Staff Bios + Private Drills

Dino De La O

Drill Instructor

Dino De La O debated locally and nationally for four years at Law Magnet in Dallas, Texas, graduating in 2016. As a competitor, Dino qualified to the TFA State Tournament and advanced to elimination rounds 3 years in a row. He also qualified to the TOC his junior and senior year, receiving 7 bids his senior year. Dino championed the University of Houston Tournament, was the top speaker and semifinalist at the Grapevine and Strake Jesuit touranmetns, and advanced to the elimination rounds of every octos bid tournament he attended his senior year. As a coach, Dino has taught at major national summer camps such as NSD and TDC, and his students have gotten to 12 bid rounds, received 3 bids, and won top speaker at the largest tournament in Texas, the UT Austin Invitational. Currently, Dino is studying anthropology at the University of Houston and enjoys reading a wide variety of philosophy.

Areas of expertise: Philosophy/framework Debate, critical debate (especially Deluze and Butler)

 
 
 

Pranav Reddy

UPenn '19, TOC 2015 Champion + 2nd speaker, NDCA 2014 + 2015 Champion, Harvard-Westlake 2015 Champion, Glenbrooks 2014 Champion + 1st speaker, Berkeley 2014 Champion

I began working with Paras during the summer of my freshman year, when I barely knew anything about debate. Despite how truly incompetent I was, Paras worked with me every week and took a personal investment in my success: week one we worked on organization, week two we talked about what the goal of every speech was and so on. No one was happier when I finally (miraculously) reached elimination rounds at a tournament than my coach Paras was.

Throughout the time I spent working with Paras, we focused on skills that were transferable to every debate I would have throughout my career. We did a wide variety of drills, from word economy and speaking drills to more specific ones, such as how to respond to specific common arguments. Even when I was entirely new to the activity and knew nothing about how debate worked, Paras was very effective at paraphrasing and explaining ideas and then creating an accompanying drill to reinforce the concepts I had just learned. Without all the time Paras and I spent on understanding the fundamentals of debate, I would never have had as much success in the activity. I still remembered his lectures about argument selection, time trade-offs and debate as a game before my most important and final rounds of my career.

 
 

Connor Davis

Michigan '19, SWSDIT 2015 Champion, Alta 2014 Semi-finalist, TOC 2015 Participant

I started debate late, getting into national circuit debate essentially for the first time as a junior. I was in over my head, so I was just another run-of-the-mill local, traditional circuit nobody. But after having worked with Paras for only a few months, I had already earned a bid to the TOC. I chalk this, and eventually qualifying and performing well at TOC, totally up to Paras’s coaching. Paras is definitely one of the most knowledgeable people there is in debate, and he’s probably the best util debater there’s been in the last 10 years. The intricacies and nuances he explores and conveys really remind me of my professors explaining intricate concepts at depths that clearly indicate they are subject matter experts. We spent hours and hours talking and working on strategies prevalent in LD, such as Affirmative Framework Choice, RVI's, brink analysis, cost-benefit impact comparison, making strategic decisions in round decisions, and so on. But what really sets Paras apart is his proven methods of teaching. I improved more than I ever did at camp and a year’s worth of tournaments working with Paras for a week. His well-thought out and effective simulation of round environment sets up the perfect storm for improvement for anyone serious about improving. Paras is gifted at creating the perfect setting to analyze, practice, reflect and prepare. I really wish I had found him earlier in my career.

 
 

Ishan Timalsina

UCSD '19, Elimination Rounds at the 2015 Stanford Invitational

Paras won’t spoon feed you cards or give you secret cheat codes, but if you actually want to become a better debater, he’s your guy. I personally found myself making leaps within single sessions. While drilling, Paras would often stop me at each mistake to stomp out bad habits. He would analyze each section of a speech and would then show me how to make the speech perfect. This was immensely helpful because he clearly explained the rationale behind his own choices so that I could replicate these speeches in real rounds.

