Deciding Teams: Practice, Tournament Performance, or Other?

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Deciding Teams: Practice, Tournament Performance, or Other?

Post by Djibouti » Thu Oct 25, 2007 1:13 pm

When choosing your tournament teams, and how students align on the teams, or your "TV" team, supposing you have an area format, on what should you place more emphasis: performance in practice, performance in tournaments, or some other factor(s)?

The reason I ask: one team I know is deciding their tournament team and "It's Academic" TV team strictly based on performance of players in practice, despite concrete individual stats from their first tournament that contradict to some extent the team alignments. I think this is wrong, but I admit I may be wrong.

So should tournament performance outweigh competition performance, or should practice performance weigh more heavily in deciding the make-up of teams?

Tangentially related: same question, except for choosing Team Captain (although, I admit, Captain decision should include other factors like leadership, confidence, and team dynamics in addition to who is the outright better player, as the best player may not make the best Captain, and vice versa).

Also, does this decision change depending on how good a team is (i.e. playing for experience and future success if a team is mediocre, or should a team always field their best team)? Discuss away!

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Post by ihavenoidea » Thu Oct 25, 2007 1:54 pm

We decide our NAQT teams based on areas individuals are strong in. We try to make it so that we cover as much of the quizbowl canon as possible.

Tournament experience weighs in a lot as well. Usually this coincides with performance in practice, but when it doesn't, experience is more valuable than practice.

Our captain is basically decided on who can be the chillest when we're losing. I believe that's a really important quality, the ability to remain calm. It acts as a cohesive force that really draws the team together.

Hope my noobness in QB is at least somewhat helpful?

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Post by rchschem » Thu Oct 25, 2007 2:02 pm

At Raleigh Charter we use the "QBCS" formula, which is an arbitrary index of practice tossups, tournament tossups, and weekly quiz scores over study material. We then rank students on that basis.

For the most part it works. While there are frequently intangibles that result in tweaking the construction of teams, it's a pretty good indicator of who's good and gives our students an idea of how to get better when practicing. Once we have an idea of who's good, we can balance knowledge and experience to assemble a good team.

Of course, you don't (necessarily) need statistics to tell you who's good. This is really more for internal comparisons of the people in the middle.

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Post by Nine-Tenths Ideas » Thu Oct 25, 2007 3:13 pm

We decide our TV team strictly in practice, though doing well in Tournaments certainly makes the coach feel better. Showing up for practice everyday was the only reason I made the TV team last year.
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Post by theMoMA » Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:06 pm

I'm not a coach or anything, but why would you solely use stats to make a team? It doesn't make much sense to me. I mean, as a coach, you're reading to players in practice, watching them play, etc. and you know what their strengths and weaknesses are. If I coached, I'd be all in favor of using stats to augment my team-constructing methods, but it seems foolish to say "come to practice, get X tossups, be on Y team" without any judgment involved.

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Post by Djibouti » Thu Oct 25, 2007 6:51 pm

I certainly think practice is very important for a team. There are more opportunities to see players perform in practice, and they serve as a chance for players to demonstrate improvement between tournaments. However, what I don't get is how practice can be more important than performing when it counts. Assuming players come to practice and play hard in practice and put the effort forth, I would think a coach would put forth their competition team based on who has done best in competition. Especially when practice tends to be more laid back than a real live tournament, performing under pressure serves as the best indicator, I would think, of who will perform next time under the pressures of a match. Now, there are other factors that matter, such as who covers what topics, so as not to have complete overlap, studying, and team cohesion, but, all other things being considered, the most competitive team would be composed of the players who perform best under real competition circumstances. Now, if two players are equal at tournaments, and add equally to the team, practice would be the tiebreaker.

When I played in high school, as a Junior, my school's team decided the tournament and TV teams entirely from tournament performance, yet, as a Senior (knowing clearly who the top two and then top four players were), decided the TV team based on practice performance, which, in hindsight, was completely wrong for our team since the third player hardly contributed during the last two matches, especially when their input was needed (i.e. they folded under pressure). In tournaments, the fourth player outplayed the third player, yet in practice, the third player outplayed the fourth player.

