Staying Alert

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Staying Alert

Post by remake20 » Fri Jan 10, 2014 10:00 pm

As more of obscure theory, how do you stay sharp during tournaments? I often find myself fairly alert during the mornings of tournaments in which I am quite awake, but as the tournament goes on I, more often than not, find myself becoming slightly fatigued to the point when my performance during the last match of the day takes a significant hit. I usually get a sufficient night's sleep beforehand (but still kinda awkward due to pretty early departures) and eat breakfast, but what other ways are good to keep one's mind as it's best?
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Cheynem » Fri Jan 10, 2014 11:03 pm

What works for me:

1. Try taking a walk in between matches if you have a chance, even if it's just down a hallway to the restroom.

2. Listen to the bonuses of the other team. I think getting listless can sometimes happen coming off a blowout match where you're not buzzing or playing much.

3. Take notes, including the simplistic "write down the answerlines to all the tossups."

Basically, what I'm saying is that you want to keep your body and your mind fresh--if you can think of different ways to do it that work best for you, then do that. But you want to avoid stretches where you're sitting down and not really exercising your mind.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by mithokie » Sat Jan 11, 2014 10:39 am

I think that the lunch break is important. You want to eat the right kind and amount of food at lunch, some people take a real nosedive in energy if they eat too much at lunch. A good night's rest the night before the tournament can't hurt. You can only "run on adrenaline" for so long.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Theodore » Sat Jan 11, 2014 10:49 am

I feel that resting my eyes every now and then helps. I don't find my ability to listen to tossups to be compromised when I close my eyes (after all, all you're doing is listening--no need to look at anything). I've also heard that muting one sense enhances the others?
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Helmuth von Moltke » Fri Jan 24, 2014 6:03 pm

I find it a lot easier to focus if it's a match that keeps my attention. If it's just a blowout in our favor, I stop caring, essentially, but I still try to maintain a presence in the match.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by zachary_yan » Mon Feb 24, 2014 3:02 pm

Any one have any experience with stimulants? Barring obvious side effects I feel like it would be useful for playing and also studying.

Edit: Okay I mean with caffeine and derivatives thereof.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Mewto55555 » Mon Feb 24, 2014 3:24 pm

zachary_yan wrote:Any one have any experience with stimulants? Barring obvious side effects I feel like it would be useful for playing and also studying.

Edit: Okay I mean with caffeine and derivatives thereof.
Before and during important matches I basically just chug Coke/Pepsi. At NSC on Sunday I averaged like two bottles an hour, starting at 9 AM.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Large Adult Song » Mon Feb 24, 2014 3:43 pm

This may be just me, but I've found that mints(Altoids for me) have kept me awake.

If you're planning on using food to stay alert, however, make sure it doesn't distract you from the buzzer! :aaa:
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Mon Feb 24, 2014 3:48 pm

Energy drinks.

EDIT:
Mewto55555 wrote:At NSC on Sunday I averaged like two bottles an hour, starting at 9 AM.
Good lord!
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by bmcke » Mon Feb 24, 2014 5:37 pm

Mewto55555 wrote:At NSC on Sunday I averaged like two bottles an hour, starting at 9 AM.
Can we move this to "Best of the Best" please?
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Mnemosyne » Mon Feb 24, 2014 7:43 pm

I second energy drinks, but they have to be timed correctly. You have to harness their power at the right moment. A few years ago, we lost to a team in the last round of the prelims, but we were about to play them again in the first round of the playoffs. Drank a red bull in between matches. Scored 30 first game, 110 the next game, which was my best game ever at the time. Now, I always bring at least two red bulls to QB tournaments. There seems to be an extremely diminishing marginal return, though. Drinking another one before the finals never seems to work for me.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by The Stately Rhododendron » Mon Feb 24, 2014 8:37 pm

I do core exercises in between games, a habit that started when I needed to stay awake in the SATs
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Feb 24, 2014 9:39 pm

Mewto55555 wrote:
zachary_yan wrote:Any one have any experience with stimulants? Barring obvious side effects I feel like it would be useful for playing and also studying.

