CoachUp Spotlight Interview: Basketball Coach Paris D.


We recently caught up with one of the top CoachUp basketball coaches in the Chicago area, Coach Paris D.

Why did you decide to become a private coach?

I decided to become a private coach because you can hone all of your attention in on a client and provide the best quality. That’s not to say that you can’t provide great training to a team, but when you’re working one on one, you see better results.

What do you enjoy most about coaching?
I enjoy connecting with families and building relationships. I enjoy going to their games and connecting with them in the community. I love being with the community. It’s great being able to provide my service to clients who don’t typically have access to it. I can give high quality training at a low cost.

What can a client expect from private lessons with you?
A client can expect an upbeat session and excitement. They will be learning situational type skills. It’s a more universal type of training. You can expect professionalism and a fun filled environment.

What is your coaching style or philosophy?
I relate everything in basketball to life. Basketball is life. They go hand in hand. Everything in life can be applied to basketball. Basketball is a game of angles. You don’t go out of bounds and back in bounds to get to one end of the court. You go from one point to the next without wasting energy. An analogy I like to use is it’s like if a kid has to go get milk for his mom. He has to go to the store and back. He can’t stop at the park or anything on the way back. His mom will be asking him what took so long. It’s the same in basketball. You can’t waste time. You need to go straight to where you want to.

What is your favorite moment in your athletic career?
My favorite moments are from high school at St. Joe’s. I played in one of the biggest tournaments in Illinois. I was also ranked as one of the top 100 players in Illinois.

Do you have any success stories from coaching an athlete?
I have lots of stories of past athletes making their team. I’ve worked with clients for two months and gave them the basic skills to make the team. I worked with a girls basketball team specifically to reduce their risk of ACL injuries which is a common injury in female athletes. After working with them, they went all the way to regionals, and they’d never done that before.

Did you participate in your sport in high school and college?
I played in high school and college. In college, I was one of the top scorers, and I was a player of the week several times. I scored 30 points in one game.

What is your favorite sports related movie?
He Got Game with Ray Allen and Denzel Washington.

What’s your mantra or favorite saying (in the context of sport and/ or life)?
We In Here

Do you have any special talents or a surprising thing someone might not know about you?
I don’t know if you’d call it a talent, but I have a skill for making people’s dreams become reality. I’ve helped a lot of people to get to where they wanted to go. It’s a skill.

Who is your favorite coach and why?
Coach Gene Pingatore of St. Joe’s. He coached Isiah Thomas and William Gates.

What team do you root for most enthusiastically? (any sport)
The Chicago Bulls

Coach Paris books private basketball coaching sessions on CoachUp, and his profile can be viewed here.



How You Can Get FREE Quality Coaching for Your Kids

Learning the fundamentals is the first and most important thing a young athlete can do. Fundamentals are something we learn first, and never stop practicing. The great players, as talented as they are, all work on the fundamentals on a regular basis. In some cases mastering the fundamentals is what separates great players from good players.

When you can’t find good coaching

As a sports parent it’s a wise decision to teach your kids the fundamentals. For some of us that is hard to because we may not have played the sport, or our knowledge of it only goes so far. Finding a coach is a great solution for that, but it isn’t always possible for some families. This could be due to financial reasons, or for a lack of time. So what do you do when you want your kids to learn the fundamentals,  but are unable to get the coaching they need? Continue Reading

Just Shoot, A CoachUp Success Story

A year ago, David decided to get serious about basketball. His mom, JoAnn, had signed him up for camps and clinics before, but they just weren’t doing the trick. Then JoAnn met Coach Anthony Gurley through CoachUp and everything changed.

15 Eye-Opening Facts About Youth Sports

youth sports photoYouth sports is big business. It is so huge that we can only guess at how large it has grown. I’ve seen estimates of over 21 million all the way to 35 million for kids ages 5-18.

That number may sound good but let’s look at the facts behind the big number.

