Top Tips on How to Prep Debate Before a National Championship

The NCFCA Regional Tournaments are ending, and Stoa Tournaments wrapped up in April. That still leaves a good four to six weeks between people’s last tournament option and A National Championship. How are you going to prepare for the next level of competition? We, at Lasting Impact! and Ziggy Debate have a FANTASTIC idea! But also be sure to check out the tips from our awesome coaches…

Sure, you have your own clubs to practice with, but as we know, the incentive to practice can be a bit lower if you’re not attending Nationals yourself. And given how important Nationals is to so many, it would be a shame for students to miss out on the opportunity to keep honing their debate skills in the 4/6-week gap. 

That’s why the Ziggy + Lasting Impact! National Championship is such a great option: it provides a spaced out period of prelim and outround debates with prizes and national competition for students to keep their skills sharp and earn prizes, and it’s open to everyone, regardless of whether you’ve qualified for Nationals or not.

Ready to sign up? Head over to

What do coaches have to say… here is their insight for prepping for a National Championship…

Hillary Kolssak (Club Leader/Lasting Impact! LD Coach) – “My best advice would be to schedule practice debates. Don’t get rusty😃. Schedule some stop/ start debates to get feedback on what you are doing well and areas you need to work on.”

Coach Joe Sigwarth (Lasting Impact! LD Coach) – “When prepping for Nationals, don’t forget to drill, drill, drill your rebuttals! Pithy is the name of the game.”

Emalyn Sharp (Lasting Impact! TP/Apol Coach) – “Research! Now is the time to master all of the facets of the resolution that you can. Starting with your own case, make sure you have all of the answers, details, and understanding that would be needed to explain it to both your grandmother, and an interrogation officer. Then, move on and do the same for as many cases as you can. Knowing and understanding the evidence that is in your briefs will make a huge difference. 
Also, remember that you are not alone! Work with your club and region to make briefs and discuss argumentation. There’s a lot of work to do and not nearly as much time as you think there is, so working with a larger team is the way to go.”

Adrian King (Lasting Impact! Coach) – “There are two key things that can help prepare you for Nationals. First, overviewing the strongest arguments of opposing teams is one of the most strategic things you can do. Study the winning arguments of the year and come up with at least several in-depth responses. Secondly, study your own case as much as humanly possible. Write preemptive responses based on what your opponent might say. Even if you’ve already done this before, looking over your case with fresh eyes after hearing your opponents’ responses throughout the year helps you better prepare for what your opponents might say. Come up with two to three possible responses for each of your arguments, and develop refutations to each. If you need help thinking of what someone might say, look at your past flowpads or ask your coach. Doing this will strengthen your case and solidify your persuasive ability and readiness.”

James Russell (DFW Speech and Debate) – “Lay out the impact calculus for each brief. At this point in the year, you should be able to explain the weight of the AFF impacts vs. the weight of the NEG impacts. Don’t assume the judge will think your impacts are more important than your opponents – be prepared to explain why. Impact calculus is a simple and time-tested tool that does just that!
Literally, write three sentences at the top of every brief. One that explains the overall weight of the AFF arguments, one that explains the overall weight of the NEG arguments, and one that directly compares the two and explains why one is superior to the other.”

Heather Neumann (Lasting Impact! Founder, Speaker Coach) – “Do not under estimate the power of a good coach! When you feel exhausted and feel like you have no juice in the tank, allow an expert or a guide to help you with advice, motivatation, creative ideas, or whatever it is you might be lacking!”

Cheering you on as you prepare! Remember, You got this… cuz He’s got you!!