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It is a fact that the first morning debate round of any tournament is not the debate that anyone wants their grandparents, friends, or parents to watch. Why? Because we are exhausted, and will not perform at our maximum potential. Or, in the words of Coach Jen (Jen Davidson), because you feel like you have a brick for a brain. Since everyone knows that every round is critical, why treat these round essentially as toss-ups? The drowsiness and torpidity is to be expected. But you need to fight it.

This post is a recycled post that was published several years ago. But as we have begun tournament season, everyone needs a reminder on how to beat that early-morning mental lethargy. Written by Coach Jen Davidson, this post has 8 simple steps to wake yourself (and your partner) up, prepare yourself for those exhausting morning rounds, and give you an advantage over your opponents who may very well be catching a few Z’s, face on flow-pad.

Coach Jen: “How many times have you debated at 8am and felt like you had a brick for a brain? I know it’s happened to me a bunch, so my debate coaches in college came up with these drills to sharpen you up before you go. It really only takes 20 minutes but I allow 10 extra for Q’s, wiping sleep out of eyes, etc.”

The Rundown:

1. Grab some evidence, a longer card. Just start reading.

2. Alternate between loud and soft, fast and slow. For those of you who already talk too fast, skip the fast.

3. Now start singing your evidence. Not Phantom of the Opera, mind you, but keep that in mind as you “talk/sing” slowly and loudly.

4. Read your evidence from the bottom up.

5. When you reach the first word on the first line, read the first word, the third word, the second word, then the fourth word, volleying back and forth til half way through the card or so. You don’t need to do this forever – this is hard but is supposedly some kind of tricked out synapse-builder. I do it because it’s hard and makes your eyes focus on the words on your paper.

6. Have team members do a cross-x scenario for the rest of time. Ex: 1NCs, what’s your job? Reasons why T is a voter? 2A’s, why are broad limits on T standards good? Why are they bad? 4 reasons you’re voting aff. 3 reasons SQ is fine. etc. whatever you can come up with. You can do this as a group with one person leading, or do it popcorn style.

7. Trade cards with the person to your right. read it. Then find 3 ways the card is bad. I don’t want to hear “old, bad source, etc” because that’s standard and we all know it’s probably not that relevant. Tell me why the author of the card is actually wrong : )

8. Relax, calm down, and go debate. You can alternate the length of your warmup depending on how much time you have. I try to stick with 15-20 minutes.

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