Freshmen

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Freshmen

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

Monday is the registration date for our incoming freshmen, during which all the clubs and teams set up booths for recruiting purposes. Last year about 30 incoming freshmen signed up to receive information about our academic team, and over half of them showed up to our freshmen-only lunch practices the following fall (our school is fortunate enough to be of a size that allows everyone to eat lunch at the same time), along with some friends of theirs. Of the 7 girls that were on my list, 6 showed up. After a week or two, about half of the freshmen remained, with all of the girls gone. One promoted himself to our "real" practice room, got destroyed, and never returned. In the long run we ended up with seven freshmen, of whom only five have attended a tournament and only one is dedicated to this team. The rest sit in the back of the room at lunch practice and don't say anything, except to each other. I'll be surprised if any of them return next year.

This leads me to my question: Are freshmen-only practices an effective recruiting tool? Our coach is in favor of the practice, but I disagree. I thought I'd see what other opinions were out there.

Here's my case: My freshman year began with freshmen mixed into our "real" practice. My career, along with those of the rest of my class, began against the full force of Maggie Walker '07. Dr. Barnes told us up front how well that team was expected to do that year, and I for one was thus not intimidated that much. Every question I beat those guys on became something to be proud of. Eventually we had a large number of freshmen and Dr. B. decided a separate practice was warranted. Thus we were sent off under the guidance of Joanna and Annalisa. Greg, Quint, Cameron, and I were sent back upstairs over the course of a week or so since we were supposedly scaring the other freshmen away. By the time the freshmen practices were ended, we were left with nine, of whom seven returned sophomore year.

Freshmen practices worked out okay my freshman year, but I think they keep freshmen from feeling a part of the team and from learning the nature of quizbowl by putting them in a controlled environment away from experienced players, except whoever's reading for them. I guess my biggest problem is starting the year with freshmen practices, as we did this year. I think it keeps people from seeing what the team/game is really like. With our recruiting season about to begin, I thought I'd see if anyone else had experience/advice in this area.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

I think "integrated" practices are an absolute must, and a way for younger players and less experienced players to get better. I mean it's the same theory that i use when i sign my team up for tournaments... i WANT to play the great teams and play the best we can, even if we lose. That's what it's all about; you're not going to get much better if you don't play against competition better than you.

So to me, when i have freshmen who are committed to staying and toughing it out against better upperclassmen players, that shows guts and makes me really want to push them to get better. Last year we had a huge group of freshmen who have pretty much entirely stayed, and now are forming the core of the team (the top 4 were 3 sophomores and 1 junior).

So, no, i would never hold freshmen-only practices. I think that, yes, maybe it's more fun for the player who's not that interested, but that's not the type of player you want on your team, is it? You want the ones who, like you said, feel awesome when they get a question right before the "smarter kids" got it, and try their hardest to do so.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by Stained Diviner »

I think a balance is good. Freshmen need to see what good quizbowl is like, and that requires them to go against the varsity sometimes. They also need to buzz in sometimes and hear some questions that get to an accessible level for them, and that requires them to practice separate from the varsity sometimes.

If you have a very strong class or even a very strong individual, then they should be with the varsity all the time, but most students need time to develop.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

ReinsteinD wrote:I think a balance is good. Freshmen need to see what good quizbowl is like, and that requires them to go against the varsity sometimes. They also need to buzz in sometimes and hear some questions that get to an accessible level for them, and that requires them to practice separate from the varsity sometimes.

If you have a very strong class or even a very strong individual, then they should be with the varsity all the time, but most students need time to develop.
We don't have a "varsity" per se... we tend to read easier questions at lunch and harder packets after school. Generally only the players who would be considered "varsity" in areas where that distinction is made come to after school practices. When we get a large enough crowd after school (which hasn't happened nearly as often this season as it did last year), we'll split into two rooms playing two different levels of questions. We try to balance teams somewhat after school, but separate practices are not entirely practical for us. We also only have one fully-functioning buzzer system, which results in the freshmen-only practices not using buzzers, which is unfortunate. I do agree that more accessible questions can be a good idea, which is why I'm less against having a few freshmen-only practices than I am against the idea of starting the season with them. I remember at a few lunch practices my freshman year, Dr. Barnes imposed a handicap preventing the seniors from buzzing before "FTP." He then gradually shortened this handicap. I think that's probably the best compromise to separate practices, but I'd love to hear other suggestions.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by asdf »

You could do a free for all game
Anyone can buzz in at anytime during the question but can only buzz in once
This allows players to be more aggressive

