Q: I have a tournament in December and in January, but our team goes to the biggest tournaments in February. How should I plan to do research and work on the different topics?
This is a very important question the all debaters face, especially going into the heavy competition of the Spring National tournaments. Here are a few things to consider when planning out your topic-related work:
1. Which tournaments are you going to?
If you aren’t debating in January, give yourself a break and start the February topic full steam in January. You should also maximize your winter break and prepare for January so that you can prepare for February earlier in January.
2. Which tournaments matter most?
You will have to prioritize which tournaments matter to you and dedicate the most time to those tournaments. You should begin to prepare for any given tournament at least two weeks (minimum) before debating a topic. You need to prepare your brain and debate work before the week of the tournament.
I would never advocate debating unprepared, but in some circumstances it is strategic to prepare less if an upcoming tournament matters more.
3. What topics are the tournaments using?
Some January and February tournaments have been known to adopt the other month’s topic, depending on when the tournament falls. Double check the tournament’s topic if it falls on the transition weekends between months.
For this specific questions, I would try and do all your January preparations in December. Start February’s topic in earnest in January, but make sure you spend the day or two leading up to a tournament thinking in terms of the current topic. Don’t wake up one morning and think you will remember all you prepared in advance. Make it a habit of preparing for each tournament individually, even if you are managing multiple topics at once.