How do you take the next step?

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CometCoach72
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How do you take the next step?

Post by CometCoach72 »

We're getting there. We're close. This is my 3rd year as the coach of our high school's team. I played myself in high school with one of the Illinois Legends (Tom Durbin) as my coach, and then life got in the way for many years. In that time, the Quiz Bowl game has changed drastically. When I became a teacher, I got back in to Quiz Bowl first as a moderator, and then as a coach in 2007-2008. We took huge steps last year, and halfway through our varsity season, we have taken MORE big steps. We cashed in our first tournament this year, and we've barely got a winning record (12-11 through December 5). It's still well ahead of last year's pace.

But I've got a few questions to throw out to the masses, and they ask for your advice. Here's where my team is right now (in my eyes):

-We're winning more close games than we did last year.
-I have a large crop of juniors on my team that eager and want to play well. I have a couple of seniors that I count on for leadership and experience, and one of them has been playing out of his mind lately. One of them, he's had a rough start to the season and hasn't been playing as much despite being one of our leading scorers last year. I've got six players that I can rely on to get toss-up questions at any time during the match, and some "specialists" that come off the bench when I need them, but I'm not convinced that they can get the points when we need them the most.
-My team's scoring is pretty low, and could be much better. Our bonus conversion isn't good at all. I feel that we leave way too much on the table that we could easily get (with fine arts and believe it or not, math...I can handle that though, since that's what I teach).
-We play in a part of the state that has really only one or two very good teams in the "small-school" category. At this point, we should be starting to give those two teams a run for their money.

The next step, to me, looks like this:
-Beating opponents we should beat in more convincing fashion (by 70-100 points or more without rubbing it in, as opposed to 60 or less).
-Being more in competition against teams that are much better than us (we've had some blowout losses to better teams, to which I say oh well, but I want to start closing that gap on the scoreboard).
-Winning the IHSA Regional Round (which I absolutely HATE the regional structure, but you can't fight city hall just yet).

That having been said, here's my questions...

-What's the best way to challenge players to get better?
-What's the best way to practice so we can get those points that we need? I have the resources (lists, books, etc)
-Lastly, the JV team has been amazing this year. They appear to be in about the same spot as the varsity team, but maybe with a little more raw talent than my varsity. This coming weekend will be the first time that I can really see them and coach them in person (because I am an only coach, I spend the most time with the varsity). Is the time right to push them some more and expect more out of them, too? I want to keep it fun for them because they are still winning a LOT (11-5).

Thanks in advance to anyone who offers some advice. I love this game.
Jay Winter
Greenville HS (IL) Scholastic Bowl Coach and Chief UN Translator for Math
Decatur MacArthur Class of 1990 - Illinois State Class of 1994 - MS Ed SIU Edwardsville 2010
Harley-Davidson owner since 2009
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jonah
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Re: How do you take the next step?

Post by jonah »

