Successful teams, whether sports, academic, or otherwise, start before a single team member is placed. Team-building begins when coaches decide on appropriate goals for the team. With a goal foundation in place, coaches can then design try-outs that will bring in team members capable of meeting the team's needs.
Goals for Quiz Bowl TeamsAcademic team coaches know that they will need to have students strong in a broad knowledge; all scholastic quiz bowls meets are designed around trivia. However, there are other questions that a coach needs to address before try-outs.
When will the team practice?
Try-outs should be the same day and time as practice. If potential members can't make it to tryouts, they probably will not make it to practice.
How many members will be allowed on the team?
The number of open spots will determine how well-advertised the try-outs are. If coaches are looking for a few kids, then getting the try-outs notice on the daily bulletin and putting posters up will be enough. If coaches are creating a team for the first time, it might be necessary to have skits and mini-tournaments at lunch to generate interest.
What level of competition will the team face?
If the team is a young middle school or junior high team, a coach might have a goal to offer quiz bowl exposure to the students and not focus on winning. A more experienced team might have more competitive goals. Try-outs should be geared to getting the type of students who meet team needs.
All students should have a chance to try out for the team. Coaches should make sure the tryouts are well-advertised in the bulletin, school newspaper, hallway posters, and other communication. Coaches should note how often practices and competitions are held, so that students can assess if the being on the team fits into their lives. Coaches should have a sign-up list so they can adequately prepare for the number of students intending to tryout.
Preparing Questions for Tryouts
Coaches should have a written test; buzzer skills can be built during team-practice.A shy student should not be excluded from the team, because confidence can reduce shyness. If possible, using real questions from competitions is the most fair and accurate way to assess qualified team members. Create quiz bowl questions that are similar to competition questions will also suffice.
Coaches may also want to test the questions on students who can be trusted not to reveal the questions to people trying out. If the questions can be tested, the coach can determine if the questions makes sense to teenagers, and also determine how long the test takes. Sometimes tryout tests take much longer than a coach estimates.
Coaches should have sharpened pencils and paper available for the students, and enough tables and chairs or desks for everyone. The coach should introduce herself and announce the goals for the team, giving estimates for practice times and competition times. Current team members might help by passing out papers and pencils. It is important that the coach makes the students aware of when and how the results will be given; it might be necessary to get student schedules so the coach can have notes delivered. Plan to help students keep calm; trying out is unnerving.
Determining Who Makes the Team
Coaches should check the tryout answers and take the top students for however many spots need to be filled. Students who qualify should be congratulated and told of the next meeting date, as well as informed in writing of what is expected of team members: behavior requirements, grade point averages for eligibility, and attendance concerns. Coaches should make their standards clear from the moment students are placed on the team.
Being on a scholastic bowl is a rewarding experience for students, but the process of trying out is rewarding as well, even if the end result is rejection. Coaches should send notes to everyone who tried out, thanking them for their interest in the team. Students who tried out but did not qualify might be used as substitutes, timers and score-keepers during competition, or as a practice team for the official team. Including students who did not qualify demonstrates that the coach appreciates the risk and effort taken in trying out for a team.
Originally posted on Suite101 on October 10th, 2008
Ally Sharp is a teacher, writer and editor, and technology trainer.