Put on a mock tournament for families and friends – and have your team reap the benefits!

If this is anyone on your team’s first year competing, upcoming tournaments and judging sessions may be making them nervous. Those of us who have been doing it for a while will confirm that competition is a celebration of your team’s accomplishment (and it is!) and is a lot of fun… – but it may still feel intimidating.

One of the best ways I’ve seen to help prepare a team for competition is to put on a pre-competition party for family and friends, and include a ‘mock tournament’ section. It is especially beneficial if you have a local FTC or FRC team with FLL alumni  who are willing to be your judges!

A mock tournament is a great idea for many reasons.  First of all, it is great practice for your team in preparing for the competition schedule. Secondly, it gives families and friends the opportunity to see what competition is about, especially since most tournaments only allow team members into the judging sessions.

Team members who have participated in mock tournaments have told me that it was the best way to prepare – especially since FLL alumni judges tend to ask “Way harder questions than any of the real judges!”. Parents also appreciate seeing all the team’s work  firsthand, experiencing judging sessions and getting the opportunity to ask their own questions (and take photos/videos)!

For a successful mock tournament, create a schedule and stick to it. Start out with a quick  introduction on what is involved in a FLL tournament,  what the judging criteria are, and introduce your judges.  Have team members leave the room and prepare for the project presentation while one of the judges (or coach) explains the criteria for the Project. Start a timer, and have the team come back into the room (just like in a real tournament) and give them 10 minutes in front of the judges (5 minutes for the presentation and 5 minutes for the Q & A) –   after that, have the  judges leave the room and have the team answer questions from families and friends for another 5-10 minutes. During this time, ask the judges to fill out evaluation forms, and you can go over these with the team at your next meeting.

Do the same for Core Value and Design judging –  then have the team do  3 timed competition robot game rounds on the table.

All of this should take about an hour and a half !

Once that’s done, celebrate: and have a party with a good luck theme! This gets everyone excited about the team and their accomplishments – and the team gets excited about going to the tournament.

It really IS a reason to celebrate!