Look out Tony Hawk’s Trick Tips, there’s a new alternative sport instructional video series in town. Rhino Captain Mario O’Brien and a short list of ultimate’s greatest shakers has taken a page out of the Portland Trailblazers program and started RISE UP.
“I did a lot of reflecting on what Ultimate had done for me,” O’Brien states “I realized what an immensely positive influence it’d been on my life, and I felt responsible to give more back.” So, in early 2012, Mario O’Brien teamed up with Ben Wiggins and Andy Lovseth (of the Huddle) and Elliot Trotter and Gil McIntire (of Skyd Magazine) to start the creative gears turning for RISE UP, an online video resource for ultimate players or teams with a focus on the instruction of ultimate skills and concepts.
The first 10 episode season focusing on handler offence has just stared to release with episodes one and two available for viewing. A season 1 episode episode guide can be found on RISE UP’s website.
Ben Wiggins and Mario O'Brien discuss during a shoot
A season of RISE UP will run you $20. Go ahead and crack open that jar of change on top of your refrigerator you were saving for Ke$ha’s new album (or whatever costs $20 these days. Your first checked bag? A hamster?), hop on the ol’ F book, and order it up.
Producer Mario O’Brien hooked me up with a sneak peak at Season 1, Episode 1. Spoiler alert: Ben Wiggins uses the word ‘bedazzle‘. This is now my text message alert.
RISE UP is built to be a resource gateway to some of the best minds and concepts in ultimate to help teams and individuals improve. O’Brien states the mission of RISE UP as being an instructional video series that will “motivate and empower players at any skill level… to immediately improve their game.” Any program or player within their first 4 years of the sport is going to get some serious facemelt going on when they watch these videos.
Each episode introduces a concept (such as Episode One: the Dump-Swing), runs through a number of stepping stone drills to break it down manageable lessons, and then end with how to evaluate the success of your team with the skill.
All this averages about fifteen minutes and is very professionally done, like you’re watching some sweet MGS4 Codec, but not overdone like that weird NFL robot guy. (What’s he about anyway?) What I’m trying to say is not only are the concepts broken down very well verbally, by linguistics and Mario Kart master and Ben Wiggins, but the after effects of the RISE UP production team nails it creating a digital chalk board that is attractive and informative: from highlighting the players in focus in to keeping a running visual task list to the right of the screen. Simple enough for an ADHD teen to follow, but relevant and capturing enough for a wiry vet to kick back and flip back and forth between RISE UP and Game of Thrones during commercials.
This video series alone is not going to make your team a Championships contender but that’s not the point. O’Brien reflects:
First and foremost, we hope to empower teams, players, and coaches to improve their Ultimate skills. We hope RISE UP will create an online community where people from around the world can connect to share ideas and resources to help their teams improve. We also want to create a platform for the best Ultimate leaders and coaches to share their knowledge and experience with the community. ~Mario O’Brien. RISE UP founder
RISE UP is setting the bar for ultimate education. But, even elite college or club teams can benefit from the content in RISE UP, if only for a reminder of how to run fundamentals and what happens to teams that don’t implement these concepts.
It may be too early to say, but this series could revolutionize the growth rate of new players and programs. There are a thousand things for a new team to do to get off the ground, but RISE UP could at least provide a jump to stage 4 (see figure 1) of a club’s development in simply. It won’t just be running a come to drill for 20 minutes then scrimmaging until it gets dark, 3 practices a week, 18 weeks a year. Teams can mix and match these concepts to put together significant schedules and players have a resource to use to get better on their own time.
I can see a perfect scenario where a coach wants to teach a concept. A team could buy a subscription to the series and have every team member watch the video so they come in with a general knowledge of the practice. Coaches or captains wouldn’t have to fight wind and rain and ADHD sophomore handlers (as much) since (hopefully) they’d be coming to practice with a firm handle on the concepts already. Instead focusing on the explanation of why work on this particular drill, coaches could get solid reps in and adjusting individual play.
It’s like doing your homework before class, but instead of homework it’s ultimate videos where you can drink a beer while it’s playing and you can make longing eyes at coach Ben Wiggins on the screen and he won’t give you that weird stop-looking-at-me-that-way-you-creep look that he does in real life.
With RISE UP Season One as a template just throw in 15% of team strategy and 20% scrimmage time and you’ve got yourself a semester of practices already outlined. My job is done here. Throw. Catch. Spike. Now cut me my coaching stipend and I’m off to the nearest theme park… with black jack… and hookers… and forget the theme park.