You could also put a limit for the number of correct questions a player can get
So if a player is totally pwning everyone else, he/she will only be playing for a limited number of questions which then allows others to buzz in.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

asdf wrote:You could do a free for all game
Anyone can buzz in at anytime during the question but can only buzz in once
This allows players to be more aggressive

You could also put a limit for the number of correct questions a player can get
So if a player is totally pwning everyone else, he/she will only be playing for a limited number of questions which then allows others to buzz in.
The first suggestion is how we normally run lunch practice, since we don't have time for a formal game. The second suggestion is unlikely to be well-received, but it's an interesting option.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

I think there are, depending on your team's structure, some potential problems with the idea of taking people out after answering a certain number of tossups. I will use a hypothetical running of my team on a hypothetical tossups only practice for this. Say we set the number of tossups someone needs to get to be knocked out is 10, and there's a pretty full practice.
At the beginning of the reading I would probably be the first to go after like 15 tossups or so. Not many people are able to get much else in except for deep knowledge. So now I'm gone, then what will happen is Brandon and Grant, who both are at a level of knowledge above everyone else there, will probably just drag the practice out for another 20 tossups, locking everybody else playing out barring rare deep knowledge exceptions. Then once Brandon and Grant, after trading blows for a while, are gone, Tyler and Victor will do the exact same thing for another probably 30 tossups (adding the buffer to account for things they might not know), because they are at a level below Brandon/Grant but above everyone else. Then finally, after this has been going on for 65 tossups, the inexperienced players will finally start getting a chance at answering the questions, and at that point it will be very hit or miss with how they do. I have a very strong feeling that there are lots of programs where something like this would be happeneing, where certain players of different levels will just keep dragging out the practice until it finally trickles down to who it is nominally supposed to help. i'd imagine in a program like Dorman or other places with strong B teams and general balance across the top end of a program, it would be dragged out even further as more players will be dominating at different points. If your practice is one where you have one or 2 total dominators and then nobody else who can touch those players, then maybe it would work, but really at that point you might as well just have your best players reading and teaching rather than playing for a little while and then being kicked out of the play to go do whatever.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

Deesy Does It wrote:stuff that I deleted to keep this post of a reasonable length
I agree. We wouldn't even have time to attempt this at a lunch practice, if we were reading straight toss-ups and used a 10 question limit. I have no idea how many questions we get through, but I think we generally get close to a full round or so (it's hard to judge as we read straight through whatever packet we've put aside for lunch use). This system would change absolutely nothing, as there wouldn't be time for Greg, Quint, Matt, Alan, Tommy, Cameron, and I to all get knocked out. It's an interesting concept if there's a team where it would work and if there's something productive for players to do once they've been knocked out. As for teaching, I think that's important. For example, art seems to be something our new players know the least about coming in, so I've been working on an art Powerpoint that will hopefully be of some use next season. Evan's much shorter slideshow helped a lot my freshman year... I've also found pointing out clues that come up a lot useful (the first example that comes to mind is the cantilevered balconies in Fallingwater, drilled into our heads by Mehdi freshman year).
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Re: Freshmen

Post by cvdwightw »

I think the biggest issue facing even the most talented high school freshmen is that they don't initially know what good quizbowl is or how to play it. Most of these kids who have interest have their initial knowledge base from books, Jeopardy, and maybe Trivial Pursuit. None of these reasonably match good quizbowl. Watching the "varsity" players sit there and get questions early isn't the ideal way to introduce them to good quizbowl; they need to understand that just because someone got Moby Dick on five words doesn't mean that there weren't later clues about Moby Dick that they knew. Actually, as I'm writing this, a thought just popped into my head, and I have no idea whether it will actually work. Suppose you had a freshmen-only game on a reasonable difficulty packet. A full complement of 8 players should be able to get some of the tossups and some of the bonus parts. This implies that the packet does indeed have things that they have heard of and can buzz on with confidence. You then (either later in the practice, or the next practice, depending on time) bring in a number of your returning players and have the freshmen watch them play the same packet, explaining that these are players who have been working at the game for a while and are expected to do well nationally. These players should be buzzing on the same things, but earlier, and getting more bonus parts. This should allow new players to feel "smart" if they answered a tossup faster than the returners or got a bonus part they missed, without feeling stupid because that was the only question they got all practice (having already heard the questions, they will/should know the answer to every question, so when Moby Dick gets picked up after five words, there's more a sense of awe rather than bewilderment). Also, it introduces players to how quizbowl at the top levels is played and shows them that it's not that different from the game they just played, they just need to work to develop their knowledge base.

