buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

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buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

What do you think is the best way for an amateur (or, as i've found out, sometimes a not-so-amateur) quizbowl player to get over buzzer fear? Yes yes i know "study more," "practice pyramidal questions" and all that, that's obvious. But is there something i'm missing? I've heard numerous times from players like this (which may or may not have been me in high school...) that they absolutely knew 100% an answer at a certain clue but just couldn't buzz in for whatever reason.

It's kinda like the yips in golf... missing that 18-inch putt for absolutely no reason that you make 99.8% of the time and you can't explain it.
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by Stained Diviner »

I've never seen your team play, but on some teams it is due to the reaction that negging brings. If a team (players and/or coach) is very critical of any negs that happen during a match, some of the students will overreact by playing too passively.

The behavior you're talking about, on the other hand, could use some (not too harsh) criticism. When my students say such things, I tell them that I don't want to hear about it, that not buzzing is as good as not knowing, and that I would rather give playing time to students who buzz in. Such reactions should be tailored to the student-coach relationship so that you're not being mean to a kid you've never been nice to, but this problem does not require psychoanalysis.

Additionally, practices need to be set up so that kids who have a modicum of knowledge are buzzing in at least occasionally so that they get that experience.
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by cvdwightw »

I'm not sure exactly what this "buzzer fear" is related to. Many of the best players have a tendency to "sit" on questions - they recognize a clue or two they know, then wait for an even better one before buzzing in. Another thing is that players sometimes doubt their own knowledge and feel that they would be taking questions away from more knowledgeable teammates when they buzz and get the question wrong - this often happens with teammates who are specialists in areas that these players have little knowledge in, e.g., I'm a halfway decent but unspectacular geography player, but when I've played with Ray Anderson and Charles Meigs, I've practically never buzzed on geography (even when I'm 95% confident) because I'm more confident in their abilities to get the question than in my abilities. I'm not sure either of these situations counts as the "buzzer hesitancy" you're referring to, but they might be some of what is going on.

This is a maxim that I was told when I started piling up negs my sophomore year of college after having a case of that "buzzer fear" my freshman year. You can decide whether it's true or not, though I think it's good advice for new players: It's better, starting out, to be too aggressive than too timid, because the knowledge will start to come, and then some of those negs start turning into points.
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by Matt Weiner »

This does happen with a lot of new players, and it's understandable given how quizbowl works. Some of us come from backgrounds where we played sports as kids (or more recently) or are otherwise fairly used to competition and taking risks. Others are more stereotypically nerdy and have never had the burden of pressing a button that makes a very loud noise, calling attention to themselves, and having to produce an answer or be penalized within 5 seconds. For the latter group, I've found the best thing to do is to take a game in practice (or a meaningless game at a tournament, though this will annoy the opponent real fast) and tell the person they MUST buzz in before the 15th word of the question and take a guess. Even if they go 1 for 20, they will not really be timid about buzzing in early in the future.

Also, if you/your team is one of those people that likes to yell loud expletives at teammates who neg, you should stop doing that, but that's increasingly rare these days so I assume it's not the issue.
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by Sir Thopas »

Matt Weiner wrote:Also, if you/your team is one of those people that likes to yell loud expletives at teammates who neg, you should stop doing that, but that's increasingly rare these days so I assume it's not the issue.
What about yelling loud expletives when you yourself neg?
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

metsfan001 wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote:Also, if you/your team is one of those people that likes to yell loud expletives at teammates who neg, you should stop doing that, but that's increasingly rare these days so I assume it's not the issue.
What about yelling loud expletives when you yourself neg?
Are there people that don't?

Another point here - buzzer timidity is much more serious for the teammates of one-man teams and teams that feature an elite specialist. You've already got the fears of "being wrong," "ruining it for your teammates," but then add in "and so-and-so is expected to buzz in on it, not me," and you've got a real problem. There's nothing worse than the feeling of "Well, if I know this, so-and-so must know it too, I'll wait for them" because that's often false.

I'm of the opinion that, in practices, the one-man of a one-man team should have some certain restrictions, and which way you want to go is up to you - no buzz until after a certain point, no buzz at all after a certain number of corrects (for a certain number of tossups), moderating instead of playing for part of practice, whatever.
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

I outlined this once before, but this -
no buzz at all after a certain number of corrects (for a certain number of tossups)
is really not that great an idea for practice.
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

Deesy Does It wrote:I outlined this once before, but this -
no buzz at all after a certain number of corrects (for a certain number of tossups)
is really not that great an idea for practice.
Yeah, of those I listed, that's the one I wouldn't do. Listed it out of completion's sake, really. I'd rather just let the player play all of one half, then none of the other half (by reading questions or something else).
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat »

It might help if you played a set or two in practice with everyone playing by themselves on tossups. In theory, that would get rid of worries about more knowledgeable teammates, and negs (if you count them) wouldn't "hurt" as much since missed questions will end up spread out among many players rather than only one opponent. I've always wanted to try this with some of my friends, but never got around to it, so I don't know if it would work in practice.
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by Sir Thopas »

styxman wrote:I'm of the opinion that, in practices, the one-man of a one-man team should have some certain restrictions, and which way you want to go is up to you - no buzz until after a certain point, no buzz at all after a certain number of corrects (for a certain number of tossups), moderating instead of playing for part of practice, whatever.
As a former (I hope?) one-man team, there's two very simple ways to get teammates better without making that person feel left out and restricted:
1) read
2) have them write and read questions on their own time.
Other things we tried for a while were eliminating my buzzer advantage by making me buzz on a different table, possibly with someone else blocking; another thing with interesting results was giving everyone else a few seconds to swoop in without penalty on my early buzz. That way I don't feel frustrated by not being able to buzz, while they still have a chance to get stuff earlier on.
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

squareroot165 wrote:It might help if you played a set or two in practice with everyone playing by themselves on tossups. In theory, that would get rid of worries about more knowledgeable teammates, and negs (if you count them) wouldn't "hurt" as much since missed questions will end up spread out among many players rather than only one opponent. I've always wanted to try this with some of my friends, but never got around to it, so I don't know if it would work in practice.
I do this quite frequently and i always thought that it would be the most obvious solution... just get the damn kids buzzing without fear or something. And it seems to work in practice, but i've had one or two kids come up to me in the last year and say something along the lines of "Mr.C i just couldn't buzz in and i don't know why."

But there were a lot of good suggestions in this thread and i really really thank you guys for them.

We definitely do not have a one man team; we have a player (our only senior) who's probably the best but his knowledge is very much concentrated in science and math (with a decent amount of mythology and history). I've been trying to specialize the team this summer by making them write questions. It's... well, there's still 6 weeks til school so we'll see.

I like the point about limiting the amount of words given in a tossup and forcing a buzz. I'm not 100% sure of how to monitor and/or facilitate that in practice, but i like the idea and i think i'll give it a shot.
cvdwightw wrote:It's better, starting out, to be too aggressive than too timid, because the knowledge will start to come, and then some of those negs start turning into points.
I've pretty much said something like this to several players and you hit it right on the head... but it hasn't been able to get them over their timidity very much.
ReinsteinD wrote:The behavior you're talking about, on the other hand, could use some (not too harsh) criticism. When my students say such things, I tell them that I don't want to hear about it, that not buzzing is as good as not knowing, and that I would rather give playing time to students who buzz in.
This reminds me of when i used to (terribly) try to hit in baseball. I was a hell of a pitcher but i got scared at the plate. And my dad told me "a walk is worse than a strikeout, damnit" even though obviously that's not true, but he just wanted to get me swinging. I guess that attitude can work for quizbowl too.
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by Tegan »

I want to throw out the following:

First: I will never doubt for a moment the law: to improve, you must play teams better than you, and to be the best, you play the best. I find that to be pretty immutable, and while there are rare exceptions, they remain that: rare exceptions.


Is there a case to be made for younger players (like freshmen and sophomores) .... those who haven't already gotten up to speed and playing on a varsity team .... to start off playing novice like tournaments in their high school career.

I say that because I have been conflicted over the past few years: Illinois has a long established frosh-soph system of tournaments, and I can't think of a league that doesn't have something like it. I wonder if this helps somewhat with what is being discussed.

The conflict, of course, is that if young players don't get up to see the varsity level, until they are juniors, does it act to "stunt" their progress?

I'm just mulling this as I have for a few years.

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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by Matt Weiner »

I don't new players should be too overwhelmed playing regular tournaments, because you're not playing the champion all the time. Every C team full of freshmen gets a few wins here or there over teams who are worse.
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by cchiego »

I think there are three separate, though related times when buzzer hesitancy issues come up. The first, which seems to be the dominant topic of this thread, involves new players. They may know a few things, but they really don't know the canon and can get intimidated by the prospect of negs or merely becoming the spotlight of attention. Fortunately, I think this is the easiest condition to cure. You can do the "forced" buzzes in practice or one of the other methods suggested earlier in the thread. I also don't think it hurts to have novices play more experienced teams sometimes to get over this, since if they're expected to lose they have nothing to lose by aggressive play. Then, they can take that newfound confidence back to the JV level and start playing well against opponents of more equal level.

But then there's also the issue of decent-to-good players who hesitate because while they think they know the answer, they aren't entirely sure and are reluctant to reflex buzz. These players often alternate bursts of negs with buzzer dormancy, since this kind of hesitation can easily lead to a vicious cycle. I've suffered from this a lot, especially on upper-level questions where I know I'll only get a few limited opportunities each round and thus hesitate even after I'm sure I know the answer. The only cure to this is to learn more, since once you have a better idea of the answers out there and the core knowledge for that subject, you can have the confidence to buzz earlier and avoid bad negs.