Edit: Okay I mean with caffeine and derivatives thereof.
Before and during important matches I basically just chug Coke/Pepsi. At NSC on Sunday I averaged like two bottles an hour, starting at 9 AM.
Dude, no.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Chef Curry » Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:02 pm

I usually just drink a small cup of coffee in the morning and that keeps me going for the whole day. It might also be that even though some of my teammates just want to go home, I still want to play quiz bowl, I guess it is because of my competitive attitude. I also try to listen to some of my favorite fast-paced songs beforehand to get me pumped.
Last edited by Chef Curry on Tue May 13, 2014 8:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by a bird » Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:55 pm

In addition to many of the other good ideas up thread, I would recommend drinking plenty of water. (Whether it's in caffeinated drinks, or not)
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Schmidt Sting Pain Index » Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:03 am

I usually see if some parent can get me samosas with hari mirch ki chutney during the playoffs. 5 hour energy is also good for being fast on the buzzer. I usually have chai tea for morning rounds, so that I don't fall asleep. I know Rohan Kodialam from High Tech eats fresh baked cookies during finals matches to gain strength.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Guile Island » Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:04 pm

I pretty much live and die by caffeinated beverages as far as alertness goes. At HSNCT last year, I probably drank one of those tall Arizona Raspberry Iced Teas every 2 rounds or so. I just feel a lot more sluggish without it.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by The Ununtiable Twine » Thu Feb 27, 2014 11:55 pm

Grams's Go-Go Boots wrote:
Mewto55555 wrote:
zachary_yan wrote:Any one have any experience with stimulants? Barring obvious side effects I feel like it would be useful for playing and also studying.

Edit: Okay I mean with caffeine and derivatives thereof.
Before and during important matches I basically just chug Coke/Pepsi. At NSC on Sunday I averaged like two bottles an hour, starting at 9 AM.
Dude, no.
He was attempting to become caffeine.

Instead of eating lunch I prefer to nap and eat Skittles and have a Dr Pepper or something. That usually helps me survive most of the afternoon rounds. I also go for walks between rounds.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:44 pm

I've used a variety of caffeine products (5 Hour Energy, energy drinks, coffee, etc.) before most major tournaments, and it does seem to help quite a bit. The water suggestion is really important though, a substantial amount of fatigue that people feel is often related to dehydration, so staying hydrated is crucial to alertness. If you're going to be drinking a case of coke and a gallon of water during a tournament, you'll probably need to go to the bathroom between rounds, and I've found that splashing a bit of cold water on my face helps me wake up some too.

I would avoid eating a giant lunch too, although every person's dietary habits are different. Blood sugar spikes can lead to fatigue so you need to be mindful of what you're putting in your body when you eat.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Chef Curry » Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:46 pm

I usually see if some parent can get me samosas with hari mirch ki chutney during the playoffs.
I prefer Deep paneer paratha with pudina ki chutney with a nice glass of lassi for lunch.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Urech hydantoin synthesis » Sun Mar 09, 2014 1:04 am

I just tried to use Red Bull to stay awake today, and got the most horrible crash 5 rounds later that was only slightly alleviated by a second can of red bull.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Southern Double-collared Sunbirb » Tue Mar 11, 2014 8:56 pm

Um... I don't know, try to get some sleep before tournaments.

I know it's hard, what with 6 am wakeup times, but at least try with an early bedtime Friday night. Or if you're travelling a while, get there the night before.

Then the following morning, get an actual breakfast. I know that's also hard, but at least try.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by heterodyne » Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:49 pm

Ydiwa wrote:Um... I don't know, try to get some sleep before tournaments.

I know it's hard, what with 6 am wakeup times, but at least try with an early bedtime Friday night. Or if you're travelling a while, get there the night before.

Then the following morning, get an actual breakfast. I know that's also hard, but at least try.
6 am wakeup times? You clearly have never been on a Central IL team going to NTV. :P

In all seriousness, this is pretty good advice. Sleep, food, and breakfast coffee tend to go a long way. If you have to go to McDonald's, get the oatmeal. It's not the best, but it's better than a McMuffin for energy and awakeness purposes. Also: know if there's rain. Wet shoes are the enemy.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by fett0001 » Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:29 pm

Christ, I Know wrote:I just tried to use Red Bull to stay awake today, and got the most horrible crash 5 rounds later that was only slightly alleviated by a second can of red bull.
To avoid a crash, you have to maintain your caffeine levels.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by The Bold Ideas of Bernie Sanders (I-VT) » Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:48 pm

Eat a good breakfast and a light lunch.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:57 pm

I am not a scientist, but my experience is that you build up a tolerance to caffeine (and to the stimulants in energy drinks) so that if you have a very strong habit of using these things, you need more and more of them to accomplish the same effect.

I have, on 3-4 occasions in life, quit diet soda entirely for a period of 6 months, only to get hooked on it again. I've noticed that when I'm starting diet soda again after a period of absence, it takes a MUCH smaller ammount to have a big effect on me. I've never used energy drinks extensively (I only used them in school during finals, and upon graduating vowed never to ingest them again) but I imagine the situation is similar.

So if you have a really important tournament coming up, you might want to abstain from caffeine and energy drinks for a while before it, is what I'm saying I guess.