  1. Kids are starting earlier and earlier. 67% of boys and 47% of girls are already on teams by age six (ESPN).
  2. Kids are getting busier. 51% of 3rd to 5th grade boys who live in the suburbs play on 3 or more teams (ESPN).
  3. Kids are defining themselves by their sports. 61% of all boys who play say that sports are a big part of who they are; 34% of girls say the same thing.
  4. Kids are quitting because they don’t have fun.The biggest reason kids quit sports is because they are not having fun (36% girls; 39% boys) (ESPN).
  5. Kids in the city have less opportunities to play sports. Urban boys and girls (39 & 28%) have less roster position available than rural boys and girls (50 % 63%) (ESPN).
  6. Kids (most of them) are not going pro. The odds? For high school football players, it’s 1 in 6,000; baseball, 1 in 4,000; basketball, 1 in 10,000. (USA Today)
  7. Kids want to play sports with friends. 65% of them participate in sports to be with friends. (USA Today)
  8. Kids aren’t as concerned about winning as adults. 71% said they wouldn’t care if no score was kept in their games (I’m guessing this was younger athletes). (USA Today)
  9. Kids enjoy sports more without pressure. 37% said they wished no parents would watch them play. (USA Today)
  10. Kids are not always treated respectfully. 45% said they had been called names, or insulted by coaches. (USA Today)
  11. Kids are getting coached by their dads. 85% of coaches are dads coaching their own kids. (USA Today)
  12. Kids’ sports participation declines with age. Most stopped playing at age 13 and most 8-12 year olds said they would stop at 13. (Sports Illustrated)
  13. Kids are learning good things from sports. 67% learned to be a team player, 67% met people they wouldn’t have otherwise met, and 42% developed discipline. (Sports Illustrated)
  14. Kids get injured when they play. More than 3.5 million children under age 14 receive medical treatment for sports injuries annually. According to the CDC, more than half of all sports injuries are preventable. (Sports Marketing Surveys)
  15. Kids are not always getting trained coaches. Only 1 in 5 coaches of youth teams of children under age 14 say they have been trained in effective motivational technique, and just 1 in 3 in skills and tactics in the primary sport they coach. (Sports Marketing Surveys)

There are many conclusions that can be drawn as we ponder these statistics. But one thing is pretty clear: Youth sports in and of itself can be a wonderful learning and growing experience for kids. It’s up to us adults to stop messing it up.

Janis Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks and is the author of the Sportsparenting Survival Guide series.



photo credit: OkiGator via photopin cc

How to help your kids choose between multiple sports by Jackie Bledsoe | CoachUp

How to Help Your Kids Choose Between Multiple Sports

I just pressed send on an email to the travel baseball commissioner for my son’s baseball league. Over the past few weeks we’ve been talking about me being the head coach for the 8U travel baseball team. I agreed to do it last week, and we were working on tryout dates, and all the other details.

A choice to make

All the while I wasn’t sure if my son, Jackson, really wanted to play travel baseball, just wanted another reason to hang out with his friends, or if he wanted to play basketball instead. Well after letting him know there was an opportunity to play travel basketball his face lit up. So, last night we went to work out with a potential travel basketball team. Continue Reading

Mental Toughness


Have you ever gone into a competition as physically prepared as you possibly could be, but something in your mind was causing doubts?  Have you excelled at workouts in practice, but find that your competition results don’t match up?  Have you ever noticed a difference in the thoughts that go through your head during practice versus what goes through your head during competition?  Are they the same?  Are they different?  If so, how are they different?

Surprisingly, there are a lot of athletes who have negative thoughts before and during competition.  And despite being in fantastic physical shape, these athletes tend to underperform compared to what their training and practices would predict.  If you feel like this describes you, you are not alone.  And you can change your thought processes so that your competition performances reflect your training and practicing performances.

When I was in college, I made an observation about success that to this day has been backed up with scientific study and countless books and articles.  (Two references are at the end of this article.)  That observation is the fact that there are three components to being a successful athlete at the highest level.  First, there has to be inherent athletic talent.  Second, there has to be health.  And third, the individual must have a strong mind.  My observations in college were that many of my teammates had two of the three, but if an athlete lacked one component, they were always held back from achieving superstardom.

