Leveling the Field

Luqmaan Thein | 6/18/22

For students with limited resources, funding, and competitive opportunities, two things will enable them to produce spectacular performances at each of their competitions.

Preparation and practice.

And the summer is the perfect time to both prepare and practice for the next season.

When competitive opportunities are limited, it is important to perform well at those tournaments to maximize chances of qualifying to prestigious tournaments, which can increase the resources and funding that small programs have access to.

Not only do larger tournaments have more networking opportunities to connect a small school to the larger circuit—to place it on the map, so to speak—but performing well in those competitions can become a talking point to school administrators and boards to push for more funding.

But with all the other commitments during the school year—like sports, social life, and the AP Physics test on Friday—finding time to properly practice, not necessarily prepare but to practice, is practically an impossibility.

The summer, however, with its long, slow, hot days, is the perfect time.

I’m not just referring to debate camps and the like, but I’m talking about actual individual practice outside of that.

A novelty, right? But if there’s any equal chance of competition with larger, more competitive, better funded competition, seize the opportunity. Take half an hour, maybe an hour or even two, and practice.

Practice can be anything: practice speaking through reading aloud and inflecting your voice at all the right times; develop spontaneity, global awareness, literacy, and reading comprehension by summarizing the latest Times articles after reading them, daily; organize and/or develop a system for cataloging cards, expand cards, analyze topics, create briefs, watch videos, learn Tabroom, and fasten your seatbelt for greatness. For more tips on practice, check the National Speech and Debate Association’s website.

Make sure you find some free time to enjoy your summer, and it would be highly advisable to prepare for college and the upcoming school year as well, but that’s neither here nor there. Khan Academy is a Godsend.

Good luck! I wish you all the best in your pursuits!