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National Speech & Debate Tournament - Phoenix/Mesa Arizona 2023

Frequently Asked Questions


Yes, any student who advanced to an elimination round in a main event will receive an award. Students in the semifinals and/or finals will be given their award on stage either during the awards ceremony or after their event’s final round. Students who have competed at the tournament all four years will receive an email in advance and be recognized as Four-Time Competitors. Early elimination round awards and Four-Time Competitor awards must be picked up at Awards Checkout on Thursday or Friday. More information to come.

Results of all elimination rounds prior to finals will be posted on the public-facing side of Find them by navigating to and selecting the Pairings tab. 

Main speech event postings will be released at the following times:
Top 60 Speech (Rounds 7/8) — Tuesday midday
Top 30 Speech (Rounds 9/10) — Tuesday evening
Speech Semifinalists (Rounds 11/12) — Wednesday midday
Speech Finalists — Wednesday evening

Policy, Lincoln-Douglas, and Public Forum teams who win at least 8 prelim ballots will advance to Rounds 7/8. Each qualifying team will begin with a clear record and debate double down and out until two remain for a final round. Beginning with round 7, Policy, Lincoln-Douglas, and Public Forum judges will announce their decisions at the end of the debates.

Congress, World Schools, and Big Questions advancing entries will be announced at their respective competition venues.

All events will use online balloting. To access ballots, judges will log in to and check Current Ballots & Panels for an assignment before each round! If judges don’t have an assignment but are obligated to judge that day, they will report to the judge pooling room at their competition site. Judges are required to leave written comments on their ballots so students can understand their results and improve. Ballots and the full tournament results packet will be available for students to review after the tournament on Monday, June 19. 

If your school’s judges have met their obligations (reported to all assignments), the $200 judge bond will be refunded. During registration for the National Tournament, schools indicated on if they would like their judge bond credited to their 2023-2024 NSDA account or returned in the form of a check. Please log in to to review your selection. All bonds will be processed and returned after Nationals by July 31, 2023.

Judges are obligated by day as opposed to round-by-round. On the days they are covering an obligation, they are obligated for every round. Their specific event assignments and locations will be available via in June. They will use to check for ballots and, if they don’t have an assignment, report to judge pooling until all rooms that round have started or “cleared.” Learn more under the Judges tab at

Round pairings/schematics (who’s competing against who and where) will be available on

Competitors in main events who are pre-registered and do not advance to elimination round competition on Wednesday of the National Tournament are eligible to re-register for supplemental events on Tuesday. Re-registration to confirm participation must occur between 12:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 13, through Students who pre-registered but did not re-register will not be scheduled for competition. This applies to both students who compete in main events and students who are only competing in supplemental events.

May 15 is the last day to pre-register students for supplemental events. Although all supplemental events are open for pre-registration, know that you will only be able to re-register students in a certain number of events per pattern. Students cannot re-register in Extemp Debate and any other speech event. Students may be re-registered in up to two supplemental speech events (only one per pattern).

    • Pattern A: Extemp Commentary, Original Spoken Word Poetry, Prose, Expository
    • Pattern B: Impromptu, Poetry, Storytelling
    • OR Extemp Debate

It costs $25 for each supplemental event pre-registration, and entry fees are not refunded if your competitor does not re-register in that event. Choose your pre-registered events wisely! 1-2 pre-registered supplemental entries come with a requirement of 1 day of judging, 3-4 entries require 2 days, 5-6 entries require 3 days, and so on. Those days of judging may be assigned in supplemental speech, main event speech, and/or Extemp Debate. Supplemental event judging can be purchased for $120 per day.

All rules for the National Tournament can be found in the Unified Manual which is downloadable at Please keep in mind that your local/state rules may be different than those used for this tournament. If you still have questions or concerns after consulting the Unified Manual, please email the office pre-tournament or stop by the Tournament Office at your venue and speak to someone on duty there during Nationals. 

Time at Nats

Mesa Public Schools is offering free breakfast and lunch at schools for everyone 18 and younger. At the Convention Center, for Congressional Debate and Thursday/Friday finals and events, concessions will be open and offer a variety of choices to meet various dietary needs for a fee. Hospitality suites will offer coffee, tea, water, and light snacks for judges throughout the day. Learn more about meals.

