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Upper Hand

Sports Management Blog

How Did They Get There? 2016 Olympians' Youth Sports Training

on Aug 16, 2016 5:05:51 PM | By Ariella Ford | 1 Comment
Successful Youth Sports Training - Getting to the Olympics   From Michael Phelps’ record breaking 23 medals to the USA Gymnastics Fierce Five, the 2016 Rio Olympics will go down in record books. As I’ve watched these amazing athletes accomplish what most individuals can only imagine achieving, I’ve asked myself “How did they get there?” In taking a look at the training efforts of three USA 2016 Olympians, Michael Phelps, Allyson Felix and Simone Biles, there are three key components that seem to play a major part in youth sports training that lead to Gold - the attitude, the practice and hours of work, and the right coach or mentor.
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#ForeverChampions

on May 26, 2014 1:00:28 PM | By Kevin MacCauley | 0 Comments
On Friday, when running on the treadmill for part of my workout, like most times, I let the mind wonder. Listening to the newest Coldplay Album, a question caught hold that I kept asking with each song. What's the meaning of Memorial Day? Seemed like a logical question given the holiday weekend. With uncles, cousins, friends and a father who served our country, one would think that's an easy question to answer. At first thought, Memorial Day is the weekend our country celebrates and honors the lives of fallen American soldiers, our true Patriots. Then I started thinking about Memorial Day in the context of my daily job at Upper Hand and as a little league coach. Naturally, leading myself to start trying to remember athletes who might be part of this day. Immediately the name Pat Tillman came to mind. To me, growing up in the 9/11 era, Pat Tillman was an icon, legend, and most importantly, an American hero. I thought, maybe through bookacoach.com we could find a way to honor soldiers like Pat Tillman, and to use the opportunity to understand and share the meaning of Memorial Day. So before I got our creative designer on the phone to discuss ways to tastefully honor these American heroes, I started googling to educate myself about others who chose the same path as Tillman. Surprisingly, few articles or websites outlined or explained all the stories of similar heroism. Thankfully, with the help of a recent Forbes article, Bleacher Report post, and Wikipedia, I gathered the names of great athletes turned amazing American soldiers. Names like, Al Blozic, Bob Neighbors, Harry O'Neill, Bob Kalsu, Foy Draper, Jack Lummus, Elmer Gedeon, Al Blozis, and Pat Tillman. From the NFL, MLB to professional sprinting, each were at the most elite level of their sport. With research and pictures in hand, Olei and I got to work. The idea would be to create a series of images, depicting each fallen soldier as a patriotic, iconic athlete from their time playing their respective sport. The campaign imagery would include: Pat Tillman, Bob Kalsu and Bob Neighbors. On Sunday, Our designer sent the first drafts. Wow. Literally, wow is what came to mind. Sending chills through me, I was awestruck by the imagery and a deeper meaning they portrayed. Yet how could you describe in text the sheer bravery, sacrifice and honor of each one of these individual souls? This became the most important part of our Memorial Day campaign, what do you say? How do you tie the images to their true, righteous meaning? For a few days I kept asking those questions. Putting the answer in writing, in only a handful of words was far from an easy task. I wanted the images to speak for themselves and to be capitalized by a tag line that would resonate with any avid sports fan, coach, current or former athlete at all levels. This sparked some good conversation driving back Monday with my wife's family. Showing them the first draft image, I asked them, "What should this image say?" Immediately, adjectives and words such as, sacrifice, freedom, American soldiers, patriots, fallen heroes, all were shared as we drove. After lots of shared thoughts and ideas, we moved to rephrase the question, "What did these athletes give up, to give us?" We discussed how each one of them, left the pinnacle of their athletic career. Not to pursue personal matters or tend to family issues. What they did was simply remarkable and truly unthinkable in today's society. They gave up their game, the fame, and the money, to go to war. To bare arms with other brave soldiers, their comrades, knowingly putting their lives at risk to save the freedom we enjoy. Can you imagine? You get a large financial promotion? Or you have a newborn? Or you are famous, have money and a comfortable life in any place you dream? Or your startup just raised money and is starting to grow? Or your team makes the little league World Series with your son or daughter as the starting pitcher? Can you imagine, at the pinnacle of any one of those moments, selectively choosing to go to war and fight for your country? I absolutely cannot. That is exactly what each one of these American athletes did. They left their respective game, made the ultimate sacrifice, to give us the freedom to do what we are doing at this very moment. This became our Memorial Day meaning at Upper Hand. To share in memory of athletes who left their game to fight for our freedom to play. In the world of sports, to me, they are #ForeverChampions. To all those who serve, served and to the men and women fallen to the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, thank you. Thank you. Thank you! Below please find the images that will be displayed on bookacoach.com for the next week. I hope they help keep the legacies of these athletes alive forever. And serve as examples of our love for them and our country. On behalf of the bookacoach team, we hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and wish you a Happy Memorial Week. In memory of Angelina Volpe, a family member, who passed this Memorial Day Weekend at 6-months.  
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NFL Training Camp Injuries