The only critique I can see from watching just the first episode is that the concept is too well coached without explaining how to coach it. Make sense? I didn’t think so. Let me explain. We see Ben Wiggins stepping his group of players through the drill and he does an excellent job of explaining and adjusting throughout the video. I mean, he’s the bloody John Wooden of ultimate. Ben Wiggins can put a drill on a string and analyze and adjust as his lackeys execute his instruction. He’s a teacher and someone who has been coaching for 10 or so years.
But, that may be an issue in terms of using these videos as a platform on which to base a practice. One or two year programs might not have a coach a quarter as knowledgeable as Wiggins which may prove difficult when trying to recreate RISE UP content on the practice field with a team. The only element I think (at least the first episode) lacks is a breakdown of how to run the drills featured in RISE UP. What I’d love to see future episode is a through step by step of how to teach 1 or 2 drills in addition to the content already provided. How many players are needed for a drill. Where players stand. How they cycle to different positions. What the focus is for offense. What to do when Wendy, our ADHD sophomore handler, can’t stop making the wrong damn cut to the live side. Etc.
Everyone has something to learn from these videos. Hell, Ben Wiggins has been my coach for two years training me in these exact same concepts and I still came away from Episode One with a few things to mull over next time I’m running a dump swing. (Shhh, don’t tell Ben. He’ll know I wasn’t listening the first seven times and will make me do burpies.)
Soap box time, sorry people:
Skyd Magazine, Ultiworld, NexGen, Ulticards, Major League Ultimate, AUDL, RISE UP, USAU’s 8 or 10 or 2 year plan (whatever it is now). There has been a great shift in the amount of work surrounding ultimate in the media and organization. Three years ago there was next to nothing. Players were stuck sucking the rancid teet of RSD and praying that their region could field enough teams to win them a size bid to the College Championships.
Thanks to the handful of people who have dedicated their time to the above mentioned efforts our sport can continue to grow. (Now, these people are not the only means by which the sport will grow but, I am certainly more fulfilled as an ultimate player with the advent of Skyd and NexGen alone.) The administrators of these companies and programs are making ultimate more marketable and accessible. The success of failure of these ventures will open the door to even more ultimate based programming Over the next two years ultimate is going to change whether you want it to or not. Please, take the time (and hell, and take a little money) to support the projects you see as worthwhile and beneficial to our sport. It just might be that RISE UP is one of those.
Three cheers for O’Brien and his crew for canonizing some of the most fundamental lessons into video form. There are a lot of concepts out there to teach to the youth of our sport. It’s my sincere hope RISE UP can continue to pound out quality content for the years to come. O’Brien adds, “We’re focused on making sure that the quality of each episode we release is outstanding. That will always be our primary task. In the future, RISE UP camps and clinics are certainly a possibility.”
I can’t wait for a time when a captain can reflect on a tournament or scrimmage, link to 2 or 3 video lessons from the Rise Up series, and have his team prepped and ready to change their game like a pack of stim packed marines.
Like I always say, “If it’s not on Youtube, get the f*** out.”
For more information on RISE UP be sure to follow them on Facebook or check out the RISE UP website.
Ultimate is growing. There is no doubt about it; USAU even has statistics to prove it. Overall growth for the sport is excellent and competitive ultimate gets more competitive every year. RISE UP is set to debut on Monday. This will have a significant effect on the college game. In some regards, every team is about to get hand delivered what elite teams have had for years: superior strategy and a detailed explanation of how to do the little things correctly.
College programs such as Wisconsin, Carleton, Colorado, and 1980’s UCSB are the best examples of an elite program. The same can be said of recent teams such as Oregon, Florida, and to some extent Pittsburgh. These teams, especially the late Black Tide teams, held a strategic advantage that was passed down by older captains, coaches, and alumni. Those teams operated in a bubble. If you wanted to learn a better way of doing something, you had to learn from a better team, potentially while trying to beat them. Not an easy task. The internet gave away some of these top teams “proprietary information.”
While there has always been ultimate related material available online, there has never been material like this. Let’s take for example a small school, anywhere in the country, that’s hoping to turn into a more legitimate program. Previously, all that’s been available is whatever literature you could find scattered around the internet. Then, there were collaborated resources such as The Huddle and ultimate related blogs. Eventually, YouTube Stations and other video resources began to emerge. Now, there is RISE UP: Video-taped episodes devoted to coaching the game complied by some of the best in the business. What I’ve seen from just the ten minutes that have been released might revolutionize the college game.
