New Team Problems

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New Team Problems

Post by typic » Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:02 pm

I am the president of a two and a half year old quiz bowl team. My school does not have a coach, so I do most of the things a coach would do besides interaction with the school. Since the advent of my team, I have faced several problems, listed below.
1. How to run a practice
Although I have been running practices since the inception of my team, I feel as though my practices are not effective in helping players get better. Right now I am just splitting them into teams and going through old packets.
As for homework, as a student with no school-given authority, I really doubt that I can make the majority of players do homework, especially the large number of less serious players I have.
2. Beginner-level players
I have around ten people on my team, so if more than half of the players want to attend a tournament, we need to split up into two teams. However, perhaps 4-6 of my players get very few questions if any in the practice sessions I hold even using middle school questions. I am concerned that if I have too few players on a B-team that answer tossups, the B-team will average perhaps 10-40 points per game and will be left with a bad experience and may not want to continue. However, at the same time, I also want my A-team to do as well as possible, so I'm caught in between focusing on the A-team and B-team.
3. Helping brand-new and unmotivated players
Most of my brand-new players don't know much material. With some effort, I think that they could improve, but it seems to me as though they are not making any special effort to improve. Perhaps it is my fault in that the practices I run are ineffective, but overall I currently l don't know how to motivate them or help them improve.
4. Motivating players
Among my more experienced players, I have had trouble with attendance at practice. One player has only shown up to one practice, and only because I had to drag him there.
Help with any of these problems would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you,
Ryan Cheng
President, The King's Academy (CA)

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A Very Long Math Tossup
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Re: New Team Problems

Post by A Very Long Math Tossup » Fri Oct 05, 2018 5:13 pm

So, about a year ago, I was in the exact same position, albeit with a college team rather than a high school one. Our old club president and our faculty advisor both left at the same time, so I ended up running our team.

The most important thing is to be enthusiastic. You can't make people study, but if you show them how excited you are about quizbowl, there's a good chance that some of them will get more involved. Hell, the main reason I care so much about quizbowl is that I played on a high school team with Niki Peters and saw how passionate she was about it. Want them to write questions? Write some and show them, and respond really enthusiastically whenever anyone else does. Want them to study more? Study yourself, and talk their ears off about all the cool things you're learning.

Getting new players to improve is hard, and I'm still figuring it out. Try to encourage them to start with a small subset of the canon that's somewhere near their area of interest. For example, if no one on your team knows Japanese lit and one of your novices seems to pay more attention when a lit question comes up, tell them to learn a few Japanese authors.

It's also important to cultivate a social atmosphere and some sort of team identity---make sure your club isn't just a bunch of people who meet up at practice 1-2 times a week and then go their separate ways. Try to encourage people to hang out outside of practice. Have parties after tournaments. Host a pizza & movie night, either on campus or at your place. People tend to be a lot more motivated when they feel like they're a part of something larger. For the same reason, try to encourage them to engage socially with the wider quizbowl community---the forums aren't great for this (they're more for talking about the game than socializing with other players), but the quizbowl Discord and Jakob Meyers' quizbowl Facebook group are both very welcoming.

Keep in mind that not everyone's going to be a good player, and that's okay. Some people might show up and maybe get a tossup once in a while, but they should still be valued, since they can still help out with logistics, staff tournaments, and contribute to the social dynamics of the team. Sometimes, people might just stop coming, and that's fine too---it's better to lose a player than to drag someone who just doesn't care to practice every week.

Anyway, good luck! If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.
Matt Mitchell
Colorado '20
Treasure Valley '16
QBNotify creator, Colorado Quiz Bowl founder, PACE member

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Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2018 6:22 pm

Re: New Team Problems

Post by TeacherJonB » Tue Nov 06, 2018 7:29 pm

(How much time is needed to be considered resurrecting an old thread?)

To vary up your practices, try playing Trivial Pursuit, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, or other such board games. Jeopardy now has a season on Netflix, and you can probably find episodes online other places as well - have someone be the "controller of the remote", pause the show between questions/answers, and see how well y'all do compared to the actual contestants.

Ask members to write problems sets - maybe 5-10 questions per person (break it into 5 pop culture and 5 academic). Then use those questions for a practice match or two. Might need to have someone do a little quality control, first... Could even ask your teachers if they would consider it for extra credit or something.
Jon Berry
HS team sponsor
UT-Dallas '03
UNT '05, '11

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