For example, one of my teammates had what I believe was more natural talent than I had and he was certainly a tough-minded guy.  But unfortunately, he had problems with stress fractures.  I believe that held him back from achieving his greatest potential.  It could be argued, though, that because he had a tough mind, he actually did achieve his highest potential since he got the most out of himself that he actually could, given the limitations his health put on him.

Another teammate of mine had talent, was always healthy, but did not have a strong mind at all.  He was a workout champion.  But when it came to competition, he always wilted.

And finally, we all have seen the athlete who is always healthy, who believes in him/herself like no other, but doesn’t have much talent.  That athlete can only go so far, but again, we can argue that they certainly get the most out of themselves that they possibly can.  It’s just that inherent talent holds them back from being a superstar.

The scenario that baffles me (and athletes and coaches everywhere) is the athlete who has the talent and health but not the head.  I do believe, though, that some athletes can overcome this.  It is not easy.  It takes a lot of work and it takes a long time.

After years of study, self-reflection, and coaching experience, I have found that most of us carry around thought patterns and belief systems that were established in us at a very young age.  If those belief systems carry a negative undertone, they will ultimately hold one back whether it be athletics, academics, relationships, career, etc.  How can that be overcome?

Positive self-talk.  Journaling.  Meditation.  Counseling.  Changed belief systems.  With the help of an experienced guide, many athletes can reverse negative beliefs and think more highly of themselves.  And as a result, competitive performance will improve dramatically.


So let’s take a look at a real-life example from my early days as a coach.  The name has been changed to protect identity.  John had the physical tools to be an outstanding runner and his body held up really well despite the high volumes of training he did.  But he tended to underperform in competition.  After speaking with a sports performance coach and a sports psychologist, it was revealed that John had always had this “I’m not good enough” thought underlying his thinking.  Another way he described his state was “I feel less than.”  When he entered competition he would think “what if I fail?” or “Coach won’t like me if I don’t run well.”  Where did those two thoughts come from?

Further analysis revealed that John grew up in a family where his father constantly had an underlying worry that “there isn’t enough”.  His dad also expressed concern that his cars were subpar or that he couldn’t advance at work due to other people holding him back.  This attitude permeated the family dynamic despite the fact that there was always enough food, shelter and clothing as well as education.  There always seemed to be a dark cloud of “not good enough” or “less than” hanging over John’s dad.

When asked to write on that topic, John easily filled page after page of notebook paper on how these thoughts crept their way into his own psyche and how they seemed to lie just beneath the surface.  Whenever the pressure was on, they would dominate his thoughts.  Instead of believing in his abilities, John tended to default to thinking “less than” about himself, which ultimately made him hesitant when competing, or in trying something new.

But something else was revealed as John did self-reflection work.  He realized that his mom was very critical and judgmental.  As a result, John was always on edge about whether he would be criticized for his actions or achievements.  John found this existence filled with lots of tension and thus he never felt relaxed to enjoy the things he was pursuing.  Except for when he pursued something that was more private.

Building model airplanes gave John a tremendous amount of satisfaction because no one judged him on it.  No one was watching him as he worked on them.  John felt serene, happy and confident when working on model airplanes.  He was in his element.

The sports performance counselor explored that scenario with John and encouraged him to think back to a time when he was working on a model airplane.  The counselor encouraged John to focus on what he was feeling, to relive those feelings and ultimately to identify them.  The result was that John found a sense of peace, satisfaction, confidence and pleasure when working on model airplanes.  He shared with the counselor that if he could achieve that level of serenity and confidence during competition, he knew he could improve his performance significantly.

So John and his counselor devised strategies to attain the mindset he had during model airplane building while in the midst of competition.  It required mindfulness, journaling, speaking with a trusted teammate, forced positive self-talk.  The improvement in results was not immediate, however.  Just like a computer has default settings, humans tend to revert to default thinking patterns when under stress.  It is only after repeated positive thought practice that thought patterns begin to change for the positive and become more natural.  It took John 3 ½ years of conscious positive thought before it became more natural and was reflected in his performance.   Just like practicing the skills of his sport, John had to practice the skills of positive thinking until they became automatic.  And as a result, John went from being an above-average runner to become a school record holder and an All-American.

