With one-on-one coaching and a wealth of resources, could UAP's Coaching and Game IQ Classroom help take your game to the next level?
February 14, 2022 by Ben Murphy in Review, Sponsored with 0 comments
Disclosure: Ultiworld was compensated for writing this product review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own and are not subject to approval from the UAP.
The Ultimate Athlete Project, or UAP, is a suite of several groups of offerings broken into four main categories:
- Strength and Conditioning
- Skills and Technique
- Coaching and Game IQ
For this review, we’ll be diving into the Coaching and Game IQ section of offerings, which includes several talks and presentations from over time for the life of the UAP. One of the troves of content is the annual URCA conference events that bring in great presenters, and there’s a variety of subject areas covered.
How to Get to the Good Stuff
Within the Coaching and Game IQ section, the content is broken into major groupings: Newest Additions, Key Stages of the Season, Building Athletic & Mental Strength, Developing Individual Player Skills, Teamwork Tactics & Strategy, Program Building, and Other Coaching Skills. Each of these has appropriate sub-groupings for things that are part of the larger category, such as Conference 2021, Select Your Squad, Mental Strength, Cutting, Team Defense, Team Culture, and Film Analysis respectively.
Additionally, there’s a document that lives outside of the website but is emailed to people when they get access in order to help get started with thinking through what kind of content might be most relevant in the moment. It guides users through a series of questions that can help lead them right bit of content for them to watch. However, if you access content through some of the links in the guide or through the subject area groupings, it’s not always clear when or where that content came from – as part of a specific year’s URCA conference, or some other initiative.
The UAP content is largely videos of the presenters providing their thoughts on a specific subject. The presentation videos use a fairly typical video player with the ability to navigate through the entire timeline of the video and change the playback speed. A possible upgrade would be some way to access videos offline for situations where folks want to be able to binge watch tons of content without an internet connection. Many of the presentations were originally given in front of a live audience, but the majority of the presentations seem to be planned videos that each presenter recorded individually and provided to the UAP. The best presentations include things such as timestamps with an agenda, supplementary materials available to download, and links to related content.
The presenters are all professional and the content is well developed – each piece of content has a broad enough scope to be very useful and the content is focused enough that presentations are concise and easy to watch. All of the presentations that I’ve watched featured speakers that were knowledgeable, articulate, and engaged with their subject matter. The UAP has done a tremendous job gathering a library of content with excellent variety across topics that can be applicable to coaches across many different levels of play. Additionally, the UAP stands out in the diversity of perspectives shared in their talks; there is great representation from a wide variety of backgrounds by gender, country/geography, and level of experience coaching (youth, college, club, national teams).
The UAP lives as a largely online service with most of the user experience driven by the website interface. The main landing page (which can be seen at the top of this review) talks about all their major service offerings, and if you already have a subscription, you can log in directly with the link in the upper right corner. If you’re already logged in, you’ll see a silhouette instead of the “Log In” link and the drop down will include the main navigation area, My Library. The My Library page is probably the main link you’d want to bookmark to come back to the UAP content later.
In the Coaching and Game IQ Classroom, the content is organized into the main sections mentioned above. Additionally, there’s an index of all content by year and by speaker, in case that helps people find specific things they’re looking for, or is a way that users would prefer to browse the content.
There are definitely some opportunities to improve the website. In order to see the content categories, users have to go back to the classroom landing page – it would be great to have a menu that sits along the top of individual presentations that makes it easy to jump to another category or presentation. Additionally, since users may have different ideas about how they want to consume the content, it would be wonderful to have a user specific queue of content and a way to organize that queue – imagine being able to group the stuff you’d like to view by the teams you are associated with, or something similarly customizable. Finally, the ability to download videos for offline viewing would offer additional value to the tool, assuming the technical logistics could be worked out well.
Good Healthy Content
Content Specific Review: Manisha Daryani on Continuation Cutting
Manisha “Slap” Daryani provides an excellent framework for thinking about and teaching cutters how to cut for each other and provide a potent weapon for their offense with smooth continuation cutting. This concept is applicable and relevant to any team’s offense at any level. She does a good job level-setting with the differences for how to approach thinking about and teaching the concepts and on field skills based on different levels of play and experience. Her energy is palpable, even on a recorded video of her presentation, and she does an excellent job engaging the folks that were able to attend this presentation live with questions and dialogue.
