Thumb Strength?

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Thumb Strength?

Post by Madoc »

I've gone over the idea in my head several times, and I figured it would be time to finally ask you, my fellow players and coaches, to see what you think. Would the strength of your thumb (or even your arm) have something to do with the speed at which you can press the buzzer? I've thought of finding methods to improve my thumb strength and dexterity, perhaps to win more buzzer races. What do you think? Am I crazy, or do I actually have a legitimate idea?
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by Matt Weiner »

The opportunity cost of trying to do aerobic exercises on the fast-twich fibers in your hand, considered against using that time on learning earlier clues or seeking out tournaments that discourage buzzer races, is extremely large.
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by Ondes Martenot »

My personal quizbowl trainer gives me "flax seed oil" to improve my thumb strength.
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by dtaylor4 »

Where's Jason Mueller when you need him?

EDIT: If you're worried about winning buzzer races, avoid them by learning more and buzzing off of knowledge. Also, Matt's right.
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by Madoc »

well, the way I figured it, not only would it improve buzzer races, but when a clue actually comes up that only I know and one opponent knows, rather than obvious knowledge that the whole team knows, I'd like to know that I have a slight advantage in terms of buzzer speed. Indeed, I have seen large, muscular people who are better buzzers than others. I actually have a baseball player on my team who is quite better at buzzing on clues that are more obvious than not (perhaps 3 or 4 people on the board actually know the answer, and he tends to beat them).
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by The Time Keeper »

Matt Weiner wrote:The opportunity cost of trying to do aerobic exercises on the fast-twich fibers in your hand, considered against using that time on learning earlier clues or seeking out tournaments that discourage buzzer races, is extremely large.
Not only this, but buzzer speed is way more about being able to recognize that you heard something that you should buzz on than it is your thumb's ability to press down after being told to do so. I'm not really sure how you can improve that reaction time, other than to know things solidly enough so that you're confident enough to buzz right away when you hear the right words. Even then though, some people are just faster than others.
HHS_Charlie wrote:well, the way I figured it, not only would it improve buzzer races, but when a clue actually comes up that only I know and one opponent knows, rather than obvious knowledge that the whole team knows, I'd like to know that I have a slight advantage in terms of buzzer speed. Indeed, I have seen large, muscular people who are better buzzers than others. I actually have a baseball player on my team who is quite better at buzzing on clues that are more obvious than not (perhaps 3 or 4 people on the board actually know the answer, and he tends to beat them).
Think about the muscles you use when you buzz, then think about the muscles that are worked on by athletes. Are you noticing an overlap of zero muscles? edit: actually looking at it there might be some slight overlap with parts of the arm depending on how you buzz, but it's still irrelevant.
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by Madoc »

Dolemite wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote:The opportunity cost of trying to do aerobic exercises on the fast-twich fibers in your hand, considered against using that time on learning earlier clues or seeking out tournaments that discourage buzzer races, is extremely large.
Not only this, but buzzer speed is way more about being able to recognize that you heard something that you should buzz on than it is your thumb's ability to press down after being told to do so. I'm not really sure how you can improve that reaction time, other than to know things solidly enough so that you're confident enough to buzz right away when you hear the right words. Even then though, some people are just faster than others.
HHS_Charlie wrote:well, the way I figured it, not only would it improve buzzer races, but when a clue actually comes up that only I know and one opponent knows, rather than obvious knowledge that the whole team knows, I'd like to know that I have a slight advantage in terms of buzzer speed. Indeed, I have seen large, muscular people who are better buzzers than others. I actually have a baseball player on my team who is quite better at buzzing on clues that are more obvious than not (perhaps 3 or 4 people on the board actually know the answer, and he tends to beat them).
Think about the muscles you use when you buzz, then think about the muscles that are worked on by athletes. Are you noticing an overlap of zero muscles? edit: actually looking at it there might be some slight overlap with parts of the arm depending on how you buzz, but it's still irrelevant.
well, after discussion with my mother, a licensed nurse, there actually is quite an overlap of muscles that are used, particularly by baseball players. You use the same muscles to grip a bat & ball that you do to grip & press a handheld buzzer.
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by The Time Keeper »

HHS_Charlie wrote: well, after discussion with my mother, a licensed nurse, there actually is quite an overlap of muscles that are used, particularly by baseball players. You use the same muscles to grip a bat & ball that you do to grip & press a handheld buzzer.
I would imagine it has much more of an impact on how well you can grip the buzzer and fortunately as long as you can actually hold the buzzer in your hand, that's all you need. The digit is still doing the buzzing and you aren't going to improve that much. Again, buzzer speed is 99% from the head.

I'm not sure how best to measure general reaction time or how much it can be improved if at all, so it becomes clear that the best thing you can do is to make yourself able to react to a tossup at least one clue before the other players hear something that makes them buzz in.
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Matt Weiner wrote:The opportunity cost of trying to do aerobic exercises on the fast-twich fibers in your hand, considered against using that time on learning earlier clues or seeking out tournaments that discourage buzzer races, is extremely large.
How short-sighted! You can do both at once.

Whenever I write a packet, I never type with my forefingers. Instead, I cover them in special tungsten finger-gloves and waggle them back and forth wildly. When I'm in practice, I only buzz with my forehead so that I can squeeze the wrist strengtheners Bruce Lee invented with my fingertips.

When I travel to tournaments, I make sure to drive and shift gears with my fingertips. I carry my luggage by slipping the straps over the first knuckle only.

When my teammates question my motives and wonder if I'm distracting myself from what's important in quiz bowl, I poke their eyes out with my super-strong fingers.

