Tournament Guide

Debate Tournament Guide

By Sohum Doshi, 2008-2010 RHS Debate Captain

  1. Dress appropriately. You want to look presentable to the judges who (believe it or not) find appearance a factor in determining a winner- debate is first of all a perception game.
    1. Gentlemen: A long-sleeve shirt with a blazer or a full-blown suit would be sufficient. Ties are optional – but strongly preferred.
    2. Ladies: Please refer to the Speech Forensics Tournament Guide.
  2. You don’t just bring your cases, you bring them in style. I would suggest you purchase a nice folder (not a notebook or a 3 ring binder) to hold your cases, pens, timers, and anything else you feel you will need for a debate tournament. Also, you should probably have 2 copies of both your cases just in case you lose one copy (there will most likely not be computers/printers at the tournament)
  3. Bring some money– maybe 20-25 dollars. You will usually be a local debate tournament for 5-6 hours, thus you need money to purchase water, snacks, meals, etc. while you wait.
  4. Prior to a round, schematics will be distributed. A schematic is a list of the names of debaters, who’s judging them, and in what room they are in. Most LD rounds consist of two flights, an A flight and a B flight, which simply means that each round is actually divided into two, but they’re both in the same room. After finding your room, you generally wait outside of it until a judge enters. Usually the judge will wait as the debaters take a seat somewhere in the room, get organized, and preflow (if necessary-though you should do this before going into a round). The round will soon begin.
  5. After the debate students will leave the room and proceed back to the main meeting area where they will wait for the next round to begin. After going to about 3 more rounds, the tournament will be over, the award ceremony will begin, and then the team will depart together and head back for Randolph.

Additional Notes:

  1. During the round be respectful- don’t interrupt your opponent in the middle of his speeches for any reason
  2. Be kind to the judge, even if they don’t vote for you because you never know when you might have them again
  3. Don’t give up in the middle of a round if you “think” you are losing, trust me, you never know what the judge is thinking

If you would like to download this guide, please click here.

Speech Tournament Guide

By Rachel Matusewicz, 2009-2010 RHS Speech Captain

In preparation:

  • Practice your piece; be memorized for interp and O.O., well-versed for binder events, creative for impov/impromptu, and knowledgeable about current affairs for extemp

The night before:

  • Run through piece once or twice, be positive on your time and know your intro
  • Get plenty of sleep!  Go to bed early.  Eat right, don’t stress.
  • Set your alarm so you can be at the school five minutes before the designated time

The day of:

  • Wake up with plenty of time to prepare yourself.
  • DON’T FREAK OUT.  Be calm, drink some tea, and eat a healthy breakfast.
  • Dress in your suit
    • Girls:
      • Black/brown/grey skirt or pants suit.  This means a matching blazer and skirt/pants with a modest shirt underneath.
      • Stockings and heels (for popping and clean transitions)
      • Hair pinned back and out of your face
      • IF you don’t have a suit, you should either borrow one in advance, buy one in advance, or, if all else fails, wear a nice outfit (Black/brown/grey slacks or skirt with a nice top) and prepare to buy one for the next tournament
    • Boys:
      • Black/grey suit
      • Nice tie and top (colors may vary, but make sure they match)*
      • Nice black/brown shoes (good for popping and smooth transitions)
      • Hair combed back and out of your face
    • Be at the school with all items needed five minutes before designated time.
    • Items needed:
      • Binder for prose/poetry competitors
      • Piece either in photocopied form or the actual book/play.  HAVE YOUR ISBN NUMBER.
      • Purse/bag with money, phone, comfortable shoes for between rounds, pen and paper for writing down codes, and possibly make-up, any homework (for between rounds), a stopwatch just in case, iPod for de-stressing, and anything else you deem necessary
    • Don’t stress!  Just relax.