Thanks to Paras, I went from struggling to flow rounds to being technically proficient enough to win high level national circuit rounds and advance to elimination rounds at the Stanford Invitational in a matter of months. He’d explain in minutes what I couldn’t understand in years without him.

 
 

Jackson Lallas

Stanford '19, Glenbrooks 2014 Finalist, Loyola Invitational 2014 Finalist, 3x TOC Participant, TOC 2015 Quarterfinalist + 4th speaker

I started working with Paras 3 months before the last tournament of my career, the 2015 Tournament of Champions (TOC). I had already had a very successful debate season, but was astounded by how much he taught me in 3 short months. I wish I had started working with him earlier.

The best part of his coaching was drilling. He had a ton of helpful drills to do – especially with theory and util debating – and provided feedback at every step along the way. I was not very confident at cost-benefit analysis debate (popularly referred to as util) when we started working together, but after 10 focused hours of drilling the link and impact level of high level util rounds with Paras, I felt confident walking in to TOC that I could beat anyone on util. What was most impressive about drilling with Paras was how he would keep track of time spent on each area of the flow and break down my argument choices and time allocation after every speech. This was both incredibly helpful in improving technical debate skills and understanding strategy.

 

This strategic thinking is a core part of Paras’ coaching philosophy: debate is a game of time trade-offs and argument allocation, and his goal is to help you find the optimal way to go about it in each speech. A main component of this is his work on crystallization and weighing for the judge, which was especially helpful in highly technical util and theory debates.

Lastly, he helped me think through every aspect of theory debate – from how to win the line by line on theory shells to substantively weighing impacts to resolving paradigmatic issues quickly in round. There was a big focus on efficiency – for instance he made me write out arguments that I would normally make extemporaneous. This saved me in round prep time and allowed me to respond to theory spikes much faster than I had been. I didn't feel confident executing high level framework debates, so Paras taught me all the nuances and tricks behind the Affirmative Framework Choice theory debate at a depth and clarity that is still unbelievable, giving me a strategy I felt confident leveraging in the biggest rounds of the year at TOC.

 Anyone serious about debate (at any level) should get in touch with him and start working immediately.

 

Chat Malladi

Caltech '16, Cal RR Participant 2011, Stanford Invitational 2012 9th place

Paras coached me for one year in high school Lincoln-Douglas (LD) debate, when I debated at Harker. While I had three years of experience prior to meeting Paras, he helped me take my communication and debate skills to the next level. He improved my speaking and debate skills through drills that were both educational and enjoyable thanks to his friendly personality. 

Paras helped me learn elite strategies that were successful in LD. His unique position as a debater from a small school with limited resources drove him to gain a deeper understanding of rhetorical and debate strategies that contributed to his overwhelming success as a debater. These ideas and theories can often only be communicated from a position of experience, which Paras clearly had. 

Lastly, Paras showed me how to collaborate effectively at a high level, a skill I have found very useful as I transitioned to the "real world". Thanks to his network of friends in LD, he made me work effectively with peers at my own school and other schools, giving me access to information about advanced strategies, successful arguments, and new debate skills that are necessary for success. Overall, Paras helped me become a better debater, clearer speaker and more effective researcher.

 
 

Regan Grishaber

Northwestern '16, Cal Round Robin 2012 Co-Champion, VBT 2012 Finalist, TOC 2012 Semifinalist + 5th speaker

There are hundreds of debate coaches throughout the circuit, but only one Paras Kumar. I worked with Paras extensively the summer before my senior year and leading up to the TOC, and based on that time I honestly believe Paras is the most unique and exceptional coach in the entire business. Most other coaches will offer card cutting, case writing, etc., but Paras is a coach in the truest sense of the word--he's not going to do the work for you, but he will teach you how to do your work in the simplest and most effective way possible. In my opinion, this is exactly the kind of person that debaters should look for in a teacher/coach/mentor. 