What boggles my mind in the particular case (mentioned in the first post) is that the top buzzer performer (based on a composite of correct answers and negs) at the first tournament was placed on the "B" team, simply because they were reserved in practice while others were aggressive, negged a lot, yet scored higher because negs were discounted, and the coach decided to only count practice totals, thereby ignoring tournament stats. Is that really the best way to decide a team?

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Post by AKKOLADE » Thu Oct 25, 2007 8:22 pm

I fail to see anyone mention hustle and grit in their strategies.

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Post by Gonzagapuma1 » Thu Oct 25, 2007 8:28 pm

Djibouti wrote:I certainly think practice is very important for a team. There are more opportunities to see players perform in practice, and they serve as a chance for players to demonstrate improvement between tournaments. However, what I don't get is how practice can be more important than performing when it counts. Assuming players come to practice and play hard in practice and put the effort forth, I would think a coach would put forth their competition team based on who has done best in competition. Especially when practice tends to be more laid back than a real live tournament, performing under pressure serves as the best indicator, I would think, of who will perform next time under the pressures of a match. Now, there are other factors that matter, such as who covers what topics, so as not to have complete overlap, studying, and team cohesion, but, all other things being considered, the most competitive team would be composed of the players who perform best under real competition circumstances. Now, if two players are equal at tournaments, and add equally to the team, practice would be the tiebreaker.

When I played in high school, as a Junior, my school's team decided the tournament and TV teams entirely from tournament performance, yet, as a Senior (knowing clearly who the top two and then top four players were), decided the TV team based on practice performance, which, in hindsight, was completely wrong for our team since the third player hardly contributed during the last two matches, especially when their input was needed (i.e. they folded under pressure). In tournaments, the fourth player outplayed the third player, yet in practice, the third player outplayed the fourth player.

What boggles my mind in the particular case (mentioned in the first post) is that the top buzzer performer (based on a composite of correct answers and negs) at the first tournament was placed on the "B" team, simply because they were reserved in practice while others were aggressive, negged a lot, yet scored higher because negs were discounted, and the coach decided to only count practice totals, thereby ignoring tournament stats. Is that really the best way to decide a team?
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Post by AKKOLADE » Thu Oct 25, 2007 9:12 pm

A serious suggestion: You want to use all criteria possible and take into consideration practice performance, tournament performance, work ethic, commitment to the team and cohesiveness with the team. You also need to avoid possible overlaps of knowledge bases if they would be detrimental to the team (choose a lit player over a third math specialist, for example).
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Post by David Riley » Thu Oct 25, 2007 10:03 pm

This has recently become a bone of contention between some of my players and me. What leftsaidfred said.

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Post by DumbJaques » Fri Oct 26, 2007 12:34 am

When constructing a team, clearly the only criteria one can be certain of is performance on the How Do The Grits Taste Exam.
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Post by cvdwightw » Fri Oct 26, 2007 2:54 am

When deciding on a borderline case (A/B, B/C, whatever), I would check with the players already "definitely" on that team about chemistry, work ethic, and knowledge strengths/weaknesses. If I were a coach, I would move up the 5 ppg player who's good friends with someone on the A team over an equivalent player who wouldn't provide the same cohesion.

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Post by rchschem » Fri Oct 26, 2007 8:14 am

One thing we have been keeping track of this year (in practice) which is new is the "solo bonus" - that is, when you can ascribe a bonus to one player only. I find this very helpful in picking that last player (or 2 last players) when you're out of strong buzzers and need someone who's good for bonuses, as opposed to just a fourth warm body.

Again, you can usually identify one or two people like this from the gut, but when you're managing 20+ players and most of them are freshmen and sophomores, any data can help.

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Post by Howard » Fri Oct 26, 2007 12:44 pm

For statistical purposes, I use only practices. This is because my practices are very similar to the It's Academic television show. There are enough differences between nearly all tournaments (even those which use the same format) and the show that the validity of those statistics in predicting success on television is very minimal. I don't attempt include team and packet round questions in the statistics because contribution levels are just too hard to measure.