(Incidentally, at my first ever college tournament, I asked one of my teammates to punch me before our last playoff game, so that I would have an adrenaline rush during the game. He declined, and amazingly nobody else ever saw fit to commit physical violence against me at a quizbowl tournament, so my theory that this might be helpful remains untested)
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by dtaylor4 » Wed Mar 12, 2014 7:48 pm

This Urn Is So Grecian wrote:6 am wakeup times? You clearly have never been on a Central IL team going to any tournament ever.
Fixed; I wish I could get up at 6am for tournaments not in Springfield (besides Masonic State).

On the way to tournaments, I would sleep in the car if not driving. Get a good breakfast, and a filling but not big lunch. Skip the caffeine, go for water and juice.

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Re: Staying Alert

Post by kievanrustic » Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:06 pm

All of the above posts about proper nutrition and sleep are correct. Additionally, I find that light exercise keeps the body and mind awake. That's why one will find me jogging, doing jumping jacks, doing clap push-up, and other exercises in between matches. I personally find that exercise can help direct frustration after tough matches, putting one in the proper mindset to be a good teammate and play future matches. Furthermore, I stand in important matches. Its a more active position that sitting, which prevents one from falling asleep (I hope!) or getting mentally lost.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by heterodyne » Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:24 pm

kievanrustic wrote:Furthermore, I stand in important matches. Its a more active position that sitting, which prevents one from falling asleep (I hope!) or getting mentally lost.
I like to tap my foot as a method of focus. Standing makes it harder to write things down.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Ubermensch » Thu Mar 13, 2014 6:41 pm

Although my method is probably bad, I basically go for the Starbucks Refresher in the morning before my very first match and then down a Frappuccino before the afternoon rounds. Chewing gum and doing the leg bounce thing also seem to help keep me alert during matches. I basically don't worry about previous night's sleep or what I eat.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Santa Claus » Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:19 pm

I am a big fan of having lots of sleep, not just the day before a tournament, but for long periods before hand. More or less, I'm saying sleep earlier.

Obviously, one can't be expected to permanently change their sleep schedule to better prepare for QB tournaments, but maybe for a week or so before a tournament you think is important enough, go to sleep earlier: if your normal time is 3 AM, sleep at 2 AM, and work it down. Getting more sleep is great for being awake later in the day, and can help with alertness in the morning too.

No amount of caffeine can beat a good nine hours of sleep.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Jason Cheng » Fri Mar 21, 2014 5:03 pm

Santa Claus wrote: No amount of caffeine can beat a good nine hours of sleep.
I dunno man, I barely got back home in time to head over to our carpool at 7 AM to State last year. Half of Arcadia A the year before didn't really sleep before tournaments either, and we're basically 2 for 2 on SoCal State Champs in the last couple of years. You should try it; sleep when you're dead.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Santa Claus » Sun Mar 23, 2014 1:45 pm

I suppose half of A team last year didn't sleep, but I think pretty much everyone on A team this year gets their sleep (with an obvious exception), and I think we're pretty alert.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by tofutoaster » Tue May 13, 2014 12:23 am

Have a full breakfast that includes protein. Do not eat junk such as poptarts or doughnuts for breakfast, they will leave you tired in the afternoon. Also, drinking water a week before maximizes hydration during the tournament when you cannot afford time going to the bathroom. Therefore, you make up the water that you won't drink on the tourney day the week before.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by The Stately Rhododendron » Tue May 13, 2014 5:05 pm

tofutoaster wrote:Also, drinking water a week before maximizes hydration during the tournament when you cannot afford time going to the bathroom. Therefore, you make up the water that you won't drink on the tourney day the week before.
I don't think hydration works like that.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite » Tue May 13, 2014 5:16 pm

tofutoaster wrote:Also, drinking water a week before maximizes hydration during the tournament when you cannot afford time going to the bathroom.
How do people not have time to use the bathroom between rounds?
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by tofutoaster » Fri May 16, 2014 12:32 am

They will get anxious during the match when the urine builds up. But you guys are missing the point, drink lots of water.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Cody » Fri May 16, 2014 10:39 am

tofutoaster wrote:They will get anxious during the match when the urine builds up. But you guys are missing the point, drink lots of water.
Humans are not camels. They don't magically store water for a week. No one's bathroom problems are so severe as to not be taken care of at the end of a match, with minimal distraction during the match.

Also - drinking water during a tournament is a fine way to stay alert! So do that.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by Cheynem » Mon Jul 28, 2014 12:14 am

Sorry for reviving this thread, but I was reminded of something Andrew Hart once told me that is apropos here and is a good strategy overall (hopefully he didn't post this in this thread already, I didn't go back and look).

