Introducing Ask Da Coach

I am Donald Baumgartner the founding debate coach at Marshall High School and former coach at Mason High School. I have been a debate coach and judge for 12 years. I was a lawyer for 26 years. These emails are to help improve your debate programs. If you have a question for Da Coach email me at and I will get back to you. Now for our first two questions.

How do I preview a new affirmative?

That is easy go to the National Debate Coaches Association Open Evidence Project.

On this free site you will find hundreds of free files. You need to pick one that you like. For example there are about 100 Cuba files. They range from ending the Embargo to Cuba Rum affirmatives. They also have Cuba Tourism.

Try to pick one that has a few versions. Look at each and pick 3 or 4 Harms scenarios (also called Advantages) that you like. Make sure you have Solvency mechanism for each Harm/Advantage. You should read two Harms/Advantages each round but preview more, so that if one Harm does not work at a tournament you have previewed more you can run.

Do not just copy a file as is. If you do the other team can find it and find answers very easily. Make the Neg work for it. Some Files have both Aff and Neg cards in the same file. That is good. You can see what the Neg may run against you.

Make sure you have both the 1AC and 2AC cards. Find the answers to all the possible DA’s and off-case arguments that you may be required to answer. Also find answers to possible Topicality Violations and Counter-Plans and K’s. I call this a Super File. With your Super File you can be ready to do very well at the next debate tournament.

How do I put a Super File together?

I like paper. I use a three-rind binder and number each page in the order. I use a separate piece of paper with a Header to state the name of the argument. For example, have a divider for all your Inherency cards, in both the 1AC and 2AC. Likewise, all your cards on any given Harms scenario and the extensions for that Harms scenario. Organization is the Key. Tell your debaters in no uncertain terms: when you take out a block, make sure you put it back.

Many cards are too long and have text that you do not need. Do not delete the text but the font. Likewise the name of the author may be very long. You need the name and date. Reduce the rest and put it in brackets, meaning that your debaters won’t read it in the round.

This memo is the opinion of Coach Donald Baumgartner and not that of the CDL.  Special thanks to the NDCA (National Debate Coaches Association.)  

You can Ask Da Coach at

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