How to make a team more than mediocre?

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How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Beevor Feevor » Sun Oct 28, 2012 9:19 am

Hey guys, so my school has been competing in VHSL for a really long time (at least 15 years) and we've had a decent program in the region, and are improving a lot especially now that CHS isn't nearly as dominant here. What I was wondering was, how do you get your team to become a nationally contending team? We just went to our first HSNCT and PACE qualifier, and although we qualified for both, we got demolished by teams such as TJ A and Dorman A. Granted, those are some of the best schools in the nation, but how do you even begin to approach their level of talent?
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Chimalpahin Quauhtlehuanitzin » Sun Oct 28, 2012 4:43 pm

Study up! Generally, quizbowl is more fun when competitive, right? So follow NAQT's guidelines listed here: http://www.naqt.com/HowTo/improve-as-a-player.html and learn these http://www.naqt.com/YouGottaKnow/. Once you get the basics, specialize in subjects (I would advise playing on teammates' natural interests here).
Then, practice repeatedly and attend tournaments (which you seem to be doing!).
Don't be discouraged by amazing teams such as TJ when you play them. They've had years of experience and attended dozens?/hundreds? of tournaments.
Finally, use Protobowl/QUB/Reader if you need online practice (avoiding trolls in the meantime).
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Beevor Feevor » Sun Oct 28, 2012 5:37 pm

I've been trying to get our coach and team to practice more often, and while everyone seems to be on board with my plan, actually getting something going has been different. Not to mention that it seems everyone on my team, most of all my coach, is not taking this as seriously as I want to. I've tried assigning subjects, but they aren't learned as much as I'd like and I feel obligated to learn it myself, just because I have the time and they dont :/
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Chimalpahin Quauhtlehuanitzin » Sun Oct 28, 2012 6:31 pm

Even though you're still a sophomore, your back must be admirably sore. Teams like yours are often either led by one amazing player (which I have no doubt you could be) or one major and one support player. Don't try covering everything unless you are a well-balanced genius. In Cavalier Classic, it seems you covered at least two subjects and your friend was a good support player.
For practice, FORCE obedience and recruit effectively. Advertise. At this point, everyone should have time- and if they don't, consider replacements.
Energize your coach and announce meetings every morning. The rest would be a personal problem (are they lax? is it worth keeping them?).
And use http://protobowl.com/lobbyor http://skalon.com/qub/ or http://www.quizbowldb.com/reader for online practices.
Also, write questions/host a tournament/make teammates do either of the above. Very important.
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Adventure Temple Trail » Sun Oct 28, 2012 11:38 pm

I do want to say it's really impressive that you guys cracked 20 points per bonus and made the playoffs handily at your first tournament in a field with multiple national contenders such as Dorman and TJ. You're definitely doing something right. Don't get too discouraged - you're at a great starting point.
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Smuttynose Island » Sun Oct 28, 2012 11:43 pm

Given the fact that quizbowl questions frequently recycle clues, the best way to improve quickly at the HS level is to just read a bunch of HS questions. Many old question sets can be found at http://www.quizbowlpackets.com. Reading through those old packets, and repeatedly going over the clues in those questions can turn a poor player into a great one over the course of just a few months.

EDIT: It should be noted that this involves ALOT of work dedicated and repetitive work and is therefore not some "magic solution."
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Beevor Feevor » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:19 am

Alright, great, thanks for all the advice and comments! By looking at some of the best teams in the country, I've been assuming that the best teams are very well balanced, seeing as single person teams can't really win consistently at the national level. Just out of curiosity, at what point does a one-man wrecking machine team stop winning games consistently?
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby David Riley » Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:46 am

My experience has been that once the person on a "one-person" team graduates, the team tends to fall apart, and it is often several years before they rebuild. Sometimes this happens because the rest of the team got used to one person answering the questions, other times it's because this person was allowed to become a dictator over the rest of the team. The coach should keep both of these tendencies in check.
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Beevor Feevor » Mon Oct 29, 2012 11:29 am

David Riley wrote:My experience has been that once the person on a "one-person" team graduates, the team tends to fall apart, and it is often several years before they rebuild. Sometimes this happens because the rest of the team got used to one person answering the questions, other times it's because this person was allowed to become a dictator over the rest of the team. The coach should keep both of these tendencies in check.

Luckily I don't think that's as much of an issue on our team, as although I answer the most, our captain is no slouch, and I'm not so dominant as to be able to win tournaments by myself yet. Our coach does a good job of keeping me down too, which is nice. I'm trying to talk to the freshmen on our team and get them interested in quiz bowl, but I have no idea how I'd go about doing it with only one practice for an hour every week.......
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Adventure Temple Trail » Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:30 pm

Einhard wrote:Just out of curiosity, at what point does a one-man wrecking machine team stop winning games consistently?