And, as was said above, there are other factors. Whether to choose a player who performs poorer in practice over someone who seems to have difficulty with nerves on television is a difficult question. On the one hand, the one player presumably has television experience and could do better. On the other hand, the nerves may get no better. Once, in the past, I chose a third player who seemed to freeze up on television. The choice was very close between her and another player. We lost in the first round. In hindsight (having the luxury of seeing the future player in the following year), I think we stood a better chance of winning had I chosen differently. By the same token, the team that defeated us went on to win the championship that year, so I definitely don't think we would have necessarily won. But make no mistake about it, the contribution of previous television experience is real and is one of the factors that should be considered.

For captain, I choose based on their ability to perform the captain's functions. Sometimes it's the best player. Sometimes it isn't. In 17 years, the best player has been captain 11 times.

I'll also say that if you're picking teams for an important prospect-- I don't classify all tournaments we attend as important-- based on statistics, the statistics should reasonably represent the players' actual contributions in similar format and on similar questions. Otherwise, as I said above, the statistics are pretty much meaningless.

And since there are so many factors, and so many of them are subjective, I interview each of my students in private prior to each team selection. This is to remove any pressure to provide any particular opinion because of any fear of a negative view by other team members. I also refuse to provide my opinion prior to speaking to the students. This prevents feeding my own opinions back to me. I don't think I've ever had anyone give me any information other than what they've believed. I retain all responsibility for picking the team. If I feel strongly about a particular player, it'll take significant and persuasive argument to convince me otherwise. But if I don't feel as strongly, or I consider players to be nearly equal in ability, then it'll take less persuasion to change my mind. While the team and I are generally in agreement, that's not always the case. And when we don't agree, sometimes I go with the consensus of the students, and sometimes I don't. But I've always considered what was said to me. Probably the most controversial team I selected was for the playoff round when I hadn't chosen the same team as the first round.

If your team hasn't been selected yet, ask your coach to speak with the players to see what they think. Then respect that its his job to make the decision as he sees fit.
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Post by pretzeldude92 » Fri Oct 26, 2007 9:05 pm

First of all, my coach kinda deferred the responsibility of choosing starters/teams to me. Going into our first VHSL District match, I had a plan. Then we arrived, and I completely changed things. First, two players impressed me in the last practice before the match, and second, I had a gut feeling. I think gut feeling, in many cases, can beat practice performance, especially because, at our practices, questions aren't read under ideal conditions.

As for captain choosing, we had co-captains my first two years of high school, myself and another member. However, we didn't get along and it caused some amount of awkward factionalism. I do not suggest the co-captain system to anyone.

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Post by Golran » Sat Oct 27, 2007 9:27 pm

The way our school chooses the teams is extremely screwed up. For the first 6 weeks (we meet once each week), we have rooms of 8 people all competing against one another, right answers worth 2 points, wrong -1 EVEN AFTER THE QUESTION IS FINISHED. Not only that, but we use Great Auk questions for all our tryouts, which are essentially buzzer races for our school. After getting through this excruciating 6 weeks, the top 12 scorers are taken based upon their two highest rounds. There is no reward for consistency. This was fortunate for me in my sophomore year because I got about 15 wrong in one in one round once.

After the top 12 are selected, there is a two-week period during which they play in matches, and the top score out of those two weeks counts for each individual. With the number of people there, it is all just a buzzer race for everybody in the room. From this one better score from two rounds, the top person in Varsity captain, and the next 5 are Varsity, 5 & 6 are the alternates. #7 is the JV captain, 8-10 JV, and 11,12 JV alternates.

Does this seem right to anybody reading? Should a team for NAQT and 4-Quarters style tournaments be decided solely on buzzer-race tossups?

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Post by cornfused » Sun Oct 28, 2007 2:16 am

So many things wrong with that system. For one thing, I'd rather be #7 than #6...

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Post by Gautam » Sun Oct 28, 2007 12:52 pm

dinoian wrote: Does this seem right to anybody reading? Should a team for NAQT and 4-Quarters style tournaments be decided solely on buzzer-race tossups?
Man, that sucks on multiple levels.
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Post by David Riley » Sun Oct 28, 2007 4:40 pm

You know, there used to be a coach here who did almost the same thing...I wonder if they're in cahoots? Try talking to the coach (again?) and see if he's willing to at least try a different system.

