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Welcome Coaches to the Wonderful World which is

Odyssey of the Mind!


THANK YOU! for stepping up to bring this enriching educational program to your community. We are here to help you.  Please contact us if you need assistance.  Be sure to register for our Coach Trainings throughout the season.  Meet our region's "expert" coaches in training sessions for novice to advanced. Plus, there are a lot of resources for you on this website, as well as the State and International sites.  Take a look around... and LET'S GET STARTED!

The first 10 things Coaches need to know  :-)

1. Coach Trainings & often Team Trainings are offered through the WPA Region.  Sessions cover novice to advanced topics.  All coaches/teams are encouraged to attend.  You will learn so much!  Register here.


2.  The Odyssey Program Guide is extremely important in getting your Odyssey of the Mind experience off to a great start.  It includes tips on how to start a team and what to do at meetings.  It defines commonly used terms in the problems and details how to fill out a cost form.  It discusses the types of Spontaneous and gives sample problems.  You will miss a lot if you don't know what's in the Program Guide.  It can be viewed digitally.  Hard copies can no longer be purchased.

3.  Clarifications are statements put out by the International Problem Captains (IPC) and aim to further describe a portion of a problem.  Teams can not fully solve their problem without understanding all the clarifications for their problem.  Please link to view the latest CLARIFICATIONS.  You need to know them, and they can be updated throughout the season!

4.  Teams can also ask the International PCs to clarify something about a problem for them. There is a formalized clarification submission process.  Link for info.  Deadline to submit a clarification is February 15.


5.  Coaches (or coordinators) are responsible for registering the Team, the Judges, and the Volunteer.  Be familiar with the Judge/Volunteer Guidelines for your Western PA and State PA Tournaments so your team is in compliance.  Non-compliant teams risk getting a penalty against their  scores.

6.  Coaches are encouraged to review the OotM Coach Contract & Team Contract.  These documents can help set the tone for your coaching responsibilities - and set the tone for your team's behavior.  You are encouraged to print out the Team Contract and review it with your team and parents.  The contracts are a great way to set a positive Odyssey atmosphere and get everyone on the same page.  

7.  There are a lot of resources for coaches on this website as well as many others. Take a look around and you will have access to video, prior performances, spontaneous problems, and more!  (See below to get started!)

8.  Competition Forms (STYLE, COST, TEAM REQUIRED LIST, OUTSIDE ASSISTANCE, etc) are available from the international website from the downloads bar in the Members Area.

9.  If a team advances to State Finals, coaches are encouraged to attend the Advancers Meeting after the conclusion of the awards ceremony at the Regional Competition.  You will receive important info about States. 

10.  Coaching a team is exciting, exhilarating, nerve-wracking.  You will laugh, you will cry, you will GROW!  Enjoy the ODYSSEY!

Coach Training Resources

Monthly Round Table NOTES
Link to NOTES from our monthly Zoom trainings and discussions with coaches, coordinators & judges to be updated & get support throughout the year!  For upcoming dates & link, see Events Tab.

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Odyssey Academy Training Videos
Link to over a dozen videos taking coaches step-by-step through Odyssey of the mind.  Developed by James A. Mourey, PhD for Illinois OotM.  Topics on getting started, brainstorming, writing sketch comedy, what is creativity, going to competition, and more!  

Funny vs Silly

Funny vs Silly is a poem exercise which makes the point: What you create has to make sense.  The coach reads a funny and then a silly poem as the team acts each out or draws it on the board. A great exercise to help a team recognize when something is funny and when it's just silly.

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Team & Coordinator SAMPLE Timelines
Link to Google slides for a sample Team Timeframe and sample Coordinator Checklist.  To be used as a guide and tool as you start your Odyssey journey.  Each team/coordinator will have unique needs.  Updated throughout the year.


WPA Spontaneous Round Robin TIPS
Link for spontaneous tips and activities to help even advanced teams improve their score!  Learn about assigning team jobs, being flexible, making the most of think time, and more!


Outside Assistance
What is it and how do I coach without violating the No Outside Assistance Policy?

1. LINK for info from prior Program Guide

2. Link to OA Examples.  Examine several scenarios put forth by Carol Micklus - Are the or are they not OA?


WPA Coach Training #2: Competition Edition
Link for presentation notes which focus on navigating the tournament: paperwork, final practice tips, day-of tips, competition logistics, interpreting your scores, awards ceremony, and more!

About Competition Day
Day-of for coaches


  • As it gets closer to competition day, we will post on our website the TEAM COMPETITION SCHEDULE.  This will include the time and place for each team's Long Term performance and the time and place for their Spontaneous Competition.   


  • Also posted will be maps of the MS and HS buildings which will include: the prop drop off area for each problem, the holding areas for each problem, and the competition site for each problem.  From this information, you can plan out how to enter the building to drop off your props.


  • Each team will be assigned a holding area in the hallways outside your competition site.  Your team name and membership # will be on a poster on the wall above your space.  This is where you store your props and other items and where the team prepares for the competition.  Please only take up as much space as designated for your team.


  • Your Long Term paperwork: bring four copies of all forms (the Outside Assistance form, Cost form, Style form, and any other form required by your problem.) Be sure and keep an additional copy for your use at the next level of competition.


  • Bring two copies of any Problem Clarifications your team has received.


  • Coaches and all team members should report to the Staging Area Judge, with all their set elements and paperwork,15 minutes prior to their scheduled starting time.  The staging area will be marked and is located just outside the team entrance of your competition site.  Non-team members are allowed to help the team take their props and competition items to the staging area.  


  • Do not attempt to enter any competition site after the Door Monitor has shut the door.


  • Directly after your team has competed, the judging team will greet the team on stage and ask them questions about their solution.  When this is complete, please promptly remove all items from the stage so the next team can start on time.  Please be sure to clean the site of any debris.  Coaches and parents may help with this.

  • Props and other items can be taken back to the team's holding area or taken directly to the cars.  Either way, be sure to completely clean up your holding area before you leave for the day.  




  • Coaches are to take their team to the Spontaneous holding room designated on their schedule 15 minutes before the posted time.  The team and coach will wait quietly in this room until it is their time to be called. 


  • There is not an audience allowed in the Spontaneous competition.  The team will be escorted to their Spontaneous Competition room and compete by themselves for the judges. When they are done with Spont, they will be escorted back to the Spont holding room to meet their coach.   



  • Approximately 1 hour after your competition time you will be able to pick up your scores from your Head Judge while the judging team is in between performances.  In most cases, there will be a poster board on the wall near the judges where they update which teams scores are ready to be picked up.  Your Head Judge will review the scores with you.  You will have a half hour you pick up scores to review and return to the judge for follow up questions. 


  • Show respect and good sportsmanship to all other competitors, coaches, judges, media, audience members, and tournament officials.


  • Show respect for the competition site, and help us keep it clean.


  • Be very aware that no one related to your team commits Outside Assistance.

Additional Resources

Spontaneous Resources

Virginia Odyssey of the Mind
* Spontaneous Problem Archive

North East Pennsylvania Odyssey of the Mind
* NEPA Spontaneous Problem Archive 

National Web Site
* Practice Spontaneous Problems

Tennessee Odyssey of the Mind
* New Spontaneous Problems Verbal
* The Edison OM Creativity Site - Excellent source for Spontaneous problems.

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