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  • Writer's pictureJuan De La Cruz

Christmas Break (Gradual Build)

Christmas Note:

I'd like to take this special time to express my feelings about 3P and this community. Being a coach for a program (or in my case- 2, plus 3P, plus other commitments) can become more arduous as the years start to pile up. If, in my 20's, I am already starting to sound like an old man at the end of his wits, imagine what my future students will get from me 20 years down the road. (It's a scary thought!)

Over the last 12+ months, I have had the pleasure of helping grow and make 3P a staple in the Forensic community. There was a lot of hesitation and doubt, from all directions (including ourselves) about whether we could accomplish what other forensic based companies have tried and failed at- creating an interactive website that provides more than just rankings and a forum for people to post in. In just the last three months, we have come to learn just how much people have been needing/wanting a program like this- getting emails from parents to simply thank me for having created a more comprehensive rankings system for IE's, having coaches reach out when they need help putting together a competitive program, or simply having kids let us know that we drive them to be better at their art. Any way you slice it, it seems that people are sold into the 3P vision - no matter where you come from, no matter the financial strains, no matter what level you're at, everyone deserves the chance to work with some of the most forward thinking coaches of our generation.

In a career that can be most draining, I can say that being a part of 3P and getting to know all these wonderful coaches and competitors has been one of the most revitalizing experiences of my life.

So to all you wonderful followers of 3P- Thank You for making this journey incredible and Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. I cannot wait to start creating new programs for more people to enjoy!

Onto the point of this article:

In this process of working with 3P, I've come to learn a bit about the difference in regions. One of the major differences, mostly from the Mid-West, is that some states do not technically start their forensic seasons til after December (I'm sorry to those of you who do not, what are you doing in the first half of the year? Going to school or something? Psh). Shockingly, to me, some of these states (most notably MN) are the most comeptitive states when it comes to NFL Nationals. Unsurprisingly, I think I know why!

A big thing I like to talk to my kids about is Gradual Build. Because CA competes so early in the school year, I worry about my kids hitting their ceiling too early. It was an issue I had last year with my top Duo- by the time December came around, we had exhausted close to 100% of the possibilities with their performance. This was a HUGE issue because I had to do my part to keep them from starting to get tired of their performance- which they did anyway.

My solution was simple: stop working. I told them to stop hanging out with each other and start doing normal high school things- which they did gladly. When they finally got back together a few weeks later, after a disappointing MLK James Logan tournament, we went into Berkeley and they had a new energy for their piece- which I believe is what drove them to win that tournament.

The reason I want to tell you this story is because we know how uber successful MN is!

2012 Finalists:

Storytelling: 5

International Extemp: 1

Oratory: 4

Duo: 1

Drama: 3

Humor: 2

The numbers show, for themselves, how crazy talented the coaches in MN are! Part of the reason I think they are so successful is because they don't let their competitors get too crazy in the first half of the school year. The performances are able to be worked at bit by bit with little time to try them out in front of audiences.

I'm not advocating that you do not perform at tournaments if you're in a state that starts early, rather, that you take your time to build your performance and don't try to make it the performance you would like it to eventually be before State/Nationals come around. You know you will get there, so take the appropriate measures to do so.

A performance is so much more than how it looks/sounds. Take your first few months getting to intimately know your character(s). Take those first few months to write a few different directions for your Oratory.


Christmas Break is where all the fun begins. No longer are their states who aren't preparing just as hard for the numerous tournaments up ahead:

Schwann's (MN)


Laird Lewis (NC)

Harvard (MA)

Berkeley (CA)

Nat Quals




During this time, teams start to really develop and refine their performances in preparation for "The Big Show". Don't be stressed about not doing well at one of the above mentioned tournaments! Instead use the time to take criticism and start to appropriately make the changes that should be made to take your performance to the next level. HOWEVER, that cannot happen without a solid Christmas Break foundation. Use this time, granted by the School District Gods, to get to yourself, your limitations, your talents/skills, and find a way to best utitlize any/all of them in your performance. Record yourself, once a week from here on out, and find a new thing to fix every time. Sit down and have a one on one conversation with your character (full Schizo style) and get to know his/her tics and style. Ask yourself "WHY?" always. "Why did my character just say that?" "Why does my character care so much about ____" "Why is this the climax?" "Why am I telling this to ______"

Once you have those things in place, the rest comes so much easier.

Christmas Break is the great equalizer for everyone in Forensics. Keep in mind that you're not the only one who is working over break. This time should be used in a careful and thoughtful manner. Enjoy your family and all that, but also take an hour out of your evening schedule and record yourself. The next night, sit down with a tub of popcorn and watch that video with a teammate or a parent and start to really dissect the performance. Bring up questions that go beyond "does that look good?" or "did you understand that?"- and always ask "Why?"

I wish you nothing but the best in the latter half of the year! I can't wait to see all the incredible performances that are being created as I write this.

Merry Christmas to all our 3P Team! We're glad you're part of our squad!

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