Convincing Teammates to Specialize

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Euler's Constant
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Convincing Teammates to Specialize

Post by Euler's Constant »

Hi I'm new here and I need some advice on how encourage my teammates to specialize in different subjects. While we're a not very young team, we do have one sophomore and two freshmen who are starting to produce semi-constantly on the varsity team, and who could become very good players. One major problem is that we have a lot of overlap and quite a few holes, and I don't know how to convince them that if they start to specialize we could be a good team in a year and that they might be able to do well at nationals in two years. The other major problem is that even if do convince them, I don't know where to point them to get better other than reading packets, and the problem with that is that it seems to make everyone generalists. Also I am a junior and I don't know if I should specialize as well or just get better as a generalist in to cover the gaps until they're ready to take control. Thanks for any advice.
Nicholas Wawrykow
Saint Joseph('s) High School (IN) '13
Yale '17
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Re: Convincing Teammates to Specialize

Post by Smuttynose Island »

Resource wise you can use the Torrey Pines database which will read questions from specific categories to you. Additionally, reading books in a general subject is great for specializing. For instance, there are many books out there that cover the history of the US from 1607 to the present. Writing.questions is also great practice as it allows you to learn alot about specific answers in a subject.
Last edited by Smuttynose Island on Sat Dec 31, 2011 6:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Convincing Teammates to Specialize

Post by abnormal abdomen »

I'm just gonna preface this by saying that (a) I'm not some sort of expert on building an excellent team, and (b) I'm not claiming to have some sort of epic rags-to-riches quiz bowl story.

Basically, from my perspective, specializing in quiz bowl was precisely the thing that made me enjoy quiz bowl. I was pretty awful throughout most of my freshman year (I think I claimed at one point to have been, like, a sports specialist or something) and just kinda got a tossup here, a tossup there. Plus, when you practice with a relatively strong program, there's not much you can just pick up on your own. At some point, through some fairly absurd circumstances, I was prompted to just learn about paintings, and I did that pretty heavily for some time. The great thing about specializing in a field is that, as an individually subpar player, you can sorta guarantee for yourself that there will be something in each round that you can compete to get and feel confident about getting, especially against weaker teams. This was the case for me the first time I played an HSAPQ set. Unfortunately, this stuff may not directly apply to you, nor will it apply to programs in which there's just like one kid who needs to learn everything because no one else is going to do anything. So from that standpoint, I was privileged going into my sophomore year, because I had teammates who were already good at things.

At the same time, I don't think a little overlap is such a bad thing. It's a bad thing, though, when everyone is a generalist and no one's deep at anything. I could be a little off here, but a great recent example of a team that was specialized but still had overlap was the incredible State College team of the last two years. I think they all seemed to have their best subjects, but they definitely overlapped in stuff. Again, though, that sort of circumstance doesn't always exactly just kinda fall into your lap, to say the least.

Anyways, what Daniel said is pretty right-on as far as studying goes. It's also a lot easier to specialize in something in which you have an interest. You're not going to learn things as well if you just don't enjoy it at all.
Abid Haseeb
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Re: Convincing Teammates to Specialize

Post by Stained Diviner »

ACFDB is also a good place to go to learn a specialty. You can start with recent Novice and Fall questions and work up from there.

I hate to state the obvious, but the first step before a team decides to specialize is to figure out who wants to take quizbowl seriously enough to improve. If you get two or three such teammates, it shouldn't be that difficult to figure out which individual strengths already exist that should be built on and which group weaknesses exist that should be addressed. Literature is a subject that pretty much all teams need to discuss. (Abid's team is the exception that rule because they have Lloyd, but I digress.)
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Re: Convincing Teammates to Specialize

Post by Euler's Constant »

Thanks for the replies. All of the resources look useful. Riot In Cell Block Nine I agree that practicing against good players helps but the problem is most of our practices are a little crazy and often end up being free-for-alls or me vs. the rest, and while IMO I am a good to above average player, I am nothing special so they aren't really getting much out of practice. The one time they scrimmaged a good team (Culver) they were beaten pretty badly, but they think that if I was there it would have been more even, not realizing that Andrew Van Duyn is much better of a player than I am. The other problem is that it is unlikely we will scrimmage again.
Leucippe and Clitophon wrote:the first step before a team decides to specialize is to figure out who wants to take quizbowl seriously enough to improve.
I realized this before and I am convinced we do have a good group of kids. The problem for them is that Indiana quiz bowl is rather poor (not counting Culver) and we haven't had much of a problem winning when our top players are present otherwise, and I am the only player whose been to HSNCT or anything similar, so they think that they can coast and do well. I don't want them to go to Nationals and be totally unprepared for the level of competition, so I am worry about that, and I don't know how to convince them that this would help before it's too late. Also our two freshmen overlap in literature and are decent at it, which makes us lucky I guess, but they still have a long ways to go before they are good and I don't know if I should push both into literature or get one to just learn something else, and our sophomore is a trash player and I have no idea what to do about him. Thanks for advice.
Nicholas Wawrykow
Saint Joseph('s) High School (IN) '13
Yale '17
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Re: Convincing Teammates to Specialize

Post by tinioril »

There is so much literature that it would not be bad to have two specialists, if they tackled different regions or time periods.
A current trash specialist could transform into anything if you convinced him to set his mind to it.
Depending on where in Indiana you are, it could help (if you need more tournaments) to go to some Illinois tournaments as well.
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Re: Convincing Teammates to Specialize

Post by i never see pigeons in wheeling »

I'll add onto what Abid said by noting that their interest in a subject must be organic for them to learn it effectively. There's a difference between memorizing the clues in a certain category out of necessity and actually consolidating your knowledge in said field for a unified understanding. It's the latter that gets tossups for power and great bonus conversions. However, to start, try encouraging them to read the books or view the paintings or learn the concepts that come up in practice. They might be surprised and have more enthusiasm for that particular subject, which always bodes well for a team going into a game.
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Re: Convincing Teammates to Specialize

Post by Luan »

I don't think you have to full-out specialize in order to build a good team. From the short time I've been involved in quizbowl, it seems that there are certain subjects that some people gravitate towards because they are either interested in it or are naturally "good" (I use good in the loosest terms here, meaning that they have more prior knowledge of that subject that others on the team). Given time, the team will sort itself out, and it should become obvious who's good at what. After that, they just have to be encouraged to study that field in order to get better. It should be noted that although they should focus on that subject, it doesn't mean that if they, for example find science interesting but are specialized in social studies, have to disregard science completely. There are a few people on our team who are in no way generalists but could be considered "hybrids", and I believe that that is a positive thing, as it helps cover some of the holes that may be left in the generalist. Our team is quite young, with one senior and one junior and quite a few (okay, a LOT of) underclassmen, me included, but after a semester players tend to settle into a subject area they are comfortable with.
Luan
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