What is about to be released is somewhat the equivalent of Derek Jeter teaching you how to fetch a ground ball, or Ray Allen teaching you how to shoot jumpers. Small programs can gather this winter and watch these video’s together and then repeat it at practice the next day. RU has taken, to some degree, the teaching out of elementary ultimate. And this is going to be fantastic for ultimate in the long run.
I can’t help but consider the effect that this is going to have on the college game. RISE UP is going to have the same effect on ultimate that Moneyball had on baseball. Information that was previously secret is going to be easily accessible by all. This is going to change the game. It’s not going to happen overnight, or even this season but, elite programs are going to lose their strategic edge.
Other question to ponder is how the elite “monopoly” teams are going to respond. If you’ve lost a strategic advantage, there are a couple different paths you could approach. The first and possibly easiest is to get better athletes; either through recruitment or better training outside of practices. Another option is to become more disciplined. A difference between the college and club game is skilled marks, along with better throwers and a better understanding of the importance of offensive spacing. The final option might be to become innovative, to experiment with new ideas; this will regain the strategic leverage teams are about to lose.
What’s actually going to happen? I have no idea, but it’s going to be exciting.
I always feel like a kid on Christmas morning when new jerseys arrive. Putting on a freshly printed jersey always makes me feel just a little bit cooler. I ordered my first set of jerseys eight years ago while playing on a High School team in New York City. Eight years and countless dollars later I am still ordering more, the only difference is that my parents no longer pay for them. As a cash-strapped college kid , this poses a problem. Thankfully, VC Ultimate is offering a solution.
VC is a well-known brand in ultimate circles. The Canadian company was founded in 1998 in order to create the highest quality apparel for players of all ages. Today, VC is a huge player in the ultimate market. Not only do they make some of the best apparel for the ultimate community, they also make it a point to help promote the sport. They do this by sponsoring teams, tournaments and green initiatives that help to make the sport more visible to everyone outside of the Ultimate community. Though these marketing and green initiatives are good for both the sport and the environment, it does drive the price of the product up.
Enter Printed Performance. “Printed Performance is a no-frills supplier of quality apparel to the Ultimate Market,” says Adriana Withers co-founder of VC and Printed Performance. Printed Performance offers all of the apparel and gear that Ultimate players wear for our sport, including jerseys, shorts, hats and warm-ups. “Our products are sourced from various suppliers and are not re-branded as Printed Performance gear, thereby keeping the prices rock bottom,” says Withers.
Printed Performance keeps prices low in a variety of ways. Most importantly it buys high quality gear from third-party vendors, this is very different from VC’s custom products, which are designed entirely in house.
“VC designs all of the gear that our awesome little rubber label logo goes on in-house. From style to fit to materials to construction… everything is under our control. We have two full time production people in our Toronto office making sure that VC products come in from our two manufacturers and out to our customers as best as possible every day. We’ve worked hard with our pattern maker and manufacturing head for years and years to make sure that our standards are met, and that we’re 100% proud to put our label on each item,” said Withers.
This approach to apparel has made VC a leader in the market because they only produce the highest quality clothing. Along with their marketing scheme and the increasing value of the Canadian dollar, it has gotten much more expensive to produce gear at a price that everyone can afford. Printed performance has a much simpler business plan than VC. “We are aiming to keep our marketing and operational expenses at practically zero so that we can offer great products really inexpensively,” says Withers.
This new approach has allowed printed performance to offer a ‘base’ short sleeve jersey for as little as $12.25 for teams. “You might see the same in-stock versions of the same shirt sold for $18-24 by some of our competitors,” says Withers. This savings is huge for anyone, but especially for summer leagues and youth leagues, who order hundreds of jerseys at a time.
So what exactly does Printed Performance offer? You can get screen printed or spot sublimation jerseys with numbers and names.
According to Withers price and timeline are two things that Printed Performance offers over its competition. “Our lack of overhead means we can offer you the best prices ever. If you’ve found a better price, we’d love a chance to match it – we’ll constantly work to find the best way to offer you the best deal possible.”
“Our iron-clad systems and network of screen printers and embroidery suppliers mean that we can get your orders in from trusted suppliers and out the door in about two weeks. Need it faster, just ask – we’ll also try our best to get you what you need, as ordered – on time,” said Withers.
VC and Printed Performance are two brands run by the same group of people. The two brands offer different products for different spectrums of the market. With VC you get their best offerings in Ultimate gear and customer service. With Printed Performance, customers still get that same customer service, but are able to get great gear for less money.
The redesigned Lookfly gloves for 2012.