One thing that has worked fairly well for several colleges is to have one practice devoted to newer players and one practice where the players who aren't intimidated by the "A" team and have a drive to get better can practice with them. This isn't really "separate" practices in that the freshmen can't practice with the varsity, but more like one "freshman" practice and one "integrated" practice. This allows players to progress at their own individual level and when they feel they're ready to compete with the seniors they can do so. Another idea might to be to run integrated practices with a team paradigm, where you make the teams "roughly equal" by balancing experienced and newer players. Then, even if some newer players never so much as touch their buzzers (which might happen anyway in a free-for-all paradigm), they can still feel like they're contributing on bonus parts. You could also try team social events, where even the players who rarely buzz can feel just as much a part of the team as the people on the A team. I think the most important key to freshmen retention is that they need to come out of the early practices with a sense of "this is fun" rather than "I'm stupid, why am I here". You're always going to have a somewhat high level of attrition regardless of the retention strategy you use.

I have found "dinosaur rules" (players with significant experience can't buzz before end of the question/FTP) largely ineffective, but maybe your school has players who don't sit there fidgeting while waiting for the FTP prompt so they can have a 4-person buzzer race. I think more than anything this is what scared off most of our freshmen this year.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by asdf »

I don't think that making freshman "feel like they are smart" is the best thing to do.
1) They become arrogant
2) They become satisfied with winning buzzer races
3) They're less motivated to get better
Of course this depends on the person's attitude

One other possible practice option would be to give a different packet to each player and go around the room letting each player read a question from their packet.
This allows each player to see a question in its entirety.

One thing you should also stress to the incoming freshman players is that quizbowl requires more than just practice.
Practice is an overrated method of improving.
Studying lists initially, reading packets from the Stanford Archive, and writing questions as you gradually gain knowledge are underrated methods of improving.
Practice helps gauge your improvement more than it actually helps you improve.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by cvdwightw »

I don't think anyone is advocating ego-stroking here. Making freshmen feel like they know things and making freshmen feel smart are two completely different things. The absolute worst thing one can do for freshmen retention is to make them feel like they aren't good enough and aren't ever going to be good enough. Throwing a bunch of freshmen straight into competition with the A team on difficult questions is one such way to do this. If you're lucky, you'll end up with a few dedicated freshmen, but if you're trying to grow a program it's an absolutely terrible idea. I think the most important thing in terms of freshmen retention is to give them the idea that quizbowl is an extracurricular activity that is worth doing because it is fun and they get something out of work that they put into it (whether this is a tangible benefit like trophies and national championship appearances or an intangible benefit like a deeper and broader knowledge base). If people are joining quizbowl because it's something to put on their college applications, there are numerous things that look more prestigious or more important to colleges than quizbowl, and they're just wasting their time. They won't get good, they won't have fun, and they'll drag the rest of the team down with them.

I completely disagree that practice is an overrated method of improving. Yes, any competent player will tell you that writing questions is the single best way to improve, and at the college level, it's almost certainly a must. But practice is the only place where you actually get to test your buzzer speed/reaction speed (this is a much bigger part of gameplay than you're giving credit for, even on well-written pyramidal questions), make sure that you're able to recall the stuff you learned in outside study in an actual game environment (and not just think, "oh I recognize that clue from a question I wrote last week, now what was the answer...oh shoot someone already got it), and get a feel for where your teammates are strong and where they are weak. I got to where I was in high school almost exclusively by being an active practice participant (showing up regularly, answering questions, and making mental notes on things I didn't know that kept coming up so that I could get questions on them in the future). I don't know, maybe high school quizbowl has evolved in the last five years to the point where that approach would get me 10 ppg. But I'd like to think that there are some players still out there whose primary method of getting better is showing up to practice and being an active participant.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by vcuEvan »

I think having an occasional freshmen practice is ok, but generally one room is good enough. The people who leave because they're getting owned you probably don't want anyways. My freshman year I spent getting walloped by a dominant team, and the effect it really had was making quizbowl seem a lot easier after they left. Restricting good people from playing to the tops of their abilities to humor freshmen also seems like a bad idea. I understand trying to build a program, but coddling freshmen at the expense of letting a competitive team practice seems counterproductive.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

