All debate teams have a coach standing in the wings. They work behind the scenes to prepare the team for debates, help hone their individual skills, and strategize the structures of the arguments themselves. Quite a lot of effort and knowledge goes into being a debate coach. You need to know how debates work, have the right qualifications, and be an excellent leader. It’s no easy task, but here are a few tips to get you started.
Know the Game
Understanding debate is half the battle. You need to have a strong grasp on how debates are judged, what makes an excellent argument structure, and the rules of the road. In order to be a debate coach, you need to not only understand all this, but have the ability to teach it as well. The greatest debate teachers know the in and out of the “game” and are prepared for everything.
Have the Right Qualifications
If you’re coaching a debate team at the high school or college level, you have to have a few qualifications. For instance, most high school debate coaches are teachers. In order to coach debate, you must also be a teacher at the school. These qualifications include at least a bachelor’s degree, but most coaches have their masters as well.
Develop a Tool Kit
All great debate coaches have a tool kit at their disposal. It contains tips and tricks for all types of situations. You’ll want to have a few techniques for combatting stage fright, tools for eliminating “um” from student vocabulary, and argument strategy that sits in your back pocket until it’s most needed. All these tools combined will be you playbook for when a debate gets difficult or a student really needs an extra push!
Be a Leader
Debate coaches, above all else, are excellent leaders. Your leadership is what drives the team and develops the talent on hand. As a debate coach, you’ll want to lead by example. This means always playing by the rules, even if the other team is not. Winning is not the sole reason your students are there. They want to grow their debate skills and be an integral part of an exciting team. As their coach, you can help them achieve those ambitions.