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Nothing is more amusing or humiliating in a debate round. The first negative speaker has made an epic attack on the case, the round seems to be going decidedly negative even before the dreaded Block. Then suddenly, It happens. No one meant for it to happen, but I guess the problem was no one meant for it not to happen. What is it?

A contradiction.

Contradictions don’t only make a team look uncoordinated, but they also waste time and undermine the argumentation. It’s one of the worst things that can ever happen to a debater in a round. (Or one of the best if you so happen to be the other team)

I’ve mostly had wonderful experiences with  contradictions. Having a twin brother for my partner for my first two years meant that it really wasn’t ever a problem. Sadly, not all of us have twin brothers, or twin sisters. But that’s largely beside the point. My first bad experience with contradictions came at a debate camp where I argued that the species investment was a waste of money because the Endangered Species Act was worthless and ineffective. Only to have my partner argue that the Endangered Species Act is working great now and we don’t need more money… Somehow that hurt our position a lot

Having a cohesive attack on the affirmative team (or a cohesive defense of your affirmative case) should be a high priority for any team. How is this accomplished? Well there’s a couple of steps I’ve seen people take, a popular method is using prep time before the 1NC to formulate a strategy. (Sometimes at excess of 4 minutes)  While this usually spawns at least a decent 1NC, sometimes there isn’t sufficient prep time to deal with strong affirmative rebuttals, especially if the affirmative employs a stand-up 1AR tactic. (That’s where the 1A doesn’t take any prep time, this can throw off the negative because they don’t have enough prep time themselves to prepare a good response)

The best utilization of “prep” time doesn’t happen in the round. It all starts outside the round. Formulate an ideology before the round even starts. No, your ideology is not “Our case is a good idea so we should pass it” or “This case is a bad idea so we shouldn’t pass it.” That doesn’t really help at all. You need some thing like: “We should pass a bottle bill because the policy is net beneficial for the economy” or “we should pass a bottle bill because companies should pay for the damage their products cause.” While both of these mindsets support a bottle bill, the style and methods of defending the bottle bill used by both of these ideologies will be radically different. Having you and your partner both using one or the other will be vastly more effective than both of you using different ones, or not consciously knowing what justification you are using. To employ this strategy effectively on negative you will have to employ a lot of out of round discussion and communication with your partner about cases so you have a general idea what ideology you will use. (Note: You have more flexibility on neg)

I want to make sure I touch on the importance of knowing the ideology behind what you are saying, or the lack of it behind your opponents. This possibly was one of my favorite parts of debate. Cross Ex is the best place to work this to your advantage. Ask them where their mayhem stops. When is enough? An excellent team will have an answer, but most teams won’t. Even if they do have an answer it will benefit you because you’ll be able to nail down their ideology. This is the exciting part. If you have two teams that have thought out enough what they are supporting and why they support it and it becomes clear early in the round then the result is an excellent debate full of clash – a rare and beautiful thing indeed.

If you have any comments or questions please comment.

So TLDNR version/ Summary:

Talk to your partner before the rounds so you don’t have to even worry about talking so much in the round.

Focus on the mindset for a speedy way to not contradict your partner.

To Do List:

1. Find out which mindset you are going to employ to defend your awesome 1AC. Let your partner know about it.

2. Optional: Get an idea of your negative philosophy for popular affirmative cases. (And let your partner know about it)

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