By now your team is likely deep in the throes of the team challenge, and all that it entails! This month we want to focus on the importance of the Team Choice Elements. They are a very large and important scoring element on tournament day, and should not be left until the end. As you advance from State to Globals, these elements increase in overall importance, as the level of competition increases. Below is a great article about choosing them.

Team Choice Elements

From New York Destination Imagination

The Icing on the Cake

The team choice elements are like the icing on the cake. They are the delicious extra that sets off the main course! Team choice elements give team members the chance to “show off” their special abilities and talents for the appraisers. This is the part of the competition that lets the team choose two things they would like to be scored on.

The team choice elements can be anything that is not a required element of the Central Challenge and that can be scored as a separate item. I have seen teams choose many different team choice elements.

Costume Example

While we talk about costumes here, there are many other examples that are similar

  • The costume of a specific character.
  • The costumes of the female cast members and how natural materials were used.
  • The costumes of all cast members.

The difference here is that as the scope of the team choice element is broadened, the appraiser has to look at more items to give the score. If some items in the group are not as creative or well made as others, then the score might be less because the appraiser would have to take into account all of the items. If one costume is truly creative and well made, it might be better to choose that one costume instead of choosing all costumes. If all of the costumes are creative and well made than the team might score better.

Props Example

The team may designate as a team choice element one of the following:

  • The backdrop.
  • The poem written on the backdrop.
  • The mechanical action of the backdrop.

Again, we are looking at whether to choose a narrow or broad definition of the team choice element. If the appraiser looks at the backdrop as a whole, there is much to consider in giving the score. Even if the team chooses the entire backdrop, they could still describe the specific aspects of the backdrop that they would like to have scored.

How to decide on team choice elements and specialties

Discuss team choice element elements early and often when writing the scripts and making the props, backdrops and costumes. Often the team naturally comes up with team choice element ideas as the script and props develop. Team choice elements are appraised based on both creativity and workmanship. So it is important to ask the team to decide what is creative when they are deciding on the team choice elements.

Deciding On Team Choice Elements

Team Choice Elements are free-choice scoring opportunities provided as adjuncts to the main Challenge. They allow a team to have two whatever-they-want opportunities to showcase something they’ve done and have it evaluated.

To see what is desired, one must look at the scoring, for that is where the rubber meets the road in understanding what a Challenge seeks.

Theoretically, a team will pick two items which are team strengths or for which they have a prodigy team member, and exhibit them. Since they are team-selected areas, the scores should be high–or so a team might hope. (In reality, these are subjective scores, so they tend to be mid-range except in cases of a talent prodigy–and even then, often.

Like with all aspects, definitely help younger kids have realistic expectations to avoid later problems.)

So, with the team: what are your strengths? Where do you think you will shine? Then, with that in mind, they can attack the Challenge.

Selecting Team Choice Elements

Look at the Team Choice Elements as “free choice” items the TEAM selects because they are particularly proud of what they’ve accomplished in that element. Naturally, the team must be careful in what they select because there are restrictions against there being “overlap” between the Team Choice Elements and other scored elements. Equally important, the team should carefully specify their Team Choice Element items in the paperwork they provide to the appraisers to FOCUS the appraiser’s attention on the aspects of their solution that demonstrate creativity and workmanship (the two scoring dimensions the appraisers must use to evaluate the Team Choice Elements).

OK, HOW does a team go about developing and/or selecting items for their Team Choice Elements.

Some time before the team presents their solution at the tournament, the team must pick which of these various “experiments in creativity” represent their “best two”. They should then spend a bit of “focused energy” to refines these items further (keeping in mind that appraisers who see them for the first time will be evaluating them). The team should also spend some time creating a nice, focused description of WHY these items uniquely demonstrate the creativity and workmanship of the team.

Sometimes, Team Choice Elements Just Happen

Have the team look at what they are most excited about and proud of, and those become the team choice elements. Take extra time in the last few days to make sure that the things that they chose are the best that they can be.

Tacking on a Team Choice Element

Sometimes Team Choice Elements can add to that overwhelming feeling…isn’t the Main Challenge enough?! The intention of Team Choice Elements is to allow each Team to be scored on some items that are of particular interest to their team or are things that show their particular strengths. A lot of the rules regarding Team Choice Elements have to do with making sure the team is not getting 2 scores for the same item…for example the costume that is already being scored as a required element cannot also be scored as a team choice element.

The thing to avoid is Team Choice Elements that are tacked on as a display and not integrated into the solution. Rather Team Choice Elements offer and opportunity for the Team to use their strengths or passions in Solving the Challenge. As they develop their Solution see where something might really fit and enhance their Solution.


The Board of Directors and Affiliate Director would like to thank all of you that registered early for this season and those of you still in the process of registering! We’re looking forward to this year’s State tournament and seeing all of the solutions your teams come up with. Please be on the lookout for the tournament schedule and information during the first and second week of February. During this time we will also be sending out order forms for t-shirts and pins, which will be Celebrating Creativity and the 20th Anniversary of Destination Imagination!

Season planning tips from


Stage 1: Building Your Team & Understanding the Challenge

Stage 2: Generating: Ideas, Research & Inquiry

Stage 3: Focusing: Putting your Solution Together

Length of this Stage: Approximately 2-4 weeks

Team Time: Approximately 3-4 hours/week

(with extended time for subgroups & individual sessions)

What Happens in this Stage of the Process

The Team (with Team Manager facilitating) should:

  • Draft and refine scripts
  • Work on costumes and props
  • Improv: Practice with materials
  • Check for any new Clarifications
  • Your Solution: discuss important criteria, time limits, resources, and any improvements to be made
  • Side Trips: Do our Trips show off our team members’ specialties/interests/abilities?
  • Look at the calendar: How are we doing?

The Team Manager should:

  • Check TM Resource site for ideas, help and activities
  • Register the Team for the tournament
  • Register Appraiser(s) and/or Tournament Volunteers
  • Update parents on progress; let them know what you need
  • At the end of each meeting, debrief. Ask Team: where are we? Are we on track? Do we want to keep moving in this direction? Do we want to change our goal? Are we having fun?

Stage 4: Ready, Set, GO! Preparing for your Tournament

Length of this Stage: Approximately 2-4 weeks

Team Time: As many hours as it takes to complete the solution and prepare for the Tournament!

What Happens in this Stage of the Process

The Team (with Team Manager facilitating) should:

  • Pay special attention to Site Procedures and What Ifs sections.
  • Create a Tournament Tool Kit and emergency kit for Presentation Items
  • Rehearse: Practice timing of set up and solution
  • Identify Paperwork Specialist: Fill out paperwork
  • Check Clarification site and discuss new Clarifications
  • Instant Challenge: Continue practicing Instant Challenges under Tournament conditions
  • Showtime! Compete at your Tournament

The Team Manager should:

  • Register for Tournament
  • Receive Tournament information and presentation schedule: Contact Regional/Tournament Director if you have questions
  • Provide copy of Travel Guide for Teams to each team member
  • Arrange for a Dress Rehearsal for parents/school other audience
  • At the end of each meeting, debrief. Ask Team: where are we? Are we on track? Do we want to keep moving in this direction? Do we want to change our goal? Are we having fun?

Have pre-Tournament meeting with parents. Review tournament schedule, meeting place, interference, and presentation time.

Stay tuned… Next month’s newsletter will focus on Tournament Data Forms