CyberPatriot Coaching Tips

CyberPatriot Coaching Tips

CP-VIII Coach of the Year

CyberPatriot Coaching Tips

by Allen Stubblefield

  1.  New to CyberPatriot
    1. WELCOME! I took the plunge 7 years ago. Your team’s success will depend on YOUR attitude. The first year can be a little intimidating – my email is [email protected]. Let me know how I can help.
    2. Coach = Facilitator. You DO NOT have to be the technical expert! Rely on either your students or a mentor to handle that part. Deal with the adults so your students can focus on the fun stuff: competing!
    3. Year 1 Priorities (my view):
      1. Getting access to a reliable network.
      2. Setting up a regular practice schedule. 1-2 times per week is sufficient.
      3. Understanding how to download, validate and unzip the images.
      4. For High Schools/All Service – Encourage freshmen and sophomores to join so you can build for the future
      5. For Middle Schools – Encourage 6th and 7th graders to join so you can build for the future
    4. Recruiting tools:
      1. This represents 1-2% of the actual live cyber attacks. This graphic works at ALL grade levels and is especially effective with school officials.
      2. CyberPatriot official videos.
        1. CP XIII
        2. CP IX
    5. Pick 1 Operating System for your students to focus on
      1. Windows – recommended unless you/your students/your mentor have a background in either Linux or CISCO
      2. Linux
      3. CISCO (not an OS, but a major part of CyberPatriot)
    6. Team composition: 4-5 to a team, but I recommend 5 so you have enough on the team to cover multiple systems in the later rounds.
    7. Training tips
      1. CyberPatriot website
      2. YouTube is your friend
      3. Mentor

2.  Starting the Year

            1.  Gather interested students and get them excited.

2.  Hold tryouts (even if you are going to keep all of them). Give the students the impression that CyberPatriot is some special. Their attitude and dedication                  counts.

3.  Establish a regular practice time. My teams practice for 3 hours weekly (1.5 hours x 2 days).

3.  How to approach the Competitions

  1. Use practice and exhibition rounds as a chance to practice like you play.
  2. Emphasize using a checklist. Your students have to put their together so they understand what needs to happen at each point of the checklist.
  3. Insist they use logs to track what they have accomplished. This REALLY comes in handy if they need to restart mid-game and also for the last hour of the game when they are brain dead and need to review what they have already tried.

4.   Putting together teams

  1. Balance – if you have the talent, balance your team(s) so that there are two students covering Windows, two on Linux and one for CISCO/networking.
  2. If you are a new team/cyber program, recommend picking one OS and practice on that this year and go for a 2nd OS next year.
  3. If you are going to have more than one team, don’t establish your official CP roster until October in case you have some students who lose motivation or their teamwork skills are lacking.

5.  Determining Success

  1. YOU, the coach, determine success.
  2. Certainly, making it to nationals and winning it all is everyone’s goal. However, with an expected 5,000 teams this year for CP IX, picking something more reasonable may help keep your team up for the challenge.
  3. Success can be:
    1. Scoring better than last year.
    2. Scoring better than last round.
    3. Scoring better than your other team(s).
    4. Scoring better than a local team.
    5. Finishing your checklist the 1st time through faster than last round.
    6. (you get the picture)

6.  Building for the Future (High School)

  1. Find bright 9th and 10th graders to learn and get better over the next few years.
  2. Host a summer cyber camp and invite middle school/incoming 9th graders
  3. Visit your local junior/middle schools with your 9th and 10th graders. Allow them to sell cyber defense.
  4. Invite the middle/junior school teams to practice with your high school teams.


7.  Personal Lessons

  1. GOOD Mentors are worth gold. We have gone through 3 and currently don’t have one.
  2. Students learn best when THEY teach others. Lean on your experienced players to teach others.
  3. The school network is good enough to win on. BUT you need to have the district/school IT personnel’s cell phone just in case things go south.
    1. Network filters may have to be adjusted so that your teams can talk with the scoring engine.
    2. Network filters also need to allow your teams to go to anti-virus and anti-malware program websites. Use the practice rounds to make sure that it works.
    3. Invite your school IT, principal, district IT, superintendent to come watch a practice or competition round.
  4. Integrity is a MUST. Teach them what it is, hold them to it and if your students can’t be trusted, boot them off of your team.
  5. Insist that all returning players learn a new area each year. After 3 years, they should be able to handle any computer on the network and CISCO.
  6. Friday is a tough day to compete – your students have had a long week at school. They need to be FRESH for a 6 hour competition.


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