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Assorted Freshmen Problems

Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:32 pm
by bradleykirksey
7 of the 13 people in our program are freshman, and 9 of the 13 never played college quiz bowl before this year. I don't want to be a football coach or anything, but I wonder if there's anything I can do about a few of my players' tendencies.

Mostly, even though they all did really well, 3 of the players combined for 1 neg in a combined 36 games. They all said there were a bunch they should have powered but just never buzzed in. One girl actually powered on the first line and then apologized for the early buzz. (and for a reference point, this isn't just them being bad at quiz bowl. The three people combined for 9 powers, and probably could have had 15.)

I've thought about putting them on a team of their own at tournaments, but I'm not sure what to do... Does anyone have any thoughts on how to get them to buzz in more?

And there's another player who had a stellar performance, but also had panic attacks through the first 5 rounds (freshman, of course.) Is there anything that could make him less nervous.

I don't know if this is the right forum or just silly, but thanks for any help.

Re: Assorted Freshmen Problems

Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:52 pm
by Smuttynose Island
A lot of these problems go away after a player has played several tournaments and gained confidence. Encouragement always helps, but I don't think that you have much to worry about now

Re: Assorted Freshmen Problems

Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:11 pm
by Cheynem
One thing that benefited me my first year was immediately getting opportunities to lead a team. While it's certainly okay at times, I think putting very inexperienced players on teams with experienced high scoring players sometimes creates bad habits (i.e. enhancing buzzer fear, not wanting to neg, letting teammates take the lead on everything). When leading a team, you quickly realize you have to buzz and buzz quicker and can't wait around. It sounds like the situation I described is not really what your team is struggling with, so this might be more of a general tip.

Re: Assorted Freshmen Problems

Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:26 pm
by Sima Guang Hater
Buzzer shyness is something that affects everybody to differing degrees. One thing to do in practice is to stop reading the question when you realize they know they answer, and just tell them to buzz in and say what's on their minds.

Re: Assorted Freshmen Problems

Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:36 pm
by marnold
I remember some tournament my first year where Chicago D (E? F?) was playing an Andrew Yaphe team; he was up by a ton, and he told us he was requiring us to start buzzing on every toss-up. I think I only buzzed on 3 of them and all were negs, but it's a very good exercise.

Also, positive reinforcement is good: praise good buzzes and even plausible negs.

Re: Assorted Freshmen Problems

Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:17 pm
by Fond du lac operon
marnold wrote:Also, positive reinforcement is good: praise good buzzes and even plausible negs.
This.

I'm not sure that the "buzz on every toss-up" exercise would work well in practice -- I know my instinct would likely be to wait as long as possible before buzzing. But it might be worthwhile to have the frosh practice with the more experienced, knowledgeable players if they aren't already -- there, if they're going to have a chance of scoring, they'll have to buzz early, and if they neg it can be reinforced that negging with a good early guess isn't all that bad.

Also, make sure they know you expect them to neg more, that it happens, and in fact is a good thing up to a certain point, and explain why if they don't get it. It worked for our frosh.

Re: Assorted Freshmen Problems

Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:54 pm
by grapesmoker
Always Be Buzzing.

By which I mean, aggression is a great thing to work on, especially early on in your career. Positive reinforcement is a good tactic, as mentioned above even for plausible negs.

Re: Assorted Freshmen Problems

Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 5:19 pm
by Fond du lac operon
By the way, re: the kid who gets panic attacks during the matches: if we're talking actual, legitimate panic attacks (as opposed to, like, just being extra nervous) that's a problem that probably should be dealt with by a medical professional rather than a quizbowl team. If he has a panic disorder of some kind and receives treatment for it and still gets panic attacks during matches, maybe he shouldn't be competing, at least not until he's had more of a chance to get used to the format in practices. (Although, again, IANA doctor, and that's something he should probably discuss with his treatment provider.)

If he's just extra nervous... it's probably something that'll decline with time. Let him know that it happens to everyone, that plenty of people with lots of experience still get jittery at the beginnings of tournaments, and hope he'll suck it up and improve quickly. There's probably better advice there, but that's really all I can say.

Re: Assorted Freshmen Problems

Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 5:56 pm
by Rococo A Go Go
I have pretty bad anxiety issues, and so buzzer aggression has always been an issue during my career. I think my statline at ACF Fall was like 42/0 over 9 games, because I was too concerned with negging to score as many points as I could have. This is something that just takes time and playing a lot of quizbowl tournaments to deal with. It won't go away overnight though, and pressuring somebody to solve it right away will only make it worse. Practice helps as does playing tournaments, and creating a relaxed atmosphere with meetable expectations is very important. I'm a junior and I'm still dealing with it, so realize that you're freshmen aren't going to wake up one day with nerves of steel.

