UltiCoach is featured in the most Winter 2012 edition of USA Ultimate Magazine.
We're really happy with this feature and the chance to spread the UltiCoach word throughout USAU membership. Thanks USAU!
Some highlights from the article:
"...now UltiCoach has begun to make the professional training resources of the major pro-sports, available for Ultimate. With the advent of these pro-level resources Ultimate players, teams, and coaches (and the greatest sport on the planet) can reach their full potential...With dedicated folks like UltiCoach, the future is looking increasingly bright for this sport we love."
~ USA Ultimate Magazine, Winter 2012.
Here is the full text of the article:
"Never has there been a more exciting time to be an Ultimate player. The sport is growing in leaps and bounds, as evidenced by the 40% increase in USAU members over the past five years combined with an expanded presence in the media. Ultimate is on the rise, and UltiCoach is one of the innovators leading the charge.
Launched in the spring of 2012, UltiCoach created UltiCards, the first ever standardized set of professional Ultimate training materials, available to any player, anywhere in the world. UltiCards are packs of playing-sized cards that contain instruction on throwing, catching, offensive drills, defensive drills, strategies, and other Ultimate knowledge that help build individual and team skills. The format is perfect to have as an on field resource, easily transportable, and can be stored in a bag or a pocket.
Where in the past players learned from their more experienced teammates, or perhaps from what they could glean from various online sources, now UltiCoach has begun to make the professional training resources of the major pro-sports, available for Ultimate. With the advent of these pro-level resources Ultimate players, teams, and coaches (and the greatest sport on the planet) can reach their full potential.
UltiCards were designed for coaches, captains, players, and Ultimate educators looking to get more from the sport. They can be used to help streamline and improve the quality of practices and improve individual skills and understanding of the game. From beginner fundamentals to advanced skills and drills for intermediate and expert players, UltiCards are complete set of Ultimate knowledge.
USA Ultimate is proud to have partnered with UltiCoach to develop the USAU CDP Level 1 Deck. Received by coaches upon USAU Coaching certification, the USAU UltiCards furnish Coaches with a thorough set of the fundamental skills and drills essential to teaching the Ultimate.
UltiCoach, the team responsible for UltiCards, is comprised of a highly motivated group of Ultimate players passionate about advancing the sport. They have a combined 50 years of experience playing, captaining, and coaching in youth, college, and club Ultimate, and have participated at the highest levels of the sport. UltiCards is the first product offered by UltiCoach, and they’ve got more things available and coming out soon that will benefit the Ultimate community.
Ultimate is experiencing an explosion in popularity and the level of play worldwide is increasing rapidly. With dedicated folks like UltiCoach, the future is looking increasingly bright for this sport we love." ~ USA Ultimate Magazine, Winter 2012.
We're pleased to announce a slight change in our identity. Introducing UltiCoach!
We're going to be using this name to better reflect what we can provide to the Ultimate community.
UltiCards are a resource. UltiCoach is what we do. We’ve got plans for lots of new and different products and services that will help players, coaches, teams, and leagues improve their understanding of the game. We are exited to be working with some of the brightest minds in Ultimate.
We're delighted with everything that has happened since we launched UltiCards, though the time seemed right to move on to a more suitable name. The partnerships and feedback we’ve received so far has just been amazing, and it’s been such a thrill contributing to the community and to this sport that we love. The cards have been a great success, and of course we're still going to be pumping out many more sets. But everything good needs to grow, and through conversations with many of you, we've realized that there is so much more we want to and can bring to Ultimate.
With UltiCards, we set the foundation of an amazing system for teaching and learning Ultimate. We're going to build on this by giving you everything you would expect, and more from a high-level training and coaching program. We’ll still be bringing you UltiCards. We’ll still be bringing you the same passion, enthusiasm, and top-notch customer service that helped make UltiCards the premier provider of Ultimate training materials. But as UltiCoach, we have the opportunity to expand on our vision.
We've got lots of new material on the horizon. We just kick-started our clinic and e-coaching program, released the first Ultimate Playbooks as well as our new Pocketbooks and practice plans, but we still have so many more things planned. Stay tuned and check out all the cool stuff we’ve got coming out at www.ulticoach.com
Play with Passion.