Finally, there's the master-level hesitancy which comes from having heard many, many clues before and being reluctant to buzz early for fear of mistaking a clue even after they really know it. I don't have experience with this beyond a few niches, so I'll let people better qualified speak on it.
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

We've never been to a novice-only tournament, but we've been to ones with a "JV" division. I'd really only rather have them do that once or twice a year... they're much better off playing against everybody.

They still sit there and don't buzz, then come to me later and say "i knew like 5 of them Mr. C."

Real helpful.
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by Captain Sinico »

Ancien régime ABT president J.p. Lein used to have people just buzz (like when he turned on a light or something) to cut through buzzer hesitancy and keep people sharp. I'm not sure how effective that was, but it's something. I've occasionally offered bribes to get people to buzz in practice (often in the form of, like, "I will give this dollar bill to the next person who buzzes (with a reasonable guess.)")
I find that what works best for in-game situations is to have people know they're expected to buzz on certain things. Of course, that is concomitant with actually knowing a subject (construed narrowly as you like) well, but almost everyone knows something well.

MaS

Edit: To the delight of several, spelling fixed.
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by Siverus Snape »

ImmaculateDeception wrote:Ancien régiem
Yo man, if you break out the French, you gotsta do it right. Otherwise it looks all...Eastern European (help me out Guy).
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by Sir Thopas »

SIVster716 wrote:
ImmaculateDeception wrote:Ancien régiem
Yo man, if you break out the French, you gotsta do it right. Otherwise it looks all...Eastern European (help me out Guy).
ancięn regięm

Heh.
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by Stained Diviner »

A related problem with novice players is that they think that they are supposed to be quiet during bonus questions unless they know the answer. They assume that the captain is supposed to make all guesses and don't immediately recognize the importance of helping the captain to guess. It comes down to the same problems mentioned above with some people not wanting to say things that have a decent chance of being wrong, and it's something that needs to be addressed by coaches and captains who are working with new players. The bonus problem is easier to solve, however, than the tossup problem.
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by Maxwell Sniffingwell »

I had to experiment with a lot of this stuff this year, as I was basically a 1-man team with a very timid supporting cast. One thing that I've found helps (seriously) is:

When you finish a packet of tossups, you'll usually have 2-10 bonuses left over. Run these bonuses part-by-part, one after the other, allowing one buzz per part per person. Because bonuses are not always pyramidal (either between the three parts or within each part,) the players have to be ready to buzz at any time - they're not waiting 'til a decent length of tossup has gone by or anything. Effectively, you're running 6-30 unpyramidal one- or two-liners of varying degrees of difficulty, but you're still covering good quizbowl.

I did this with ACF Fall and Regionals on players who had never seen a buzzer before, and the PARTPARTPARTNEXTBONUSPARTPARTPART etc. thing really helped me turn two or three of my players from very knowledgeable buzzer rocks that occasionally help on bonuses into actual players... though only in the 10-20 PPG range. But that's better than 0.

Hope that helps.
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by Saiem »

cornfused wrote:I had to experiment with a lot of this stuff this year, as I was basically a 1-man team with a very timid supporting cast. One thing that I've found helps (seriously) is:

When you finish a packet of tossups, you'll usually have 2-10 bonuses left over. Run these bonuses part-by-part, one after the other, allowing one buzz per part per person. Because bonuses are not always pyramidal (either between the three parts or within each part,) the players have to be ready to buzz at any time - they're not waiting 'til a decent length of tossup has gone by or anything. Effectively, you're running 6-30 unpyramidal one- or two-liners of varying degrees of difficulty, but you're still covering good quizbowl.

I did this with ACF Fall and Regionals on players who had never seen a buzzer before, and the PARTPARTPARTNEXTBONUSPARTPARTPART etc. thing really helped me turn two or three of my players from very knowledgeable buzzer rocks that occasionally help on bonuses into actual players... though only in the 10-20 PPG range. But that's better than 0.

Hope that helps.

I support this idea. The other thing that is pretty useful in my experience is playing solo. Whether it be at a practice or at a tournament, going solo is usually a pretty useful experience because you learn what you know, and what you really don't know that well. This will generally allow you to expand a little as a player, but in terms of hesitance, my argument is that if you're the only person on the team.. who is going to care if you neg. Your empty chairs won't be giving any answers, so go for it. As long as there isn't an existing culture of ridicule, it should be alright.
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

I don't know how much, if at all, this helps, but almost all of Minnesota's practices consist of packets read to the entire crowd, playing for themselves. That is, everyone plays for themselves on each tossup, then the corresponding bonus is read to the group as a whole. It ensures both that every question is heard and that each person has equal opportunity to both buzz and contribute.
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by theattachment »

Having mass crowd practices seemed to help me over the past couple years, as EP's lunch practices were basically those. As pre-tournament tune-ups I feel it helps to go as teams, but for learning crowd seems like a better way. It may not help with buzzer hesitancy, but it helps with hearing clues.
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Re: buzzer hesitancy/reluctance/cowardice(?)

Post by naturalistic phallacy »

Learning to trust yourself enough to buzz off of knowledge is the hardest part of quizbowl.
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