How many times have you walked into a debate only to face your worst nightmare? You are going negative against the absolute best team in your region. Your stomach clenches, your nerves flutter, and you get out your file of evidence all the while knowing that this team can certainly respond to any argument you bring up. So, how do you beat this team? Well, you probably don’t, but there are ways to increase your odds, not only in this one round, but over the course of the season and even into the rest of your debate career.
When faced with a sure defeat, the best strategy you can employ is that of the weird argument. Now, by weird argument, I don’t mean bad or poorly constructed. I mean the argument that is a little different than others. This is the time to try out that unusual thought or idea you have had or to work out the kinks in that counterplan or see if a judge will buy that kritik you have been holding onto. You likely won’t be winning the round, but you will gain a reputation for being the team who isn’t afraid to think out of the box. You will gain a reputation as the team that people need to prep for. And, you will actually reduce the prep time of that great affirmative team over the course of the season as they won’t quite know what to expect when they debate you.
The key to these “weird” arguments is in not overusing them. Remember to only produce them against teams that you are sure you will lose against anyway. This will help slide those odds in your direction.
So, that takes care of the strategy to employ when you have nothing to lose and are just increasing your odds. The next question is what you do when you are against a team that is on an equal level to you. The answer to this is nothing. You debate them with your best arguments straight out. Save the weird, the unusual, the crazy for the best teams, the ones you normally can’t beat. When faced with a team on your level, just use your best arguments and one other little thing. Use your smile. Winners are happy people, winners smile, winners are relaxed. It is human nature for a judge to vote for the team they feel is “winning.” If you are debating with a team on an equal level, the judge may sub-consciously end up basing the RFD entirely on which team projected a “winning” attitude. This isn’t an arrogant attitude, just a calm, relaxed, and happy attitude. This often is more than enough to tip those odds your way.
Wouldn’t you also need to take into consideration the type of judge(s) that you have? If you have a college debater, a coach, and a lawyer, you could probably have more sucess with unusual arguments, but if you have a different judge pool such has homeschool moms/dads or lay/community judges you probably wouldn’t want to pull out the wierdest argument you could create, even if it makes total sense in a debate perspectives because the judge may lose you. Thats how i see it.
In most instances you are right Zack. However, in the instance where you know you are more likely to lose, go ahead with an argument that is out of the box and untried. Don’t worry about the judge at that point (after all, the assumption is that you are going to lose anyway). Doing this actually will stretch your debating skills.