Parker WhitfillUniversity of Chicago ’21, 2017 TOC Champion + 3rd Speaker, 2nd Place 2016 Voices Invitational, 3rd place 2016 Greenhill InvitationalDrilling with Paras is why I won the TOC. I never could have done it without him and the hundreds of hours of drills we did over the 2 years we worked together. I was a debater from Arizona with no established national circuit LD program, so I know first hand what it feels like to be on the outside looking in. As someone who came from a school without national circuit LD resources, I really can’t highly recommend enough grabbing ahold of an opportunity to work with him or the instructor’s in the Debatedrills network if you are serious about improving at debate, no matter if you go to a “big school” or “small school”.I think Paras understands debate at a deeper level than anyone else on the circuit. He is a subject matter expert at theory, util, and debate strategy. Drilling with him not only helped my technical skills on every layer, but Paras also made sure to push me on the other aspects of debate that I often forgot. He made sure I was persuasive, coherent, strategic and word efficient. Many other coaches can help you become technically efficient (although I'd still argue Paras is the best), but Paras goes the extra step and makes sure this tech can actually win rounds.Given that I worked so much with Paras, I have many fond memories of our time together. He was a friend, mentor, coach, and big brother to me. However, of all the drills we did together, my favorite memory is this: right before the TOC, Paras and I drilled giving the 2NR against theory heavy 1AR's that put out 2-3 shells and created a short substance out. We drilled this strategy for about 5 sessions until I got it down perfectly. What makes this so memorable is because of how I got to implement it at the TOC. In round 6, Zoe Ewing read 3 1AR shells against me and quickly turned my Util NC. Unfortunately, right before I gave the 2NR my computer flow crashed. Thankfully, Paras had drilled my theory skills, and this 2NR with me so well, that I could give it from memory without my flow! The judge gave me a Win 30 and said it was one of the most impressive things he’s seen in debate. The work I did with Paras was instrumental to my success. If you drill with him, do it seriously and work hard—you will improve, rapidly.
Katherine FennellUC Berkeley ’21, 2016 Byram Hills Round Robin Champion, 2016 New York State Championships Champion, 3rd Place at 2016 Glenbrooks, 5th place at 2017 Harvard InvitationalI did dozens, if not hundreds, of hours of drills with Paras on util, theory, and strategy. I think it’s pretty safe to say that anyone who has worked with Paras has noticed huge improvements in short periods of time. Anyone who wants to be competitive on the LD national circuit would be silly to waste an opportunity to work with someone who has a unique talent and knowledge base in teaching and working with debaters from all types of backgrounds. Paras helped me get more flexible in the types of arguments I was able to execute – I went from only being able to go for the K to being able to confidently go for substance as well as T and theory. This flexibility made rounds much easier, because I had the ability to go for the most strategic out. I know for sure that I would not have had the performances I had during my senior year without Paras. The flexibility of debate skills I can execute as well as the technical efficiency and perceptual dominance I have would not exist without Paras’s support, dedication, and effort to make me the best debater I could be.One of the most helpful things about doing drills with Paras was how in depth he would go in each aspect of the speech until I could do it with perfect time allocation and content. We would redo speeches many times. He would never sugar coat his comments – he would be brutally honest in constructive ways until I could give the speech to the best of my abilities. He pushed me to go out of my comfort zone and wouldn’t let me stop until my speeches were great. We started off drilling every type of theory shell that is commonly read against kritiks – each session drilling one or two shells and then going over my responses. I would redo the speeches after every session until it got to the point that I was extremely comfortable extemping answers to a shell in round (which I never thought would be possible). We also went very in depth on theory paradigm issue debates, redoing them until I felt comfortable going for reasonability and drop the argument in every round where it was strategic. Additionally, we extensively practiced going for topicality for 6 minutes in the 2NR against various 1ARs from online rounds. Paras gave me feedback and redid the speeches with me until I felt like I could comfortably give a similar speech versus any 1AR. Paras also helped me improve on util debates. I never felt very comfortable with even basic cost-benefit analysis, but consistent drills and redos with Paras on various util positions (responding to extinction scenarios, small impacts, DA weighing, etc) increased my comfort level immensely. He helped me find a balance between big picture argumentation and efficient line by line, as well as framing and crystallization. However, despite all the drills I did with Paras, the work that most stands out to me most are the hours we spent working on strategy. Over the course of several days, Paras and I went through every possible combination of 1N strategy and possible 1AR and 2NR responses to that strategy. We listed out the pros and cons of each strategy in different situations. These sessions were the most time I had ever spent thinking about debate strategy, and they forced me to think of strategy in very mathematical ways in terms of time tradeoffs. Thinking of strategy in this way helped me make strategic decisions in intense rounds, in order to get a leg up above my opponents. Paras forced me to think of debate as a chess game, with the goal of efficient argumentation and effective time trade-offs.