Adamantium Claws wrote:I think having an occasional freshmen practice is ok, but generally one room is good enough. The people who leave because they're getting owned you probably don't want anyways. My freshman year I spent getting walloped by a dominant team, and the effect it really had was making quizbowl seem a lot easier after they left. Restricting good people from playing to the tops of their abilities to humor freshmen also seems like a bad idea. I understand trying to build a program, but coddling freshmen at the expense of letting a competitive team practice seems counterproductive.
Exactly. I think, if we're going to do freshman practices at all, they should take up at most one week during the second week of school rather than the first. Based on a very small sample size (two years), beginning with freshman practices has failed, having them after a week or so has not.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by aestheteboy »

cvdwightw wrote:I don't know, maybe high school quizbowl has evolved in the last five years to the point where that approach would get me 10 ppg. But I'd like to think that there are some players still out there whose primary method of getting better is showing up to practice and being an active participant.
Getting, say, 50 ppg and leading teams to victory against top-tier teams are two completely different things. I think simply coming to practice would let you do the former but not the latter, unless you have enormous background knowledge.

I think it would be fine to have separate practices, say, once a week, given that you have integrated practices three-four times a week. My freshman year, we used to have that system, and I have to say enjoyed the noob practice more because I got more tossups there. That system disappeared after the seniors left because I wasn't intimidating enough to warrant it, but for a stronger program, it seems like a good idea.

EDIT: pretty much what was said above...
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Re: Freshmen

Post by jrbarry »

We have a Freshman Team that any freshman can participate on. We work on the basics. KIds come and go and check us out. Occasionally, I have 1 or even 2 freshmen who can and should compete in our higher practices. I simply bump them up as I see fit.

I think it is important for freshmen to compete against their own age kids to start with. But I do not hold the best ones back.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by Sir Thopas »

jrbarry wrote:I think it is important for freshmen to compete against their own age kids to start with. But I do not hold the best ones back.
Trial by fire has worked for us, and it's produced people who seem to be dedicated enough to get better quickly, study on their own to a certain extent, and so on. Of course, I have yet to see the full denouement of this, but it does seem that having them get put into tough packets early on against players who are pretty good (and given tips/stock clues to watch out for, and so on) does not adversely affect their development in the least.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by powerplant »

I know that Dan and I spent our first year on the team being kicked around by the Garfield A team, and now our freshmen and sophomores get the same treatment. I think it is important that the freshman take their beatings, because it helps demonstrate how good teams can be, and quickly shows that you can't half-ass it and be competitive. Plus, seeing a good team in action can help you get things faster, because after questions on certain topics get powered a lot against you, you start to remember those clues.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

AllsWellThatPosts4 wrote:I know that Dan and I spent our first year on the team being kicked around by the Garfield A team, and now our freshmen and sophomores get the same treatment. I think it is important that the freshman take their beatings, because it helps demonstrate how good teams can be, and quickly shows that you can't half-ass it and be competitive. Plus, seeing a good team in action can help you get things faster, because after questions on certain topics get powered a lot against you, you start to remember those clues.
I agree; seeing Maggie Walker '07 is what's inspired 4 members of my class to strive to reach and/or pass their level our senior year. I'm hoping what happened with this year's freshman class was just a fluke...
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Re: Freshmen

Post by intothenegs »

MLWGS-Gir wrote: I'm hoping what happened with this year's freshman class was just a fluke...
Yeah, our team basically didn't have any freshmen this year. I would encourage some type of separate freshmen practice just because of my experience this year. Before this year, we really didn't have much of a difference between an "A" group and other team members, since two years ago our team was entirely new except for one returning member. But this year when we started practicing, there was a clear difference in level between the players who'd been playing and the new freshmen... most of the new players just sat there with their buzzers and never came back afterward, only one of them stayed. I don't think that freshmen should automatically practice with the "A" group of players because it definitely seemed to intimidate an discourage them. I plan on having some sort of separate practice for new players next year, at least early on in the year, so they can start enjoying playing before they get blown away.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by TheCzarMan »

At our school, given the low number of overall members as is, everyone attends the weekly meeting after school, freshmen to senior. However, at practices usually we'll have the best reader read. (Me, since everyone else complains about everyone else). Then the 10 seats get divied up between A and B team players. Usually, Freshmen will start out as Team Back (A mish mosh team of people who sit in the back and either didn't get a seat or just came to the meeting to hang out and will give a random answer every now and then.) Depending on how well they do, a Freshmen may get to a level where they start to get a seat every practice and people will actively seek to get them on their practice team. From there I tell my B team captain to work them in at a tournament and see how well they do.

