Teams and Coaches

What’s a coach to do? If you’ve reviewed your membership materials and are wondering what to do next, here are some tips.

Each region conducts a Coaches’ Training near the beginning of the school year, usually in October or November. Refer to your region’s website or contact your regional director if you have any questions.

Keep in mind that everyone involved should have fun. Create a practice schedule and set basic rules. Stress the importance of attending meetings and practice sessions. Set down rules for good sportsmanship and constructive criticism.

Remember: There’s no such thing as a bad idea! Encourage team members to work cooperatively. Teamwork is one of the basic principles of Odyssey of the Mind.

All teams go through growing pains, but members will learn to work together as time goes on. Do not help the team solve the problem. The coach’s role is to help team members develop problem-solving skills, not to help solve the problem. Before adding your input, ask yourself if it would create or improve an aspect of the team’s solution (outside assistance), or if it would enhance the team members’ creative problem-solving abilities (good coaching).

Learn about the spontaneous competition and present practice spontaneous activities regularly. Practice problems are available online, and books of practice problems are available from Odyssey HQ.

Read the Odyssey of the Mind Program Guide and stay up-to-date with problem clarifications. Refer to the guide often and check clarifications on a regular basis.

Be aware of the clarification cut-off date for your regional tournament. If you don’t know the date you should consult your materials or contact your regional director. If an aspect of your team’s solution seems questionable, it is not outside assistance to suggest submitting a problem clarification.

Arrange a performance for the student body and faculty. Let the school see what your team has learned through Odyssey of the Mind. This is also good rehearsal for teams before they go to official competition, and it helps them feel comfortable performing before an audience.

Your team will need to find judge(s) to volunteer at your regional tournament, and State Finals if your team advances. The judge(s) that represent your team could be past OMers, teachers, friends, or family members. Encourage your judges to study the materials prior to attending a regional Judges’ Training. Doing so will enhance the training and help them to be better judges.

The Odyssey of the Mind Passport (.PDF)
An interactive planner to navigate your OM experience

Act 48 Hours

Educators who are PA Odyssey of the Mind coaches and judges are eligible for Act 48 credit hours from the PA Department of Education.

To receive Act 48 hours, coaches need to:

There is no additional credit for State Finals. Act 48 is managed by each region. Be in touch with your regional director to understand the process.


In relation to PA State laws requiring “Clearances” for volunteers: All Pennsylvania Odyssey of the Mind Coaches, Officials, and Volunteers must conform with the standards and policies set forth by the entity which sponsors the Pennsylvania Odyssey of the Mind team with which the volunteer is associated.

Helpful Information

Role of a coach (.pdf)
Program Guide
Problem clarifications
Spontaneous practice problems
Spontaneous practice books from Odyssey HQ
Regional contacts and websites