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December 17, 2012 / compassioninpolitics

On the need to write frontlines to be good at debate

Each person has different strengths and proclivities….and so it is with debaters. I’m not sure though what prevents debaters from doing frontlines…and doing them well.

Goal 1: Create frontlines
Goal 2: Gradually improve them to be the best they can be

Its a pretty simple process, but I think rarely done.

Why? Whats my objective? Well frontlines save you a ton of prep time. Lets assume each debate you hit 4 to 5 off case with 15 arguments on the case. Thats pretty reasonable. That means you’re effectively answering somewhere around 20 arguments in 3 minutes of prep time. Thats not an easy task. Or lets think about it in another way–each team has about 30 minutes of speaking time….but only 8 or so of prep time (inevitably some of that prep time is going to be sucked up by just quality thinking on the spot, mid-course corrections and adjusting to the moves of the other team).

Frontlines give you peace of mind of having them done. Frontlines increase your organization. Frontlines save time and brain power. Frontlines increase idea incubation. Frontlines allow for scenario planning. Frontlines increase partner communication–helping get partners on the same page. Frontlines also make it possible to go to the next step of improving the frontlines.

Get started. Ask your partner for ideas and feedback. Ask someone for their opinion–someone you trust–for feedback or ideas.

What do you need for frontlines?
• Files from camp (ie Open Evidence Project)
• Seek out what other people are doing (the High School Wiki)
• Competitive Intelligence (ask around via phone, text, email, chat, etc…)
• Seek out similar arguments from the past.

Frontlines allow you to prepare & map the territory.

Debate helps provide three core skills:
• Thinking
• Researching
• Speaking

You are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t invest time in writing frontlines.

Frontlines are about strategic options. You need to have strategic options in debate. You can’t just recall all your strategic options on the fly.

Frontlines are your playbook. Almost every major team sport has a playbook. Frontlines are your playbook. The football team doesn’t tell each of 12 field players what to do. They call 1 play. And they practice the plays.

Answering objections:
• Procrastination & Winging it & settling for 2nd best or average.

(BTW: What does practice mean for football, basketball, and soccer players? What does it mean for chess players?)

I have other posts on here about writing frontlines for the affirmative and the negative….but I can’t seem to find them. Try the search box. Thanks for reading!

Also, having frontlines written…and editing them as you go….helps you to identify your strengths and weaknesses before debates–not after decisions are rendered. When you can do this–and do this clearly–it helps you. Writing frontlines is a continuous process.

If you spend 20 to 30 minutes each day writing frontlines for the next 20 days (and take it seriously and seek out help where you needed it)….you will be a much, much better debater.


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