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Troubleshooting the SPAR Cross-ex

Fixing some common cross-ex issues.

The cross-examination period is what makes middle school SPAR unique. It gives you an opportunity to joust directly with your opponent, picking holes in their case and showcasing your own quick thinking. But it can be difficult to keep a steady crossfire going.

Two common problems are either awkward pauses or an overaggressive opponent. Let's examine some fixes to these possible issues.

The Scary Opponent

This can be very tricky. Opponents who ask question after question without giving a chance for you to interject can be intimidating. The typical pattern of cross-exes are for each speaker to take turns asking and answering questions.

A good solution is to add a, "May I ask a question?" after giving an answer. If your opponent just had several in a row, it would look bad for them not to yield the floor. Judges much prefer balance to a one-sided crossfire.

A good solution is to add a, "May I ask a question?" after giving an answer.

The Awkward Silence

Believe it or not, this may be more common than the former issue, especially in middle school. But this is the perfect opportunity to capitalize.

After asking your third question in a row, add a, "Do you have anything to ask me?" This makes you look strong, since you're willing to open yourself up to attack, and forces your opponents into a hastily-formulated question that is probably not very difficult to fend off.

Add a, "Do you have anything to ask me?"

But most of all, these common issues can be resolved by a little practice.

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