How to practice when at an intermediate level

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Lefty734
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How to practice when at an intermediate level

Post by Lefty734 »

Since the beginning of this year, my academic team has been having a problem at practice. The majority of my team is sophomores and freshmen, and there are a few juniors (including me). Naturally, the majority of our team is fairly new to quizbowl, so we have a great divide in skill level. We have broken up into 3 groups at varying skill levels, but we still have an issue. Another junior and I get the more questions than the majority of the other players, so we often receive handicaps (even when we are only competing with the top third of our team members). The problem with this is that we aren't really getting a chance to practice because we can’t buzz in and we aren't playing with people of the same skill level as us.

So, what I am asking is how do I practice? I already study for Academic Team outside of practice several hours a week, but I feel like I am not practicing in a quizbowl-style environment to prepare for tournaments. Have other teams had this problem? If so, what should I do?
Nick Pinto
Flowery Branch High School '15
"Rappaccini's Daughters"

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Re: How to practice when at an intermediate level

Post by Journeyman »

I have a couple of questions to start. First, do you guys have a buzzer system? If not, harass your school to get one. If you do and are unable to use it for practice, there are several apps that can be downloaded for smartphones/tablets that will allow for a buzzing sound during practice. Designate your coach or yourself as the quizmaster to help them prepare for what the mechanics of the matches will be like. A lack of buzzers may be detrimental, but it shouldn't completely hinder your ability to practice.

I've taken the top players out of practice and let the younger, less skilled players go heads up among themselves to help them get better. Keep the skill set the same among your practices.

Lastly, is there any way you can scrimmage a team from another school? Just invite them over to play against you, and order a couple of packets from, say, HSAPQ or another vendor. At that rate, your team gets the full experience of a match without the tournament hanging over their heads.

I hope this was of use to you.
Travis Blankenship
Berea College '10
Berea Community High School
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Lefty734
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Re: How to practice when at an intermediate level

Post by Lefty734 »

Well, I guess I may have been misleading. Our team isn't really new... I just didn't know what forum this post should have gone in. We do have several sets of buzzers, so there is enough for everyone. I asked my coach about a skirmish match today, but my coach said she has tried in the past, but it hasn't worked. Also, to elaborate on my previous post, I was wondering about something that could do at most practices (3 times a week), so I am not just sitting there all the time.
Nick Pinto
Flowery Branch High School '15
"Rappaccini's Daughters"

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Re: How to practice when at an intermediate level

Post by Al Hirt »

I had a somewhat similar problem, but the solution I found was simply playing with people better than you. You find those people on this forum and in the Facebook group for quiz bowl (where I got my first intro to skypebowl). By no means is it a substitute for true "studying" but it certainly gets you into a more competitive circuit and lets you play with some of the best there is. Nothing makes you better than playing with the best.
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East Brunswick High School '15
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Re: How to practice when at an intermediate level

Post by Journeyman »

Lefty734 wrote:Well, I guess I may have been misleading. Our team isn't really new... I just didn't know what forum this post should have gone in. We do have several sets of buzzers, so there is enough for everyone. I asked my coach about a skirmish match today, but my coach said she has tried in the past, but it hasn't worked. Also, to elaborate on my previous post, I was wondering about something that could do at most practices (3 times a week), so I am not just sitting there all the time.
One thing that I do is try to do an education session over a common topic or subject area, and have students take notes/ask questions about it. Have your team review art powerpoints or read sparknotes. Sharing those resources and reviewing them together seems to help.
Travis Blankenship
Berea College '10
Berea Community High School
JV Head Coach
FPS Head Coach

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Santa Claus
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Re: How to practice when at an intermediate level

Post by Santa Claus »

If there are only one or two of you who are unable to participate due to a difference of skill, you could consider reading for the others if you're not doing that already.

Most of my other suggestions would be more helpful if you had more people in the same boat, but if you did then you could just practice with them. Compiling notes either on your own time or during meetings and reviewing them can be useful, even if you aren't able to get buzzer practice. And the aforementioned ways to get in contact with other, equally skilled players seem useful.
Kevin Wang
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Re: How to practice when at an intermediate level

Post by zachary_yan »

One way to practice against better players is "simulating" it at practice. Basically, what you do is you give one player the access to questions before hand, or maybe just the clues up to a certain point, and then you play against them on that packet. The end result is like if you were playing against a player who had the knowledge to buzz on early-ish clues. As an added bonus it's also a interesting way to learn some clues. I tried this while running at a middle school practice, and it was kind of quirky but interesting and I think this method has some potential of being useful.
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Re: How to practice when at an intermediate level

Post by jonpin »

Practice is a good opportunity to get out of bad habits, such as vulturing. Another bad habit that teams sometimes have in practice (and I indulge this too at times) is to "blah blah blah" bonuses, where a bonus goes on for two lines but it's obvious from the first half-sentence what the answer is. It's a good idea to listen to the whole bonus for two reasons: (1) you can learn more facts about this answer line; (2) you get out of the habit of talking over the bonus, which can screw you in a match if you don't notice a change in pronoun.
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Re: How to practice when at an intermediate level

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

It seems to me like a good solution would be for you and your talented teammates to take turns moderating for everybody else for part of your practice, and then maybe practice one packet all together with your coach reading at the end of practice. Another good idea could be to play with teams in practice and split up your best players. I coached a team that made a very large leap upwards in skill over the course of about 2 years, and we would split up and practice with the good players in one room and the new players in another room sometimes, but then other practices we would all be combined, or do different teams. I would say that it's important if you are trying to make your A team very competitive, then it's important for you to not neglect your own practicing, and that it's ultimately a good thing for your younger teammates to get exposure to better players, but there are ways to practice that can successfully meld both approaches. I also think this will help you be more prepared to play tournaments when not all of your teammates can make it and you have to make new rosters.
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Re: How to practice when at an intermediate level

Post by JTakang21 »

Lefty734 wrote:Well, I guess I may have been misleading. Our team isn't really new... I just didn't know what forum this post should have gone in. We do have several sets of buzzers, so there is enough for everyone. I asked my coach about a skirmish match today, but my coach said she has tried in the past, but it hasn't worked. Also, to elaborate on my previous post, I was wondering about something that could do at most practices (3 times a week), so I am not just sitting there all the time.
Hey Nick,

Would you still be willing to play that scrimmage sometime early next school year, before WAC? I feel that Douglas County is somewhat at the same level as you guys.
Josiah Takang
Douglas County High School (GA) '15
Kennesaw State University (GA) 'xx
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Lefty734
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Re: How to practice when at an intermediate level

Post by Lefty734 »

A scrimmage would be great. I'll make sure to talk to my coach about it. We should talk more about it over Facebook.

Also, thank you to everyone for the good ideas! This problem has been mostly solved by now by having A team only practices once a week and me being able to practice with the Georgia NASAT team.
Nick Pinto
Flowery Branch High School '15
"Rappaccini's Daughters"

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