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Coaches FAQ

No. This is a rule from CCI (owner of the Odyssey program). It applies at every approved Tournament. This is not a rule that Regional Directors or State Association Directors can change.

If there is a clock on the room wall, the team may look at it. Teams are permitted to have a watch/clock of their own - but it must not beep or vibrate to signal time, and the team's watch/clock is not official time. Teams will not be able to see the official timekeeper's stopwatch. Teams should practice to develop a performance that takes slightly less than 8 minutes.

Yes, that is fine.  Because the problem at the Tournament will be different, any discussion of possible answers to your practice problem or review of whether answers were creative or common, is not Outside Assistance.  It is up to the coach to decide what kind of guidance would be most helpful to the team.

Section A of each problem includes a "creative emphasis" statement.  Judges are trained to pay the most attention to these emphases in their evaluation of overall effectiveness and creativity of each performance.

Teams can share a basic practice area (such as classroom) – but they cannot share ideas, props, set pieces, designs, or costumes.  Also, if the teams reproduce the Competition Site as described in the problem, each team must build its own Site from scratch, without even seeing any markings or physical layout used by the other team(s).

Yes – but be careful.  Not every problem requires “putting on a play” every year.  For example, some years’ balsa structure problems do not have a required script or skit.  The Program Guide prefers to use the words ‘presentation’ and ‘solution’ for what the team will be doing on stage.

See Chapter 5 of the Program Guide, especially items (8), (9) and (18).  Also, see the February 2010 regional Newsletter for guidance about weapons.  Religious and political themes are permitted, but teams should be aware that much of the scoring is subjective.  If the judges consider the presentation to be objectionable or offensive, their scoring will reflect that.

Here's the link to the Odyssey Store. Be sure to save your receipt and bring it to weigh-in on tournament day.

Here are a couple sites that sell balsa wood:

Be sure to save your receipt and bring it to weigh-in on tournament day!

For Primary teams, this is fine.

For competitive teams in divisions 1, 2, or 3, it is important that the team understand exactly what the rules require – in Odyssey the details are important.  The goal should be for the team to fully understand the detailed rules, but a summary will inevitably leave out some details.  Also, a summary will reflect the coach’s interpretation of the rules, and that would be outside assistance.  Coaches should try as much as possible to encourage careful reading and frequent checking against the rules, without actually stating or imposing an interpretation.

Each team pays its own expenses.  How the team raises the funds is up to the students, their coaches, and parents.

Yes.  Coaches and parents should not provide definitions.  They can teach the team how to use a dictionary, thesaurus, or other reference to look up words they don’t know, and can help the team truly understand the definition.  Coaches can remind the team to check the glossary of terms in the problem and in the Program Guide.  Finally, the team can ask CCI for an official Clarification (see the national website to do this) if they think a term or rule is incomplete or ambiguous.

This will depend on the problem.  In Primary, the team may always ask questions.  In division 1, 2, and 3, nearly all problems permit asking questions during the “thinking” time, and many also permit the team to ask questions during solution time.  Some problems require the team to solve the problem without talking, either to each other or to the judges.  Teams should practice all of the variations that they and their coaches can think of.

Generally, yes.  However, it is outside assistance for the team to look at internet sites or other references that provide advice or suggestions specific to Odyssey of the Mind Long-term problem solutions.  (Such sites are especially common for the Balsa structure problem.)  When using a library, teams may ask a librarian to help them find books about a topic, and to teach them how to use the catalog system to locate books for themselves.

In most Spontaneous problems, they can’t help.  Some problems will include a “pass” possibility which the stuck team member can use to skip the turn.  Teams should be sure to practice getting “un-stuck” as an individual skill.  Practice is the best way to avoid getting stuck, since practice helps develop quick-thinking skills.

It depends on the kind of help they ask for.  Teams can ask employees to describe what an item can be used for, or to describe the different characteristics of several versions of the same thing (such as uses of different kinds of glue, or different kinds of paint).  Teams should not ask the store employee to recommend something to do a particular job in the team’s solution – that would be outside assistance.  It is the team’s responsibility (and right) to choose exactly what they want to use in their solution.

The coach can teach the team many general problem-solving skills, including the skill of breaking down a problem.  The team must decide what parts are “manageable” and what they want to work on first.  As usual, the Socratic method is a valuable tool for coaches here.

Yes.  For example, if the team buys a quart of paint for $6, but uses only half of the paint in their final solution, the team should list only $3 on the cost form.

Songs and dances are two of many ways to enhance the Style score.  The coach cannot suggest to the team that they should do a song or a dance.  The coach can ask the team if the team can think of ways to enhance the Style score – this might be a good brainstorming activity.

Parents may watch the team’s Long term performance.  Parents may not watch the spontanoues competition.

No.  Only the team members may be in the performance, and only the team members may design the team’s solution.  This is true in Primary just like in divisional problems.

Coaches may explain how Odyssey of the Mind scoring works in general, including the normalization and combination of scores for Long-term, Style, and Spontaneous.  The coach may suggest that the team consider the point values of various parts of the solution, and remind the team to keep the scoring rules in mind, but may not interpret those rules for the team. Long-term problem scoring is a part of the rules of that problem, and should be treated like any other rules.  

Yes.  We encourage teams to watch other teams' Long-term performances on Tournament day. Teams should NOT watch practice performances by other teams, prior to the regional tournament.

Yes.  Coaches may teach the teams how to do a skill but may not perform the work for the team.

Yes and No.   The team should only list outside assistance that is used by the team in the performance presents to the judges on tournament day.   If the Outside Assistance is on something that the team does not use on tournament day, it does not need to be listed in the outside assistance form.