Probably the biggest issue with Freshmen for me, is that they're usually buzzer shy. God forbid they actively go for answers because they are afraid they'll get it wrong. I have this one freshmen who has the annoying habit of saying "I knew that" after a lot of toss ups, and then I'll say "Then why don't you buzz in." This has gone on the for the full year and he's still having problems with it.

The good quizbowl thing is an issue as well. Especially in a school where a club like this isn't taken very seriously, it's INCREDIBLY tough to get players to actively try and improve themselves, read good questions, and GOD FORBID I PULL A COLLEGE PACKET OUT OF MY BACKPACK.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by catsasslippers »

We've had a similar problem with complaints about "how hard" those college packets are. Here's a trick--don't tell them it's a college packet.
It works. I tried it with a Regionals packet (something that usually gets a whine) and no one complained when I didn't tell them what packet it was.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by cdcarter »

I agree that having a Freshman Practice isn't a great idea. We run all our practices open, and we read stuff based on what we want to have read, what tournaments are coming up, and what someone is willing to read. We had a girl come on her first day when I was reading PACE NSC. She felt fine even though people were buzzing all over on tough questions. She comes back often. The people who don't like getting beaten by a teammate on a buzz probably really won't like getting beaten by an opponent.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by kCobain911 »

TheCzarMan wrote: Probably the biggest issue with Freshmen for me, is that they're usually buzzer shy. God forbid they actively go for answers because they are afraid they'll get it wrong. I have this one freshmen who has the annoying habit of saying "I knew that" after a lot of toss ups, and then I'll say "Then why don't you buzz in." This has gone on the for the full year and he's still having problems with it.

The good quizbowl thing is an issue as well. Especially in a school where a club like this isn't taken very seriously, it's INCREDIBLY tough to get players to actively try and improve themselves, read good questions, and GOD FORBID I PULL A COLLEGE PACKET OUT OF MY BACKPACK.
Wow. The similarities are startling. Our freshmen just sit there and we also have a freshman who says "I knew that." and college packets scare most of the members of our team. and our club is not serious at all which leads to no self-improvement. No, we don't go to the same school.

To add something new, at our freshmen were placed in a practice with sophomores, who arn't that good except for one annoying one, god forbid his name gets out, but are still a lot better than the freshmen. A year later, they are still afraid to buzz with one or two exceptions. I think freshmen should have their own separate practice and if any of them want to have tougher practices they should be allowed to.

Edited: my teammates have sensitivity issues.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

catsasslippers wrote:We've had a similar problem with complaints about "how hard" those college packets are. Here's a trick--don't tell them it's a college packet.
It works. I tried it with a Regionals packet (something that usually gets a whine) and no one complained when I didn't tell them what packet it was.
Doesn't work for us. My kids have it figured out. "Mr. C this is way too hard, what packet did you pick?"

That and they're just... well... not good enough to practice with them.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by theattachment »

First-year only practices never really made that much sense to me, to be honest. Part of quiz bowl is realizing that you have to beat players in on clues; by playing against older kids, younger kids see just what they have to learn to get really good, especially when the older kids are buzzing in on stock clues. Kids that complain too loudly about the fact that they aren't getting questions usually end up as the kids that don't take the initiative to learn canonical information to become good players. On occasion you get kids that will get better just so they can get the ego boost of beating the upperclassmen in; these kids will either only bother to learn stock clues but will excel at that, or will learn even deeper info on the topics and will become beasts.

I will say this, however: In the quest to humble younger players in practice, don't destroy every question. It occasionally is a bit much for someone to take when varsity players five-word questions on things that underclassmen have never even heard of.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by Saiem »

I think what Charlie says rings the most true with my experience.

As a freshman, we started off with a tryout test that just tested your basic knowledge, followed by a buzzer test, where you played against all newcomers (not just freshmen). That was a tie-breaker for team selection if it was close. We initially started with playing everyone together, which meant exactly three people were getting questions the entire year. I mean, our JV team was pretty decent that year, but we also had some strong players in that year. Practice was definitely avoided by everyone who wasn't especially good. Sophomore year, the best person on the A team graduated, meaning there were about 4 of us getting questions, which was okay, because I was one of them. Junior year, the top 2 graduated, and practice was a fair amount of fun.

We established what I hope was a better system for everyone. Our best player read questions, and I played, just to give them some competition. When the second tier of players really started to make a big improvement, our best player would just study on the internet, while I read questions. This meant that more younger players were doing alot better. Our club grew from 10 people my sophomore year, to about 30 my junior year.

