Teams should report to the spontaneous holding room 10 minutes before the scheduled competition time. If there is no holding room, teams report to the competition site 10 minutes before the scheduled time and wait quietly for further instruction. Only one coach may accompany the team into the holding room.

    One team member will register the team, giving its long-term problem and division, the team membership name and number. Team members will wait in the holding room until a judge calls them. A judge will then accompany the team members to the spontaneous problem room. The coach will remain in a designated area and wait for the team.

    All team members are allowed to enter the spontaneous room. A judge will give the type of problem the team must solve: verbal, hands-on, or verbal/hands-on. The team members will then have one minute to decide among themselves which five members will compete. The non-participating members may remain and watch or they may choose to leave the room. If they remain, they must not talk, signal, or intervene in any way, otherwise they will be warned and/or asked to leave. The team's competition time will continue. If a team has five or fewer members at competition, all must participate in spontaneous. Teams with fewer than five members may be at a disadvantage in the Spontaneous portion of competition.

    Teams should listen carefully to the judge's directions, as every spontaneous problem is different and specific rules for each individual problem may apply.

    A judge places a copy of the problem in full view of the participating team members and reads the problem aloud. The team may refer to its copy of the problem as necessary. Once the judge finishes reading the problem, he or she will say, "Begin," and time starts. The team members may ask the judges questions, but time will continue. In some instances, judges may tell the team that they cannot answer their specific question, and may refer the team to the problem. Judges will try to clarify the problem so the team members understand what the problem requires; however, judges will not give information that helps solve the problem. In verbal and/or verbal/ hands-on problems the judges will use the following language:
  • If a team member speaks too fast or mumbles and the judges cannot understand, the judges will say, "UNCLEAR. Please say it again."
  • If a response does not make sense to the judges, or it is not acceptable, they will say, "INAPPROPRIATE. Please clarify or give another response."
  • If a response is a repeat of a previous response, the judges will say, "DUPLICATE. Please give another response."
    Once competition is over the team must leave the room quietly and meet the coach at the designated area. Teams must not discuss the spontaneous problem with anyone until after the competition.

    Spontaneous problems are not subject to the grievance process; however, if a team has a concern, one team member should ask to speak to the Spontaneous Problem Captain, who will then speak with the judges and the entire team, if necessary.

~ Joy Kurtz
International Spontaneous Problem Captain