In recent times, true "one-man wrecking machine teams" have gotten as high as 3rd at NSC (Adam Silverman's Centennial last year), and can often reach national finishes just below that (my GDS teams in 2010 with two 5th place finishes, Kurtis Droge's East Lansing, Dallas Simons' MLK Magnet in 07 and 08). While the past few 1st place national champions have been quite balanced in scoring, several have had a scoring profile where one player really dominates and the others provide about a third of the scoring as support (09 Wilmington Charter, 06 Richard Montgomery). It's totally possible to hang with all but the best two or three teams in the nation as an individual, and one person can definitely get to the level where he or she is capable of winning local tournaments outright on his/her own strength alone, though obviously it's great if that's not necessary for success. Looking at your statistics, though, you don't seem to be entirely alone, which is a plus.

Einhard wrote:I'm trying to talk to the freshmen on our team and get them interested in quiz bowl, but I have no idea how I'd go about doing it with only one practice for an hour every week.......


Is there a way to expand this out to two practices? Or two hours? I usually find that teams practice more than this, like two times a week for 90 minutes each. If not, then definitely be sure to set aside more time for individual packet study and/or read a packet over lunch to whoever is interested.
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Beevor Feevor » Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:52 pm

It's true, I'm not entirely alone at all (thank heaven, or else I'd be getting negs every time a science question came up.....) The next leading scorer after me is a senior, also my captain, who overlaps with me a lot on literature and history, so that's slightly less than ideal. It seems to be working so far though, and I have high hopes for this year's VHSL championship. Maybe I can find someone to back me up where I'm tremendously weak (*gives death glare at chemistry*).
RyuAqua wrote:Is there a way to expand this out to two practices? Or two hours? I usually find that teams practice more than this, like two times a week for 90 minutes each. If not, then definitely be sure to set aside more time for individual packet study and/or read a packet over lunch to whoever is interested.

I've been definitely trying to do this, but our coach is pretty busy with RL stuff, what with his 3 kids and everything, and for the past several years a succession of captains have asked him for more practices, to no avail. Although he has high expectations, he really doesn't provide enough practice for our team. I suppose it's fine for a local team, but after asking Dorman's A team about their practice schedule, I'm starting to think I'm gonna need a LOT more practice time to get anywhere near that good. Plus I'm not entirely sure how much practice helps as opposed to going over packets, which I constantly do individually.
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby David Riley » Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:54 pm

Eric: first of all, love both the username and the avatar :grin:

If practice at school isn't possible, you might look into practicing at someone's home for an extra practice or two per week; several teams have tried this with some degree of success. You might also try some team-bonding exercises, particularly with the freshmen: everyone could go bowling (no pun intended), or out to dinner, for example, which lets people get to know each other outside of school.
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby vcuEvan » Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:55 pm

I'm not sure how far away you are from UVA Eric, but you and your teammates are welcome to UVA practices at any time. Let me or Matt Bollinger know if you want to be put on the mailing list.
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby NikhilSethi » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:35 pm

Regarding practice sessions, I've found that protobowl sessions or scobowl sessions can be just as helpful as actual practices and sometimes even more so. You should definitely try it.
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Mewto55555 » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:54 pm

NikhilSethi wrote:Regarding practice sessions, I've found that protobowl sessions or scobowl sessions can be just as helpful as actual practices and sometimes even more so. You should definitely try it.


no don't

I don't understand this recent fetishization of all these new-fangled question readers. If you're on the go, and have only time for two or three tossups, sure, that's great. However, if you want to actually get good, just sit down and read a ton of packets. That way, you cover all the categories, read the more-boring-but-also-generally-more-helpful bonuses that usually get eschewed during online games, and can slow the pace down so you learn more. I'd imagine nearly every top high school player will tell you the same thing: if you want to get really good, all you need are some packets, some time, and Google.

Also practice on the buzzer needs to happen. You don't have to do this a ton (we only practice an hour a week, but I think this is anomalous), especially if you go to lots of tournaments and read lots on your own, but make sure it happens. Also, make sure you're in contact with the other members of your team, so they know what stuff they need to learn that you don't.
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Geriatric trauma » Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:08 pm

I'll vouch for the effectiveness of bonuses. Maybe it's just me, but I've always found that I learn much more quickly and completely by reading bonuses. When I went through my most rapid period of improvement, all I was doing was just reading the bonuses in a packet (while setting a target PPB for myself), and looking up the things that sounded interesting that I didn't know. This won't get you too many tossups against good teams, but it gives you a really good baseline of knowledge which you can then improve upon by focusing on a particular subject or subjects.
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Beevor Feevor » Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:21 am

Ok, I was formerly ignoring bonuses as a study method, studying tossups instead, but I guess that wasn't a good way of doing it....?
vcuEvan wrote:I'm not sure how far away you are from UVA Eric, but you and your teammates are welcome to UVA practices at any time. Let me or Matt Bollinger know if you want to be put on the mailing list.