Essentially, I guess my point is that you shouldn't have free for all practices if the A team is pretty competitive. You should sort of temper it, to some extent. Have like the 4th member of the A team play with everyone else would probably work. I've never really had too much of a problem with not participating actively in practice, because a week or two of practice will get your buzzing skills sharp again.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

I usually have about only 8-10 kids coming to practice. That's fine. We clearly have 4 or 5 kids who are far better than the others, but i split them up. In other words, my "A" team never plays together in practice, basically, i always try to make two equal teams. I think it's more fun that way, and freshmen get mixed up in it to make it even.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

At after school practice we generally try to make teams as fair as possible, except right before a tournament. I think it's important that people who are going to have to play together get some time to practice together. If I remember correctly, this strategy only resulted in "fair" teams once: right before Princess Anne when our A and B teams were very close. My only problem with fair teams is that it's unrealistic to be playing teams who are that close to your level, unless whatever tournament you're attending is Swiss paired. One of our seniors frequently disagrees with me on this point, but I've found that he doesn't say anything so long as a team is stacked in his favor. At one practice last week it was myself and a freshman against two members of the A Team and two of my B Team teammates, and we came within 30 points of them. Sometimes playing on an "unfair" team allows you to answer questions you didn't realize you knew because it allows you to take risks.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by asdf »

TheCzarMan wrote: Probably the biggest issue with Freshmen for me, is that they're usually buzzer shy. God forbid they actively go for answers because they are afraid they'll get it wrong. I have this one freshmen who has the annoying habit of saying "I knew that" after a lot of toss ups, and then I'll say "Then why don't you buzz in." This has gone on the for the full year and he's still having problems with it.
Having a free for all toss up game should cure buzzer shyness. At least it did for me.

Also when people say "I knew that"
1) Its like announcing to the whole room "Hey I'm slow and stupid".
2) They might not have actually known the answer, but are pretending to know it so they can impress the coach.
3) A player that actually knew the answer would realize that the other player who actually got the tossup is simply faster than he/she at buzzing in. He/she would then try to learn more about the answer to that tossup in order to buzz in on the tossup faster in the future (maybe even powering it or five wording it).
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Re: Freshmen

Post by Sir Thopas »

theattachment wrote:I will say this, however: In the quest to humble younger players in practice, don't destroy every question. It occasionally is a bit much for someone to take when varsity players five-word questions on things that underclassmen have never even heard of.
This is ideally a moot point: good players should be practicing on stuff that they can't consistently five-word.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by cvdwightw »

metsfan001 wrote:
theattachment wrote:I will say this, however: In the quest to humble younger players in practice, don't destroy every question. It occasionally is a bit much for someone to take when varsity players five-word questions on things that underclassmen have never even heard of.
This is ideally a moot point: good players should be practicing on stuff that they can't consistently five-word.
Agreed, but consider that most packets that could be reasonably construed as "not too hard for someone playing their first-ever practice" are going to contain questions that good players can get off the first sentence. I think one of the challenges is to find practice material that's challenging enough for the better players but isn't "too hard" for newer players. If someone shows up to a practice and hasn't even heard of like half the answers, they're probably not coming back.

I think one issue we're having in this thread (or maybe it's just me, I don't know) is that we haven't defined exactly what we want out of our freshman class. Most colleges, and I'd imagine a lot of high schools with smaller programs, just want bodies - people who show up, fill out teams, and help with tournaments, and the really dedicated ones are going to get better and form competitive A teams. Some high schools make cuts or stratify into varsity/JV/freshman teams, in these cases schools seem to want a small number of dedicated players every year. Obviously there will be different retention strategies if you want to just get a bunch of people (and the dedicated ones will rise to the top) or if you're really specifically looking for a few dedicated players right off the bat. I, for one, have always been somewhat of an inclusionist - anyone who wants to play is encouraged to play, regardless of real or perceived skill level (a large part of this stems from being the only returning player in the program my junior year, followed by my experience trying to grow a college club that was averaging about 1 freshman a year). The strategies I have discussed as working or not working for me will almost certainly be different if you're looking to select your future A team as freshmen rather than recruiting a lot of players and having self-selection determine the future A team.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by Golran »

We really don't have any freshmen because our school is only 10-12, but just this year I introduced practices during 10th period of which all juniors and sophomores have off and most seniors have on. It turns out that the players with the greatest drive to get better are 10-11 and they attend regularly our meetings in the back of the library (we are not allowed in any classrooms without teacher supervision, and if we are in the halls we get detention).

