Uploaded by Mark Deaton

Your First Debate Tournament

What to expect at your first Debate Tournament!
What to Bring
 A laptop computer. This will hold your evidence and your first constructive speeches. It’s probably
smart to bring a laptop charger as well. Put your name, email and phone number on both the laptop
and charger, in case you lose it.
 Optional: A printed copy of your constructive speech. For many debaters, it’s easier to read from
 A notepad for flowing arguments Legal size (8½” x 14”) gives you more room, but letter size (8½” x
11”) is fine.
 A few pens or pencils for taking notes. Different color pens are best, so you can flow your arguments
and your opponent’s arguments in different colors.
 A water bottle--it will calm your nerves to sip on it and it will keep your mouth moist for speaking.
 Food or snacks to munch on.
 Money for lunch. $10 should be enough. The tournament host typically sells pizza and other snacks.
 Some homework. There will be some open time between rounds.
What to wear
Dress for debate tournaments should be professional. Pretend that you are going to a job interview. Here are
some suggestions:
For guys:
 Slacks or khakis
 Shirt and Tie
 Suit jacket or blazer
 Dress shoes/dark socks
For girls:
 Slacks or pencil skirt
 Blouse
 Blazer (optional, but recommended)
 Flats or heels (No higher than 3 inches.
There is a lot of walking at tournaments)
 Wear hair so it is pulled away from your
How the day will go
1. For most tournaments, you’ll need your parents to drive you. For tournaments more than an hour
away, we may arrange carpools.
2. Get to the tournament by 8:15 am! The debates start at 9 am. You’ll need the time to get settled,
connect to wi-fi, think about final case revisions, and understand the layout of the school. If you are
not there by 8:30 am, I start to panic. I can’t register our team for the tournament until all students
have arrived. Please be there by 8:15 am.
3. When you arrive, go to the cafeteria and look for our team. It will be crowded, and you may have
trouble finding us, so have somebody’s phone number.
4. At approximately 9 am, you will receive your parings by text through Tabroom. This will tell you which
classroom to go to and who you’ll be debating against.
5. Go to the bathroom before your round or you will regret it!
6. Wait for the judge to arrive at your room before you enter. Feel free to chat with your competitors in
the hallway. You are competitors, not enemies. At this point, turn off or silence your cell phone.
7. Once the judge arrives, find a seat at the front of the classroom. The chatting should subside at this
point, but if you continue, remember that the judge is listening. Make sure you don’t make a bad first
8. It’s OK to move some desks and chairs so you are facing the judge, who will likely sit near the middle or
back of the classroom. You (and your partner in PF) will sit on one side of the room. Your
competitor(s) will sit on the other side.
9. During the debate:
 Before you begin speaking, ask the judge and your competitors if they are ready. The judge may
be writing comments and ask you to hold a moment.
 Refer to your opponent respectfully. Example: “My opponent” “The PRO/CON team”. In some
cases, using their first name is OK, as it shows you are familiar with them.
 Look at the judge while speaking. They are who you are trying to persuade, not your competitors.
 Do not attack your opponents personally or make comments about their appearance or style.
 Ask the judge if it is OK to use your phone to keep track of time. Almost all judges are OK with this,
but it’s considered polite to ask.
 Do not misquote evidence by using words your sources didn’t. Summarizing, explanation or
paraphrasing is ok.
 You can use the internet during the round but remember that each team is allowed only 2 minutes
total preparation time for the round.
10. After the debate:
 Shake hands with your opponents and say, “good debate” or “nice round”. It’s courteous and looks
good to the judge.
 Shake your judge’s hand and tell them thank you.
 Look engaged and make eye contact if your judge gives you verbal feedback. (This won’t happen in
most rounds, but it’s possible.) Judges will give written feedback with their decision, which you
will receive via Tabroom after the tournament.
 Pack up your stuff and rearrange the desks back to their original configuration.
 Hide your emotion after the debate, until you are sufficiently distanced from your opponent.
11. Head back to the cafeteria and find your teammates. Now is the time to blow off some steam. And
do some research if you faced new arguments that you hadn’t prepared for.
12. There are 4 rounds in a tournament: Two in the morning and two after lunch. Afternoon rounds are
“power-paired”. This means you’ll face teams with similar morning records as you.
13. At the end of the 4th round, it will be about 3:30 pm. Come back to the cafeteria. Now, the
tournament officials tabulate results and prepare for the awards ceremony.
14. This is typically when the most waiting occurs. Tournament officials try to start awards ceremonies at
4:30 pm, but they sometimes run late.
15. After the awards ceremony, you will receive your results and judges’ comments via Tabroom. Read
them closely. They will help you become better debaters. You may lose some rounds you expect to
win. You may also win some rounds you thought you were going to lose.
16. With each tournament, you will improve. Talk with your teammates about their arguments and
strategies. Do some more research. I will work with you and your partner to improve your