During tournament:

  • Your rounds will be posted usually at 9:00 AM.  We will arrive hopefully around 8:30, giving us time to do warm-ups and settle in.
  • When rounds are posted, a schematic (the sheet with codes and room numbers) will look like this:






A116RA102, BF113, SD110, MA119, DO108, PR114VAN128A312BF109, SD112, GR104, MO105, RA100, PO116DRO209


  • …and so on.   You will be given your code by Mrs. Waite/your VP/or anyone else in charge.
  • When posts are up, find your code and go immediately to your room, ready to perform.  **For double-entered kids, see below.
  • Write your information on the board:

Code – Name

“Piece” by Author


RA102 – Rachel Matusewicz

“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen***


  • Sit in a desk and wait for the judge to call you to perform.  When he/she calls your name, go to the front of the room, perform, and then sit down.  Be polite and attentive to other performers.
  • When the round is over, leave the room and go to the cafeteria or general meeting place (where we will have put our things down upon arrival).  Wait for second round.

The day will consist of three preliminary rounds, as mentioned above.  After three rounds, breaks will be posted.  If you “break” you advance to the next round.  At a local tournament, we will usually break right to finals.

If you break:

  • Congratulations!  Be very proud of yourself.  Go to the room designated by the breaking schematics, and wait for the round to begin, as if it were any other round.  More people will be there to observe.  Don’t be nervous, just do your best.

If you don’t break:

  • Don’t worry at all.  It’s very hard to final, and no one should feel bad if they don’t.  Be proud of yourself for surviving the day and doing your best.  Be supportive to your teammates and try to watch a round that someone has broken to, to show your support.

After final rounds:

  • When final rounds end, we will wait as a team for awards.  When scores are tabulated, someone will announce that it is time to go into the auditorium/wherever awards are being presented.
  • During awards, clap enthusiastically for everyone.  Stand for first place.  This is a common courtesy.
  • After awards we will go onto to bus to go home.  Call your parents to be ready to pick you up upon arrival.

**Double entered competitors:

Signing in:

Go to the room of the event you are doing second (this is determined by speaking order—go first where you are speaking earliest as shown by the schematic, e.g. SD110 is going third on the example schematic) and sign in on the board.  Write D.E.W.R. by your information and go to your other event.  Sign in there, write D.E., and sit.  You should go either first or second (if someone goes who is not double entered, remind the judge politely that you ARE double-entered and have to return to another round), and after your performance, ask the judge politely if you may leave.  Go to your other room and stay there for the remainder of the round.  You will most likely perform near the end, if not last.

***Writing on the board


For poetry, write your information as per usual, but if you are doing a program by numerous authors, write “by Various Authors” for the author name.  You do not need to write every author in your program.  For OO, write your code, name, and speech title.  For Improv and Impromptu, only your code and name is needed.


  • Arrive late to the school.  The bus has a certain time to leave that all competitors must respect and abide by.
  • Look like a “slob.”  Though we respect and encourage individuality and understand limitations, do your best to look nice.   Dress nicely; pull/brush your hair back.  Don’t wear jeans/tee-shirts/casual clothes; make sure your suit matches.  We’re going for elegance, confidence, and maturity.  Business-like with some spunkiness.
  • Be rude to competitors!  Politeness is key.  Be attentive during performances.  TURN YOUR CELL PHONE OFF.
  • Sulk if you do not break.  It happens to everyone, so we all know how hard it can be.  Take a moment to collect yourself, go away from the crowd of congratulators if you have to, but come back, praise your teammates and be supportive.  Go watch a final round to learn or support your friends and just resolve to do better next time.  Just remember that we are and always will be proud of you for just being with us, and that there is nothing wrong with not finaling.
  • Gloat if you do break.  You should be very proud, but be considerate of those around you.  Remember that there are people who have worked just as hard.  Congratulate them for doing their best, be supportive, and then internally pump yourself up.  As a very wise speecher by the name of Brandon Cosby once said: it is better to get last when everyone thinks you deserve first, than to get first when no one thinks you deserve it at all.

Remember it is a long day!  Food will be available, but it costs money.  So either bring $20-$30 or bring food from home.  Drink plenty of water, and a good night’s sleep is a necessity!  The tournament will end anywhere from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM, give or take.  Let your parents know that this is an all-day thing!

On another note, sometimes we will go out for team dinners afterwards.  This, of course, is not mandatory and not regular, but a great way to bond with the team and have fun.  So keep that in mind when bringing money.

Most important: HAVE FUN! You will meet new people, watch wonderful pieces, become closer to your team, and grow overall as a forensicator.

As Dr. Seuss once said, “Today is your day; you’re off to great places; you’re off and away! …Oh, the places you’ll go.”

Ready, set, GO!