Training the team

Every team and every coach has their own strategy. Some like to train for months before the tournament, others meet up only a week before the tournament and prepare together intensively. The latter method is generally only used when the team is geographically far apart and they can’t meet up on a regular basis throughout the year.

Especially for geographically vast nations, it can be quite a challenge to meet up regularly to have training sessions. As has been mentioned before, some nations opt for intensive training a week or two before competition starts. However, this does not mean that your team has to be completely idle in the mean time. One way to overcome this challenge is to employ electronic means of debate training; in other words, using the internet.

You could try giving assignments via email which require the students to research a specific topic or you can even stage an online debate employing one of the various chat room methods available online. Skype, for example, is a way to conduct free conference calls between you and your debaters. The point is, training does not have to stop just because of the distance and in fact these techniques can be useful even if your students can meet regularly. Training weekends or weeks provide the opportunity for intensive debate practice so you may not wish to loose valuable time doing research. Therefore giving team members ‘debate homework’ which may directly relate to the topics of the prepared motions or asking them to brush up on gaps in their general knowledge can be very beneficial and helps the debaters keep in the right mind set.

If the internet connection in your nation is not reliable, do not fear, you can give assignments to your team members at the end of your national trial and then check up on them every week. Or you can give out the assignment every week while at the same time checking on the previous one. At the very least, you can always tell your students to read certain magazines or newspapers and be up to date with the world’s affairs. By doing this, they are at least acquainted with possible topics that might come up as WSDC motions.

If you are concerned about the debater’s speech practice, you might want to consider instructing them to do individual speeches by themselves, in front of mirrors, on recorded video camera or for their close friends and families. You can also refer your students to a local debate club where they can have a go at delivering a speech and speaking in a full debate. For example, if your nation has university debating societies, your school debaters may be able to join in their regular training sessions or compete in their inter-varsity competitions to gain exposure to different debate styles and be challenged by more knowledgeable speakers.