Recently, I defeated the entire United Kingdom on an A-set. Unfortunately, my 0-fer showing at the prelims of ACF Nationals this spring demonstrated that the better (and the harder) the questions, the more irrelevant reflexes become.
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by Stat Boy »

Have you tried priming the buzzer?
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by Madoc »

Stat Boy wrote:Have you tried priming the buzzer?
I actually do, and I discovered that for myself this past year, giving myself a much better advantage. :wink:
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by Saiem »

Having played certamen for several years, I can tell you that it has a little to do with priming the buzzer, but more about being able to predict words. If you know an important piece of information is coming up (i.e. a title), and you're confident you can pick it up at that title, just get the first word and read the lips of the moderator for the formings of the next word.

Seriously, we had an hour long session at certamen practice about being able to read lips.
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

I am baffled at you people, because buzzing with your fingers/hand is the way to go. Also, from one Charlie to another, you should be much more concerned about learning more and more deep clues from reading packets, books, and otherwise learning things. I guarantee if you start reading stuff from here, your ability to play well in a game will improve much more dramatically than any amount of buzzing exercises will yield.
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by harpersferry »

SaiemGilani wrote:Seriously, we had an hour long session at certamen practice about being able to read lips.
That's why I don't play certamen.

Every once in a while someone comes on and has a home-spun theory that they've "tested" on how to beat people on buzzer races or they want to know how they can "improve their speed" etc. by some sort of sure-fire posture or priming or buzzing method or they say "use your index finger it's scientifically proven to be faster than your thumb!" All of the above discussions are silly.

And come on, a baseball player being faster because he's a baseball player? That's an extremely un-causative argument. Sometimes, one quizbowler who happens to play baseball just happens to seem the fastest on your team on buzzer races.
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by Xerxes »

SaiemGilani wrote:Having played certamen for several years, I can tell you that it has a little to do with priming the buzzer, but more about being able to predict words. If you know an important piece of information is coming up (i.e. a title), and you're confident you can pick it up at that title, just get the first word and read the lips of the moderator for the formings of the next word.

Seriously, we had an hour long session at certamen practice about being able to read lips.
Quizbowl is completely different. When playing certamen, it's often impossible to tell what the reader is even asking for until halfway through the question. Certamen questions are dominated by random swerves, hoses, etc. I can see why anticipating the reader's words might be useful when playing those types of questions, but it seems less applicable to pyramidal quizbowl.
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by JackGlerum »

How about index finger strength (for those who live in states where the rod buzzers are commonplace)?
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

JohnGlerum wrote:How about index finger strength (for those who live in states where the rod buzzers are commonplace)?
Somehow I expect that everything that applies to thumbs applies to index fingers in terms of pointless strength training.

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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by Matt Weiner »

Priming your finger for buzzer races...this is what VHSL does to people.
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by theMoMA »

Even ignoring the fact that learning more clues is always more effective than some buzzer strategy, the really useful exercise that can actually improve your performance in buzzer races is an exercise in confidence. Practicing questions with a buzzer against other players helps you nail down stuff that you already know, but the real way to gain confidence is to learn more clues better so that you buzz knowing that you've got the right answer. Then you can start anticipating clues based on descriptions of them, if you're not sure enough to buzz on the descriptions themselves.

The higher you go in quizbowl (and the more well-written the questions are), the fewer number of actual "buzzer races" there are. Sure, there are a lot of times where two or more players press the button at around the same time. But the player who usually wins is the one who knows the most about the subject at hand and already had the answer in mind; in this case, the "buzzer race" clue is simply a confirmation of the player's suspicion as opposed to a known fact delivered cold, and that player is much more likely to be the first in.
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by AKKOLADE »

what if you get too strong and actually end up destroying the buzzer with your unlimited buzzer finger power
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

leftsaidfred wrote:what if you get too strong and actually end up destroying the buzzer with your unlimited buzzer finger power
You're presented with your very own Judge. Kind of like the Green Lantern / Guardians relationship.
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by Captain Sinico »

Yeah, I'd say that, not only is gross reaction time (like, what you'd measure by saying "press this button once you hear a tone/see a light go on") not very important to winning questions, but also the muscular aspects of the reaction aren't very important in the gross reaction time. I don't really know of any exercises that will reliably improve the gross reaction time (either through muscular or mental improvement,) though I'd be surprised if none exist. However, because gross reaction time isn't very important to quizbowl, I don't think trying to improve it is a good use of your training time, even if you could reliably do so.

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Edit: exploited English to increase clarity, concision.
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by Matt Weiner »

Anyway, Charlie, it looks like you guys went to the NAQT tournament at Auburn last year, so that's a good first step away from the VHSL stuff that makes worrying about buzzer races such a concern. Hopefully you can make it out east to some stuff in Richmond or DC next year, or go to some of the better tournaments in Tennessee, so you can continue to worry about getting pyramidal academic questions on knowledge and not grinding out buzzer races on tossups about font sizes.
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by First Chairman »

everyday847 wrote:Announcing the HI side tournament of your dreams: thumb war singles.
Because thumb war doubles would be difficult to pull off??? :smile:
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by Ugly »

I don't think that thumb strength is very relevant to quiz bowl. I'm a pianist, but that hasn't really helped me except with music questions. Knowledge is what really matters.
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Re: Thumb Strength?

Post by quizbowllee »

Are we really having a serious conversation about this?

Playing video games improves buzzer speed.
So does thumb-wrestling.
You should get a rubber band, attach one end to your thumb and the other to your middle finger and do exercises.

Another thing that helps is learning stuff.
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