Odyssey of the Coach

Weekly tips to help coaches manage their teams through the Odyssey of the Mind season.

Contents

Make good use of the time before teams solidify

We can’t use that idea” – The In-and-Out of Outside Assistance

Parent Involvement

You can never read the problem too often

Choosing a Long-Term Problem

Dollars and Cents – Talk money with parents

This is a creative idea. But is it workable?

Tips for time management

Team Member Roles and Jobs

How to make a play better

“Scamper” and think bigger

Don’t [only] pay retail

Teamwork –Bossy and Hesitant Team Members

Crisis Management

Any stumbling block is a good time for spontaneous practice

Getting back on track

Know the Rules!

Research

Prohibited substances

Thinking about logistics

Videotaping a team practice

Make Sure Parents and Friends Know the Logistics

Getting Ready for the Tournament

Remember to Have Fun!

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Make good use of the time before teams solidify

The first meeting or two is a good time to talk about rules and get to know each team member’s skills, interests, and personality. During these meetings, focus on building a cohesive team without talking about the actual long-term problems. That way, if one of the team members decides not to commit to Odyssey of …

“We can’t use that idea.” – The In-and-Out of Outside Assistance

Well-trained teams will push-back to their parents and coaches when they try to offer help solving the Long-term problem or creating the skit. One of the biggest difference between Odyssey of the Mind and other programs for children is a commitment to the “No Outside Assistance” rule. Odyssey requires that “team members must design and …

Parent Involvement

By the end of the year we hear – “Coaching is a full time job!” “I was overwhelmed by all the work a coach has to do” “Getting people to help me is almost more trouble than doing it myself” The good news is that in the same breath these coaches go on to describe …

You can never read the problem too often

This first thing to do is make sure you have a copy of the full problem. This is a six page description of the requirements and scoring rubric. If you only have the short paragraph describing the problem, contact your school coordinator. Once you have the problem, make sure your team knows what is on …

Choosing a Long-Term Problem

One of the first coaching challenges is helping the team choose a long-term problem that will keep its interest for the next several months. The first tip is that the team should choose – not the coach. Besides the fact that it is their responsibility, it also give the team ownership and greater commitment. For …

Dollars and Cents – Talk Money with Parents

It is a mistake to believe that the $125 maximum value for your team’s problem solution is the actual cost of the activity. Be sure to read about cost limits in the Program Guide and watch the Paperwork tutorial on the novanorth.org website. Parents should understand the actual costs early in the process, and the …

This is a creative idea. But is it workable?

You are feeling good. Your team came up with a great list of ideas during their brainstorming session. The next step is helping them turn those ideas into actual vehicles, props, and structures. The approach below is particularly useful for more technical aspects of a solution, but can be applied to virtually any component. Have …

Tips for Time Management

Teaching your team members how to organize themselves, how to make and keep calendars, the importance of checklists, and how to divide labor is not considered to be Outside Assistance. Set interim goals and deadlines Have the team create a big calendar ending with the tournament in March. Help the team identify all of the …

Team Member Roles and Jobs

If your team can handle it, you might consider having them decide on roles for aspects of reaching the tournament. Here are ‘job’ descriptions for some important roles: PROGRAM GUIDE expert: reads the Program guide cover to cover. doesn’t know everything but knows where to look! QUIZ: What is the definition of a PROP? This …

How to make a play better

You know that it would be considered outside assistance for you (the coach) to direct or even help direct the team’s skit. Try this exercise to help the team think through the stagecraft aspects of their solution. Talk about any plays or movies that the team members have seen and ask them what they thought …

“Scamper” and think bigger

Sometimes teams will get stuck on one idea and are not able to think bigger than that idea. They just get fixated with one solution, and when it doesn’t work, they keep trying the SAME solution over and over again, without actually modifying it. Here is an exercise: Make 4 columns on the blackboard, with …

Don’t [only] pay retail

As we discussed earlier, there is a big difference between the maximum value of your team’s solution and the amount of actual out-of-pocket money that it costs to produce the props, set, costumes, and other artifacts that are used in the solution. For some teams, the out-of-pocket expense may be significant, but with a little …

Teamwork – Bossy and Hesitant Team Members

A team member with a strong personality can stifle your other team members’ creativity by insisting that his or her ideas must be used in the team’s solution. On the other hand, a hesitant team member may have very creative ideas but feel insecure about sharing them. As a coach, your challenge is to be …

Crisis Management

Remember Murphy’s Law: “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” Be prepared. Periodically do spontaneous exercises on the theme of crisis management. During long-term practice sessions, remove a prop or other item integral to the team’s problem solution and ask them to continue their skit to the end. This allows the team to practice how …

Any stumbling block is a good time for spontaneous practice

Spontaneous practice doesn’t always have to be planned. Almost any issue that they team is trying to solve can be the inspiration for an impromptu spontaneous exercise (See how Odyssey skills can help your kids for the rest of their lives?) Feel free to do the same exercise more than once if the team’s first …

Getting back on track

How’s it going? Don’t be alarmed if it is January and your team still doesn’t have Any costumes Any props Any idea of what they are doing! This is normal. Remember that this Odyssey of the Mind experience may be the first time that they have been entirely dependent on themselves; no teacher to direct …

Know the Rules!

Successfully completing the challenge of Odyssey of the Mind is more than writing a skit that meets the requirements of the long-term problem. There are also many important rules that, while not scored, can result in penalty deductions from your team’s score. Rules keeps things safe, consistent and level the playing field. You can find …

Research

Sometimes your challenge as a coach is not whether your team knows how to do the research but helping them determine whether they need to do it in the first place. Try asking them “What kinds of things to do you need to know about _________ and ____________and__________?” Have them come up with a list …

Prohibited substances

The Program Guide lists several items that are prohibited at tournaments. In addition, each Region may have its own list of prohibited substances. The reason for these prohibitions is almost always concern for safety of team members and observers or the tournament location. As a coach, you should direct your team’s attention to the list …

Thinking about logistics

Is your team’s set starting to look like a ship inside a bottle? Are you getting concerned about how you will get the vehicle, backdrop, or props out of your basement? It is not too late to challenge your team to think creatively about the design of their props and sets in terms of getting …

Videotaping a team practice

The next time your team practices, get out the video camera and tape them. Then have them watch and become critics. (Be careful with this – the kids need to critique themselves- please don’t jump in with your ‘helpful’ ideas!) If your team did the “HISS” exercise earlier in the season, bring out their lists …

Make Sure Parents and Friends Know the Logistics

Tournament day is hectic and, for some coaches and teams, a little stressful. Before the day of the tournament, make sure parents know: Where and when your team will be competing. There is almost always a map of the tournament site posted online and you should have received a map from the tournament director. Be …

Getting Ready for the Tournament

It is almost time for the Regional tournament. You can’t help the team finish its long-term solution, but there is still plenty for you to do. Confirm with your team’s designated judge and tournament helper volunteer The tournament requires nearly 400 volunteers to run smoothly and for all teams to be judged fairly. Make sure …

Remember to Have Fun!

Success in Odyssey of the Mind should not be measured by whether or not the team goes on to the State Finals. After all, for 90-95% of teams, the season ends at the Regional tournament. Find ways to take the emphasis off winning and losing. Celebrate that the team finished its solution and made it …