For me in particular, I went to a small school with no existing debate program, and I started debate my junior year so just about everything in LD was new to me. I was so clueless when I first started out that I could have easily benefited from hiring someone to write me "TOC-caliber" cases and blocks and, in fact, that's essentially what I did my junior year. I actually started out fast--I broke at my very first varsity tournament and I never had a losing record--but my growth stagnated almost immediately.

 

Just about every successful debater will tell you this, but it's true so it's always worth saying: the reality is that you will not improve with somebody else's backfiles. You might see short-term results with a litany of card-cutting resources, but if you really want to see personal long-term development, it takes an experienced, passionate teacher in the true sense of the word, like Paras, to get you there. 

For these reasons, I have to attribute a large part of my own personal development in debate to Paras. At VBI, he spent hours each night simply talking with me about theory. Leading up to the TOC, he drilled with me every day, walking me through every tiny detail until I could finally give the speech perfectly. Every round I debated at the TOC I could feel myself utilizing tangible skills and tactics that Paras had taught me. Debate is an indescribably valuable activity if you take advantage of it the right way, so don't sell yourself short. If you are eager to learn and are willing to work hard, I really can't recommend the resources that Paras offers highly enough. 

 

Brennan Caruthers

Northeastern '17, Cal Round Robin 2013 Co-Champion, UC Berkeley Invitational 2013 Quarterfinalist + 2nd speaker, 4-3 Record (Lost Round 7) TOC 2013

Paras is, without a doubt, the best coach in debate.  I drilled with Paras multiple times a week during the summer before my senior year and then intermittently throughout the rest of the year.  There are a lot of things Paras didn’t do for me - he never cut me a card, never wrote me a case, and never did my prep.  Instead, Paras taught me critical thinking skills.  He encouraged constant practice and drilled with me endlessly until I could hold my own in a debate round.  In other words, you should hire Paras if you want to learn lasting debate skills.

Going into my senior year, I had little exposure to the debate community.  I had competed at two circuit tournaments and won a total of four rounds (with one being a forfeit), and my school’s program was shifting away from national circuit LD. I had never debated theory, never learned how to find good evidence (or even determine what constitutes “good” evidence), and could never generate enough arguments during prep.  I didn’t know what constituted a good speech and thus hours of drilling got me nowhere.

 

The first time I worked with Paras we ran a practice debate.  After the debate, Paras and I drilled for three hours as he showed me which habits to pursue and which to avoid.  Using that criteria, he then told me to go home and redo my speeches from our debate until they were flawless. In the following three days until we drilled again, I improved more than I had in the previous year – including two weeks of camp.  Paras will teach you how to drill effectively.  If you’re willing to work hard, working with Paras will pay off.  He taught me lasting debate skills I still use today and encouraged the enthusiasm and habits that drove me to practice every day.  If I had worked with anyone else, I doubt I would have had any of the success I had.  I cannot recommend Paras highly enough.

 

Kirk Wu

San Marino High School ’17, Elimination Round Participant at Loyola 2016, Voices 2016, Alta 2016, CPS 2014, Berkeley 2015

Paras has been of invaluable assistance throughout my entire debate career.

I remembered finding him on the comment section on NSD Update at the end of my freshman year, at a time when I needed a coach desperately to help me understand debate. Paras was the person for the job. He’s not someone who cuts cards for you 24/7 or showers you with old prep. Instead, he hands you the tools for success so that you can succeed yourself. We drilled almost every week, and we drilled skills necessary for specific debates (util, philosophy, Ks, theory, etc.) to skills applicable to every type of debate (word economy, argument generation, time trade-offs, etc).

I would enthusiastically recommend Paras to any student, regardless of skill level. He is one of the best coaches I have ever seen.

 
 

Jack Coyle

Berkeley ’19, Bid round at the Berkeley Invitational, 2 year circuit debater

I started LD debate in the middle of my junior year and went 3-3 at a semis bid tournament. I decided to go to NSD, but before I went off to camp, I got in contact with Paras. The best decision I made in regards to my debate career, without a doubt, was hiring Paras.

