Tips for organizing an effective and efficient tryout session

Seasons begin at the first open tryout. The evaluations and feedback at tryouts are perhaps the most influential part of any team’s season. Sports tryouts don’t determine the success of a team, but if done correctly, can fast track to a championship. Addressing the areas below can create an effective, efficient, and enjoyable tryout session.


3 Tips for Increasing Involvement in Youth Fitness 

For kids, summer offers a much needed break from the daily responsibility of sitting in class and doing homework. Too often, however, this means more screen time. Nearly 80% of children fail to meet daily exercise requirements.

Recent trends are promising, as the under 18 age group has had the largest growth of any age segment in terms of fitness involvement. The warm weather and freedom of summer offer the perfect opportunity to build upon this growth.

For youth fitness level to increase, appeals need to be made to interests and lifestyles of children. A good place to start would be to keep in mind offering a wide variety of activities, incorporating games, and capitalizing on kids’ existing interests. 


Ray Newland is the face of the goalkeeping training industry. He enjoyed a 10 year professional career in England and Scotland, but his playing days were cut short after suffering a devastating training injury at age 28.

With his playing days behind him, Ray shifted his focus to teaching. In 1999, he started his goalkeeping training company Just 4 Keepers. He provides aspiring coaches with the resources and connections necessary in independent training. His program has taught 50,000 keepers across 30 countries.

Just 4 Keepers has proudly groomed over 1000 goaltenders to reach professional teams. Ray has also released a series of books focused on translating a sports mentality to daily life. He joins us on Episode 49 of the Upper Hand Podcast.

You can read an overview of the interview with Ray Newland or listen to the podcast below for the full interview.

Q: What is your philosophy at Just 4 Keepers? What do you hope to achieve?

A: My mission is always to give young goalkeepers the opportunities that I never had growing up. I’ve been building Just 4 Keepers in the United States for about four or five years and we have a presence in about 25 states now. I want to create a different environment for young goalkeepers. I am preparing them so they don’t have to go to local soccer clubs to get goalkeeping coaching… My mission in the United States is to help goalkeepers achieve their dreams, whether to become professional or get a college scholarship through our network of goalkeeping coaches. The network I’m creating is not just for coaching, but also the contacts, which is really important. You can be the greatest coach in the world, but if you don’t have any contacts, you can’t help your students. Just 4 Keepers provides the coaching and an exit strategy to help goalkeepers achieve their dreams. 

Q: What was the hardest part of starting Just 4 Keepers?

A: In terms of competition, obviously my competition was clubs like Liverpool, Everton, and Manchester United. But, I’ve never seen them as competition. I’ve never seen anyone as competition, to be honest. I was always taught as a young professional goalkeeper that the only competition is yourself. Every day, I compete with myself to be the best I can be. I’m generally not bothered by competition. To me, the biggest challenge wasn’t the clubs; the biggest challenge was working twenty hours a day and still finding time for my family. 

Q: Players stray away from goalkeeping because of the fear of making a mistake and letting in a goal. How do you compensate for this factor? When you do make a mistake, how do you get over that mistake?

A: I’ve always called goalkeeping a character building position. No matter when a goal goes in, the goalkeeper gets the blame. We tell our keepers that when a goal goes in and they get the blame, it’s only because those people do not understand goalkeeping, they have never played in goal in their life. What we tell our keepers to do is to not take it personally… We also use something called trigger points, as well. We use trigger points to help you get over that mistake, to help reboot your mind. We teach our students to have triggers like wristbands, fixing gloves, or some pros kick the post. All those are doing are helping you get over this one mistake and to remind yourself that you are a good goalkeeper. 

Learn more about Just 4 Keepers at You can follow Just 4 Keepers on Twitter @Just_4_keepers, or on Facebook here.


The Impact of a Sports Team’s Brand

In sports, brands are everything. Fans of sports team find identity in logos, elevating them as the singular symbol of the emotions and experiences of fandom. The sport and business industries have many similarities, one being the impact of branding. 

And sometimes they need to be updated to match their personality or to engage a new market with a different identity.

Organizations in both fields occasionally find the need to rebrand in order to recapture excitement or expand their boundaries. While changing your brand signals a change of culture, sports logo rebrands are risky and can go south. However, when done correctly, it produces meaningful consumer interaction, and can even influence their respective teams’ performance.

Here are some recent wins and losses from notable sports team rebranding efforts.


Toronto Raptors Claim First NBA Championship in Franchise History

“Let’s go out and do something special.”

The day he was traded to the Toronto Raptors, Kawhi Leonard texted this message to point guard Kyle Lowry. Last night, Leonard, Lowry and the rest of the Raptors fulfilled that promise, defeating Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals.

In the final game at Oakland’s Oracle Arena, the Toronto Raptors captured the first NBA Championship in franchise history, and capped a memorable championship run by taking down one of the greatest dynasties in league history. The 2019 Toronto Raptors defied all expectations, and became legends in the process.