Transportation is up to each individual program. Most opt for rental cars or buses. We do not provide bussing between competition venues. A discount code for Hertz is available on our website.

There are a variety of options for students who are not competing on Thursday and Friday. Most teams choose to watch final rounds. Students who are no longer competing are invited to judge in person at the Middle School National Tournament that is held Wednesday-Friday in Phoenix/Mesa. You’re also welcome to do some sightseeing in Phoenix and Mesa. Please keep in mind that even if your students are no longer competing, your school’s judges still must fulfill their judging assignments.  

The final rounds are an opportunity for you and your students to see the nation’s finest competitors. The rounds are highly enjoyable and educational! Many schools arrive early in order to get the best seats, so plan accordingly if it is important for your team to sit together!

Judges should bring a device with internet connectivity so they can access online ballots. Past attendees recommend bringing a reusable water bottle, power strips, and plenty of your favorite snacks. Students dress in competition attire, whatever that means they’re comfortable in! For students and adults we recommend comfortable shoes, layers, and even a personal portable fan for the Arizona heat. 

For teams beginning competition on Monday, registration will run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 11 at the Phoenix Convention Center. Stop by to pick up your materials and ask any questions! Late registration will run from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for schools arriving in the evening. Additional events for coaches take place throughout the day. Among them are a reception for district leaders, a training for World Schools Debate judges, and Coaches’ Caucuses. We also encourage you to try to make it to our reception for new coaches! We will hold the event twice on Sunday, once at 10:00 a.m. and once at 3:00. Stop by either session for an overview of the tournament, connect with national office staff and other new coaches, and ask any burning questions about the week ahead.

A makeup registration will be held early in the morning on Monday, June 12. This is not recommended, especially for first time coach attendees, as competition begins and adding that extra stop in the morning may be a stressful way to begin the week.

Registration for teams competing in only in-person supplemental events will occur throughout the day on Tuesday.

Competition will be held at schools in Phoenix/Mesa and the Phoenix Convention Center. More information and tournament maps will be available soon. Most students are dropped off at competition venues and picked up at the end of the day. Students will refer to pairings to check their rooms and tournament officials will be available to help with navigation.

  1. Have the attendees create accounts on
  2. Add them to your judge roster.
  3. Under the “Judges” tab at Nationals, select their names from the dropdown menu and add them to the attendee/observer category. They will appear as a separate list (different from the judge list). Don’t worry—they won’t judge if they are under the observer list!

For security reasons, all attendees must wear identifying ribbons at all times. Ribbons are distributed at registration. There are generic competitor ribbons for students and specific versions for Senators and Representatives in Congress who have their names printed as well. We’ll get you what you need! Coaches and judges receive badges with their names and choose their ribbons. In addition to Coach and Judge ribbons, there are several other identifying and celebratory ribbons coaches can choose from at in-person registration, like First Time at Nationals, District Leader, and more! All other attendees, including parents, chaperones, siblings, and other observers, are required to wear an Attendee ribbon. Attendees can also choose pronoun buttons (students, attendees) or ribbons (adults) to affix to their clothing. All ribbons pin on; please dress accordingly. 

We created a FREE app for the tournament, which will be available for download in June. This app gives you easy access to critical information like maps, schedules, and more! Note: We strongly recommend allowing push notifications so you don’t miss any important tournament announcements! 

The Tournament Book (or T-Book as it’s often abbreviated) is a commemorative program for the National Tournament! It is available online in early June, and copies are distributed at registration.

In the lead-up to the tournament, contact the national office as you regularly would at or by calling (920) 748-6206. For accommodation requests, please contact Dr. Paul Porter at During the tournament, your key sources of information are the Nationals website ( and the Nats23 Guidebook app. If you can’t find the answer there, you can follow signs to stop by the Tournament Office in person at any competition venue or email the NSDA Helpline at for remote assistance if you are unable to visit the Tournament Office. You can also stop anyone wearing a Tournament Official ribbon or Tournament Staff T-shirt to ask for help!