Andrew's strategy was basically for every question, think of an answer right away that (from your perspective) seems to fit the clues. You might need to hear a couple sentences to really think of a credible answer, but do it. Even if you really have no idea--well, ESPECIALLY if you have no idea (if you have a strong idea, you're probably focused enough anyway). This is especially important on topics you just don't know a lot about, like say science in my case (or what have you). What this means is that as soon as you can piece together a guess, however shoddy, from the clues listed and the pronoun, do that. Let's say you put, I dunno, "Diels-Alder" in your mind right away, or "Haydn" or "the Mauryan dynasty." Whatever. As the tossup goes on, pay attention and revise your guess if the clues suddenly don't make sense--for example, they said an African sounding name, so change Mauryan to Songhai, etc.

The point of all of this is not that this is a legitimate way to get tossups, but that at the end of the question, you are primed to go in with a (hopefully reasonably intelligent) guess if need be, something that is important in games where no one in the room is 100% sure what to say. It also keeps you focused on processing all the clues. The best part is that I think about 40% of the time (less as you're starting out, more as you get more experienced), your "credible guess" answer turns out to be right--you're thinking about it when all of a sudden you hear a clue that slams it home or the giveaway and you're ready to buzz quicker than others.

This probably seems like an obvious piece of advice for a lot of people, but I think especially new quizbowlers have a tendency to go "blank slate" during a lot of tossups, only really reacting when they hear a buzzword type clue. More capable players have this element of anticipation that becomes more and more valuable as their instincts improve. More to the point, even trying to anticipate helps you stay alert--you can't totally zonk out on tossups outside your categories if you're trying to think of an intelligent guess (and lest you doubt the success of this, I've gotten a few science buzzes doing this).

Just to be clear, this is more of a mental preparatory exercise--don't try to turn into a buzzing maniac using this strategy.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by yeah viv talk nah » Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:24 am

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Re: Staying Alert

Post by ndikkala » Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:09 pm

I always take a water bottle with me and I usually get a can of Coke or Sprite during the lunch break. I also carry around a granola bar in case I get hungry and there's some extra time between rounds. I don't drink caffeine or energy drinks but I think the waking up early is the part that kills my alertness the most. Writing stuff down during tossups can help to some extent so you don't lose track of what the question is looking for.
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Re: Staying Alert

Post by kdoss61 » Wed Oct 01, 2014 1:58 pm

For me, I find that a cold bottle of water and a pack of Altoids will help keep you awake and alert during matches. You may want to bring two packets of the "Curiously Strong Mints" if there are more than 7 matches in your tournament.

Oh, and be sure that your teammates don't see. Otherwise, they'll swarm you like :bees:.
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Maury Island incident
Wakka
Posts: 185
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 6:30 pm

Re: Staying Alert

Post by Maury Island incident » Wed Oct 08, 2014 7:39 pm

I stopped drinking soda during tournaments this year because I was having a problem with crashes, and that's been working. Water is the best. Also chewing gum helps.
Colin Cantwell
Lexington '17
UVA '21

Monstruos de Bolsillo
Wakka
Posts: 105
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2014 5:45 pm

Re: Staying Alert

Post by Monstruos de Bolsillo » Mon Oct 13, 2014 6:57 pm

For me it was the opposite, at least at Princeton this year. We played 10 matches, and I didn't really start going until round 5 or so. From then on, it was great.
Alex Sankaran
West Chester '17-present
Henderson (PA) '12-'16

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Milhouse
Rikku
Posts: 280
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2014 9:16 am

Re: Staying Alert

Post by Milhouse » Mon Oct 13, 2014 7:32 pm

This is at best somewhat related, but in one case where I found myself tired during a tournament (as a result of going to sleep at 10 and getting up at 5), splashing water on my face had a positive effect on my performance.
Eric Wolfsberg
Bethlehem Central High School 2016
University of Delaware 2020
Writer, NAQT


"For the stronger we our houses do build, / The less chance we have of being killed."
William McGonagall, "The Tay Bridge Disaster"

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Maury Island incident
Wakka
Posts: 185
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 6:30 pm

Re: Staying Alert

Post by Maury Island incident » Mon Oct 13, 2014 7:58 pm

I tried that at nationals last year, to minimal effect.
Colin Cantwell
Lexington '17
UVA '21

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The Time Keeper
Auron
Posts: 1541
Joined: Sat Apr 19, 2003 9:26 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Staying Alert

Post by The Time Keeper » Mon Oct 13, 2014 8:11 pm

Be interested in quizbowl and don't have some sort of endocrine disorder that prevents you from exerting effort when you want to.
Pat Freeburn - No particular affiliation.

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