Coach With Confidence.
The scrimmage is the often the most fun part of practice. By adding an element of focus and direction to your scrimmages you can drive home important concepts and gain valuable experience by simulating game type situations.
Click the link here to download a couple printable focused scrimmage cards.
About These Drills
Useful for building mental focus in the red-zone, both for offense and defense. For teams that struggle with patience and focus when close to the endzone, Double Score provides needed repetitions and practice for red- zone offense and defense. Double Score is especially useful for teams with dynamic deep games that have lower scoring percentages once they are close to the endzone.
Turnover On The Whistle:
Defense and offense require different mental approaches and an effective transition from one to the other needs a quick mental adjustment. Training this adjustment will make for a more effective transition game. Often, defense requires tenacious hard work while offense requires a more patient approach. The ability to transition between these two approaches quickly will lead to a more successful Ultimate game.
*See our resources page for more printable drills and quick pieces of training advice
Last spring, we released UltiCards. We worked long and hard to create something we hoped would help the Ultimate community and contribute to the growth of the sport that we love.
We would like to thank everyone that has supported UltiCards so far. We want to thank the partners, tournaments, teams, customers, players, organizers, and coaches that helped to make UltiCards a success in 2012. You have all helped us build a better product and given us the opportunity to work on and contribute to something that we love.
We love what we do. Thank you.
Here are some of the moments and events we are really happy about from 2012:
(click on an item to learn more)
How Difficult Is Ultimate? - Ultimate Difficulty Ranking by Britt Mercadante.
Recently, Sludge Ultimate (Twitter @sludgebrown) presented me with the chance to use ESPN’s sports difficulty rankings as a basis for rating the difficulty of Ultimate comparative with other sports.
(@sludgebrown will be releasing more on this, so follow them to get the full scoop.)
I was stoked at the opportunity to prove the legitimacy of Ultimate in relation to its brethren sports, as now I could, objectively of course, quantify Ultimate relative to ten different classifications and see how it stacked up against other sports. Having been an Ultimate player for nearly ten years now, I was confident that the sport would hold its ground against others (it might not be boxing, but surely it’s more demanding than squash or curling).
After much deliberation, head-scratching, and the occasional use of a calculator, I came up with this:
Final Score For Ultimate: 63.13
Final Rank For Ultimate: 7th
END = Endurance
STR = Strength
PWR = Power
SPD = Speed
AGI = Agility
FLX = Flexibility
NER = Nerve
DUR = Durability
HAN = Hand-Eye Coordination
ANA = Analytic Aptitude
This netted Ultimate a final score of 63.13, slotting it in the seventh spot, just behind Martial Arts but above Tennis. But before we break out the bubbly, remember that no matter how objective I profess to be, I’m an Ultimate player judging Ultimate, with the final outcome possibly having value to the legitimacy of the sport. What I’m saying is that I’m not exactly the most qualified, unbiased observer here. My final score needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
If you’re curious as to the process with which I came up with that final score, my first step was to define the manner of an Ultimate competition. Should I use one game? If so, which game – a regular summer league game? The finals of Club Nationals? A summer league game cannot form the basis of my judgment, as unless you live in one of the hotbeds of competitive Ultimate, your basic league games are not going to be ultra high level. But I can’t reverse towards the other direction, as the finals of Nationals isn’t exactly representative of Ultimate as a whole, either. How about a tournament - a weekend tournament? A World Championship week-long tournament? And we haven’t even invited the AUDL or MLU to make a case for themselves. This clearly spiralled into a frustrating vortex of answering one question only to have several more sprout out like multiple heads of the Hydra, so to preserve my fragile sanity, I restricted my definition of Ultimate to a standard, two-day Ultimate tournament. Take my use of ‘standard’ as you will.
And because Ultimate is a Voltron of several sports, I figured it made sense to identify the sports that possess the most shared DNA with Ultimate and calculate the mean of their scores to use as a starting point to help figure out Ultimate’s number. Not exactly the most scientific approach, but whatever, I was a History major in college, back off.
