Youth Tournaments

I have a teenager wanting to play/organize youth tournaments. Has anyone else organized these and had them IFPA official and had an age cap? Also are there tournament styles that attract the teens/adolescents? Thinking critical hit, but wouldn’t want that to be the first one of many have not played before. Ideas? Thoughts?

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I think 3 strikes or round robin makes the most sense for any tournament where a lot of beginners are present. The advantage being they’re easy to understand. I wouldn’t add too many rules, but be very clear about what the rules are both verbally before the tournament and on any Facebook or other online posting. If the players aren’t experts, feel free to leave extra balls on. Maybe make a little cheat sheet for each game pointing out a few easy objectives and scoring opportunities.

If this is part of a larger event, high score style can work as well. That way people are free to play as much or as little as they want. On Pinside someone ran one at his wedding reception and it was fun for people of all skill levels.

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My daughter goes to almost all the same tournaments I do. She is super welcome by all, and enjoys hanging out with the adults. She would like to host an event that her friends and other teens/preteens would feel welcome and not as intimidating.

Strikes is an easy format I agree. I like the goals posted so they can have a jump start to learning the tables.

I don’t think it would be eligible for IFPA points due to the age cap, but that doesn’t mean she can’t organize and run a fun tournament!

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I believe that would be right for world ranking points, tournaments have to be opened.

IFPA tracks youth standings. Those points have to come from somewhere, so I think youth events are eligible for youth WPPRs.

Looks to me like just a custom filter - open points filtered by “age < 18”. Not special “youth” points.

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It’s awesome that you’re going to organize some youth tourneys! Go for it!

It would require the IFPA to have Youth WPPRs for Youth-Only events, similar to how Women’s only events earn Women’s WPPRs, which are tracked separately from Open WPPRs.

I’d do strikes. or perhaps a time-limit group match play using Swiss pairings, so that way the no kids get eliminated, and better skill kids will end up facing off against the same, while lesser skill kids will also face off.

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That is a great idea, I don’t want them coming and playing for a few games and leaving disappointed. Timed gives their parents a better idea of length on a Saturday as well.

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Strikes is really easy for new players to understand too imo. Id suggest random draw head to head say 4 strikes or more.

For super new players its fun to pull names out of a hat to pair players up.

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I ran a kids/youth tournament last year in Delaware and had 24 kids show up, well technically 22 since 2 of the kids were mine. I had 12-13 games available but used 10 for the tournament. Since pinball in the wild is pretty non-existent in Delaware I wanted the kids to come play and enjoy all of the machines and since 18 of the kids had never played pinball at all, I didn’t want them intimidated by match play or strikes. Instead I had pre-printed score sheets for all 10 games, with 2 lines to record their scores. At their leisure, and within the 2.5 hour “qualifying session”, they had to go play each game 2 times, have the “official scorekeeper at each game” record their scores and then turn in the sheets to me. From there I manually entered their high scores into match play to determine who advanced to the finals. Due to the large turnout, and assorted ages, I had 2 separate divisions. The finals, were standard PAPA style finals across 3 games to determine overall winners. Everyone had a blast and I’m currently in the process of planning the next one. By the way, this was NOT IFPA sanctioned.

Details of my tournament are here:



We do accept youth tournaments, it is not a custom filter and is dealt with exactly the same as other tournaments.

You submit them via the tournament manager, let us know that it is a youth tournament and we will make sure it counts towards the correct standings.

There is no $1 fee for any youth tournament.

If you have any other questions about how to submit a youth tournament let me or @pinwizj know.


To clarify, unlike Women’s-Only tournaments that feed a Women’s WPPR ranking system that we publish, we currently do NOT publish a Youth-Only WPPR system.

If/when we go live with that system, we’ll have some data to kickstart that system.

We have no intentions to publish a Youth-Only WPPR system at this time.


The youth director has read all the comments and thanks everyone for their input. She had me explain all the styles and likes having the 3 hours of qualifying so everyone can play more than 3-4 games. (She always begrudgingly plays my strike tournaments) She is super excited to get all her friends together to play and meet new ones.


Starfighters Arcade in Mesa, AZ (Phoenix area) runs a kids tournament a few hours before their monthly tournaments. The TD just does 6 rounds of group match play (7-5-3-1 scoring) with balanced pairings and balanced arenas, and matchplay tiebreakers to break ties for the top finishers. It’s free to enter and they typically get around 15-20 kids. It starts at 11 or 11:30am and the 6 rounds get done in 2 or 2 1/2 hours, so it finishes before the open monthly which starts at 2pm.

Timing it is a good idea if you don’t know how long rounds will last, but if you run the tournaments on a regular basis you might find that the length of each round is consistent, so then you can just switch to a set number of rounds.

Swiss pairing may not be a good idea because sometimes that results in the same players playing each other a lot, whereas balanced pairing mixes up the players more. Kids just getting into playing may just want to play different games with different kids and aren’t so concerned with the different formats (Swiss, PAPA style finals, etc.). Keep it simple. As they get older and better they can always join the open tournaments and enjoy all the glorious formats concocted by TDs.

More than 2-3 hours might be too long for most kids. And a strikes format isn’t much fun for players that get knocked out early.

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I think once she has two or three events the regulars will also be there to help guide new players. Then that can do pretty much any style they will enjoy. Trying to let the teens make the choices and just make sure they have the location and time. She is running a side tournament on the 25th to get her sea legs.

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