Tournaments vary in size from small local competitions, which might take place after school, to large international tournaments, which can attract hundreds of debaters and coaches.

Debate tournaments consist of a set of preliminary debates, a ‘round’, in which all teams participate. In this preliminary stage, teams debate each side of the topic in alternating rounds: a team that is affirmative in the first round will be negative in the second. The first round of a debate tournament normally pairs teams randomly. After the first round, teams are paired based on how well they have performed. With this system of pairing, tournaments ensure that teams encounter others at the same level.

After the preliminary rounds are complete, the teams with the best records proceed to an elimination stage. The goal of the elimination rounds is to have the top teams debating in the final round.


Tournaments involve a number of volunteers acting as judges, whose responsibility is to offer feedback to the teams and to decide who wins the debate. In major international university tournaments, judges are often very experienced debaters from universities around the world. Tournament organizers will provide judges with all the training they should need to evaluate a debate; judges are not expected to be experts either in debate or in the topic being debated.


Things you will need 

  • Time to research
  • Effective communication skills
  • Respect for other debaters




  • The number one key to preparing for a debate is putting the time into researching your side of the argument. Having an opinion isn't enough to be effective in a debate. You need to be able to have strong supporting materials for your side of the debate.

  • Make sure you include relevant facts that many others would not have already known. People want to hear facts that they didn't know. The more related relevant facts you include the stronger your presentation becomes.

  • Learn how to effectively communicate your positions. You may have a great position on a certain subject, but if you can't effectively communicate that to an audience it won't matter in a debate. Practice in front of others and even in front of a mirror. Make sure you look confident because no one will buy an argument from someone who isn't confident themselves.

  • Train yourself to fully respect the other debater. Nothing turns someone off more than a debater who just won't allow the other person to get in a word. Even if you are completely convinced you are right, you must give the other person time to speak their mind as well.

  • Prepare to have a rebuttal to the arguments that the other person will make. Many times you can know what they will say ahead of time and prepare yourself with facts that contradict their argument.


Any source of information you use must be reliable. General knowledge is also very helpful if  you are conducting unprepared debating. For mastering debating skills one should train, though it is also possible to watch debate trainings, competitions online to get know more about debating and of course grad some new knowledge.