WYC 034 Upward Sports President Caz McCaslin talks about Playing with Purpose

 What does it take to be a winning youth coach? Listen in as Caz McCaslin shares stories and discusses God’s journey in developing Upward Sports to reach Hundreds of Thousands of kids through youth sports.

Caz is the founder of Upward Sports.  Established in 1995, Upward Sports is the world’s largest Christian youth sports provider.  Today, approximately half a million players at more than 2,000 churches in 47 states participate in camps, clinics, and leagues through Upward Sports’ Recreation Division.  In 2012, Upward Sports created its Performance Division – Upward Stars – aimed at young athletes wanting to further develop their skills and participate in a higher level of competition. Within the first year, approximately 900 athletes competed on Upward Stars teams.  Caz is married and has 3 grown daughters.

Website: upward.org

Twitter: @CazMcCaslin; @UpwardStars; @UpwardSports

Facebook: /UpwardSports

Listen Now:

Listen in ITunes: Itunes link

Listen in Stitcher: Stitcher link


Coaching/Leadership Quote

  • ‘Caz, you don’t need another gym…What you need is 1,000 gyms.’

Coaching Your Own Kids

  • Remember that each kid is different so you have to coach them differently

Teaching Children & Keeping it Fun


  • The 360 Progression – Grow children mentally, athletically, spiritually, and socially
    • Children want to grow – so give them the right direction
    • The progression for each kid is very different – you have to build on where they are at – then progress them.  It has nothing to do with their age or grade.
    • The greatest challenge for a parent/coach – is to understand where each child is in their journey – then progress then appropriately

Mental Peak Performance

  • Confidence and arrogance are 2 very different things – They are the same on the inside, but the difference is on the outside – are you confident internally or are you bragging externally?
  • Getting better, progressing – builds self-confidence on and off the court

Coaching Resources

  • Upward equips and trains their coaches in all elements of coaching



  • Billy Graham on sports: ‘It’s the last thing left where there is immediate discipline for wrongdoing’ – so make discipline immediate and make it be something the kids really want:
    • Freezeball: If a kid is dribbling and picks up his dribble – yell ‘Freeze’ – everyone freezes, then explain to the child that he cannot dribble again or it is a double-dribble.  His options are to pass or shoot.  Then unfreeze.
  • Let the team come up with the rules – i.e.: If someone talks when the coach is talking – let the team decide at the beginning of the season what the punishment is


  • Every team should do a service opportunity in their community as a team

Inspiring Story

  • Being on a team often has a powerful impact on individuals but on and off the field
  • Coach K response to Duke’s only loss of one season: ‘How could I be disappointed in how these kids have grown and matured? I don’t have one ounce of disappointment in anything that has happened with this team’

The One that Got Away

  • In Upward Stars’ early days – they had a game ripped away from them by a referee – but Caz actually wouldn’t change a thing – because the Upwards Coaches, players, and parents handled it perfectly with class

Upward Stars

  • Created to bring the positive impact of Upward Sports to post 6th-grade athletes in competitive levels
  • 480 areas across the country targeted
  • Currently 41 areas served and growing

Parting Advice

  • The tagline for Upwards – ‘Play with Purpose’ – Coaches have a purpose with everything you are teaching these young men and women – a purpose on the court and more importantly a purpose off the court
  • ‘The moment you decided to be a coach – you became a legacy.  What kind of legacy are you going to leave?’

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