Nearly two years ago, Skyd published our first review of the Lookfly Ultimate Gloves, a distinctive two-fingered design that has garnered positive feedback from Ultimate players all over the world, including our gear expert Adam Restad.
Lookfly’s glove evolution has been a constantly-improving process. The first version of Lookfly gloves were created in 2004, just a few years after Lookfly went into business. They were completely fingerless, but kept the same sticky-palm design that is featured today. In 2007, Lookfly added back three of the fingers and came up with a new logo design. Finally, at the end of August of this year, Lookfly released a redesigned, classier-looking glove just in time for the Fall season. I immediately got my hands in a pair to test them out.
In our last review, we highlighted the glove’s unique V-shaped grip pattern and thin construction. Let’s take a look at some of the new features:
Elastic Wristband and Velcro Catch
The velcro wristband is a slick addition in the new redesign.
Previous to this version, Lookfly gloves have always featured an open wristband with no way to adjust the tightness around the wrist, causing the gloves to sometimes come loose after a big layout. The new version features a slick adjustable band with a velcro catch, allowing the wearer to adjust the fit.
More Durable Construction
The new gloves feature more durable stitching and a second skin neoprene layer to keep the wearer warm in winter.
However, we are obliged to point out that these gloves still feature two main quality issues that were present in previous versions. First, the stitching on the cut-off fingers is prone to unraveling (on my version, after only two days of wear). However, this only affects the gloves aesthetically.
The second and more troubling quality issue is the seam between the thumb and the forefinger, which came apart on my version after a month of wear. The same seam also ripped on the old version of the gloves. I informed Lookfly about the issue and they acknowledged that they had identified this defect in the 2007 version of the gloves, it was supposed to be fixed by the manufacturer for the new version. Either the problem has recurred or I got a faulty pair. This quick wear seems to be heavily affected by the stress of releasing the disc – the rip occurred on my throwing hand glove. In any case, the rip in the seam does not make the gloves unwearable and I have continued to wear the gloves without any further issue.
Lookfly’s customer service in relation to this matter was commendable as well. They immediately offered to replace my gloves according to their return policy, which applies to all clients with damaged or defective goods.
Exposed fingers: not the coolest design in the world, but really helps the whole process along when you're urinating in the bushes before your first game.
Let’s face it: the reigning champions in glove design are the Club Ultimate gloves, made famous by Kurt Gibson, Tyler Degirolamo, and the Buzz Bullets. But the new style of the Lookfly gloves brings them at least another step closer. The new version features a redesigned green Lookfly logo that runs down the pinky finger, as well as a slick all-black design, ditching the blue highlighting of the 2007 version. The aforementioned wristband is also a nice touch. And while having the pointer and middle fingers exposed may not add style points, it does make it easier to throw flick hucks and tie shoelaces.
Despite all the new features, Lookfly still haven’t made the gloves any easier to wear as a hat, leaving me no choice but to assign them zero stars in the Hat category. The winner in this category continues to be the Spin Reach Adjustable Trucker Hat.
Ethically Responsible Manufacturing
I also quizzed Lookfly on their manufacturing practices. They commented: “Using an ethical manufacturers is very important to us. We manufacture using an ethically credited supplier in South Asia who look after their workforce. As we can’t reasonably get out there to visit them, they regularly send us their certifications, photos of working conditions and pictures of their workforce. We believe it is possible to design a product that represents value for money for the consumer and still treat everyone involved in its manufacture fairly.”
Although the redesigned gloves are slightly more expensive than the previous version, the lower price may just be the best selling point of the Lookfly gloves. The new gloves are currently available for £9.99 (~12.40€) until the end of October, when the price will go up. However, for buyers outside of the EU, Lookfly doesn’t charge tax, making the gloves a very respectable ~$13.14, which, when the ~$6.73 US shipping costs are factored in, gives the gloves a final price of ~$19.87.
For the main competitor, Club Ultimate, you’re looking at paying 26.50€ to get them from Gaia, or using a complicated drop-shipping method explained in this reddit post to get them for less, but with a lot more hassle.
A new entry to the market, Friction Gloves (Skyd Gear Watch Review), hover around the $25 price range, but are still more expensive than the Lookfly gloves, even with overseas shipping costs factored in.
The Lookfly glove is an affordable first option for players interested in improving their grip, especially in windy, wet, or cold conditions. Compared to its main competitors, Friction Gloves and Club Ultimate Gloves, the Lookfly gloves stand out with the exposed two-finger design, but may suffer from quality issues compared to the more expensive options.
The gloves can be purchased from Lookfly’s online store at a reduced price throughout the month of October.