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March 30, 2012 / compassioninpolitics

Getting better at policy debate strategy tips

Six types of improvement in debate:
1) Cutting cards (including background research)
2) Rebuttal redoes (you can record these and/or do them in front of a coach or another good debater)
3) Watch great debates (not average debates…great debates). There are number online….check out the coaching thread and/or do a search for debate videos on the Cross-x site.
4) Look for patterns in the arguments (you can do this on the caselist Wiki and while watching great debates–aka outrounds). Constantly ask why they used a particular hegemony impact versus another. Which is better? Why? What unique advantage does it produce later in the debate?
5) Reading files/Thinking about the arguments/Writing blocks (including underlining down….and overall organization into expando files).
6) Learning from quality mentors. Also asking questions from top debaters.
7) Watching lectures and reading theory articles. I suggest the 3nr. Its critique & strategy topic areas are quite good:…entary/kritiks/…ry/negstrategy/
It will teach you how to think like a debater….and think better.

8) Going deep on particular arguments. Knowing an argument inside and out helps you apply that same strategy in other circumstances.

To me #4 and #5 are incredibly important….and are massively underused.

Core skills to pick up in making the jump from novice to JV & beyond:
1) Know & apply offense defense. If you don’t know what I’m talking about or only kind of know what I’m talking about it applies to both impacts & to theory arguments.
2) Think about the nexus question. The nexus question is the most important issue in the debate. You should write blocks which help you prove that your issue is the nexus question (often this is through impact comparison…..and evidence comparison on issues which the debate is close or where the other team might have an edge). In LD debates this is criteria. In policy you can refer to it as the decision calculus. In critique debates its the role of the ballot, role of the judge, and purpose of debate type arguments. (academics should do X, social movements should do Y, language shapes policy Z way,). They frame the ballot and its role. If you want to go even deeper on this issue I suggest watching Scott Deatheredge’s lecture–former coach at Northwestern (its simply epic) Its about winning. You should bookmark it & watch it http://www.cross-x.c…es-the-speech/.
3) Think about what types of arguments win debates for negative teams–from this you can deduce where you need to focus.

Hints on where do focus–based on what types of arguments win debate rounds:
1. Counterplan that solves all or most of the case + DA that doesn’t link to the CP + Combo of offense and defense on the case (preferably offense–ie IMPACT turns on the advantage the counterplan doesn’t solve. It will probably be hegemony or the economy next year most of the time)
2. Critique plus alternative and framework
3. Counterplan that solves all or most of the case + DA that doesn’t link to the CP + almost pure defense.
4. DA + case wins rather infrequently…..unless its TURNS.
5. Topicality
6. Critique without an alternative doesn’t win all that often
7. Theory wins for the neg are pretty infrequent. (but perm theory does win often enough)

Big Lesson Learned (aka Takeaways)
1) you want to have either a critique with an alternative OR a counterplan + the DA that doesn’t link as a core part of the strategy–if you don’t have one of those two–your strategy is starting from a massively bad position. (The reason I say “or” is because there can be tension between K and counterplan strategies…although most judges will let you get away with it if you have decent justifications on your theory block and in the 2nr).
2) Your first question should be: What do I have that links? What is your offense strategy on the case? And how do I create a diverse 1NC strategy that does #1.
3) What will be the nexus question in the debate? And what will my opponents best args be (aka offense) versus that nexus question?

For the 2ac:
1. Offense/defense mentality. You should have a ton of offense.
2. Add-on advantages (this is one of the best ways to create offense). This also helps you when you don’t have a ton of specific answers to a new disad.
3. Multiple ways to solve (ie perception, policy turn around, etc….)–this gives you flexibility on the case debate….and often on the counterplan debate.
4. Put pressure on the block with diversity & smart cross-applications
5. Ideally….have a way to say both “try or die”…….and
6. Debates are won on distinctions (this issue is particularly important on the case debate–which can make a lot of 1NC time just go away).
7. Argument intel…..this puts you soooooo far ahead. Knowing what people are running and being all frontlined out can be a huge advantage. The frontlines don’t have to be perfect….they just have to be pretty good…and focus on your offense (including modular add-ons)
8. Control the nexus question.


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