There are a lot of good coaches out there who have teams that underperform. Almost exclusively, the reason for this is that the quizzers lack knowledge of the material. I have talked to about a dozen coaches this year that have this problem.

Coaches bear a great deal of responsibility for their team’s success or failure. You must run practice, develop strategies, and do all the things required to win matches. No matter how well you do these things, it still does not guarantee success for your team. The one thing you cannot do is make the quizzers study.

Coaches can motivate, cajole, and even occasionally threaten, but the bottom line is that quizzers have to do their work. I give my quizzers detailed schedules every week. I talk to them on a regular basis. I even give them incentives from time to time. Still, there are many times when they don’t do all their work.

Coaches often blame themselves for this deficiency. True, coaches can influence the quizzers work habits by setting a good example, holding quizzers accountable, and offering encouragement. But for all that, quizzers still must choose to do their studying.

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your quizzers:

  • Give them a detailed assignment. Don’t be vague–“Study chapter 9.” Be specific about what quizzers are to memorize and review. Don’t assume they know what they need to do.
  • Be encouraging, but hold them accountable. Coaches must master the art of patting a quizzer on the back and kicking them in the butt at the same time. Quizzers run the full range from highly motivated to very lazy, and different styles of coaching are required to get the most out of each. Ultimately the responsibility lies with the quizzer to do their work.
  • Offer incentives for success. Don’t do this all the time, but give them a little extra reason to keep up with their work.
  • Be there. Sometimes quizzers aren’t working because there is something happening in their lives. Try to be aware of this, and offer any help you can. Patience can be the thing that is required.

Do your best to help your quizzers be successful, and try to keep perspective. Sometimes your team will not measure up to your expectations. At that point, you need to decide whether your expectations are realistic, or if they need to be adjusted accordingly. You may need to hold the line instead, and continue to expect more from them.

There is no magic formula to make quizzers study. Do your best, and remember that at the end of the day, the quizzers must make their own choices. Try to help them by motivating, encouraging, and expecting greatness, and don’t allow yourself to get down if they aren’t achieving.

After all, you can’t study for them.