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We receive dozens of questions from our customers and love reading through and responding to all of them. We received this intriguing message from a student who prefers to remain anonymous a few days ago, sent it out to the Ethos staff and decided to share their answers with all of you.


Hi, I’m an experienced debater and my family’s been in the league for about a decade. Before, I loved researching and talking about debate, however, this year, I feel burnt out. While I know burning out can be common, I’m only a sophomore. Am I missing something that should excite me to research? Do you have any tips to get myself more excited?


Harrison Durland:

I’m sure others may have recommendations that don’t require more information, but for me and starting with the basics, it’d be helpful to know more about their situation. Just brainstorming ideas, I’d look at things like:

  • Is the issue about the league? Is there enough competition around them? Is the person plugged into a group of people (e.g. a club) that fosters competition and community—in particular, is he a part of any kind of club/regional social media group?
  • Purpose is a big issue: What are his goals in debate (are they just winning or to gain experience/knowledge)? What does he plan to do for a career (or at least broadly, which debate style would best fit his preferred work skills)
  • Which styles has he tried? Has he just been doing the same kind over and over again?
  • Does the person care really deeply about any issues in debate or in the broader league (e.g. theory, e-ring/club research organization/cooperation)? Of particular note, could this person fill a niche in their region/club in regards to that issue? (For example, where I’m from I generally cared more about theory than everyone else, and constantly interacted with people who had theory I considered to be bad, which made me want to study theory even more).

Joshua Hu:

I would say first that he should just take a break for a bit, after thinking about why he enjoyed debate before (and what about it he enjoyed), and do something else. Play a sport, pick up an instrument or play more if you play one, have some other hobby, spend more time with family, whatever. After my sophomore year, I felt like I burned out a bit, and I thought I didn’t want to debate in future years. I had a great summer and didn’t think about debate at all. At the end of summer, I did debate because I was “refreshed” so to speak and I did new categories (Policy to LD), which I really enjoyed. Impromptu as well because it was so “stress-free”, and OO because I could argue something I was absolutely passionate about. I would agree that it’s easy to get burned out if you’re focusing so much on the results and you focus on that over the process or the enjoyment of analyzing a policy or philosophy, gaining speaking skills and glorifying God through that. Reading Noah’s article about that, it’s something I think about often- why do I do debate, and is my time spent on it worth it?

Joel Erickson:

Josh and Harrison did an excellent job articulating this already, so I won’t reiterate what’s already been said. As someone who’s experienced significant burnout (not with forensics but other activities), things that have helped me are:

  • Assess burnout and discern root causes. Determine what you enjoy and what’s tainting your perspective.
  • Isolate what you enjoy and try to actualize it on its own or in another medium (e.g. when I got burned out of competitive swimming so I experimented with different workout routines.) Oftentimes, this means taking a reprieve or hiatus.

Joshua Anomulu:

Focus on the area/areas of the resolution that you’re passionate about and truly believe in. I’ve found this to help me with burnout.

Sam Woodell:

Set goals for your season. If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit nothing. Having something to work towards can almost make you care.

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