Improving drastically in a short amount of time

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100% Clean Comedian Dan Nainan
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Improving drastically in a short amount of time

Post by 100% Clean Comedian Dan Nainan »

To anyone that has been part of a team that made huge strides over the span of a season, I ask:

How much better can a team get over the course of a season? What's a realistic ceiling if you put in lots of hard work? I currently play for a team that finished 4-5 at SSNCT last year, and lost the majority of it's scoring to graduation. This season, I would like to place highly in SSNCT (somewhere around T-7th/T-11th), and be able to attend HSNCT, and be competitive (possibly make playoffs?). Are these goals feasible? What would be the most effective way(s) of studying to accomplish them?

Any and all feedback is appreciated.
Chandler West
Auburn University '20
Good Hope High School (Cullman, AL) '16
Member, PACE

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Beevor Feevor
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Re: Improving drastically in a short amount of time

Post by Beevor Feevor »

Hey Chandler!

I definitely understand the pain of trying to improve very rapidly in a short time after a lot of players have left. I have some experience with rapid improvement, at least in the early stages of high school Quizbowl, so I can try to give you a sense of what to shoot for and how to go about it. I would also highly suggest checking out the other threads for new teams in these forums. There has been a lot of good advice already stated by people far more eloquent than I ever will be, so take advantage of that!

With the advent of new technology to supplement proper, non-easy way out studying, it has gotten a lot easier for determined players to improve dramatically in a short amount of time, so don't be discouraged! As a team, go through a few packets of high school regular difficulty to find out where you all are at. What ppb are you getting on lit, history, science, music, etc? Are there any sorely weak spots or bright spots? Who seems dedicated to putting in the time to lock down a certain subject?

Once you figure out your baseline, you can begin the improvement process by laying the foundation. The early steps to improving in high school Quizbowl are the most rewarding because, with enough work, you rapidly get an idea of the canon and can start 20ing bonuses at the high school level with relative ease. If your goal is to get t-7th at SSNCT, making sure you leave no middle part or middle clue unturned is the best way to start preparing for 30ing bonuses. Too often, I see people freaking out about not powering enough or having too few 30s throughout a tournament. You need to get solid middle buzzes and 20s first before you can make it there!

Dedicated packet study is the best way to approach that. Use packets not as an end-all-be-all for studying, not only because it's ineffective in the long run, but because it's less valuable to you as a player. That being said, using packets as a guideline for what sort of topics come up with any semblance of regularity is an A+ way to make use of the packet archives and Quinterest. Review the clues that come over in the giveaways, middle clues, and middle parts, and you should be pushing playoffs in no time!
Eric Xu
Western Albemarle High School '15
University of Virginia '19

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100% Clean Comedian Dan Nainan
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Re: Improving drastically in a short amount of time

Post by 100% Clean Comedian Dan Nainan »

Thanks so much, Eric! I believe we have the dedication to do big things. Our two best players attended ACE camp this summer, and even though we don't have a great generalist, we naturally are interested in most of the distribution between the four players on our A team, which should be good for specializing. I am a firm believer, and have witnessed first hand that four good players usually beat one great player. From what I've seen so far in practice this year, we're currently putting up about 300 PP20TH on an IS-A set. Are there any specifics that have worked for you in addition to packet study?
Chandler West
Auburn University '20
Good Hope High School (Cullman, AL) '16
Member, PACE

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Chef Curry
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Re: Improving drastically in a short amount of time

Post by Chef Curry »

I have not yet been part of a team that has made huge strides over the span of a season, but I'd like to say a few things. You might have seen this thread (viewtopic.php?f=117&t=17392), but the post by Tanay from Bellermine answers some of your questions and the thread as a whole gives you some great pointers. In short, speaking theoretically, if you study like a madman you can go anywhere. But everyone has the time with other obvious commitments such as school and a life outside of quizbowl.

Your team seems to be in a rebuilding phase. The most important thing that I have probably learned from good players and teams, is to study hard and put in the work. You might have heard that a bunch of times, but there is no magic bullet and to get to the top you must put in a lot of hard and smart work. The best way to improve drastically in a season is probably to learn about the methods to improve that are available to you, experiment for a while and see what works that best for you as an individual, and put in as much time as feasible. And if you have teammates that want to study, that's even better.
To learn about studying methods:

Look at the thread above for studying and specializing to become a top team

Definitely read this if you have not already, it will give you some great advice: viewtopic.php?f=30&t=14099

You also definitely want to listen to this podcast in its entirety from the PACE coaches conference on how to improve as a player. http://goo.gl/4ZUb31

Those are the top two resources that really helped me and probably many other people. You will most likely know enough to start studying hard after being exposed to the above materials. But more reading can certainly be beneficial.

The key takeaway is to find a method, stick with it, and you will be able to go the places that you mentioned if you put in the time and dedicate yourself for the duration of the season. As I have learned recently, the work ethic is most important, working smart and being allergic to average. You have other things like college applications and we all do, but if you want to improve you need to find the time and carve it out of your day if it is important to you. Be obsessed with improvement, if you go to practice or a tournament, and find something that you don't know, look it up and expose yourself to it. You have to hate losing more than you love winning. If you get crushed by a really good team, draw from that and use it as motivation to become just as good or even better than them. Everybody can tell you the same things, but if you put in the time and the effort you can reach the t-7 or wherever you want to be in the span of a school year.

Some of your more specific queries on methods will probably be answered in those threads or maybe by other people on this one.

Sorry for all the cliches, and I am not at the position you have described yet so I advise you to take my advice with a grain of salt. There are many more qualified people to answer this question, but those are just my two cents.

P.S. I tend to need some motivation and I really like Eric Thomas, he makes me want to run through a brick wall after every video. You might want to check him out, here are some of the best videos with him:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsSC2vx7zFQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QA_dgK8xad8

EDIT: I did not see Eric Xu's helpful post while writing this so I apologize for any restatements
Ahan Patel
Manheim Township High School '17
Villanova '21

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