Urban Debate League programming centers on competitive academic debate tournaments for urban public school students. Directly supporting this component is the professional development of the coaches who recruit, motivate, teach, and coach the debaters throughout a UDL. The Chicago Debate League takes the professional development of its approximately 140 official coaches very seriously, and aims to continuously upgrade and improve the effectiveness of its professional development programming.


Our most important curriculum resource with the most information available is our Debate in a Box curriculum folder. Please start there!

The Professional Development Reporting Notebook tracks professional development hours for each coach — in total, per semester, and for each of the seven categories of professional development offered by the CDC.


Sign up using register@chicagodebateleague.org for any of the following:

Demo Debate and Digging Deeper into the Core Files (with Marquis Ard)

Postponed until week after Thanksgiving – held at North Park University

New Coach Mentoring Session (with Caitlin Miller and Adam Hausman)

November 29th, 5:30 – 7:30 pm, Jones College Prep

Professional development options are diverse. There are seven different ways coaches can undertake their professional development and training.

The Chicago Debate League implements a developed Professional Development System. The system’s standard is for each coach to take part in 20 hours of professional development throughout the season — 10 hours per semester. For external coaches, the standard is 10 hours overall, 5 hours per semester.

(i) Coach Training Courses

The CDC offers two training courses over the summer: Introduction to Debate Coaching, and Intermediate Debate Coaching. Coaches can find the dates and location for upcoming coach training courses by checking the CDL’s Season Calendar.

(ii) Coach Training Seminars

These are offered downtown on Saturday mornings throughout the season.

(iii) Tournament Coach Meetings

These 60 to 90 minute coach meetings are held at tournaments during rounds, for coaches who have met their judge requirements and are therefore not obligated to judge. They are led by trainers approved by the CDC, based on agendas announced and approved in advance.

(iv) Group Meetings

These are meetings held at a high school, during the week, for groups of coaches clustered geographically. They are led by a CDL coach instructor, with significant experience, approved by the CDC.

(v) Mentor Training

Coaches with fewer than three years of experience in the CDL can request a site visit from a mentor coach, a coach with more than three years of experience in the CDL and approved by the CDC to provide this mentoring. A mentor coach can visit a less experienced coach, at their mutual convenience, with specific agendas and objectives established, and after the meeting the mentor coach sends a report to the CDC.

(vi) CDC Site Visits

CDC staff conducts numerous and on-going site visits to schools throughout the season. Request a visit by contacting our program staff.

(vii) Online Training

The CDC will be selecting – and sending out links to – on-line instructional videos and webinars for coaching competitive academic debate. Each video or webinar will be attached to a brief assessment. Coaches can observe training videos or webinars at their convenience, and are required to complete the attached assessment, sending it back to the CDC by email.

Note that coaches who are approved to lead tournament or group meetings of coaches, or to mentor another less experienced coach, can earn their professional development and training credit hours this way.

Training leaders must send an agenda of their training to the CDC prior to the professional development training, and following the event training leaders must report on the event. This report should include the times, attendees, and content covered at the event. Tournament Coach Meetings and Group Meetings should have an instructor and three or more coaches in attendance.