Pace Yourself

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As we approach the end of August and a new acedemic season nears, anticipation for a new season is beginning to build. Fresh ideas are coming for orators and debaters. Extempers are reading and watching the news to refresh the rusty mental wheels of current events knowledge. Interpers are trying to find suitable pieces and in some cases, suitable partners. All of this is fantastic and is what makes Forensics so much fun, but it's very important that this anticipation is paced throughout the year, or you will fall flat.

In general, the Forensics season lasts from September through June. Let's face it...that is a long time. September is the time when you start to knock the dust off and start building for a new year. June is the national tournament. So what happens during that time in between?

One of my favorite things to watch over the years was the progression of my fellow competitors from other schools. I especially enjoyed the beginning of the year, because I could see who was winning and I came to discover that those who succeed at the beginning of the year stand next to no chance of making it to nationals. As a matter of fact, I dont think anybody in my category (original oratory) won a tournament before new years and still made it to nationals. Now, some may argue that this isnt true in all cases. And to that, I would agree. I am talking more about the memorized categories. Extemp and debate are different because the topic changes every month (or round). But for interpers, prose, poetry, and oratory, you must pace yourself. In both of the years that I won my district and went to nationals. I didn't start competing hard until January. National qualifiers were in March. As an orator, I spent a good deal of the fall researching and writing. Over Christmas break, I would start to memorize my speech so I could compete in the first or second week of January. Does this work for everyone? Not necessarily, but I will say this. Every one of us is prone to late season fatigue and if you don't learn where your weaknesses are and soon, your biggest obstacle will be your own ignorance.

Learn yourself...Learn your piece...and pace yourself!

It has been recommended to me by several coaches/summer speech camp people to have a few pieces to do during the year. For example, as a prose speaker I need 2 pieces to use for a tournament, but there are no rules to keep me from having one or two more in my repertoire. That way I can interchange pieces and stay fresh. I can also see which pieces work best for me and are most likely to get me placed later in the season. Plus, by switching I am constantly on my toes and working, and therefore improving my skills. This might not work for every event or for every person, but I did this and I rather liked it.

I personally have never competed in an interp category, but by simply watching interp rounds throughout the year it is obvious that the competitors who have their piece perfected too early in the year simply get bored of repeating it for the entire season. To keep things fresh, like sarah said, change is needed. this can be either by having multiple pieces in your arsenal, or by starting with a basic piece and building on it for every tournament.

My team takes the first months of every season to train freshman on the team. This is both in speech and debate. At any given team practice no upperclassman is seen practicing his or her own piece (or preparing for a particular debate), experienced competitors are expected to make the rest of the team ready to compete. i mean, lets be honest, no first year competitor is going to perfect a piece in a month. I think that this has helped our team succeed collectively and each competitor individually.

like brian's last line suggests, the first months of the forensics season is for LEARNING.

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