on Aug 16, 2013 9:44:59 AM | By Upper Hand | 0 Comments
 Football season is finally here! Teams have been practicing at training camp since mid July to prepare for this upcoming season. The first preseason game began last Sunday with the Dallas Cowboys knocking off the Miami Dolphins 24-20. Unfortunately there have been an increasing number of NFL Training Camp Injuries starting to pile up. Several players have torn ACL’s, and they will be out for the year. These injuries could significantly impact the teams they play for because they are a big piece to the puzzle.    
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The Greatness of LeBron James

on Jun 19, 2013 9:14:42 AM | By Upper Hand | 0 Comments
Last night’s Game 6 of the NBA Finals is why I love sports. The back and forth runs, the drama, the urgency, the controversy, the legendary players cementing their legacy on the biggest stage, the drama and the drama! If you weren’t able to see the game live, please do yourself a favor and watch one of the countless replays of the broadcast because it will be available to you…easily one of the greatest 3 NBA Basketball games of all time. Speaking of greatest NBA Players of all-time, let’s spend a few minutes on LeBron James… Why are there so many people who are so against this guy? Fundamentally I can’t wrap my head around the hatred for him. Maybe it comes down to the media continually hyping him up and covering him since he was 15 years old and people are tired of the coverage and want to see him fail? I am certain that “the decision” comes into play as well; certainly a bad PR move by him and his team but definitely a product of the times and the enormity of that moment…the greatest player in sports making a decision on where he was going to play his basketball moving forward. I am not defending it, but ESPN gave him the forum, paid millions to James’ charity for the access so he bit at the opportunity. Whatever the reason for the dislike, I think it’s time for a few things to happen as it relates to LeBron: Stop comparing him to Michael Jordan. The media is creating more disdain and more division by constantly comparing him to MJ. They are two totally different players. They don’t compare Magic to MJ or Shaq to MJ so this has to stop. When I hear people say “MJ wouldn’t have done that” or “MJ would have taken that shot” I think it is the laziest commentary possible. Michael Jordan is the greatest player in the history of the NBA, period. He was a tenacious scorer, the most competitive player of all-time and has 6 championships. Michael’s legacy is cemented and no one is close, at this point, to removing him from his current standing. But please, let’s look at LeBron James as a once in a lifetime type player, and appreciate him and what he brings to the game… LeBron James has the unique ability and often does, guard every position on the floor, from the opposing team’s point guard to their center; this is a skill unique to LeBron. For a sample of this watch last night’s game. He guarded Tony Parker and did a fantastic job on him, even preventing the go ahead shot with 5 seconds left guarding Parker full court. He also guarded Ginobli, Leonard and even Tim Duncan. Defensively, he is a beast. I love the knock that “he isn’t clutch.” Really? Because he has missed a few game winning shots? Do you realize that Michael Jordan missed 27 game winners in his career? Yes, 27! So stop it with this ridiculous “LeBron isn’t clutch,” it’s lazy. In elimination games in the playoffs, which in my definition is ‘clutch’ opportunities, he is the all-time leader in points per game, averaging 32 points per game in these situations. Even better than Michael Jordan. Last night what did James do? He had a very subpar 1 st 3 quarters and went on to score 18 points in the 4 th quarter and over-time, when his team was down 10 points to take over the game and lead the team to victory. His final stat line -> 32 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds, 3 steals and 1 historic block on Tim Duncan late in the 4 th quarter. But the haters are right, he definitely “shrinks” in big moments. Like Magic Johnson, LeBron is the ultimate “team” guy…almost to a fault at times. He is constantly working to get his team involved and is currently on pace to finish in the top 5 in the history of the NBA in assists in his career. Think about that…he is on pace to finish with more assists in his career than players like Isaiah Thomas and Magic Johnson. As it relates to rebounding, he is a beast. He focuses on getting involved in one of the toughest and most difficult points of the game. He is on pace to finish in the top 20 all-time in rebounds, surpassing some all-time great centers and power forwards like Patrick Ewing, Dennis Rodman and Elgin Baylor. Offensively he will finish as likely one of the top five leading scorers in NBA history and this part of his game he is continuing to evolve. I think that his scoring ability is the one part of his game that he can improve further as he is at times inconsistent compared to the rest of his game. But when he has it going, it is amazing to watch. The purpose of this 700 word rant is really to remind people that we are in the midst of greatness. Every time the Heat lose it feels like the end of the world as the media questions LeBron and his “legacy” and his ability…RELAX! LeBron James will finish as one of the greatest NBA Players and athletes of all-time, period. We have to quit judging every single game as if he is in some sort of contest vs. Michael Jordan and his legacy. At the end of his career all the pundits can debate, but let’s allow LeBron to finish his career before diving into the real comparison. Enjoy this once in a generation athlete. If you hate him for “the decision” or because he beats up on your favorite team, or for any other reason, you have that right. But if you can’t appreciate what this guy does and what he is, you are truly missing out! #TeamTRAINlete “ Like” us on Facebook and “ Follow” us on Twitter
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Evan Gattis - A True Hollywood Story