Over the summer, we drilled 3-4 times a week and I started becoming more confident with my debate skills. During drills, Paras would stop me constantly to stomp out bad habits. He forced me to articulate my arguments effectively and efficiently. Sometimes you don’t even realize you are making a mistake until Paras points it out. Paras is brutally honest, which makes his compliments so much more rewarding. You definitely have to work hard to see results, but Paras provides a great avenue for you to get there. He also has so much expertise, especially on util and theory. He gave me in-depth explanation to concepts like impact comparison, weighing evidence, and paradigmatic issues in theory. The best lesson I learned from Paras was to think about debate in terms of the layers in the round. He taught me to always start my 2NRs by explaining the round to the judge and telling the judge exactly how to resolve those layers. We spent hours just discussing how layers in a debate interact with each other and we would drill 2NR overviews with different possible situations. 

 

 Before these lessons, I didn’t really “get” debate. I understood how each layer functioned, but I couldn’t think about a round both in the big picture and the intricate details. I started my senior year not breaking at Voices, Meadows, Damus, and CPS. Believe me, it was incredibly frustrating not to see my hard work paying off. However, after having these drills with Paras, I reached doubles at Stanford, got to the bid round at Berkeley, and placed in top 15 speakers in both tournaments. I didn’t end up bidding, but my experience as Paras’ student was monumental to my success as a debater. I highly recommend anyone wanting to make huge jumps in their debate career to get in contact with Paras immediately.

 

Dan Allesandro

Northwestern University ’19, 4-3 TOC 2015 (Lost Round 7), Semifinalist at Harvard 2015 Invtational

My time working with Paras Kumar was when I made the fastest and most rewarding improvement as a debater. His commitment as a coach and exceptional attention to detail will help you fix the mistakes and improve problems that never even occurred to you.

Even though I was 2 years into LD when I started working with Paras and had been taught theory by numerous camps, I didn’t truly grasp the most important concepts until Paras taught them to me. What Paras helped with most was teaching me how to make messy rounds simple by giving winning 2ARs and 2NRs on both util and theory debates.

Paras was also very helpful for tournament prep. Leading up to big tournaments, he helped me think through different round scenarios to ensure I was prepared for whatever my opponents threw at me. 

 

What’s really valuable about Paras’ prep approach is he let me do all the actual research myself, and then helped me revise and optimize my case positions. This guaranteed that I would know my evidence well because I did my research myself. I would highly recommend hiring Paras to prospective debaters of all levels.

 

Testimonials from Private Prep Sharing

 

Ishan Timalsina

UCSD '19, Elimination Rounds at the 2015 Stanford Invitational

For the first time, I had a coach to prepare me before specific rounds as well as the benefits of having a team (a group Paras coached as opposed to people attending the same school) dedicated to being successful on the national circuit. These advantages made a world of a difference as an independent who would otherwise have to prepare for a topic and plan tournament logistics completely on my own. If you want to improve at debate, the best thing you could do is contact Paras as soon as possible.

 

Kirk Wu

San Marino High School ’17, Elimination Round Participant at Loyola 2016, Voices 2016, Alta 2016, CPS 2014, Berkeley 2015

Not only was Paras a coach, but he was also a friend. He was someone who truly cared for your success, ecstatic when you cleared at a tournament and deeply saddened when you dropped. He managed to give debaters like me who does not have a team that regularly competes on the national circuit an opportunity to succeed by making a national circuit team for us, consisting of individuals that he coaches across the nation.

 

Haritha Kumar

Cupertino High School '20


Topic prep and tournaments were infinitely easier with the Dropbox. There were always a wide variety of different types of arguments/cases to choose from, so I could easily tailor my case to every round. I became much better than I imagined I would be. Being on a Dropbox with nationally-ranked debaters made it easier to prep. Before I joined, I could barely write a functioning disad, but getting to see how the Dropbox worked and how I could utilize it in rounds made things much easier. The sheer amount of good prep that you could use during a round was definitely the best benefit of joining the Dropbox. It was also great having people with different styles of debating that you can easily set up a practice round with.

