Coaching an Odyssey of the Mind team is an experience unlike any other. Coaches motivate, promote trust, and celebrate their team’s breakthroughs and accomplishments. It’s an exciting and rewarding opportunity for all involved.

Each team is required to have one head coach who must be at least 18 years of age. An assistant coach (or coaches) can lighten that load by sharing the role’s responsibilities.

While OotM is a very hands-on experience for the team, it’s hands-off for adults. A coach should provide a positive, constructive environment for students to exchange ideas…but never help the team with their solution. A coach supervises, offers encouragement, and teaches the team how to learn from failures and evaluate their own solutions.

So who can be a coach?

Actually, just about anyone. No advanced degree or formal experience is required. (Though the region does host trainings for new and returning coaches — all you have to do is ask!)

Often a coach is a parent or teacher who already knows a student on the team. Coaches can be aunts, uncles, grandparents, older siblings, or anyone with an interest in the program. If you’re having trouble finding coaches, try holding an informational meeting for parents, students and faculty/community members. Create some buzz, and the kids won’t be the only ones excited about OotM.

Promote assistant coaching — divide and conquer! — and provide a network for communication between the coaches and parents at your school. It takes a village, as they say, and OotM is best for all when a team and its coach(es) have their parents’ and school’s support.