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How do my partner and I prep for NSDA nats?

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Hey there,

So by some miracle, my partner and I qualified for NSDA nationals the other day. And after roughly 20 minutes of revelry, we realized that we had no idea how to prep for it. We are from a medium sized school with a weak policy program and don't have coaches to cut cards for us/that know too much about policy debate. So:

1) What do we need to be ready for?

2) How is NSDA different from the white, intellectual ghetto that is the West Oklahoma debate circuit? (We hit a K aff almost every round, and the negs almost invariably contain at least 1 K)

3) Is there a good way to hedge against really big/well coached/rich af teams?

4) How do judges react to performance debate?

5) Any tips to increase the chance of breaking?

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From my experience:

1.  Be ready for a variety of debate.  You'll get a lot of traditional schools that don't really go to any national circuit tournaments and you'll get teams that are much more progressive.  Similarly, there are a variety of judges, many are lay, while others are a similar quality to what you see at higher end tournaments.

 

2.  Again, there's a lot of variety - you'll see teams that debate the way you are used to, and teams that are totally different.

 

3.  Work harder, know your arguments better, try to utilize your resources to the fullest of their extent.  Obviously, smaller schools will be at a disadvantage, but that doesn't mean you can't overcome it.  Try to get really good at a certain type of argument (such as critical debate or T debate).  This will help you become an expert, even without a coach to teach you everything you need to know.

 

4.  Depends on the judge, I've seen some that would be down, but keep in mind that in many of your rounds you will need a good traditional strat.

 

5.  Plan beforehand, determine what your strat is going to be and prep the hell out of it.  Do lots of practice rounds/speeches.  Don't underestimate the utility of lay debate - if you can make a lay judge think that you're a powerful speaker, you'll be able to win rounds even when the other team may be beating you argumentatively.  Keep in mind that you only need 8/12 ballots to break - it's okay to split a few panels; don't sacrifice your ability to win one ballot by trying to get both (if you get two judges that are the polar opposites in terms of paradigms).

 

I'd say the biggest thing is to be able to adapt to your judge - don't try to get traditional judges to vote on progressive strats, and vice versa.  The the thing that successful NSDA teams have in common is that they're very versatile.

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The main thing from my experience is that you need to be ready for a variety of teams and judges; the latter is really the most important - you should have versions of your 1ac/1nc shells that are significantly shorter for lay/parent judges who will literally vote you down if you spread; you should emphasize argument diversity (i.e. if you like K stuff still prep a traditional aff, maybe even a politics DA). Also be ready for weird-ass panels - I was in an outround where one judge was total college K hack, one was solid old-school policy, and one was a PFer who voted on "eloquence" - you should emphasize strats that appeal to these types of panels (if winning is your game - honestly in some circumstances it's more fun to just not even try to pick up one of those judges and just do your thing)

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