Dear Event Doctor:

What is your philosophy on conducting dry runs for an event before the actual game day? We are considering a dress rehearsal of sorts but are not sure about the best approach. How far in advance should we do a run-through, and who exactly should be involved in the exercise?

—Practice Makes Perfect

Dear Practice:

Rehearsals are the world’s greatest event insurance policy. The kind of rehearsal you need depends on the operational complexity of your event, whether it is televised and a host of other factors. If the event is televised, you can bet that the broadcaster will want some form of camera rehearsal. Often this will involve the use of stand-ins rather than the actual athletes for simulated competitions, player introductions and ceremonies. Because broadcasters use so much rental equipment and hourly labor, they will do this very close to the date of the event.

I’m a big believer in producing events as though they are on television even if they are not. I would advise a “blocking” rehearsal for any elements that involve participants staging, entering or exiting, and for any ceremonies or entertainment. Blocking rehearsals practice the movement of people, staging or props onto and away from the field, ice or competition floor. Plan all of the entrances and exits on paper first, and then try them in real life. How long do the transitions take? Are too many things entering from the same place where people are exiting? Even practicing things as seemingly easy as which way people climb up to and down from a platform or podium can tease out potentially awkward flaws in the plan. Volunteers can often serve the purpose, so you need not use the actual participants (though it may be better if you do).

Does your event have a complex security or operations plan? It’s likely you can’t rehearse every part of it because that can get pretty expensive. But if you can afford to test it out, by all means do so. Does managing the event involve any technology or security procedures? The more essential they are to your plan, the more important it is to test them. Are you using ticket scanners, surveillance systems, metal detectors or security wands? Make sure they work flawlessly before game day. Radio equipment? Make sure it works on frequencies that are not being used by nearby businesses. You need not do full simulations of the event in every way, but test anything and everything that can possibly malfunction.

This first appeared in Sports Travel Magazine and appears here courtesy of SCHNEIDER PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC.