Finding judges

Another question to ask yourself is, how many judges do I have? Some nations have huge adjudication pools, such as England, New Zealand and Australia where as other nations, such as Israel, rely almost solely on a small number of their top former debaters and a handful of experienced WSDC judges.

The reason you want to assess how many judges you have in advance is because this will help you decide what kind of selection you can run. If you have a lot of judges, bigger trials are an option. If you only have a handful of people who are familiar with WSDC style debating, you may want to limit the number of students who get to the trial round or simply keep your most experienced judges for just the final stages of your selection process when the decisions often become more difficult.  However it is often useful to have at least one experienced judge on every panel, whether at a regional debate round or in the early part of your national trials, so that they can guide the less experienced members.

Remember that the type of person you want judging the debates isn’t necessarily only one with a lot of experience, you also want people who know what WSDC debating is about and people who can spot talent. Former WSDC debaters are a good example of people who might not come from a judging background but who understand what it is like to be part of a national team and know what qualities to look for in a debater. Teachers, debate club coaches and university students can also be good people to ask to be involved in your selection.

It’s also important to bear in mind that people who coach a certain group of debaters may find it difficult to be objective when assessing the merits of their own students. While getting recommendations as to who the top debaters are in any given club is a good idea, you probably don’t want coaches from any one specific institution making the final decisions on their own. A balanced approach lends itself to more discussion about each debater’s strengths and weaknesses.