Yeah, that would be amazing! We dont get to play against teams that are too stellar here, so seeing people better than we are would be really helpful, definitely
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Chimalpahin Quauhtlehuanitzin » Sat Jan 12, 2013 8:36 pm

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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Beevor Feevor » Sat Jan 12, 2013 8:45 pm

ngr17 wrote:I highly doubt you are mediocre after seeing this: http://www.hsquizbowl.org/db/tournaments/1216/stats/playoffs/teamdetail/#t11

In my defense, I was playing solo, and I had no basis of comparison for actual 20/20 packets, considering Cavalier Classic was the first non-VHSL thing I had ever attended. I have a better idea of my relative skills now I guess....
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Kafkaesque » Sat Jan 19, 2013 1:05 am

I attended the Blacksburg HS tournament, so I can vouch for Eric's skill. He pulled >500 pt games consistently by himself. Very impressive.

Eric, hey! I met you briefly at the tournament. If I may, have you done a lot more studying/practicing since the Cavalier Classic? Or have you been this good for a while?

By the way, this is my first post! I'm glad to finally be a member of the hsquizbowl community.
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Beevor Feevor » Sat Jan 19, 2013 7:25 am

I've been doing a lot more studying after Cavalier Classic; I assure you that I would have not been able to do as well as I did alone at the Blacksburg Invitational had I competed with my knowledge base from Cavalier Classic. The tips in this thread were tremendously helpful for studying, as well they should, coming from some of the best. I had a decently-sized base of knowledge already just from personal interest, and it only took about half an hour to an hour of studying packets and taking notes a day to get to where I currently am. Practices with the UVA team also exposed me to harder questions, so once you get up to a certain point, I recommend reading easy to medium difficulty college packets to get prepared for the higher level high school ones. Also, a massive studying binge where I studied packets for about 5 hours a day over winter break helped :P
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Kafkaesque » Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:20 pm

Thanks for the info! I figured you went on some sort of studying binge over winter break. Good luck at regionals (though I'm sure you won't need it)!
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Lawrence Simon » Thu Dec 19, 2013 10:17 pm

Can I just say how hilarious it is now to look back and see that Eric considered his team "mediocre" just a year ago? My how things change, guess that shows a lot of good, hard work.
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Beevor Feevor » Sun Mar 16, 2014 12:21 pm

Coming back here sure brings up a lot of memories. Very good ones at that; the advice I got in this thread helped motivate me and make into the player I am today, and I'm tremendously thankful for everyone who posted in this thread to help a new guy out.

For people who look back on this thread who are new, all the advice in here is very sound. Hard work and perseverance do pay off enormous dividends, especially with good notes while reading packets. There is no magic solution, that much is true. However, hard work can turn a mediocre team into a nationally-contending team faster than a lot of people think.

As a personal request, if any veteran Quizbowler is asked "How do I improve?" by some Quizbowl neophyte, I highly encourage that Quizbowler to take 10 minutes out of his or her day and explain how they got good or involved in Quizbowl. It really helps the community a lot, and support from people who have succeeded can really motivate some people (I know it helped me out a bunch). Thanks to the community for being so great to me with advice a year and a half ago, it was much appreciated!
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Geriatric trauma » Fri May 29, 2015 4:17 am

lol

Please try to add at least some content to your posts. -mgmt
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby dhumphreys17 » Tue Jun 09, 2015 9:54 pm

I think that this just shows what an inspirational player Xu is at the end of the day. It certainly gives me hope to think that with a lot of hard work, studying, preparation, and dedication, there is the possibility that our team could become Nationals-contending. And I'm sure I'm not the only one, either.
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Re: How to make a team more than mediocre?

Postby Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Tue Jun 09, 2015 10:47 pm

dhumphreys17 wrote:I think that this just shows what an inspirational player Xu is at the end of the day. It certainly gives me hope to think that with a lot of hard work, studying, preparation, and dedication, there is the possibility that our team could become Nationals-contending. And I'm sure I'm not the only one, either.

For some reason I don't think any amount of studying I do will make me a high school champ!
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