Preparing for Tryouts (2/2): Finding and Filling a Role

This second post is part of a two-part series about preparing for tryouts.

This second part stemmed from a conversation I had with my fellow captains, Brandi and Jake, on how our roles evolved over the course of the season last year on Mishigami and hopefully it will help you on your way through your ultimate season this summer.

As you prepare for tryouts, it can be a little overwhelming to improve every aspect of your game in a few short weeks. We all have this idea of what we want our role to be on the team, but when it really comes down to assessing our individual strengths and weaknesses in the context of the strengths and weaknesses of the rest of the team, our roles will likely morph into something different than we expect.

For my entire ultimate career before last season, I was a defensive handler, quick and sneaky. Prior to and during last season, I was running 15-20 miles per week with very little sprint training. As a result, I found my groove as a cutter rather than a handler and absolutely loved it.

Tryouts are all about showcasing your strengths and reducing the chances your weakness have to affect your game. In order to do so, it helps to take some time to really assess where you are as a player:

  • Where do you stand both physically (conditioning) and mentally (knowledge of the game)?
  • What are my weaknesses? What are my strengths?
  • What can I do to reduce the occurrence of my weaknesses?
  • What can I do to highlight my strengths?

As an assessment of myself based on the above questions: My biggest weakness right now are my long throws and my hops, and I believe my strengths are my knowledge of the game I have gained from coaching and my deceleration. To highlight my strengths, and reduce the chance of my weaknesses popping up, I would like to focus on transitioning back to a D-line handler this year so I am not counted on to make the bomb deep throws as often, and so I can leverage my knowledge of the game for defensive breaks.

In order to improve on my weaknesses, I am throwing every day and focusing on my body mechanics when I try to huck, and I am incorporating explosive movements (starting at body weight, followed by some added weight) into my lower and upper body workouts. To exemplify my strengths, I am watching a lot of ultimate and adding some deceleration specific drills to my warm-ups and my workouts.

Whatever it is that you need to work on, make sure to keep your workouts focused. If you see yourself as a cutter, 200-m repeats on a track are great to incorporate into your workout. Handlers, incorporate some 10-m accelerations and 40-m sprints into your workout.

Finally, on the note of filling whatever role you find yourself in this year, Alex Rummelhart wrote a nice article for Ultiworld last year entitled, “25 Tips for Being a Clutch Role Player” that addresses many of the things I’ve written above and more: give it a read if you get a chance.

If there is something you would like to work on but don’t know how, or if you’d just like to chat about what your potential role on the team could be, feel free to leave a comment below.

See you on the field,

Draco

Preparing for Tryouts (1/2): Throw. Every. Day.

This is part one of a two-part series on preparing for tryouts.

Regardless of whether you would like to cut or handle on your team, the most effective thing you can do to improve your chances at tryouts is to throw every day. If you plan to cut, at some point, you should plan to catch and throw the disc downfield or otherwise. If you plan to handle, you will of course be expected to do a lot of throwing in games.

However, it is not enough to just go to the park with your friends and throw back and forth with no focus. This will help your general form on your backhands and forehands, but without the pressure, or imagined pressure, of a game-type situation, these general adjustments will not translate much to perfecting your in-game throws. Instead, throw with a purpose and throw for improvement.

What do I mean by that?

Throw with a purpose: Throw as if you had a mark on you, step out, throw some imaginary fakes then pivot and throw. Every throw should be 100%. Even if you’re going to throw a silly high release chicken wing do it as best as you can, don’t just goof off on it. Who knows, one day you might see a perfect opportunity to use that high release chicken wing in a game, but if you haven’t practiced it at game speed, going 100%, you will certainly fail in your execution at game time.

Throw for improvement: While this sort of goes directly off of the above; identify something you’re having trouble with, break it down into small pieces, then work on each of them individually. Aspects of Ben Wiggins’ Zen Throwing Routine and the Kung Fu Throwing Routine developed by Lou Burruss and Mike Caldwell are great things to add to every throwing session you have. Both of these routines can help to improve not only the range of throws you are capable of, but also the consistency and balance with which you throw your traditional FH/BH throws.

If you can’t find a friend who is free to throw with, here are a few things you can try on your own:

  • Target practice: Set up a target downrange (15-20 yd) – could be a spot on a tree, a cone on the ground, your dog – and throw flat backhand and forehand reps (10 or 20 at a time) at the target. Focus on a smooth, consistent release and flight path each time. Back up by 5-yd after each 10 or 20 rep set until your form starts to break down or you miss the majority of your throws.
    • Note: With a cone on the ground, you can either aim to have your throw be flat and off the ground until it reaches the cone, or you can try to land it within 2-3ft of the cone.
    • Bonus: focus on a specific curve for your flight path, alter release point (both distance from body and from ground).
  • Maximum Time Aloft (MTA): MTAs require a relatively steady wind (10-15 mph) for the best results. Simply throw the disc as hard as you can up and into the wind and try to have it come back to you without moving. For working on a smooth, flat release on your pulls and also helps with reading a high, floaty disc.
    • Bonus: try to catch the disc with one hand, on one foot or in a layout for added fun.
  • Throw, Run, Catch (TRC): Similar to an MTA, but you are trying to get the disc about 50-70+ yd downfield and to catch it in stride. The basic theory behind this is this: if you can throw a 70-yd backhand and catch it before it hits the ground, you can run down your pull and be on the mark before the offense gets set or gets any free throws off.

If you have any questions, or other suggestions for throwing routines, please feel free to comment!

Draco

Welcome!

I’ve been thinking a lot about ultimate lately. Like, a lot a lot. I started this blog to get some of my ideas down and to provide a little insight into what I’m thinking for anyone who is interested in listening.

Thanks for visiting,

Draco