Chloe Brown American Heritage High School ’19, Qualified to Florida States as a FreshmanI started off as a novice, so my first drill session with Paras was very memorable. I knew what theory was but I had never responded to it and the most I had done was write a very simple shell. Paras had me respond to an AFC good shell and after my attempt, explained the ins and outs of the shell and had me do a redo next time. My redos after our session eventually improved so that my first attempts became much better. Another memorable session was when we went through a Death Drive K I had lost to and I responded to it piece by piece. I think that that session really showed the improvement I had gone through with Paras. Paras explains concepts thoroughly and then instead of easing you into using it, he forces you to think on your feet and start right away. With theory and other types of arguments, some of which I had never seen before, Paras first had me try to attack the arguments before explaining more strategic ways of doing so that I might not have thought of. This method really helps to foster on the spot thinking and also allows students to improve exponentially, as I saw from personal experience.I would definitely recommend doing drill sessions with Paras or any of the instructors in the Debatedrills network—it’s worth it no matter what skill level you’re at. They are great at building upon skills or helping you develop new ones. Even if you’re like me and no longer have much time for debate, the lessons you learn especially from the fast-paced LD debate help you in all areas of life.
Matthew ChenStrake Jesuit ’18, 1st place 2018 Lexington Invitational, 1st place Texas State Championships, 1st place Strake Jesuit + LHP Round Robins, Top 5 finishes at Valley, Glenbrooks, and Harvard, Top 5 speaker awards at most major invitationals senior yearI consistently did drills with Paras for 3 years. I’d say one session that stuck out the most was practicing the 2NR on T-Any against Jack Wareham’s 1AR vs Ari Azbel at the 2017 Harvard Round Robin. The 1AR generated a ton of responses to T and the 2NR on T-Any had to deal with so much. But Paras helped me do the 2NR in so many ways – semantics, pragmatics, and all the time working on weighing and argument comparison. It was one of the best things I did because I remember having to perfect every aspect of that speech and because of those sessions, I feel so comfortable going for topicality against anyone I debate. Drilling with Paras was incredibly helpful because he was a perfectionist in a lot of ways. He wanted to see speeches that left no doors open for opponents – such as 2NR’s on T that destroyed on every issue – but also were as efficient as possible. At first that standard was frustratingly hard to meet but I began to expect it of myself when I debated and drilled too. And Paras won’t stop until he knows the speech is as close to perfect as it can be. This is a quality that really made drilling so valuable – I learned to give speeches that left no leeway for opponents, especially on theory. Working with Paras taught me how to be efficient and fast, and not go for too much but to still overwhelm my opposition. There isn’t anyone better in the country to do theory and util drills with – Paras may have zero fashion sense but he’s the best at what he does.
