Keeping Score During Practices

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Keeping Score During Practices

Post by EricChang5 »

During practices, is it beneficial to keep score if there are enough players to split into teams? Curious to see what other people's thoughts on this are. Of course, it varies on a case-by-case basis and really depends on the team(s) you are with. There is certainly a balance between having fun at practice and trying to improve to compete seriously, and I was wondering to see if other high school/college teams regularly keep score during practices.

I've started coaching a high school team that is rebuilding after a faculty sponsor change. Only a few of my students have some prior experience playing at basically only VHSL tournaments. We've been able to recruit pretty successfully and have a good number of new players including freshmen and sophomores, which we have split into having their own JV practices. Since a large majority of my students are new to quizbowl, I split up practice into a "toss-up practice" portion where I write toss-ups based on Dwight Kidder's The 99 Critical Shots in Quiz Bowl and quiz my students on those. We have a competition for those questions where the faculty sponsor and I give a small prize to the student who does the best each month on those questions. I use PACE scoring (20 for power, 10 for get, 0 for neg) to try and encourage more buzzing. Then we go through 1-2 20/20 packets for our normal practice and practice as though they were real matches. I keep score while I read for them. We usually have enough students to have at least 3v3, and I split them up into roughly equal teams to help practice bonus portions since that is completely new to most of the team. While I want to certainly keep the "practice like you play" mentality, I have also started to notice some issues that arise. Both in high school and college, I've never kept score during practices, but that was more because of the team size and casual culture. However, my students are always very conscious about scoring even before I started to keep score during practices. It's certainly a good problem to have since my students want to be competitive and enjoy going against each other, but I also don't want them to be so focused on winning/losing in practice and more about improving during practice.

- Keeps a competitive atmosphere to practice
- Forces students to not make "bad" negs (just completely guessing on the first clue with not real knowledge)
- Good practice for real match situations (knowing when a game is won)
- Teaches the importance of working with your team
- Helps students who are also trying to learn how to keep score while they play

- Can lose the casual atmosphere
- Can over-emphasize that negs are terrible (obviously negs are not good but during practices they are helpful to learn from)
- Some students become way more hesitant to buzz in since they don't want to penalize their team

I try to ground my practices with a fun atmosphere that allows for a competitive edge. Of course, I'm not quite as strict with my JV students, and those practices are much more casual. With both sets of students, I try to emphasize that having negs aren't the end of the world. It has been good at the beginning since we had several players who had a "negging issue" that have started to get out of those habits, but I am certainly starting to see a trend in my varsity students that prevents them from buzzing in for fear of negging. Should I stop keeping score or maybe change my practice format?
Eric Chang
Christiansburg High School '15
Virginia Tech '19
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Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:25 pm
Location: Santa Monica, CA

Re: Keeping Score During Practices

Post by joshxu »

At our practices we have always kept score, for the reasons you listed under "pros". Additional reasons why we do so include 1) it trains players for in-game situations (e.g. knowing when to be extremely cautious, knowing when to not buzz no matter what), and 2) by keeping individual stats, it allows players to track their own progress. In my opinion the pros greatly outweigh the cons here.
Josh Xu

Santa Monica High School (Class of 2021)
Quiz Bowl Captain
"Club President"
2019–2020 SoCal Quiz Bowl Coach of the Year (self-proclaimed, but uncontested)
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Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2018 1:37 pm

Re: Keeping Score During Practices

Post by Scone »

I would say that it depends on how your kids feel about it.

One potential danger with keeping detailed stats is that players will become too fixated on their own individual performance. This can mean either becoming too reluctant to buzz (which is what you said), vulching, or comparing their score to others. In my freshman year, the captains would keep individual scores for everyone during practice, and this definitely led to me (and others) trying to maximize my own score in order to be placed on a better team. I remember after every practice I would rush up from my seat to look at the scoresheet to see how I was doing, who was better than me, etc.

If your kids are able to handle knowledge of their stats maturely and won't get too competitive, however, keeping score is a-ok. I actually wish our club leadership adopted the "practice like you play" mentality, and it's good that your club is. That being said, I do admire that our club is able to maintain a casual attitude, so it'll also depend on what you want out of your club as well.
Samir Sarma
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Re: Keeping Score During Practices

Post by BulldogBuzzers »

I've been trying something new during practices for our middle school team that has two fairly strong players, three players who can get buzzes, and some newer players who need to be encouraged to take chances to buzz in. The A team faces an (overlarge) B team with no penalties for negs other than control of the question going to the other team. For the A team, powers are still 15, but toss-ups after power are 1 point. Bonuses for the A team are 30 for three, 10 for two, and 1 point for 1, while scoring for the B team is standard. Reception for this has been quite good, and the B team players seem to be more willing to offer buzzes, while the A team has some pressure to go for powers and ensure they're communicating to get thirties on bonuses.
Todd Gunther
Berwick Area
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Re: Keeping Score During Practices

Post by Hypersmart »

joshxu wrote: Tue Mar 03, 2020 2:16 pm At our practices we have always kept score, for the reasons you listed under "pros". Additional reasons why we do so include 1) it trains players for in-game situations (e.g. knowing when to be extremely cautious, knowing when to not buzz no matter what), and 2) by keeping individual stats, it allows players to track their own progress. In my opinion the pros greatly outweigh the cons here.
I would agree with keeping stats during practice for these reasons, as well as keeping a "practice like you play" mindset. I feel its important to have a good gauge on the competitive culture of the team. Encouraging players to study independently and reminding them that quizbowl is means to learning, can keep some of that overt competitiveness in check.

Maybe the portion of the practice where you write the questions, to be one where there is just a winning team and losing team. The second portion can be one where the stats are more explicit. Alternatively, you can have the beginning of the year/preseason where you don't keep score so explicitly. Then as time comes for sectionals, start taking practices more seriously (emphasizing competing as team).

This is just me speaking from my limited player experience.
Veer Bhatt

John Champe '19
VMI '23
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Joined: Tue May 16, 2017 11:01 am

Re: Keeping Score During Practices

Post by jnelson »

In college, my coach did both. The first half of practice was typically dedicated to warming up; people who were tasked with bringing in new facts shared them, and we played a few packets casually with no score taken. Coach typically used this to see whcih players were getting better in specific subjects. The second half of practice, we were divided into teams and played compeitively to keep score and work on in-game situations. As we got closer to big tournaments, the casual/competitive split went from 50/50 to 20/80.

That's just one situation, but it really does vary based on the personalities of your team and tweaking your practices accordingly. I absolutely believe it makes sense to play some packets sans scoring; the players who are invested in their stats will always be keeping a mental score or tallying on their own, and your less aggressive players will appreciate it.
Jeremy Nelson
Marist High School (IL) '05
Alcorn State University '09
University of Illinois '12
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