How can I improve as a player?
The best way to see results quickly is to read packets from the Quiz Bowl Packet Archive and take notes while reading if a certain clue stands out. Many elite quiz bowl players make index cards on platforms like Anki and Mnemosyne to record recurring clues. Just by reading packets for a few hours a week or by holding practices with friends, you will be able to pick up a lot more information quickly. Playing both tossups and bonuses and even reading packets a bit above your target level will expose you to harder clues that may result in more powers in tournaments. Tossups can also be purchased from NAQT's website to prepare for HSNCT or SSNCT Nationals.
Another way to study for quiz bowl is just by reading books, whether it be fiction, nonfiction, short stories, poems, or even textbooks and reference works. Just by reading a book, you not only can answer questions on it in quiz bowl but you can also appreciate the writing style of the author or the cultural differences presented in the book. Textbooks like Gardner's Art Through the Ages or websites like Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy may be a bit slow to get through but are extremely helpful for quiz bowl.
Other ways to get better are to replicate gameplay and to write questions and read them to others. Learning the material is one thing, but being able to recall information about a person or a book when behind a buzzer system may be intimidating or difficult to newer players. By holding formal practices behind a buzzer system and by playing with strict rules, teams can learn to communicate better and to learn the rules of the game. Writing questions, although hard for less experienced players, also allows students to conduct research and to gain a greater understanding for certain topics, all the while learning the mechanics of good tossup writing.
Recommended resources for students
Sets for newer teams: California Academic Learning Initiative (CALI), SCOP Novice, WHAQ, LIST, GSAC
Sets for more experienced teams looking to do well at regular + tournaments: BHSAT, Harvard Fall (HFT), FACTS, Prison Bowl
Sets for teams preparing for nationals: PACE NSC, AFC Fall, NASAT, EFT (easy college)
QuizDB: An easily accessible quiz bowl database of past publically-released quiz bowl questions.
PACE Quiz Bowl 101: This length guide has plenty of articles on how to improve team dynamics, individual performance, and overall enjoyment of quiz bowl.
NAQT You Gotta Know Lists: NAQT creates a series of lists and summaries for frequently asked about subjects like "Charles Dickens novels" and "early 20th-century art movements" that will help students become better at recognizing clues.
The Culture Guide Index: Although featuring very obscure scholars and works, this guide functions as a more in-depth "You Gotta Know" list across nearly every major topic in quiz bowl.
MQBA Tips for Improving: This list of methods to become a better player written by Missouri Quiz Bowl Alliance member Charles Dees will help students to quickly become more competitive and knowledgeable.
The Guide I Wish I Had: This guide by NorCal quiz bowl player Niki Peters explains how to most effectively study when first learning a new subject.
How can I improve as a coach?
Coaches are arguably the most important figures for a quiz bowl team, the people that encourage team members to study and interact with other teammates in a sportsmanlike-way, arranging practices and attending tournaments. Without a coach, a team may lose the chemistry required for effective practices or overall improvement. In order to take on this role better, these steps may guide coaches to create new and efficient strategies in order to not only build a team but also a program.
In order to run efficient practices, coaches must be instrumental in keeping team members on task to prevent any unnecessary distractions that may lead to bad habits; if, for example, team members find it appropriate to speak during matches since that is what they get away with during practice, such bad habits will ruin gameplay for everyone. By assigning roles to each team member like "reader" for a certain day or "scorekeeper," practices will run smoother and everyone will get a chance to improve reading in the case that readers are needed for a tournament. Coaches should also find appropriate packets to read at practices to prepare teams for upcoming tournaments and to spot holes in a team's coverage. Reading NAQT questions before an NAQT tournament or reading Nationals-level questions before a Nationals tournament will better prepare teams for such tournaments by getting teams familiar with the pacing and the structure of the games. Coaches should encourage students to record notes and search up missed clues during practices since the content will come up again even at the next tournament. For the most efficient practices, coaches must take note of each player's strengths and weaknesses and divide practice sessions into a Varsity and a JV practice such that more-experienced players do not discourage less-experienced players from learning the game.
Tracking a team's progress is also a crucial part of a coach's duties since players may not be able to fully see improvement if the game is new to them. If a team's PPB (points per bonus) has gone up significantly between two tournaments at the same difficulty, let players know this to further motivate them. On the other hand, if a team has missed a number of answerlines repeatedly during practices or at tournaments, let them know that they must study that topic or the overall subject. Google Spreadsheets is an easy and effective way to track a team's studying; have team members choose a topic they want to study and have them record on the spreadsheet the individual or the topic they have studied.
Building a positive reputation for a team will best attract newer members and potentially get more funding for the program. Making time for practices and for individualized attention will not only encourage students to attend practices but will also allow team members to interact with each other in a positive environment, creating a friendly and welcoming environment. Don't be afraid to showcase a team's trophies or other accolades to the rest of the school since a team wants new members to think that the club is successful. If a team is relatively new and may not have such accolades, then creating a team website or social media page may give the team a more professional look that will impress both incoming students and even parents and administrators. Fundraising efforts are also effective since they prove to the school that the club is passionate about quiz bowl and motivated to attend more tournaments.
Once this strong reputation has been built up, focus on attracting new players through informal recruitment. Locate feeder schools and see if there are programs similar to quiz bowl at those schools. If yes, then focus on getting those students to join the high school team when older, but if no, work with the high school team to either pinpoint intellectually curious students in the middle school or found a middle school program. The middle school program will use easier questions and members will only attend 2-3 tournaments a year, but getting them involved from a young age will lead those students to become fantastic players by high school. At the high-school level, advocate for the club at club fairs or during daily announcements. Encourage team members to print out flyers and display them throughout the school, and speak with school faculty to briefly discuss the club during their classes. Take email and contact information from prospective team members and provide them with studying resources early on.
For coaches who have the time to attend their students' tournaments, in-game coaching is extremely important to control a team's behavior, make substitutions, and reinforce the rules. Aside from managing the logistics (meeting time at the tournament, transportation, etc.), coaches must prevent their team members from feeling intimidated by stronger teams or from arguing with others about negs or other mistakes. If a team loses motivation during a round or throughout the day, encourage them through time-outs or one-on-one talks with players. Although reprimanding players for performing subpar may appear to work, doing so only leads to further hostility and anxiety. Making substitutions if a player needs time to rest or if a player has not been following rules will better team performance. Regarding the rules, make sure that team members know not to confer on tossups or know not to talk excessively during the match. Protesting a question if there is a factual inaccuracy or protesting a neg may change the results of a game, so do so if valid. If students break any of these rules or if students make the same in-game errors (not giving exact titles, waiting more than 5 seconds to say an answer), speak with students and let them know of the repeated errors.