Nirmal BalachundharNorthwestern ’21, 9th Place at 2017 Barklay Forum, 9th Place at 2017 Harvard Invitational, Bubble Round at 2017 TOCI worked with Paras from summer between my junior and senior year through most of my senior year. I honestly thought that I improved more in 5 hours of drills with Paras than I had at all the camps I had been to in previous summers (combined). There are so many drill sessions that I remember learning a lot from, so explaining just one drill session wouldn’t be able to capture the diversity of information that I learned and how helpful it was. However, I do remember giving a redo on a util debate in which Paras helped me think about layers in debate in an entirely different way. Before I started drilling, I would think about util debates in terms of winning the line by line very explicitly on different arguments, but Paras re-taught the util debate in a very organized fashion in which I would package arguments in layers and literally give it to a judge to make their whole decision much easier. This drill formed how I thought about strategy for the rest of the year and in every other type of skill in debate because he helped how to analyze the big picture first, then transition, then the line by line, and then winning why the implication of your argument is the most important. The areas that I learned the most about during my time drilling with Paras were in theory, util, and debate strategy. I can recall two other specific instances when drilling with him that helped me in these areas. The first time I drilled with Paras, I practiced answering an in depth AFC shell and even after regiving the speech multiple times, he was able to consistently give feedback that helped make it clear in terms of how I can improve the way I layered theory arguments and improving argument generation on the line by line. Second, I did multiple util drills with Paras and he best helped me learn how to efficiently collapse to the most important arguments and win why they were the most important. However, drills did include a lot of the various areas of content and every time I drilled I was able to analyze how I could better improve in strategy and it helped me make quicker decisions in important rounds. Though my time working with Paras was short, I learned a lot in every single drill session and it helped me consistently improve my game so that I could reach my end-goal. I also found Paras to be a great friend who never lost faith in my capability, which is something that students should never underestimate because it’s always helpful to have someone who believes in you before you go into an important round. I won’t ever forget all the help that I’ve received from him and I’d highly recommend working with him or any of the instructors he’s hired if you get the opportunity too.
Jackson LallasStanford '19, Glenbrooks 2014 Finalist, Loyola Invitational 2014 Finalist, 3x TOC Participant, TOC 2015 Quarterfinalist + 4th speakerI 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 tradeoffs 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.
Regan GrishaberNorthwestern '16, Cal RR 2012 Co-Champion, VBT 2012 Finalist, TOC 2012 Semifinalist + 5th SpeakerThere 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 benefitted 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 backfield. 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 a 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're eager to learn and are willing to work hard, I really can't recommend the resources that Paras offers highly enough.
Brennan CaruthersNortheastern '18, Cal RR 2013 Co-Champion, Berkeley Invitational 2013 Quarterfinalist + 2nd Speaker, Bubble Round at TOC 2013Paras 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 to even get through a speech. 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 cut. 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 in my everyday life, 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 recommend Paras without qualification nor reservation.
Pranav ReddyUPenn '19, TOC 2015 Champion + 2nd speaker, NDCA 2014 + 2015 Champion, Harvard-Westlake 2015 Champion, Glenbrooks 2014 Champion + 1st speaker, Berkeley 2014 ChampionI 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 transferrable 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 tradeoffs and debate as a game before my most important and final rounds of my career.
Dan AllesandroNorthwestern University '19, Bubble Round at TOC 2015, Semifinalist at Harvard 2015 InvitationalMy time working with Paras was when I made the fastest and most rewarding improvement as a debater. His commitment as a coach an exceptional attention to detail will help you fix the mistakes and improve problems that never even occurred to you.Even though I was two 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 simply 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'd highly recommend hiring Paras to prospective debaters of all levels.
Connor DavisMichigan '19, SWSDIT 2015 Champion, Alta 2014 Semi-finalist, TOC 2015 ParticipantI 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.he 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.
Jack CoyleUC Berkeley '19, bid round at the Berkeley Invitational, two year circuit debaterI 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're 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 to not see my hard work pay off. However, after having these drills with Paras, I reached Doubles at Stanford, got to the bid round at Berkeley, and placed in the top 15 speakers at 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.
Ishan TimalsinaUCSD '19Paras 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.y experience with Paras wasn't confined to drills. 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.
Chat MalladiCaltech '16, Cal RR Participant 2011, Stanford Invitational 2012 9th placeParas 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.astly, 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.
Kirk WuSan Marino High School '17, Elimination Round Participant at Loyola 2016, Voices 2016, Alta 2016, CPS 2014, Berkeley 2015Paras has been of invaluable assistance throughout my entire debate career.I remember finding him on the comments section of 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'd enthusiastically recommend Paras to any student, regardless of skill level. He is one of the best coaches I've ever seen.