She also provides a downloadable slideshow with diagrams and explanations of the concepts and drills that she teaches in her presentation. Manisha is a prime example of a presenter being knowledgeable and emotionally engaged in their subject matter, and her energy and experience result in one of the best pieces of content in all of the UAP library.
Content Specific Review: Patrick Sherlock on Mixed Zone Defense
Patrick does a deep dive into how gender-based roles in a mixed team’s zone defense might have bigger impacts on the team on and off the field. The premise of this presentation is the somewhat common tendency for mixed teams to have very regimented roles and responsibilities for their zone defenses. Patrick talks through examples like having male-matching players always play in the short deep or deep deep, or always having female-matching players marking or on wings.
I think Patrick’s premise is correct — most mixed teams probably end up with gender-specific roles that result in fairly inflexible defensive looks. He goes through a variety of examples of ways that teams could tactically change that approach to be more diverse and dynamic with their responsibilities in zone defense. In a thorough 30 minute presentation, the Philadelphia AMP coach does an effective job of giving-specific ideas for on field adjustments that might be beneficial, and does well to articulate how and why those adjustments will pay dividends on the field and off the field. I found his talk especially helpful as a means for reinforcing that on field adjustments can be beneficial for intangible team attributes like buy-in and chemistry, in addition to all of the immediate on field improvements.
Content Specific Review: Tiina Booth with 10 Steps to Mental Toughness
Tiina draws inspiration from Dr. Alan Goldberg, as well as other coaches like John Wooden and Phil Jackson, to distill her decades of learning about mental toughness into a whirlwind hour of content. Tiina has clearly thought through the specifics of how to help guide teams from a variety of starting points to achieve mental toughness for individuals and the team as a whole. She has a formal approach that she walks through that includes tons of useful nuggets of wisdom that fit as part of the overall approach, but they can also be taken and applied individually.
Additionally, Tiina provides an extensive series of answers to listener/viewer/audience questions that were facilitated by UAP and added onto the end of the video of her main presentation. This Q&A session definitely added value by clarifying a few things, adding more examples to her techniques about how to build mental toughness, and was a differentiator compared to other presentations.
Let’s review some different characteristics on a scale of 1-5, with 5 as the best.
- Professionalism: 💼💼💼💼💼
- 5 / 5 briefcases – the UAP is a very professional set of content with presentations, organization, a website, and a value proposition that all speak to the professionalism of the organization.
- Applicability: 🎯🎯🎯🎯🎯
- 5 / 5 bullseyes – the UAP content covers a broad swath of coaching subject areas and each presentation is well designed to be informatively detailed and also concisely presented in an effective way.
- Entertainment: 🍿🍿🍿
- 3 / 5 popcorns – the UAP content is pretty good, but the focus on organization and professionalism means that it is not quite as entertaining as if it were less polished or more focused on the entertainment product; your mileage may vary as to whether this is a bug or a feature.
- Quality of Learning: 💡💡💡💡💡
- 5 / 5 lightbulbs – the UAP content is informative and helps coaches across a wide variety of skill sets and experience levels to build new skills, learn new concepts, and implement new techniques on and off the field; the content covers numerous aspects of coaching and does a good job informing coaches about.
- Engagement: 🧲🧲🧲🧲
- 4 / 5 magnets – most UAP presentations are very engaging, but there are some presentations with presenters that don’t quite hit the mark for a full five magnets; however, the vast majority do a great job and carry the overall average to a strong four out of five magnets.
- Ease of Platform Use: 🧠🧠
- 2 / 5 brains – the UAP’s biggest opportunity for improvement is the website interface and related tools; the content is already well organized, good for the two brains, and people can find the content they want when they need to, for the most part; however, the website could use a better menu infrastructure, personalized queues, and offline availability.
- Value Proposition: 💰💰💰💰
- 4 / 5 money bags – The UAP offers the Coaching and Game IQ Classroom content for $190 annually or $19 monthly; the overall high cost keeps this from being 5 out of 5 money bags. But for that cost, there are dozens of presentations that span the eight years of Conferences, organized by subject matter and fairly easy to find. At first blush it may seem like a big investment, but the overall value should pay tremendous dividends to coaches seeking to improve basically any aspect of their coaching on and off the field. Keep in mind that each year during the conference, the content is available for free.
The UAP is an excellent resource for coaches. There’s new UAP content coming out for their 2022 URCA conference from February 21st through February 25th, and while the captured video of previous presentations is definitely helpful, the interactive sessions are tremendously valuable. Best of all, the UAP makes these sessions available for free during the conference!