The 2019 NBA Finals provided numerous thrills and emotional moments. The antics of Raptors superfan Drake and devastating injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson stand out. Lost in the mayhem were two key factors that fueled Toronto’s success— the team creation, and the willingness to take risks.


Play “Gloria” – Blues beat Bruins in Stanley Cup Finals

“How are you supposed to drink in St. Louis if there aren’t any cups?” For years, Blues fans were tormented by this joke, referencing the team’s lack of Stanley Cups. On Wednesday, that joke died with the Blues 4-1 victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. This title run is one of the most remarkable in recent professional sports. The Blues had not won the Stanley Cup in 52 years of existence. In January, the Blues were last in the league table. Six months later, the team sits atop the hockey world. With their magical run complete, we highlight the keys to their success- the willingness to reset, the ability to recover, and their commitment to their fanbase.


This article was written by Upper Hand Founder & CEO Kevin MacCauley and originally published by Inside Indiana Business on June 5, 2019.

Importance of a Thriving Company Culture

In today’s world, a thriving company culture has become a new standard in today’s evolving workforce.

Company culture serves as the personality of your brand and defines the environment that employees work. More than 50 percent of executives believe maintaining a positive company culture is vital to running a successful business as it positively influences productivity, creativity, profitability, firm value and growth rates.

Culture has the power to turn employees into advocates. Values have the power to attract talent. Together, they hold the power to grow your business.

Whether you’re in the process of building a high-performing culture or identified an aspect to change, one thing is guaranteed: it will drastically impact the overall success of the company with the possibility of driving revenue up by 33 percent. But it won’t happen overtime. To better understand how company culture can influence a business, it’s necessary to first understand the key drivers that will help your company retain and maintain a successful company culture.

Key Steps on Implementing and Maintaining Company Culture

Start Building Company Culture by Identifying Core Values

The backbone of every company culture is its vision and mission, which describe how the business survives and remains relevant in the marketplace. However, these do not necessarily embody the values of the company’s employees. Many times, company leaders are too focused on the mission that they forget to establish values that serve as guidelines of how employees are expected to lead, behave and communicate. In addition, these values serve as major drivers in new business, talent acquisition and more.

Establishing values cannot be done by a founder and CEO alone. It needs to be created and cemented as group. To do this, brainstorm as a team to develop values – or mantras – that everyone firmly believes in and is committed to practicing daily to support each other, clients and the company as a system. Identifying these core values can transform employees into brand advocates who will promote and contribute to your company’s mission.

Spread Positive Culture by Implementing Value-Based Hiring

Once core values are established, companies can leverage them to help build a culture to be proud of by implementing value-based hiring practices. Gaining popularity amongst employers, value-based hiring focuses on identifying how well a candidate’s passions and competencies  align with the organization’s values during the hiring process.

Let’s say your company’s values are trust, teamwork, passion, and commitment. By tailoring interview questions around those core values opposed to generic competency questions, employers can identify traits in candidates that are tied to long-term organizational success. In fact, research found 88% of the organizations with values-based recognition programs in place indicated they believed they were getting a strong return on investment in the form of employee retention and performance.

Practice Your Culture by Leveraging The “Coaching” Complex

For CEOs or C-Suite executives, this piece of the puzzle is absolutely crucial to maintaining a successful company culture. As a leader, you should strive to not only embody and cultivate the culture, but also guide others and offer support on their path. As a former baseball coach-turned-CEO, I quickly learned how to integrate skills I learned from coaching into my leadership style.

This practice focuses on leveraging communication practices that boost employee engagement, which has been found to be instrumental for today’s most successful workplaces. Whether communicating the organization’s mission, clarifying the business strategy or simply inquiring about an employee’s life, establishing two-way communication can make a tremendous impact on the company’s culture and drive employee engagement.

Instill Company Culture by Building a Community

Finally, fostering a thriving company culture entails building a community by breaking down departmental silos and cultivating communities amongst employees. This can be accomplished by ingraining creative, explorative and collaborative mindsets into daily or weekly workflows.

This can be as easy as incorporating weekly brainstorm sessions or creative workshops that encourage employees to break away from their normal day-to-day tasks to create something different. Employees feel supported with the encouragement to experiment, and it eliminates any potential destructive organizational barriers.

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The 2019 Women’s World Cup Stage is Set

Today the sports world turns its attention to France, as the Women’s World Cup kicks off with the host nation taking on Korea. The tournament is comprised of twenty four teams split into six four-team groups. Group play begins today and continues to June 20. The top two teams from each group, and the four best 3rd place finishers, advance to the single elimination knockout stages. The final takes place on July 7 in Lyon, where one team will be crowned champions of the world. Over 750 million people watched the final in 2015; the continued growth of women’s soccer suggests an even larger audience will tune in this year. Here is all you need to know before watching.

Click here for a full schedule of the group stage