on May 22, 2013 9:37:01 AM | By Upper Hand | 0 Comments
“Here’s a guy that lived in a van for three years, I don’t think a baseball game is going to scare him.” – Fredi Gonazalez, Braves Manager. Is there a better sports story in the past ten years than Evan Gattis? For those who don’t know about Evan Gattis, the 26-year old former janitor, who for 4 years was on a personal journey before signing a $1,000 bonus to join the Braves organization, you need to get caught up because you are missing a once in a lifetime type story. Let’s go back about 10 years. In 2004, Evan was among the top high school players in the country; Major League scouts were blown away with his power and throwing arm. Gattis decided against being drafted to play pro ball out of high school and accepted a scholarship to Texas A&M…one problem, he never showed up on campus. Due to a combination of his parent’s divorce and an extreme self-imposed pressure to excel at baseball, he started abusing alcohol. Gattis reflected ““I was terrified of being a failure.” He was quickly admitted to a recovery center in Texas and then spent time at a halfway house before trying once again at baseball at a Junior College. Again, his life took a turn for the worse as after playing half a season he gave up baseball and dropped out of school. Gattis’ next four years were filled with working odd jobs – car valet in Dallas, ski lift operator in Colorado, pizza cook in Colorado, housekeeper at a hostel in Taos and Arizona, machinery operator in Texas, golf cart attendant and a janitor in Texas. There may have been some other jobs sprinkled in there, but Gattis doesn’t remember, “I don’t know, I guess I was just trying to find myself.” Gattis’ low point came during a few days in the summer of 2007. He was hospitalized due to depression and anger issues. He told USA Today Sports, “I was in a mental hospital. I couldn’t sleep for an entire week…all I could think about was killing myself. I wanted to kill myself for a long time.” Evan was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety six years ago and through therapy, time and medication he eventually discovered what he wanted out of life. After his “quest” he got to the end of the road and there was nothing left to search for…it was time to return to baseball. In 2010 Gattis attended the University of Texas-Permian Basin to return to the game he loved. How did it go? Despite not swinging a bat for 4 years he hit .403 with 11 homers. Gattis was drafted by the Braves in the 23rd round of the draft that year. During his rookie level league he played well for the Danville Braves, but he failed to make the opening day roster of any of the Braves minor league teams in 2011, which was another hit to Gattis. He had great success in ’12 in the Class A Advanced League and was promoted to Class AA but with Brian McCann and another top catcher prospect in the system Gattis was shifted to left field and then went to the Venezuelan Winter League where he had incredible success and earned the nickname “El Oso Blanco,” Spanish for “the White Bear.” Gattis was invited to spring training in 2013 and after a .358 batting average the Braves added him to their opening day roster. When Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told him he made the team, the emotion caused “The White Bear” to openly weep. Let’s take a look at his first big league season…
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America is Stronger Today after the Boston Marathon Bombing

