Self-Reflection: Preparing for the Final Stretch


As the debate season progresses towards its culmination, it’s vital for students to reflect on their experiences, learn from their performance in past tournaments, and set targeted goals for improvement. This resource guides students through a structured reflection process on their debate rounds so far, encouraging them to identify areas for growth and develop a focused plan for enhancement as they approach the final tournaments of the school year.


This activity is designed for middle school and high school debate team members participating in any form of competitive debate, including Lincoln-Douglas, Public Forum, Policy, and Congressional Debate. It’s an ideal exercise for coaches to implement during team meetings or for individual debaters to undertake as part of their personal preparation.

Learning Outcomes

  • Self-Assessment: Students will learn to critically evaluate their debate performances, identifying strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Goal Setting: Develop the ability to set specific, actionable goals for skill enhancement in preparation for future competitions.
  • Strategic Planning: Enhance strategic thinking by prioritizing focus areas and outlining steps to achieve set goals.
  • Reflective Practice: Cultivate a habit of reflective practice, essential for continuous improvement in debate and beyond.


  1. Individual Reflection:

    • Provide students with a list of reflective questions about their debate rounds so far. Encourage them to consider each question carefully and write down their thoughts. Sample questions might include:
      • What are the key strengths I have demonstrated in my debates?
      • Which arguments or strategies have I found to be most effective?
      • What feedback have I received from judges or peers that points to areas for improvement?
      • Have I noticed any patterns in the rounds I’ve lost or found challenging?
      • What aspects of my delivery (e.g., clarity, pacing, gestures) can be enhanced?
      • How effectively did I construct my cases, and was my strategy clear and persuasive to the audience and judges?
      • How can I enhance my evidence selection and presentation to strengthen my case?
      • What techniques can I develop to improve my performance during cross-examination?
      • How effective were my rebuttals and counterarguments? Did I accurately address the weaknesses in my opponent’s case, and was I able to adapt my strategy based on the flow of the debate?
      • Reflecting on my performance, how can I improve my time management and organization to enhance clarity and impact?
  2. Identifying Areas for Improvement:

    • Ask students to review their reflections and identify common themes or specific areas where they see the most significant opportunity for growth.
    • Encourage them to list these areas in order of priority, considering the impact of each on their overall performance.
  3. Goal Setting:

    • For each identified area of improvement, students should set specific, measurable goals for what they want to achieve before the end of the school year. Examples of goals might include improving argument structure, enhancing evidence quality, or increasing speaker points by a certain amount.
  4. Action Plan Development:

    • Students then develop an action plan for achieving their goals. This plan should include specific tasks or activities, such as practice debates, research sessions, speech drills, or feedback sessions with coaches and peers.
    • Encourage students to set deadlines for their goals to help manage their time effectively and maintain focus.
  5. Sharing and Feedback:

    • Have students share their reflection insights, goals, and action plans in small groups or with the entire team. This process can foster a supportive team environment where students feel accountable and can offer each other constructive feedback and suggestions.


Engaging in this tournament reflection and growth activity empowers students to take charge of their development as debaters. By identifying areas for improvement and setting focused goals, students can make the most of the remaining months of the school year, entering their final tournaments with confidence, improved skills, and a strategic approach to their continued success in debate.

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