For me, the sport that has the most similarities with Ultimate is soccer with its combination of team-based strategy, field vision, and endurance, among other facets. We can then bring basketball and lacrosse into the fold, as both are team-based sports that require strong hand-eye coordination, offensive/defensive strategies and positions, and quick transitions. Beyond that requires a bit more reach of the imagination. I quickly rejected football, as though both it and Ultimate share the feature of using hands to pass the ball/disc until eventually reaching the Holy Land (the endzone), the similarities quickly dry up after that. I also entertained the prospect of including hockey (this Florida boy’s favorite sport to watch) as well, before eventually dropping it. Hockey does possess offensive/defensive positions, quick movement of the puck, the importance of positioning in the rink relative to other players and the puck, and quick transitions, but I eventually discarded it because I felt with hockey, there’s more of an emphasis placed on upper body strength than with Ultimate. In hockey, you need to be a beast physically if you want to succeed, which is an issue Ultimate players don’t necessarily need to address. Also, hockey features the additional prospect of brute force, as players need to take into consideration that they can be leveled at any time during the match, an issue Ultimate players once again don’t need to be concerned with.
Thus my final number is based upon using the means of the scores given to soccer, basketball, and lacrosse as a measuring stick, then applying my discretion (for example, there’s no way Ultimate’s “Strength” score is going to break 5.0). Clearly this is a simplistic, unscientific approach that would elicit scorn and derision from academicians. I would, though, be very interested to see what scores independent, unbiased third party observers would give to Ultimate.
Take a stab yourself and see what score you come up with, then share it with us. How difficult do you think Ultimate is? Where does it rate compared to other sports?
Turning Daily Activities Into Training Exercises By Britt Mercadante
Practice is an integral function of your ultimate experience, as important skill-sets are learned, explored, refined, and eventually incorporated into game-time situations. A popular theory that has gained prominence in the last decade is the idea that one needs 10,000 hours of practice to master a complex activity. Whether or not this magical threshold is valid is yet unproven and certainly debatable, but regardless of how you interpret the theory, practice does indeed make perfect. Clearly though, reaching 10,000 hours is a daunting task for any athlete who has to juggle school, work, and has other responsibilities vying for his/her attention. Those lucky enough to live in areas populated with other dedicated individuals willing to devote time to multiple practices a week certainly have a favorable opportunity to improve their game, but perhaps you live somewhere with a limited ultimate scene where one practice a week is the norm. Fortunately, though, improving your game does not have to rely on the schedule of your practice sessions. With a touch of imagination, virtually any activity can be co-opted into a training exercise.
Find yourself lounging on the couch wasting time watching the latest celebrity making a fool of him/herself on a reality show? Grab a disc and toss it in the air. Practice snagging the disc one-handed out of the air (focus on both your strong and your weak hands) while being witness to the latest reality train wreck. At first it will be difficult as your attention is divided between the TV and the disc, but with time and practice you will not even be aware of catching the disc as the act has become second nature. Waiting for your computer to boot up? Stand up and practice stepping out as far as you can to the side to simulate a forehand throw, then switching quickly to the backhand side. Keep switching back and forth rapidly to help work on not only extending your body so you can throw further out but also switching as quickly as you can between your two main throws. Do this several times a day, until it becomes second nature. Walking the stairs? Stop at a step and practice some toe-lifts to strengthen your calves, which will help with your vertical jump while decreasing the risk of injuring those muscles.
These are activities that require minimal effort and a small amount of time, but lead to major gains in your game. By recognizing that many daily activities you take for granted can be transformed into training exercises will lead to improving your game and will allow you to work on skills that perhaps don’t receive enough attention during practice sessions. So try a few of these out and see how they help your game.
Do you use other small daily exercises that help develop skills? Share with the community and let us know.
Author: Britt Mercadante, UltiCards Team Member.
This week, we had a guest writer come in to give us her take on her very first season of Ultimate. Have friends that aren't sure if Ultimate is the right sport or summer activity for them? Make them read this. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts Alex! Find Alex on Twitter @LexLaws
10 Reasons Everyone's a Winner at Ultimate, By Alex Laws
When my friend Laura first asked me to join her Ultimate team I really didn’t want to do it. I mean really. The last time I played teamsports was at my all-girls high school, in regulation gym kit, and that was at least 15 years ago.
