goal…