How to turn a lower-tier high school team into a good high school team

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This article is targeted towards existing teams that are new to the game, are no longer interested in focusing on bad quizbowl, or have decided to start improving at quizbowl. A lot of this advice is similar to How to Get Good at This Game, but this article is a bit more explicit.

It is important to remember that quizbowl is an enjoyable way to learn. When quizbowl is not enjoyable, it is time to step back and ask yourself how you can change your approach and even whether quizbowl is the right activity for you. It is also important to keep in mind that advice which is great for one person may be horrible for somebody else, so you need to figure out what works best for you.

It is also helpful to understand the way good quizbowl is structured. Read the QBWiki articles on Pyramidality to understand why tossups are written the way they are. You should also keep in mind that good bonuses have an easy part, a medium part, and a hard part to differentiate between teams, but those parts can be arranged in any order. Theoretically, getting one part correct means you have a basic knowledge of the subject, getting two parts correct means you have above average knowledge of the subject, and getting all three parts correct means that you have deep knowledge of the subject.

The most important action a team can take to improve is to attend good tournaments. To find good high school tournaments near you, use the Quizbowl Resource Center Database, use the [ NAQT calendar], and follow the Regular Season Tournaments and National and Regional Comparisons and Discussion sections on the Quizbowl Resource Center Forums. Look for tournaments that guarantee many rounds to all teams and that use quality questions. If you are not sure as to whether or not a tournament is good, you can use the forums to ask.

While playing tournaments is extremely important, it is also important to prepare for those tournaments. The simplest way to prepare for tournaments is to use good questions from former tournaments, which can also be found at the Quizbowl Resource Center Database. You should find questions that are appropriate for you, which means that your team can answer the vast majority of tossups by the end and can consistently answer at least one part of each bonus. If you need easier questions, start with Novice and Middle School questions. Teams use questions in many ways--some have mock matches during practices, some just read through tossups during practices, and sometimes individuals on teams take time to read through questions on their own.

It's that simple--following those two steps will make you significantly better at quizbowl.

There are many other steps you can take if you want to take improvement more seriously. Such steps include:

  • Identifying topics that you want to improve in and then reading books and articles on those topics
  • Identifying topics that you want to improve in and then finding Quizbowl software that helps you focus on those topics
  • Using articles at NAQT You Gotta Know
  • Write questions about topics you are interested in
  • Staff tournaments, such as moderating at a middle school tournament if you are a high school student

For more detailed advice, see the "For players, teams, and coaches" section at PACE Quizbowl 101.

Keep in mind that Quizbowl is a community, and if you have any questions you are encouraged to reach out to members of the community.