Debate tournament tips
January 12, 2009 10:29 AM   Subscribe

How to win a high-level policy debate tournament?

I've asked about policy debate here before. Since then, I have managed to qualify for Chicago's city debate championship at the varsity level. What advice do you have to win?
posted by LSK to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
saeculorum's suggestions for success at policy debate:
  • Know what you are talking about. (Note: This may not be what you think you're talking about.)
  • Know what your opponent is talking about. (Note: This is almost never what your opponent claims they're talking about.)
  • Call your opponent on lies. (Note: Every opponent lies.)
  • Defensive arguments never win a round. (Note: This rule has no exceptions, despite what some old-school conservative theorists think.)
  • If you care more about fun than winning, you'll win more than vice versa. (Note: Most people don't figure this out until after they leave debate.)

posted by saeculorum at 10:45 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I did policy debate for something like two years, was never really good at it, but I do know that it helps to learn to speak very coherently while speaking very fast. Those are sometimes opposed, but good debaters can make them work together.

Also, LINE BY LINE. Learn to flow (debatespeak for writing notes, though I'm sure you know this) very well. Addressing opponents arguments in the exact order they presented them proves you were paying attention and aren't speaking from emotion or whatever hits you that day. It also helps new judges, who may not be able to organize arguments in a cogent manner.

Work on partner dynamics. You know who you're debating with, right? Get to know him or her really, really closely.

A few more:

- Dress the part, dress well
- Put your arrogance in a different place than the round (OMG! Debaters can be the most self-righteous people ever. Please don't be.
- Accomodate your opponents, your judges, etc—as much as you can handle
- Sleep with your evidence, read your evidence, love your evidence, your files, your notes. Become them.
- And practice, practice, practice.
posted by trotter at 1:16 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Judge debates. It's the best way to learn the things that make the difference in close rounds. If you're still a high school debater, then maybe there are local novice debates you can judge? If there don't seem to be opportunities to officially judge, go watch elims after you are knocked out, flow as if you were judging, and write a ballot at the end.
posted by johnsu01 at 8:20 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

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