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Defining Success

There are many different versions of success when it comes to speech and debate. Some schools define success as winning a state or national championship. Other schools define success as going to a tournament and surviving! Your definition of success should be tailored to the needs of your coaches and your students.

When defining success for your own team, you might consider:


    • What is the current skill level of your students? If you don’t yet know, how will you first determine their skill level before creating a definition for success? 
    • What level of skill do you/your fellow coaches have? How can you best serve your students? What do you need to learn or explore in order to better serve your students as a coach?
    • If you are joining an already existing program, how does your definition of success differ from the one the team already has? What can you do to help shape the culture of the existing team so that you all define success in a way that works for everyone? It will be important to get support from your administration if you will be making changes to the way things “have always been.” 
    • What are the expectations/definition of success that your school’s administration holds? How does your definition align with theirs? If it doesn’t, how will you manage the “gap” between the two definitions? How can you advocate for closing that gap? 
Defining Success

Once you have determined what your definition of success will be, it is important to create some goals—both short-term and long-term—to help you focus your season. Over the course of the season, you may set and accomplish many short-term goals while working toward a bigger long-term goal.

Be sure your goals are something you can actually control—competitive success is good, but there are confusing judges and bad rounds. Try to make goals not based on competitive success. Consider things like culture and climate of the team, coaching staff management, peer coaching programs, filing or evidence systems, participation levels, and skill development.