on Apr 16, 2013 8:23:21 AM | By Upper Hand | 0 Comments
Yesterday’s tragic events that occurred at the finish line of the Boston Marathon are the latest example an act of terrorism on United States soil. Nothing will be the same in America after yesterday’s attack during a sunny Patriot’s Day in Boston. Those who are responsible for carrying out these cowardly acts, whether they are foreign or domestic enemies, didn’t target a National Monument, Landmark or Government Building. They chose to target innocent Americans – women, children and men who were together celebrating one of Boston’s most important days of the year. Why? Because our enemies, those who hate freedom, will target anyone who loves it. Anyone who loves freedom. The truth is today we are no more vulnerable than we were yesterday. However the chaos we all witnessed yesterday will conjure up feelings to make us feel the contrary. The truth is…WE…Americans…will always be targeted. We will be targeted because we are UNITED. We will be targeted because we are STRONG. We will be targeted because we are FREE. We are hated by our enemies for those reasons and they want to see us weakened and hurt. They have disdain for what America is because they don’t understand the beauty of Freedom. They don’t understand the beauty of a United People. They can’t understand a Country that is full of people who speak and chase their dreams freely, and strive towards their happiness. So they attempt to hurt us and weaken us with spineless actions… They will not succeed. Seconds after the blasts yesterday, the American people did not cower and accept defeat. They dug in deep and helped their brothers and sisters who were in need of assistance. Pictures of first responders, police, firefighters and civilians flooded the news stations and social media outlets. Instead of running from the chaos (which is the expected and safe action), they ran to help. Boston residents opened their homes to marathon runners from outside the area who had no place to go after the tragedy. Stores and restaurants offered free food and shelter. Whether it was assisting injured comrades, bringing beverages to those who were thirsty, allowing use of a home bathroom, or people rushing to hospitals to give their blood for those in need; the American people bonded together in the aftermath of the attack. The acts did not divide us as intended …they united us. As we did with the atrocities of 9/11, we will never forget the events of yesterday. We will honor those who lost their lives and we will send overwhelming amounts of prayers to Boston and all those affected by yesterday’s attacks. Today we will love our neighbors a little more and squeeze our family a tighter. We have faith in our leaders and know that America will prevail. What we won’t do, is allow our enemies to succeed. We will remain United. We will remain Strong. We will remain Free. We will never be afraid. We cannot be defeated because freedom and truth are invincible; and as Americans, that’s who we are. #GodBlessAmerica  #PrayForBoston Written By:   Eric Blumenthal
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The Masters; A Tradition Unlike Any Other

on Apr 12, 2013 11:43:09 AM | By Upper Hand | 0 Comments
The Masters, A Tradition Unlike Any Other.
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Onward and Upton Brothers - Atlanta Braves' Outfielders Make History

on Apr 9, 2013 1:26:21 PM | By Upper Hand | 0 Comments
Baseball is America’s Game. It is our Country’s “National Pastime.” The 2013 Major League Baseball Season is barely a week old and with the young season comes a great deal of excitement. Even teams that will finish dead last in their Division, teams that will likely lose 90 games this year have hope… One of the best storylines so far in this young season is the Upton Brothers of the Atlanta Braves. If you are not a baseball fan, B.J. Upton and Justin Upton, two siblings, both signed to play for the Atlanta Braves in the offseason. They both play outfield positions, so not only are they on the same team, but older brother B.J. will play Center Field next to younger brother Justin, who will play Left Field. This is a really nice, feel-good story… Rewind back to Saturday, March 6 th…the 5 th game of the Braves’ young season. To set the stage, the Braves were down 5-1 late in the game at their home ballpark against the Chicago Cubs. The 8 th inning came and the Braves scored 3 runs, a great surprise as their offense had been anemic all night. The home team retires the Cubs in the 9 th inning and now had a chance in the bottom of the 9 th to win the game. 1 st batter to the plate is B.J. Upton, who was off to a slow start in the first few games. What happened? He hits a solo home run! Baby brother patiently waits for older brother to cross home plate and greets him in a congratulatory way. The next batter is retired and then Justin Upton heads to home plate for his at bat. You didn’t think little brother was going to let his brother upstage him, right? Of course not! Justin follows in his older brother’s footsteps and hits the game winning, walk-off home run! The brothers made history with two historic swings of the bat. They became the first brothers in the history of Major League Baseball to hit a game tying and game winning home run in the same inning. Absolute magic at Turner Field. To make it better, their proud father was in attendance to witness the special, history making 9 th inning. As you think about your dreams, whatever they might be, this is a cool story to keep in mind. Do you know that according to www.ncaa.org, the odds of a high-school senior who plays baseball playing in the MLB is 0.015 percent? The Upton’s both at one point were that high-school senior baseball player… Can you even fathom what the odds of two brothers making it the MLB, playing on the same team, hitting a home-run in the same game, scratch that, same inning? And to add to it, having the home runs be the game tying and the game winning home runs in the 9 th inning? Think about that for a second…it’s truly incredible. The lesson being? Anything is possible. Don’t let anyone tell you that your dream, ambition, goal is not attainable. The beauty is in the pursuit of your goal, dream or ambition. Be honest with yourself about what is important to you and where you want to be. Then set a plan to get there. Enjoy the 2013 Baseball Season and go catch your dreams!  
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NCAA 2013 Final Four Prediction

