My best advice to coaches about contesting is simple: You need to know the rules. Obviously, it takes time to master the details, but one of the best ways you can help your team win games is to have a strong working knowledge of the rules.
Bible Quiz is a game, and like every other game in the world, there are rules. These rules are not optional, and cannot be applied arbitrarily. Too often, coaches give away questions by simply not understanding the rules. This is unfair. If quizzers can take the time and effort to memorize and review the material, surely coaches can take the time to develop a firm understanding of the rules.
To learn the rules, start by reading them through. It’s good to start by doing it in one sitting. After that, go back through the rule book one section at a time, and make notes of things that aren’t clear or of scenarios you haven’t seen. It can be confusing and overwhelming at times.
Ask questions about the things you need help with. Experienced coaches are generally more than happy to help you figure things out. Asking questions and finding answers is how we all get better. I have learned a ton from coaches like Greg House, John Porter, and Bryan Turner. There is nothing wrong with asking questions.
Present contests. If you notice a rules violation, don’t just let it go. Contests are meant to correct rules violations, and it’s important that games have rules that are properly enforced. As long as you are respectful in your presentation, there is absolutely nothing wrong with contesting, even if you wind up doing it a lot. I have been in matches that required 4 or 5 contests, and all of them were perfectly legitimate. Contesting doesn’t mean that you are insulting or challenging the officials or the other team. It means the rules were violated, and something needed to be fixed. It’s not personal.
One of the most practical ways coaches can help their teams win is to learn to contest well. Knowing the rules, understanding the game, and being able to present quality contests is essential to building a championship program. If quizzers can do their part, we can do ours, too.