CometCoach72 wrote:-I have a large crop of juniors on my team that eager and want to play well. I have a couple of seniors that I count on for leadership and experience, and one of them has been playing out of his mind lately. One of them, he's had a rough start to the season and hasn't been playing as much despite being one of our leading scorers last year. I've got six players that I can rely on to get toss-up questions at any time during the match, and some "specialists" that come off the bench when I need them, but I'm not convinced that they can get the points when we need them the most.
If you have more than 4 or 5 interested players, enter B (and C and D, ..., if applicable) teams at every tournament that will let you. Just playing -- and sitting on the sidelines is not the same -- is one of the best ways to get better. Hopefully the tournaments you go to will let you play with non-full teams; take advantage of it.
CometCoach72 wrote:-My team's scoring is pretty low, and could be much better. Our bonus conversion isn't good at all. I feel that we leave way too much on the table that we could easily get.
I don't know if this is the case with you guys, of course, but one thing that really surprised me when I was at the Sterling kickoff was the lack of confidence among players. Very frequently, questions would go dead and after I said the answer, two or three people would be like "oh duh, I knew that". So, why didn't you buzz? The buzzer isn't going to electrocute you (we hope); if you have a reasonable guess, make it! I don't know how to rub this into them, though.
CometCoach72 wrote:-We play in a part of the state that has really only one or two very good teams in the "small-school" category. At this point, we should be starting to give those two teams a run for their money.
Good start. To what extent are you able to travel? I know you're far from most things in Illinois. Hopefully you can go to, say, Illinois' tournaments (Earlybird, principally), as well as whatever Springfield hosts (I'm not entirely sure what that is, though). If you can make it up to Chicagoland once or twice a year, there are a ton of very high-quality tournaments up there. You're probably not going to win them at this point, but your players will be challenged, they'll have fun, and hopefully they'll get a fire lit under them to learn things and keep improving. New Trier Varsity is still accepting registrations for the 19th. :D You're also right near St. Louis, and Wash U's WUHSAC is a good tournament; you should definitely go.
CometCoach72 wrote:-What's the best way to challenge players to get better?
It depends on the players, of course. Depending on their disposition, having them play good teams and get beaten by a lot can be demoralizing and discouraging, or, as I said, it can light a fire under them and motivate them. One of the notably good players this year on a notably good team, Abid on Auburn, always tells me that he was quite bad until Solo last year, when he kept getting blown out. He realized that the appropriate reaction was to get better. It worked.
CometCoach72 wrote:-What's the best way to practice so we can get those points that we need? I have the resources (lists, books, etc)
What questions are you practicing on? That's probably the biggest thing. Use good high school questions available from http://www.quizbowlpackets.com/. They're not IHSA format, but you'll learn more with ACF-style bonuses. As Reinstein pointed out in the just-sent-out newsletter, the best practice questions are free.

Coaches will have more good advice; I recommend especially talking to Mike Laudermith, Jeff Price, Tom Egan, Sharon Lorinskas. Also, have your players write questions. Show them the guides that are available all over the web (or the one based on Jerry's post that was in the last newsletter), and maybe the 2011 Comet Open can be a housewrite.

Good luck and stick around this community. We have a lot to offer, and we want to help.
Jonah Greenthal
National Academic Quiz Tournaments

sageorator
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Re: How do you take the next step?

Post by sageorator »

jonah wrote:
CometCoach72 wrote:-My team's scoring is pretty low, and could be much better. Our bonus conversion isn't good at all. I feel that we leave way too much on the table that we could easily get.
I don't know if this is the case with you guys, of course, but one thing that really surprised me when I was at the Sterling kickoff was the lack of confidence among players. Very frequently, questions would go dead and after I said the answer, two or three people would be like "oh duh, I knew that". So, why didn't you buzz? The buzzer isn't going to electrocute you (we hope); if you have a reasonable guess, make it! I don't know how to rub this into them, though.
This was a big problem for me early on in my career. Some players are afraid of making a mistake or taking a guess when they think that someone else might know the answer. You have to remind them not to worry about mistakes, they happen to literally everyone. Also that their guess is as good as or better than anyone else's, you don't have to wait for someone else to answer, even if it's in their area of expertise. If you know it, go. Obviously this doesn't mean buzzing irresponsibly, but just more aggressively.
John Lavender-Stott
Blacksburg High School '10

jonah
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Re: How do you take the next step?

Post by jonah »

Oh, and given your location, there are probably some tournaments in Missouri besides WUHSAC worth looking into. More information is, among other places, at http://web.moqba.org/.
Jonah Greenthal
National Academic Quiz Tournaments

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Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN)
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Re: How do you take the next step?

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Going to Wash U and Villa Duchesne look like they are both about an hour away from you, so I would very much recommend signing up for both of them. Villa Duchesne's field is full right now, but you can get on the waitlist in case of drops (which there always are).

If you want to get up for an early morning drive, Google maps says Missouri S&T in Rolla is a 2 and a half hour drive, so if you left at 6 you can probably make it there by registration (and leaving even earlier you'd for sure be in). Rolla's next tournament is this weekend, so it might be too late to sign up, but they are running a tournament in March on a modified local format on NAQT questions that could get you a bid to nationals. My school, the University of Missouri, also hosts tournaments that would be about a 3 hour drive away from you that often get some of the best teams in Missouri to attend, so we would welcome you if you were to show up.
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
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