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Post by Golran » Sun Oct 28, 2007 5:26 pm

I tried talking to him, but he wrote me off by saying that this is what has worked. He may just claim this because our school won Long Island Challenge (a show like It's Academic!) a few years back, and this was the method he used to choose the teams.

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Post by JohnAndSlation » Sun Oct 28, 2007 10:12 pm

That was a few years ago. Times change, and so should systems.
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Post by jrbarry » Mon Oct 29, 2007 9:26 pm

I use practice stats (that includes weekely quizzes) to determine players on a team although I always leave myself some wriggle room to experiment with different combinations. I take into account work ethic, commitment to the team, subject area balance.

I do not care ot have any of my players be in the postion that they KNOW they are on the A team or they KNOW they could never be on the A team. I like that uncertainty. I see it as motivating players who are competitive.

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Post by Howard » Tue Oct 30, 2007 12:07 pm

jrbarry wrote:I do not care ot have any of my players be in the postion that they KNOW they are on the A team or they KNOW they could never be on the A team. I like that uncertainty. I see it as motivating players who are competitive.
Agree with this 100%. My players have by now figured out I'm not going to do anything stupid, so some if them are well able to figure out their place, but they also know that appropriate adjustments will be made as well.
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Post by Devon13 » Sat Nov 03, 2007 8:05 pm

I go to school with Ian, and it's funny, but I'm going to ask to be on our B squad.

Ian is much better in pyramid questions, and so is Yang Li, who's one of the best I've ever seen in tournament. Me, I'm a guesser, and so my 18 right, 22 wrong performance will get me on A. It's just retarded that we're not teaming our true best 4.

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Post by Howard » Mon Nov 05, 2007 1:24 pm

Devon13 wrote:It's just retarded that we're not teaming our true best 4.
Your best four may vary by format and question style. Have you considered a being open to changes based on particular players' skills and their relevance to the particular tournament?
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Post by Djibouti » Thu Nov 08, 2007 2:32 am

Is there any case where the school's leading scorer at their only major tournament should not be on at least their "A" team (4 members), if not their school's TV team (3 members)? Apparently there is one. This was the impetus for my original question.

NOTE: Given they are not a prick, get along well with the other team members, come to practice, put forth the effort, etc.

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Post by STPickrell » Thu Nov 08, 2007 7:38 am

Djibouti wrote:Is there any case where the school's leading scorer at their only major tournament should not be on at least their "A" team (4 members), if not their school's TV team (3 members)? Apparently there is one. This was the impetus for my original question.

NOTE: Given they are not a prick, get along well with the other team members, come to practice, put forth the effort, etc.
Some ppl don't hang well with the It's Ac questions, I guess. Much like some people tune out too much on pyramidal and are not as useful except maybe on bonuses.

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Post by Howard » Thu Nov 08, 2007 1:08 pm

Djibouti wrote:Is there any case where the school's leading scorer at their only major tournament should not be on at least their "A" team (4 members), if not their school's TV team (3 members)?
I could foresee that. I've never personally been involved in a case where I thought this was true, nor do I believe it has more than a minimal likelihood, but for the purposes of your question, I think it's important to have an open mind.

The most vivid example that comes to mind would be my team in 1999-2000. Let's call the top four players A, B, C, D. On It's Academic, the order of choice would be A - B - C - D, with C and D being very close. On pyramidal questions, the order of choice would be A - D - B - C, with D being very close to A. Like Shawn says, ability in one format doesn't imply ability in the next.
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Post by Captain Sinico » Thu Nov 08, 2007 2:26 pm

Djibouti wrote:Is there any case where the school's leading scorer at their only major tournament should not be on at least their "A" team (4 members), if not their school's TV team (3 members)?
No, probably not, since there're no other really meaningful data. I will say that it's possible for someone to be leading scorer and it not mean all that much in terms of predicting team success, e.g. if they put up a lot of "soft" points (rebounds or end-of-question buzzes) or they're scoring for reasons that won't work in other formats. I think that there're definitely times when a person would lead a team in scoring if placed on it but the team would do better without that person, since they can't make up the effect of their own shadow. However, unless the hypothetical leading scorer is a neg beast, that shouldn't happen much outside of non-knowledge-emphasizing formats.

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