Product Review: RISE UP – Episode One

by | November 15, 2012, 11:08am 0

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.

figure 1

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.)

figure 2

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.

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