on Apr 6, 2013 11:12:07 AM | By Upper Hand | 0 Comments
Matt Sundberg is one of our GREAT Private Sports Trainers, currently located in the Charleston area. Matt was an outstanding high school basketball player in Kennesaw, GA and he then went on to play 4 years at The College of Charleston. This is Matt’s take on which team will “win it all” this year in Men’s College Basketball. He has some real life experience playing against his pick this season…enjoy his work below!   Louisville is one of the best teams in the nation. As everybody knows they are in the final four in Atlanta playing today and I believe they are going to win it all. With the terrible injury to Ware, I think they are going to play even harder to win it all for him. They have an all around team where everybody can contribute and be deadly in the final four. Peyton Siva and Russ Smith are two extremely fast, smaller point guards that can score the ball and play terrific full court defense for 40 minutes. I think they are the key factors for winning the championship in Atlanta. Louisville also has my boy Luke Hancock coming off the bench that is shooting the ball extremely well from the outside. Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behannan are big contributors and provide a big boost rebounding and have a knack to get easy dunks to get the team excited and motivated the whole 40 minutes. They both play with lots of energy on both ends of the floor. Louisville is one of the toughest teams to play in the NCAA as we experienced that earlier in the year. Louisville also has one of the top coaches in the nation that can adjust to any problem during the game and knows how to win which is most important. This team has the talent to be remembered in Atlanta this weekend. Even though they are sponsored by Adidas, I am still cheering for Louisville and they are my pick to win it all in 2013. So, my pick is Louisville as everybody is all in for Ware #5.  
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The NFL's Popularity is at an All-Time High

on Mar 26, 2013 3:05:40 PM | By Upper Hand | 0 Comments
The NFL's popularity is at an all-time high. Is it just me or has this NFL's Off-Season absolutely insane?! I get it, the NFL is truly “America’s Game.” Each year the NFL takes a stronger leadership position as it relates America’s professional sports landscape. Football has grown so incredibly fast over the past 20 years it is truly amazing. We now have NFL games on Thursday Night, Sunday, Sunday Night and Monday Night; and a few select weekends out of the year Saturday Night! We have 24-7 coverage of the league on “NFL Network” and every major sports network knows that The NFL drives ratings... Well, it isn’t enough to be fully engaged and glued to the television/radio/iPad/computer/etc. during the season from September - February...we now have “pulse periods” to get us through the offseason. A few weeks ago it was the NFL Combine. Can you honestly believe that the sports world was glued to the TV watching young men run, jump and bench press? It was 5 days worth of non-stop coverage watching these future NFL Players work out! The interest it drew was amazing. Now we are in the middle of “Free Agency.” Key players are changing teams in 30 minute increments, fans are dissecting their team’s salary cap situation doing math trying to figure out who they can afford and what the strategy will be. NFL fans are refreshing their twitter feeds every 5 minutes hoping that their team will be the next to announce big news...this is awesome! After the Free Agency period is over in a few weeks then it is NFL Draft Time in late April! NFL Fans will be hanging on every word that Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. say so they can get an idea of what their team will do in the draft. Because of the hard salary cap that NFL Teams have to adhere to, the draft becomes vital because if they hit on an impact player via the draft the team can get great production for very little financial burden. So what happens after mid-May when all the post draft analysis is over? Die hard NFL fans don’t even want to think about those dark days that lie ahead. For now at least, fans have to cross off days in their calendar until preseason begins in August...3 very long, dull, NFL-less months. But we manage to get through it every year and who knows, the NFL is good about keeping us engaged...maybe they will come up with another ‘pulse period’ for us to obsess over! Enjoy the NFL Offseason while it is here...and if you are absent a team to root for, there is plenty of room over here on the Atlanta Falcons bandwagon! Rise Up!  
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