Due to limitations in the size of this article, you are only getting a brief overview of all the work John had to do to re-train his thoughts and beliefs and to attain the serene and joyous state he desired during competition.   There isn’t space to describe all the work that John did, all the setbacks that occurred and all the insights John gained about himself.  The bottom line is that John was willing to work with a counselor to help him discover faulty beliefs and program more positive thoughts about himself.  The end result was a happier person (not just athlete) and consequently, a more successful performer when competing.

If you find yourself in a situation similar to John’s, I encourage you to seek out a sports psychologist, a certified mental trainer or a sports performance coach.  An internet search for “mental training for athletes” will yield numerous professionals who can help guide you. They will help you through the process of discovering the source of negative thought patterns, identifying situations that trigger those thoughts, and strategies to overcome the negative thoughts and replace them with affirming and positive ones.


  1. Chamberlin, R. (2003) Ready To Play.  Provo, UT: Ready to Play

  2. Fannin, J. (2005)  S.C.O.R.E. for Life.  New York: HarperCollins


Coach Rick W. is currently providing running coaching sessions in Chicago, Illinois. Book sessions with him today.

Feeding Your Weekend Warrior


In the thick of March Madness, college basketball players are playing multiple games a week. How do they maintain their energy? They need to fuel properly and stay hydrated. Kelsea Gusk takes a look at what kids can eat in order to prepare for their own tournaments.

It’s 7am on Saturday morning, and already you and your star athlete are at the gym for game one of five this weekend. An hour or more away from home, the easy and popular option is to grab some coffee at the nearest chain for you, a baked sweet for them and hope the school gym has a cafeteria for lunch. Anyone for hot dogs? Instead of this travel nutrition rut, follow these top 5 tips for proper nutrition during the next tournament.


1. Make breakfast the biggest meal of the day. You don’t know if the last game will be at 1pm or 6pm, so you need to put good fuel in your tank now. Try oatmeal, yogurt, eggs with veggies or a high fiber cereal and milk to top off your tank before the games begin.


2. Avoid foods high in fat or fiber right before the next race or game. Stick to easily digested carbohydrates and protein. Athletes don’t need high fiber foods prior to competition, they can cause an upset stomach. Fat can do the same thing. No one needs an extra bathroom break in the first period.


3. Tournament time is not the time to share a new cookie (or cupcake) recipe. Save the super sweet foods for holidays and plan carbohydrates that are whole grain and low in refined sugars. Refined sugars might give the team hyper-energy, but it will not last. The second half of the game will find you and them crashing with a lower blood sugar level than before the snack.


4. Don’t forget to hydrate, as a spectator or as an athlete. Staying hydrated will keep you focused through the second match as well decrease your desire for an extra snack. Aim for about 8-16 oz every thirty minutes during a long day of competition. Athletes who forgo the water might stop performing as well as the day goes on.


5. Stop eating an hour before your next game or match to make sure your food is digested to avoid any possible cramping. If possible, try out pre- game snacks before the big end of the season tournament to make sure they will settle correctly.

Continue Reading

How Great Coaches (and Parents) Go from Sweet 16 to Elite 8 by Jackie Bledsoe | CoachUp

How Great Coaches (and Parents) Go from Sweet 16 to Elite 8

Today, the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament comes to my city, Indianapolis. The games all start tomorrow, but the city is buzzing and excited. Today, all four teams playing will have a practice open to the public. I wanted to take my kids to the practices, but I wasn’t able to do it.

Great parents are like great coaches

I think it would have been a good experience for them to see championship-level teams and coaches prepare for a big game. There are some heavy hitter and big name coaches in this region. They are definitely championship-level, and some even Hall of Fame level. It’s no surprise their teams find themselves in the round of 16 year after year.

Coaching parallels parenting on so many levels. One of my desires is continue my run through the field, to the Sweet 16, and to that One-Shining moment as a father when I see my kids succeed in life. That is what led me to write my book, March DADness: Preparing Dads to Make a Championship Run in Fatherhood. Continue Reading