Coaches & Teams

Coaches’ training with Coaches’ Coordinator Jane Pilch was held jointly with the Open House from 2-4pm on Sunday, October 1, in the Bigelow Auditorium of the Marlborough Public Library.

Missed coaches’ training? Contact with any questions or to see about scheduling an individual meeting!

Check out tournament and judges’ training information on the Tournament page.

For complete details and regulations for this year, check out the Program Guide.

Coaching is fun and rewarding – but it can be hard work! Please use the following guides to help you along the way. If you ever have questions, we are always here to help:

North Carolina Odyssey of the Mind has created an interactive coaching quiz that offers information about various elements of the program. We encourage new or returning coaches to check it out: Take the Coach Quiz!

Odyssey believes that students learn best and develop a stronger sense of pride and accomplishment when they complete tasks on their own. For these reasons, all solutions are expected to be generated and accomplished by the team alone and there strict rules against “outside assistance.” Please use this guide to help understand what is considered to be outside assistance.

Although much of the team’s work throughout the year is focused on their solution to the long-term problem they have selected, they should also be regularly practicing spontaneous problems at team meetings. Not only is it important because it is a major scoring element at the tournament, spontaneous problem solving encourages creative and divergent thinking, risk-taking, and even teamwork in a different way from the long-term problem solution. It’s also fun!

As a coach, we recommend that you build in time during each working session for the team to practice spontaneous. It can be good to get into a routine, such as starting or ending a meeting with spontaneous. It’s also great as a break from long-term problem work and to get the creative juices flowing when the team is stuck. Click here for some examples of spontaneous problems.

Spontaneous problems can fall into three categories:

  • Verbal: These problems require a verbal response from the team. Possible examples include:
    1. One word problems (Name things that are blue; Name things that are tall)
    2. Two-parters (Name a discoverer and what s/he discovered)
    3. Pictures (Give a caption for this picture; what might the person in this picture be saying?)
    4. Procedures (Tell ways to clean up leaves)
    5. Objects (What might this be used for?)
  • Hands-On: These problems require a team to physically manipulate materials to solve the problem. Possible examples include:
    1. Building (Build something that goes across a distance, that will hold weights, that will be scored for height)
    2. Communication (Guide a blindfolded teammate to do a task, or non-verbally communicate directions to do something)
    3. Target (Get objects into a target area)
    4. Pure creations (Make something from materials given)
  • Combination Verbal/Hands-On: These problems involve a combination of verbal responses and hands-on activities. Possible examples include:
    1. Object to be demonstrated and discussed (Make something out of aluminum foil, then tell what it might be)
    2. Sound/visual combined with verbal (Make sound effects and tell a story about them)

These are only a few examples of the types of problems the team my face. The point of spontaneous is for the team to face a problem they have never seen before! These problems could be ANYTHING.

Tips for Spontaneous

  • PRACTICE. Creativity is a skill that can be taught, but it requires practice like any other skill.
  • Take risks in verbal responses and approaches to hands-on problems.
  • Discourage criticism during spontaneous sessions. Crazy answers may be the most creative or more useful in pushing the team’s thinking forward.
  • Have team members score each other to take the perspective of a judge.
  • Listen carefully to directions.
  • If the problem doesn’t say you can’t do something, assume you can. However, team members should ask a question if they think their idea might be counter to the spirit of the problem.
  • Practice saying “Unclear, please repeat,” even if an answer was clear to get the team used to a ‘judge’ asking for an answer to be repeating if they couldn’t hear it.
  • Don’t elaborate on verbal responses unless necessary for the creativity. Keep responses brief to allow for more response time.
  • Use the environment around you to spark ideas.
  • Have teams judge each other to gain new perspectives and allow teams to see others’ solutions.
  • Debrief after each practice session about how it went.
  • Repeat same problem multiple times.
  • Have parents or other known ‘experts’ offer demonstrations about how to use and what you can do with everyday materials.
  • Switch up student roles during practices.
  • Have students assign themselves to focus on different parents of the instructions so that not everyone needs to pay attention to all the details.
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