“C’mon,” she pleaded with me. “It’ll be so fun!” I didn’t believe her, but to cut a long, um-and-ah-filled, story short, I pushed my reservations aside and signed up for two months of Wednesday nights as the newest -- and greenest -- member of the team.
After the first week, I was still hesitant. We played our inaugural match on a floodlit field where the wind was biting. I ran so much my hips ached and my lungs were screaming at me: “What are you doing? We’ve been dormant for a decade!”
But somehow it got easier. Nothing seemed to hurt as much as that first 80 minutes of running around like a dog chasing a stick. By the second week I knew what to expect, and by my third I was hooked. I knew how good it felt to run until you had nothing left, to face plant into the grass when the disc was nowhere to be seen and to do the splits (almost) to score a point. Over the course of those six weeks, the sun stayed out later, I figured out which way I was supposed to be running and Wednesday nights became the highlight of my week.
We ended up winning the league, which I’m almost reluctant to mention, because while that felt good, it was by no means the best part. Here’s what I really won from the experience:
1. Team spirit
I know it sounds cheesy, but at a time when life seems to be increasingly focused on the individual, it feels so good to be part of a team, working together to achieve something. You’re contributing towards a common goal and you realize the importance of the process. It’s about the whole game, not just the result. One of my teammates put it perfectly: “The throw that sets up the point feels better than the scoring catch.”
2. Positive thinking
People on the Ultimate field might be the most positive and encouraging I’ve ever encountered. Perhaps because we were varying levels of skill and experience, but even when I missed important passes, everyone shouted things you wish you could hear every time you mess up in life. “You almost had it” or “you really gave it your all,” made me want to keep them in my pocket for all oflife’s misdemeanours.
3. Spending time outdoors
There’s a reason you spend most of your childhood running around outdoors: It’s super fun. Playing Ultimate just gives you the perfect excuse to do it -- with your friends. It’s uplifting get your blood pumping while you’re out there in the fresh air.
4. Switching off
It can be hard to shut your mind off after a long day, but the focus Ultimate provided helped me to concentrate on something really simple. It was almost like a meditation and I always stepped off the field feeling somehow filled with adrenaline and relaxed at the same time.
5. Pushing my limits
During the two months on the pitch, I ran like I’ve never run before. I found trying to catch a disc so much more motivating than watching seconds tick by on a treadmill. Without a doubt, I got fitter and faster. (Three weeks in I even stopped worrying about throwing up on the field.)
6. Making friends
This may seem basic, but do you know how hard it is to make new friends? (Surely it’s not just me?) Having common interests and shared experiences really helps. Ultimate gave every player on the field something in common and provided tons of talking points for after the game was over.
7. Celebrating life
It often feels like we don’t get enough pats on the back. That’s not the case in Ultimate. During my first tournament I could not count the number of high fives I got in a game. (Something else I improved at!) It is all about positivity. You can’t help yourself from cheering even when it’s the other team that makes a great pass.
8. Sense of accomplishment
It was rewarding to set 80 minutes aside to achieve something. Regardless of the result, at the end you have worked together to make it through and when the time’s up it feels good to have completed a task to the best of your ability. It’s surprisingly satisfying.
Being a good team taught me a lot about humility. My celebrations felt better when they were controlled, even if sometimes I couldn’t help but jump up and down. And when we were a few points ahead, instead of making the pass that would guarantee a point, my teammates tried hard to throw to those of us who were less likely to make the catch. They wanted everyone to feel included.
10. Learning my limits
When I pulled a muscle or a friend sprained her ankle, it was hard for us to watch from the sidelines, without being a part of the action. But it was a good learning experience to know that sometimes you have to take a step back and rely on other people to get the job done.
So my friend talked me into trying something new. I hope by writing this I’ve done you the same favour.
Photo: Roberto Caruso
Handlers are the backbone of the Ultimate offense. They are the playmakers, and the reset when the play breaks down.
Catching is a skill just like any other, and it can be improved. Consistent practice and repetition will help you to improve your catching skills.
After this past year working on the cards we finally released them last week. We were both nervous and excited