Team Choice Elements

When it comes to appraising Team Challenges, I really love to do Team Choice Elements because there is so much variety. I’ve seen teams with mediocre Central Challenges just blow us away with amazing Team Choice Elements and go on to the next level of competition. This is especially important in the more technical challenges where even a good structure design or vehicle can run afoul of “Murphy’s Law”.

If your team hasn’t already decided what their Team Choice Elements are going to be, now is probably a good time to at least think about it. If they decided early on, now is a good time to reevaluate and make sure they are still happy with the selections. Remember nothing is a Team Choice Element until the team says it is on the Tournament Data Form. If a team is struggling with a Team Choice Element or decide that some other aspect of their solution turned out amazing, they can change Team Choice Elements.

Remember also that there are three scoring elements to Team Choice Elements: Creativity, Execution, and Integration. One key part to the execution score is the amount of effort evident in creating the Team Choice Elements\. Remind your team of the scoring for Team Choice Elements and encourage them to think about what they can do to make their Team Choice Elements both creative and polished. Also, remind teams that integration of Team Choice Elements is an element of scoring and explain what that is if necessary.

Improv Challenge

The most fun I had as a Team Manager was the year I managed an Improv team. We played loads of improv games during the first part of the season and then I got to watch lots of different funny skits as we got closer to to the tournament. The key bit of advice I learned from that year is for teams to make creative and elaborate stuff during the 30 minute studio time and rely on improv skills to tell their story. The only way this works is for teams to practice improv techniques and construction techniques like crazy and learn to “force fit” the cool stuff that they can build into any situation they might encounter. They should also develop a story structure. For example, some of them set the scene, more enter to complicate matters and finally one (or more) person (who keeps time) comes in and resolves the situation just before time runs out.

As tournament time draws near, you’ll want to run your team through the process as outlined in the Rules of the Road. To avoid interference, clever TMs ask the team to write down surprise situations and so forth that they will be given at the beginning of studio time and then just before their performance. Have the team members individually write ideas down on individual pieces of paper now so that you can draw a random one when the time comes to practice like at the tournament.