On the issue of college packets, we generally use ACF Fall for the 10th period practice then Great Auk (because Regional Quiz Bowl is played on them) after 10th on Fridays during the meetings when our coach is there.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by Nine-Tenths Ideas »

It's been the same way for the last 2 years; we get two freshmen who know what they're doing and quickly move up to the integrated practice and the rest of the freshman show up because their parents made them. Integrated practices would scare away the rest of the freshies who think Hawaii is a country [honest to God, this happened.]
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Re: Freshmen

Post by jbarnes112358 »

MLWGS-Gir wrote:
This leads me to my question: Are freshmen-only practices an effective recruiting tool? Our coach is in favor of the practice, but I disagree. I thought I'd see what other opinions were out there.

Here's my case: My freshman year began with freshmen mixed into our "real" practice. My career, along with those of the rest of my class, began against the full force of Maggie Walker '07. Dr. Barnes told us up front how well that team was expected to do that year, and I for one was thus not intimidated that much. Every question I beat those guys on became something to be proud of. Eventually we had a large number of freshmen and Dr. B. decided a separate practice was warranted. Thus we were sent off under the guidance of Joanna and Annalisa. Greg, Quint, Cameron, and I were sent back upstairs over the course of a week or so since we were supposedly scaring the other freshmen away. By the time the freshmen practices were ended, we were left with nine, of whom seven returned sophomore year.

Freshmen practices worked out okay my freshman year, but I think they keep freshmen from feeling a part of the team and from learning the nature of quizbowl by putting them in a controlled environment away from experienced players, except whoever's reading for them. I guess my biggest problem is starting the year with freshmen practices, as we did this year. I think it keeps people from seeing what the team/game is really like. With our recruiting season about to begin, I thought I'd see if anyone else had experience/advice in this area.
Since I am the coach in question I suppose I should respond. People make some good points for and against holding freshman only practices. First of all ,if you get the freshman in the room, it is only part of the battle. The problem then becomes how to assess them as potential players and how to retain them. My opinion based on several years of experience is that having freshman only practice for a couple of weeks at the beginning of school helps in both aspects.

I agree that we should mix freshmen with the rest of the team as soon as possible for reasons mentioned by several in this thread. But, early freshman only practice allows newcomers to see what questions sound like, how buzzers work, and the basic rules of the game. It also allows us to see which players might have the greatest potential by seeing who knows things, the kinds of things they know, and their willingness to buzz. If you have freshmen mixed in with the seasoned veterans, especially with players on a national caliber team, then these things will be difficult to assess. We want to focus our recruiting efforts on those players with the most potential. (This being said, we do not wish to turn away those players who have a dedication to improve even though they might not show as much initial promise.)

Freshman that get a chance to buzz in against their peers have a chance to experience the satisfaction of being the first to know the answer. Prematurely jumping in with the seasoned players has the potential to scare away potential players, as in Sarah's anecdotal example of this year.

Again, we need to ease players in with the other players ASAP so that they see what they want to become. It is even more important to get them to an actual tournament as soon as possible, as they are likely to find some teams they can be competitive with as opposed to the seasoned veterans on their own school's team. At every step of the way we need to remind freshmen that is okay to get slaughtered in a game and that it is to be expected. Some players may still be scared away, but hopefully an adequate number will be inspired by the playing skills of those doing the slaughtering. Sarah mentioned how the our strong 2007 team inspired her and her fellow freshmen last year, just as the the 2007 team were inspired as freshmen by our very strong 2004 team, as well at the great TJ team that we had the chance to observe so often that year.

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Re: Freshmen

Post by asdf »

Maybe holding freshman practices during the summer would be better.

You'll know who actually wants to be on the team. I mean seriously, who would want to spend their summer doing quick recall? Of course, only those that are dedicated and wish to be on the team.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

who would want to spend their summer doing quick recall? Of course, only those that are dedicated and wish to be on the team.
I'd like to think I'm dedicated, and I certainly don't wish to spend a summer practicing quick recall.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by wowitsquinthaha »

MLWGS-Gir wrote: I agree; seeing Maggie Walker '07 is what's inspired 4 members of my class to strive to reach and/or pass their level our senior year. I'm hoping what happened with this year's freshman class was just a fluke...
I don't think it really was a fluke. Its like a quality over quantity thing. Last year we had 5 or 6 freshmen who were decent to good at playing NAQT IS or low level house written questions. Then over the summer, we all got better and Greg got sweet. This year we have 1 freshman, who is the best freshman in the country. Period. Tommy's better than me at this point, the only reason I play higher than him is because I have a different knowledge area.

