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CloutCity2

Another Debate Struggle

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I've never posted on here so I'll try my best to explain my situation.

 

I'm in my third year of policy debate at a pretty reputable debate school (not MBA level, but we usually have a team with a couple of bids every year). My team regularly competes on the national circuit and I've had aspirations to do so for a while now. However, I'm not that good at debate. Both the summer going into my sophomore and junior year of high school, I attended debate camp and I've worked pretty hard to get better since last spring (Spring of my sophomore year). I always liked debate, but I think somewhere in the middle/towards the end of my sophomore year I developed a real passion for it. What sucks the most though is that I am one of the worst on the team, and I see all my other debate teammates travel for national tournaments.

 

So, why do I suck so much? Well I'm kind of slow at answering arguments off the flow (I've written blocks and found that they do help, and I plan to continue this, but I don't think it gets at the root of my problem). I usually spend 5-6 minutes of Prep time in the 2NC prepping just the off case I'm going for, which means I barely prep the case. I tend to debate well when I go for a CP + DA (I would consider myself a policy hack) but I SUCK at going for Kritiks. This along with some other issues has made me question whether or not I should switch to being a 2A since I do pretty well when I go for things I'm comfortable with (debating case in the 1AR is usually pretty easy for me + I've given a 2AC before and I found that I did pretty well)

 

So I guess I'm asking for a couple of things:

 

1) I'm currently a 2N/1A. Do you think I should make the switch? Why or why not based on the info above? (if you need more context I can provide that)

 

2) Can I go from alright at debate to clearing at national tournaments next year (ideally a TOC bid or two)? I'm not saying that I want to be the best debate team in he nation, but being nationally competitive would be awesome.

 

Again, if you need any more info I'm willing to give it to you. I just really don't want to give up on this activity.

Edited by CloutCity2

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I should also clarify that the reason I don't only go for CP + DA is because this topic is trash and I hate politics scenarios.

Edited by CloutCity2

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The situation you are in can be difficult, as being on a good squad but feeling left behind feels awful. You should definitely ask your coach these same questions, because if your school gets bids every year then your coach is probably pretty good. Your problems are probably a mixture of a couple of things

      1. Your blocks. Blocks are a must, and you shouldn't need more than a couple of minutes of 2NC prep if you have good extensive blocks for arguments you take. Spend a lot of time making them good, then get your coach or one of your teammates with a bid to look over them so you can make them better. This should help you monumentally.

       2. Your prep skills. If you are using six minutes of prep for your 2NC then there is definitely a problem. You should do prep drills where you make (or find) a 2ac to arguments that you commonly run and then set a timer for the max amount of prep you want to take for the 2NC. Prep out then give your speech. This should help you at giving the 2NC, but should also help you with prep time allocation, which is a very useful skill. If you can get your prep down, then your speech will likely be better too and you'll do better.

      3. Your block splitting. You might be taking too much in the 2NC. If you have too much to go for or don't have case, take five seconds of prep to tell your partner to take case in the 1NR or prep you out case stuff. It's better than dropping case.

      4. Your strategy. Yea this topic is weird. You should do some work to come up with specific good strategies against affs, and spend time with your coach and best team-members making strategies that will be more effective. A large part of the debate comes down to what was in the 1NC, not just skill of execution, and starting out with a bad 1NC rigs the debate against you. Make sure that your 1NCs are spot on, and you'll do much better.

      5. Your partner. If there are any partnership problems, that will hurt how well you perform. Make sure that everything is worked out with your partner.

 

Now about switching. If you want to be nationally competitive next year, switching might not be your best option, or it might be. Have a practice debate or go to a local as a 2A and see how you do and what people say. If you are doing significantly better or have some natural 2A skill, and your coaches agree, then switching to a 2A might serve you well next year. If you try it out and it isn't much better, then don't switch. You already have 2N experience, and switching this late in your career means that you have to relearn a lot, which sets you back fo next year. Overall, you probably shouldn't switch, but if switching yields way better outcomes, then go for it.

 

Competition. Its going to be really hard to go from not clearing at locals to picking up bids, but its probably possible with extreme dedication and work ethic and if chance falls in your favor. If you go to a seven week camp and perform at max all during camp, doing as much work and research as you can, and do likewise the rest of this year and during next year, and if you are able to go to plenty of bid tournaments and get a good partner, then you could get a bid or even qualify. The truth is that, if other factors don't fall into place, its going to be really difficult to earn a bid. Bids are hard to get, which is why there aren't that many teams who get them and qualify. Even the best debaters at local and sometimes even state levels don't always get bids. I'd say that you should work your hardest and try your best, because that gives you the best chance. Otherwise, it probably won't happen. The worst that can happen if you do try your best and work your hardest is that you don't get a bid, but you learned a lot about debate, will do much better at local and state levels, and will have a better platform if you want to pursue college debate.

 

Good Luck!

  • Upvote 9

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Yea the part about the bids was probably outlandish...lol. If I can clear at a couple of national tournaments/state my senior year, even if that means I don't get bids, I'm totally cool with that. Thanks for the info.

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You never know about the bids to be honest, but I can tell you from personal experience that you can go from a team that does not so well at easy locals, and within a year be competitive and can bid or break at major national tournaments. The advice I can give you is to make as many blocks as you can, find a partner that works well with you (even if they aren't the best debater you could be with), and understand each argument you will be going for.

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something that has helped me is passively listening to debate rounds. i usually don't flow rounds, i just listen to awesome speakers like layne kirshon or markoff while studying and lifting instead of music. i cannot emphasize how much this helps, especially if you're like me and don't care enough to spend hours prepping files. it's the main reason i was able to make the jump from local oregon debater to toc-qualling last year + this year

 

being a 2A - as a 2A and 2N, being a 2A is easier, but being a 2N is a lot more fun

 

block splitting - i actually disagree that taking too much in the 2NC is bad...horizontal proliferation is definitely a thing. i've switched to primarily going for cp's/da's in lieu of k's, and my 2nc's are usually t, cp, (sometimes da), case. try not to be outcarded by the 2ac though lol

Edited by jswegthefuture
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something that has helped me is passively listening to debate rounds

I really love when I'm listening to a debate, and I hear a clever CX answer I can steal, or an interesting way of organizing or explaining things. Also, exposing yourself to different arguments and getting used to speed. I agree this is super useful.

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I really love when I'm listening to a debate, and I hear a clever CX answer I can steal, or an interesting way of organizing or explaining things. Also, exposing yourself to different arguments and getting used to speed. I agree this is super useful.

Debaters who clear are students of the game. When I was debating, I read the wiki regularly, watched videos, and was constantly observing argumentative innovations. 

 

 

What do you think makes you take so much prep? Inefficient use of verbatim? Bad flowing? You should be thinking of your answers as you flow (if not writing them down while you flow) and definitely during cross-x of the 2A

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I guess what makes me inefficient is not that I can't come up with answers or that I can't flow well, just that I write too much down. I think I have this weird fear that if I don't write something down I'll forget it even if its something simple like extending links on a perm or extending that I can do off the top of my head. I think practice speeches where I use less prep time + try not writing so much down will help. Thanks for the responses btw.

Edited by CloutCity2
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