Focus is very important, of course while studying and practicing, but definitely at quiz meets and during quizzes. First, here are some reasons focusing can be difficult:
- Van rides are often long or tiring
- Lack of sleep on Thursday night in anticipation and Friday night at host homes
- Eating different types of food than normally used to
- Multiple periods of intense mental focus
- Long days of intense mental focus
- The constant rise and fall of emotions and expectations
- The stress of meeting expectations
- The stress of not meeting expectations
It helps to be aware of all these things that can be detrimental to your focus and attempt to mitigate them as much as possible.
Here are some reasons focus is important:
- It's critical to hear exactly what the quizmaster said
- It's critical to be completely attuned to the quizmaster's reading cadence and idiosyncrasies (all qm's have them!)
- It's critical to see the shape of the quizmasters mouth, especially for gaining the final syllable or half syllable after a jump.
- It's critical to be fully engaged in the quiz, to keep your team on the same page, to be aware of possible challenges, etc
Another important aspect of great focus is how it leads into determination and resiliency. All too often, quizzers will make an error or two, and for a host of reasons be unable to recover and refocus, and end up not getting another jump for the rest of the quiz, or erring out on a poor jump. Now, "stemming" that tide of errors is extremely tough mentally, especially when you have 2 errors and an err out is "looming large." It takes experience, mental maturity, mental strength and sharp focus to remain confident in what you have studied, take a deep breath, and attack the next question as if it were the first in a quiz. The ability to turn a seemingly imminent err out into a 4-2 quiz out is huge when it comes to maintaining a high average.
One other quality of great quizzers is a poor memory. Wait, did I really just say that? What I mean by that is the ability to forget an error or a poor quiz quickly. The very best quizzers expect 90's in every quiz and 80+ averages at every meet. Falling short of that often affects your mental state and results in poor subsequent quizzes and/or quiz meets. The ability to forget poor quizzes and remain confident in your knowledge is absolutely necessary to quiz well.