Re: Assorted Freshmen Problems

Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 6:05 pm
by Kouign Amann
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:One thing to do in practice is to stop reading the question when you realize they know they answer, and just tell them to buzz in and say what's on their minds.
This, I believe, is the first part of what Chris Ray termed the "Arun rules" at last summer's UMD practices. The other rule was that Arun's first neg on each question would be forgiven, and he could make an additional buzz later if he wished. Why not adapt them into the "UCF freshmen rules?" Taking away the penalties associated with guessing will encourage your players to be more aggressive, which is good when you believe that many of their early guesses are correct. As they practice being aggressive and realize that buzzing early leads to getting questions early, they should begin to feel comfortable buzzing earlier in real games.

Re: Assorted Freshmen Problems

Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 6:12 pm
by Skepticism and Animal Feed
I've been buzzer shy my entire career. One thing that really helped me was getting better at quizbowl. When I was a college freshman and averaging maybe 1-2 tossups per game, I didn't want to neg "my tossup", because I knew it wouldn't come up in that game again. Once I became better, I cared less about that one neg, because I knew I could make it back on another tossup. Knowing more things probably also reduces your neg rate, though it does also give you an expanded universe of wrong answers to give and similar-sounding clues to confuse you.

Perhaps you can show your players statlines from tournaments, and point out to them that the people who neg the most are also the best players in the country.

But to put things in context: if you have 7 freshmen in your program who are coming to practices and playing tournaments, that is much better than most other college quizbowl programs. The most important thing is to keep them interested and instill in them a desire to get better and write questions. Do that and the buzzer shyness will probably recede by itself.

Re: Assorted Freshmen Problems

Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 7:41 pm
by bradleykirksey
Thanks very much. I'll use a lot of that. I think a lot of that will really help.

Re: Assorted Freshmen Problems

Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:45 am
by cornfused
Another thing you can try is stopping the questions at the power mark and making everyone take a guess, then continuing. When the problem is tentativeness and not a lack of knowledge, I've found that really helps because people start realizing, hey, I DID know that! or at least, OK, I was already in the right area!

The other benefit to this is it encourages the new players to be laterally thinking and narrowing down answers, etc., so that they're not zoning out during leadins and instead thinking, hey, this is a painter from before the 1920s.

Re: Assorted Freshmen Problems

Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 6:24 pm
by Kyle
cornfused wrote:Another think you can try is stopping the questions at the power mark and making everyone take a guess, then continuing.
Or you can do Matthew Chan's favorite thing, which is to have your first round of betting (well, after the ante, obviously) at this point.

Re: Assorted Freshmen Problems

Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 10:24 pm
by Z Rex
We discovered that flogging them was the most effective method of training. If they hadn't buzzed at the point we thought they should know it we pulled out a whip and beat them if they didn't answer within 5 seconds

Re: Assorted Freshmen Problems

Posted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:01 pm
by bradleykirksey
Also, lots of peanut butter and car batteries. They're not human anymore, but they buzz in before the FTP.

Re: Assorted Freshmen Problems

Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:09 pm
by Tale of Mac Datho's Pachycephalosaur
Okay, here's a question that's been plaguing me for the better part of a year: how do we get people to actually show up to practices? We invariably get 12 or even 15 people at our meetings for the first few weeks of the semester, and then after week 4, we get ten at the most. What strategies are there for keeping people coming to meetings (aside from free food), so that people will actually improve?

Re: Assorted Freshmen Problems

Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:14 pm
by dtaylor4
Melkor6000 wrote:Okay, here's a question that's been plaguing me for the better part of a year: how do we get people to actually show up to practices? We invariably get 12 or even 15 people at our meetings for the first few weeks of the semester, and then after week 4, we get ten at the most. What strategies are there for keeping people coming to meetings (aside from free food), so that people will actually improve?
After-practice socials can help. Grab a bite with them and get to know them outside of practice.

Re: Assorted Freshmen Problems

Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:32 pm
by ValenciaQBowl
Donald's suggestion is good, but there's always going to be some attrition. People check it out and decide it's not for them. Still, they might be surprised to get a follow-up e-mail or call; being wanted is a strong motivator. Of course, that means you need to make sure to collect contact info at the first couple meetings.