As many debaters know, debating can be physically exhausting. Maintaining focus over long periods of time takes energy. Over the course of a debate tournament, both physical and mental stamina and endurance will help debaters succeed. This post will address the physical aspect. For more information mental preparation see the Coach’s Column article about increasing mental stamina.
First, debaters can improve their physical stamina by making sure they get enough sleep. Debating when tired is not an easy thing to do. Sometimes, debaters that have not prepared effectively for the tournament will try to cram preparation into the night before the tournament. The best way to prevent this is to steadily prepare over the weeks before the tournament. This will lead to better preparation and will also make sleeping the night before the tournament easier. A private debate coach can also help a debater work through the topic materials in an organized way, increasing the productivity of time spent preparing for each debate tournament.
Second, debaters should eat. This may sound obvious, but debaters who are nervous sometimes skip meals. This is not a good idea. Maintaining focus becomes difficult when a debater is hungry. Even if a debater does not feel hungry during lunch time, it is better to eat when there is time in the tournament schedule. Preparing some snacks to eat throughout the day can also help.
Third, debaters should make sure to drink water throughout the day. Speaking loudly and confidently can make a debater’s mouth and throat dry. If a debater doesn’t consistently drink water this can hurt their speaking ability and give them a persistent cough. Staying hydrated is also important for keeping energy levels high.
Water is always the best choice for a debate tournament. Debaters should not drink too many sugary drinks. Soda and other sugary drinks can dry out a debater’s mouth and makes speaking much more difficult. It is important to be able to speak clearly to have success in the later rounds of a debate tournament when everyone is getting tired.
Debate tournaments are long. Following this advice can help debaters stay focused when debating in later rounds, giving them an advantage over opponents that are less prepared.