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Wednesday Claps with Coach Wiley #2: Revisiting the Troop Leader Talk Coaching Series

Updated: Apr 25

The second of weekly Wiley Wednesday Speech and Debate blogs highlights Bailey Patterson, Marcus Viney, & Junebug's Troop Leader Talk Coaching series from Camp One Clap.

Coaching Speech and Debate is a grand adventure and a complicated puzzle. There are so many moving pieces, logistical considerations, and human elements to consider for those who answer the call to be a Troop Leader in this community. This week, I want to highlight an outstanding coaching series put together by Camp One Clap Counselors Bailey Patterson, Marcus Viney, and Junebug the pug called Troop Leader Talk. In the series, our fearless leaders guide us through the coaching essentials in a four-part series that unveils the secrets to effective coaching, blending theory with practical wisdom.

Here, I'll post an overview of the episodes and provide a couple of my big takeaways from each valuable installment in the series. The original blog post (with a complete transcript) is linked along with the podcast audio for each insightful episode.


In their inaugural episode, Bailey and Marcus lay the groundwork by exploring the importance of a coaching philosophy. Drawing parallels between nurturing an acorn into a mighty oak tree, they emphasize the significance of patience, resilience, and mentorship in coaching.

Two big takeaways:

The Philosophy of Unleashing Authentic Voices: Bailey and Marcus underscore the impact of embracing a coaching philosophy centered around unleashing authentic voices. Inspired by Patsy Rodenburg's ideas from "The Right to Speak," this philosophy emphasizes that every voice is unique and valuable. Rather than molding students to fit a predefined standard or mimic successful competitors, coaches are encouraged to nurture the authentic voices already within their students. This approach acknowledges the societal barriers and norms that often suppress vocal expression and aims to create safe, validating spaces where students feel empowered to express themselves confidently. By focusing on personal growth, validation, and empowerment, coaches facilitate the development of individuals who are comfortable in their own skin and capable of effective communication, ultimately leading to success in speech and debate competitions.

Creating the Right Conditions for Growth: Bailey and Marcus also highlight the importance of creating the right conditions for growth, akin to nurturing tiny acorns into mighty oaks. Coaches are likened to keen and caring gardeners who provide safe, validating spaces where students can make mistakes, take risks, and grow. By practicing active listening, celebrating successes, and supporting students through failures, coaches foster an environment conducive to personal development and self-discovery. This approach transcends the narrow focus on winning rounds or tournaments, emphasizing the profound mission of facilitating the growth of empowered individuals. By prioritizing personal growth and validation, coaches ultimately enhance students' chances of achieving competitive success while nurturing their confidence and self-expression.


Building upon their previous discussion, Bailey and Marcus dive into the realm of coaching theory. With a focus on setting up camp on the grounds of coaching theory, they provide insights into the coaching triangle and its practical implications.

Two big takeaways:

The Coaching Triangle: Norms, Observations, Feedback: Bailey and Marcus unveil the power of the coaching triangle: establishing norms, making observations, and providing feedback. Each element serves as a fundamental pillar in guiding students towards success in speech and debate. Establishing norms involves defining the criteria for excellence in various speech events, which is like setting up an archery target to aim for. Making observations entails watching and listening to students' performances, both in practice sessions and real rounds, to gather data and track progress. Providing feedback is similar to the gentle guidance of an archery coach, offering constructive criticism and praise to facilitate growth and improvement. By mastering the coaching triangle, troop leaders equip themselves with the tools necessary to navigate the challenges of coaching and help students hit their marks effectively.

Effective Feedback and Ballots: Bailey and Marcus emphasize the significance of providing effective feedback to students and discerning the value of feedback from competition ballots. Effective feedback is described as timely, specific, and forward-looking, focusing on reinforcing strengths, addressing key areas for improvement, and offering actionable suggestions for future performances. Troop leaders are encouraged to engage in shared discussions with students about ballot feedback, distinguishing between helpful insights and less pertinent suggestions. By leveraging feedback effectively, troop leaders can enhance their coaching practices and guide students towards continuous improvement and success in speech and debate competitions.


As campers approach the halfway point of Camp One Clap, Bailey, Marcus, and Junebug guide them through the adventure of goal setting. From defining clear objectives to navigating challenges, they empower coaches to chart a course for success.

Two big takeaways:

The SMART Goal Framework: Bailey and Marcus underscore the significance of setting clear and actionable goals using the SMART framework. By breaking down goals into Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Rigorous, and Time-bound components, coaches can guide their students effectively towards success. This structured approach ensures that goals are well-defined, realistic, and aligned with both the student's capabilities and aspirations. Through SMART goal-setting, coaches empower their students to navigate the challenging landscape of speech and debate with purpose and clarity.

Integration of Habit Formation: Beyond goal-setting, Bailey and Marcus emphasize the importance of cultivating supportive habits and behaviors to achieve desired outcomes. Drawing inspiration from James Clear's "Atomic Habits," coaches are encouraged to help students identify the habits and systems necessary for success. By modeling the behaviors of successful individuals in the field and fostering a mindset of continuous improvement, coaches guide their students towards developing effective strategies and routines. This integration of habit formation ensures sustained progress and growth, transforming students into skilled and resilient competitors in the speech and debate arena.


In their final episode, Bailey and Marcus shed light on the importance of self-reflection in coaching. Through the metaphor of "flashlight focus," they encourage coaches to examine their practices, embrace growth opportunities, and continue evolving in their coaching journey.

Two big takeaways:

The Power of Self-Reflection: Self-reflection is portrayed as a potent tool for personal and professional development. By turning the flashlight of self-awareness inward, coaches can gain insights into their actions, reactions, and emotions. Through a structured series of questions—"What did I do well?", "What did I not do so well?", and "What will I do next time?"—coaches can assess their performance, identify areas for improvement, and formulate action plans for growth. This process, rooted in metacognition, serves as an engine for continuous improvement and empowers coaches to guide their students effectively.

Formal and Informal Self-Reflection: Bailey and Marcus discuss the importance of both formal and informal self-reflection methodologies. Formal self-reflection involves structured processes like post-tournament evaluations or journaling, providing depth and long-term insights. On the other hand, informal self-reflection occurs spontaneously, capturing immediate thoughts and emotions. By incorporating both approaches, coaches can offer students a comprehensive understanding of their journey in speech and debate, fostering holistic growth and development.

With their insightful series, Bailey, Marcus, and Junebug have led us on a powerful journey through the heart of coaching!


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