In Duo, you can’t just throw two people at each other and expect them to become The Perfect Duo Team. Building a partnership takes time, work, and dedication, and sometimes that just isn’t going to happen. Here’s some advice for what to do when your duo partner is driving you crazy.
What to do if your partner keeps rescheduling: The amount of time you’ve been working with your partner will have an effect on how often you practice – if you’ve just started working together it should be pretty often, but even if you’ve been partnered for awhile you should still be practicing at least once a week. The easiest way to arrange practice times is to set up one regularly scheduled one-hour practice each week. Stress to your partner that other practice times are negotiable, but on Thursdays at 5 p.m. you need him to be in the speech room with his binder. This will ensure you have one solid rehearsal before every tournament.
What to do if your duo partner won’t practice: Make him practice. Seriously. If your partner refuses to meet on a regular basis and can’t offer up any alternative times, you should first stress to them that practice is important to you and voice your concerns about whatever part of the piece you’re most uneasy about, whether it’s blocking you haven’t finalized or a line he keeps fumbling. Try setting up a regular practice time, and if that doesn't work or he ditches, you should talk to your coach.
What to do if your partner ad-libs: Some people, for whatever reason, enjoy making up lines in the middle of performing a piece. All you can do in that situation is keep reading your lines and redirect your partner back to the actual script. You can’t stop mid-line and talk to your partner – that’s a conversation that will have to wait until after the round.
What to do if your coach puts you with someone you can’t work with: Usually, this is for personal reasons – you dated him, you dated his ex, you got into a fight once, you took the last oatmeal cream pie from the vending machine. But regardless of the cause, the fact is you just can’t handle working with this new partner. You have two options in this case. One, think about why you “can’t” work with this person and consider how getting over it would be beneficial – that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, after all. If you can’t get over your personal issues and be businesslike about your partnership, your only other option is to talk to your coach and request a new match, explaining why you don’t want to work with that particular person.
What to do if your partner is better than you: If you notice that on every ballot, your partner gets positive comments while you get criticism, you may be facing a difficult realization. The best thing you can do is take that criticism and use it to get better. You could even ask your partner for advice on how you can strengthen the performance. Don't let a few negative comments drag you down.
What to do if you’re better than your partner: If your partner is the one struggling, encourage him to address issues that are holding him back. During practices, help your partner isolate the tricky moments in the performance and improve them. It's important to keep in mind that you’re not necessarily “better,” you may just be better suited to the piece. Make sure that your cutting is playing to both of your strong suits – it’s selfish and unfair to give yourself all the best lines.
What to do if you hate your duo piece: Your partner found this script, cut it himself, and presented it to you as the perfect piece. Except it sucks. You don't want to insult your partner by saying it sucks, but you don't want to have anything to do with the piece. You can either ask to see the full script and see if you can salvage some good lines, or you can find a piece that rocks and suggest it to your partner instead. Consider that it might just be you -- try working up the piece and performing it with your partner in front of a few teammates for advice. If they love it, you may just be letting your personal pet peeves get in the way of a decent piece.
What to do if your partner slacks off: It’s nothing personal. You get along well with your partner, you’re still friends, and everything has been peachy. But he doesn’t have time to practice, and when he does, he’s checked out – he forgets his binder, he forgets the lines in the intro, he screws up the blocking and has no suggestions for how to improve the piece. You should take some time to explain that your piece is suffering. Ask what's wrong – you never know; your partner could be dealing with personal issues. But if your partner has no excuse, it may be time to find a new piece. In some cases, you just need to be willing to pick up the slack and support the performance, or you could suggest that your partner take a tournament off and request that your coach pair you up with a temporary partner for the next competition.
What to do if you and your partner are fighting: All duo teams have disagreements. If you’re a good duo team, you should be able to stifle your argument at least during practice time. Channel your energy into the performance. If you find that you can’t stop fighting for the ten minutes it takes to run through a piece, then you should talk to your coach -- it's time to admit you have a problem.
There are a hundred miniscule issues that could make a good Duo partnership go bad. Ultimately, it all comes down to whether you and your partner can address your differences and overcome them for the good of your performance.