Last year it just so happened that we were in the presence of one of the best teams ever, all of whom saw great potential in the 4 of us (Greg, Sarah, Cameron, Me), and encouraged us to get better. Even the B team seniors who ran the freshman practice were knowledgeable and encouraging. This year, it was more of a free for all, with Cameron, Sarah, and I running the practice, and an A team that is, at best, nationally "competitive". Basically what I'm trying to say is that the circumstances surrounding Maggie Walker differed from year to year, and depending on the situation, the freshmen practices worked or didn't work as well. But I would say, if executed properly, all freshman practices on easy questions are a good idea. It builds confidence and eases them into the game, and also helps to teach the basics and establish base knowledge. I think next year, if we have all these slideshows and JV questions that we were planning on doing, we might hold a lot more freshmen.

Also, I really dont think this year was a fluke. Tommy will win nationals in 2011. By HIMSELF.

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Re: Freshmen

Post by slimg »

From personal experience, group practices are a mixed blessing for freshman (and other new players). Group practices show very quickly who can really play with the A-team, in my opinion, much more accurately than any test. Within the first week of practices, it becomes obvious who the strong newcomers are. This, again, is a mixed blessing because those players who are not in this strong group can see the writing on the wall: that this is not their year. Having the majority of the team become unmotivated almost immediately is definitely not a good thing.
Also, group practices are terrible for improving the knowledge of newcomers. The members of the A-team simply buzz-in so far a head of the freshman, it is hard for them to retain information an learn giveaways because they rarely hear the full question. By not improving the newcomers, they simply become more dejected and quit.
We, as a team, are also dealing with this issue and we have formed a few new plans we could try to help the newcomers.
1. At group practices, have the A-team read questions to the B and C teams. This way, all improve, including the B and C teams.
2. More small group practices between group practices.
3. Convince the B and C teams that they are a valuable part of the team (which they are). They need to know that they are the future of the program.
4. Short term benefits-The newcomers need to be able to see that their is some value in being on the lower teams. You can't have the B/C teams just waiting until their Senior/Junior year to be on the A-team. Most are not willing to wait that long. The B/C teams need to be shown that they are talented and can be good in the short term.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by David Riley »

Gordon: you make some good points. I coach at a private school as well and the only times I threw the freshmen to the varsity lions were the years when I had had more than 15-20 freshmen show up at tryouts. I didn't want to dissuade anyone with genuine interest, but it did get rid of the people who wanted to do quiz bowl solely to have it as an activity on their transcript.

I should perhaps add that we are a school of 2000 students from some 200 feeder schools in 60-75 communities. Several of my current varsity players are from one of our largest feeder schools, but that's not often the case; most come from the smaller schools. In recent years, out of about 10-15 freshmen that try out, only 4-5 actually stick with it for four years. Next year, I will be blessed with 11 seniors, thanks in large part to my current fr/so coach (mlaird, who often contributes to this board). Any other suggestions for retention of freshmen would be welcome.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot »

I think it depends on how big your school is. If it has a gajillion quiz bowlers (read: Charter), then it is perfectly OK to stratify practices. Basically, if you have a lot of people, it is your call as to how to run practice. If your school is small (read: us), then it just isn't feasible.

I think that the main pro of stratified practices is that it makes the frosh feel like they are worth something. It would be terrifying to walk into practice as a scared little frosh, only to see Charlie Dees or whoever just demolish you. It is nice to get questions right, and that is tough when nationally competitive players are around.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by Sima Guang Hater »

la2pgh wrote:I think that the main pro of stratified practices is that it makes the frosh feel like they are worth something. It would be terrifying to walk into practice as a scared little frosh, only to see Charlie Dees or whoever just demolish you. It is nice to get questions right, and that is tough when nationally competitive players are around.
At the beginning of the year, the dinosaurs usually read or just sit out, for the above reason. In an ideal world, I'd want to have enough people to have a dinosaur practice so that the A team can dive into harder material, but I don't think its possible.
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Re: Freshmen

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

ToStrikeInfinitely wrote:At the beginning of the year, the dinosaurs usually read or just sit out, for the above reason. In an ideal world, I'd want to have enough people to have a dinosaur practice so that the A team can dive into harder material, but I don't think its possible.
This is essentially our extremely idealistic plan. Granted, it requires a blanket promise by me that I'll moderate / show up for / provide for a practice whenever people want one and I'm not in class.

It'd work okay to start out with easy packets and work up as the night goes on, and new kids can leave once they're no longer benefitting. (And dinos can buzz in before FTP once everyone's practicing on a harder than regionals difficulty, or whatever feels right.)
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