Debate Tip of the Week: How to Prep Over The Holidays

This time of year can be stressful if you’re a debater. We’ve got Christmas in just a couple of days and New Years’ after that. Typically the first tournament of the year is early in January, and if you’re a dedicated debater, you can find yourself torn between wanting to cram in that last-minute prep and spending time with your family.

Spending time celebrating and being among family is super important, and you don’t want to be the one loner hunched over your computer the next two weeks.

What to do? Here are four ideas for less time-intensive but still important ways you can prep.

  1. Speaking drills. I used to do this in bed before I went to sleep. Pick your favorite speaking drill, like the circle chart or speaking with a pencil in your mouth, and do it. Honestly, whisper-reading can be a great enunciation drill. Practice doesn’t have to be in front of an audience or something to set aside time for. Squeeze it into your schedule.
  2. Understand your arguments and evidence. If you’ve been blitzing research or struggling to figure out your cases this year, you may have a lot of information on hand but not a lot of understanding of that information. Evidence is useless if you don’t know what it is. Debate isn’t a box-weighing competition. On the LD side spend some idle time examining your cases and questioning their assumptions. Develop a deep understanding of the resolution and your resources.
  3. Make research plans. While 8 hour research sessions may be more difficult to do, you can make your future research more efficient by developing plans for how you want to prep for the tournament. Work on your your case list, look over your evidence, and figure out your biggest weak spots. Brainstorm potential arguments and what kind of research you’d need to do to make those arguments work.
  4. Discuss with your family. This is more applicable during non-pandemic times when you might be around more extended family, but talk to people about what you’re debating about. Test your 1AC with them. Many of your judges are not going to be people well-acclimated with debate, so get feedback from people outside of the activity. Plus, they’ll probably be interested and impressed to hear about the complex arguments you’ve been developing.

This time of the year doesn’t have to be stressful. If you’re feeling the crunch of holiday plans and the pressure of debate prep, just shift your plans a bit and explore other ways of getting ready for that first qualifying tournament.

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