 

 

Devansh Chauhan

Devansh PPS.png

--Princeton High School ’18, Bubble round at the Scarsdale Invitational, Elimination rounds at the Ridge Invitational

Before joining Debatedrills, my performances at competitions were hindered due to lack of prep and strong team infrastructure. I often walked into competitions with only one aff and neg strat, and a couple of cards on either side for blocks. I was privately coached by one person but it wasn’t nearly as productive or effective as sharing experiences and research with a multitude of other hardworking debaters and coaches.

After joining Debatedrills, I improved significantly because there are so many different people to learn from, and due to the larger amount of prep and cases, I could compile the optimal speech doc on the go, allowing me to focus more on strategy instead of prep. Before I could not do so because of the inordinate amount of time that went into preparing for tournaments.

The best thing about the Dropbox was the coaches and my teammates. The team was comprised of debaters with different styles at different skill levels, but we all shared one thing in common, which was the determination to get better. Anyone is up for a practice debate or a discussion about something at any time, and the amount of support received after competitions is amazing. Moreover, the coaches keep things extremely organized and efficient, and have so many genius ideas and tips that that alone is worth joining the team. Additionally, topic discussions with the entire team right after every topic comes out and in the middle of it helped me visualize what the optimal mindset and strat should be before going into tournaments. 

Debatedrills is extremely helpful and supportive of debaters who are from smaller sized schools in terms of infrastructure but are committed to success. Debatedrills preaches the idea that hard work is the only way to achieve success. If you are in need of a supportive and welcoming team headed by top coaches that are committed to success, Debatedrills is the choice for you. Debatedrills has shaped my debate career…I experienced more growth in a couple of weeks by working with the coaches than I did in all of my previous two years in debate. 

 

Claudia Ribera

Katy Taylor CR ’17, Bid round at Harvard-Westlake, Elimination rounds at University of Houston and Strake Jesuit

The biggest benefit from the dropbox was changing the type of debater I consider myself now. Putting me in the critical prep group was a game changer. I thought I would be a util/theory debater at the beginning of the season and now I’ve fell in love with critical debate. The dropbox also helped me grow as a debater and become more comfortable running different positions and helped me get better with all styles of debate. For example, I have read more topicality, philosophical positions, and more nuanced framework positions than I have previously and now I know how to debate people who run those positions as well.

Another benefit I enjoyed was the MJP sessions with Amit and Paras because they know A LOT more people than I do on the national circuit judging and have great intuition and help guide me in doing them. The last benefit would be the topic analysis phone calls because it helped me understand the topic and see what positions I wanted to research and read up on.

I would highly recommend joining the dropbox because it helped me reach my goals and gave me a unique senior year experience. The debatedrills prep group is very inclusive and we had fun at tournaments like Greenhill and Glenbrooks where most of the team attended. The people on the group are very kind and it made the debate environment so much less stressful. The amount of support from one another is incredible

Kirk Wu

San Marino High School ’17, Elimination Round Participant at Loyola 2016, Voices 2016, Alta 2016, CPS 2014, Berkeley 2015

I spent two weeks with Paras over summer at his personal debate camp. The main advantage, at first sight, was the individualized attention; instead of having lab leaders at a traditional debate camp, you have someone who is willing to work with you one-on-one throughout the entire time. But when I actually got to the camp, it was even more valuable than I expected. The schedule was intense: 9-5 everyday, beginning with the drills for homework assigned yesterday, then analyzing a round, followed by lunch, redoing speeches from the round, and drills to target specific skills. Unlike other camps, which gave you plenty of leisure time, this individualized camp had one goal: to make you a better debater. And that has been Paras’s mission for all of his students.