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What are your challenges in terms of having your team mentally prepared to play at its best?

Yes! Everyone can be a leader in their own way and throwing (or workout) pods are a great way to do that.

Failure is swell. I often do these types of drill and announce that we will try to get a certain number in 3 tries. After those 3 tries, we are done. If we don’t reach the number, and they usually don’t, we stop and they are now carrying the First Failure of Practice with them. Do something else for another hour or so and then, sometimes in the middle of a scrimmage, set them up for the original drill again and see if they can do it. They usually can. Then increase the number they have to reach and only give them 2 tries. If you constantly raise the bar, they will try to reach it.

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Another tough challenge. You are right to not rely on emotion to drive your team’s energy. It is nice when it happens and it may make things easy for awhile, but it is difficult to sustain. My main suggestion is to try to keep practice as tournament-like as possible, particularly as you are getting closer to major tournaments. You really can’t produce what you don’t practice, so my guess is that players are allowed to be unfocused in practice so they know no differently when they get to games.

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I’m a bit on the other side of things. I recently started up an ultimate frisbee team at my high school in Arizona (we only have about 4-5 schools that play, and are all spread out, so it’s hard to play each other often). Since this is our first year, and in a sort of developmental stage, I recruited as many people as I could to get the club started up (expecting the initial number to drop). We signed up over 120 high schoolers within the first week of school, during those days when everyone is looking to sign up for clubs. Now, 7 months later, we have dwindled down to about 30 kids, and most of these kids play other sports than Ultimate, and Ultimate is not their first priority. As a senior, I’m not sure if the club will survive into next year, and we only have a few [less dedicated] underclassmen that would even be able to lead the club. How do I go about growing the sport within my high school, and how do I keep players interested after almost a year of pickup?

You broke this down nicely. One way we approach this topic, is allow the captains and coaches to meet together to discuss possible new plays. Ideas can range from traditional styles to the unorthodox, but as long as the leadership is on the same page on how to explain these ideas, and construct possible drills to work on the positioning.
After that, another possible meeting is constructed with the top 7ish guys on the team. For me we used a room that included a white board, so we can draw the ideas we talked about with the leadership. Once leadership is done explaining, we allow the floor to open up to discussion about the possible schemes which includes different scenarios. This allows us to answer a lot of questions asked by the newer players. We also have one of the players present during the meeting to document the plays (whatever type of program available) and save it for later to make a playbook.
Then comes explaining to the rest of the team during a team meeting/practice. Implement drills and upload the playbook in Facebook groups, emails, etc. so everyone has access to it.
That’s how my team approached certain schemes during this season, which was first for us.

Haha thank you very much. I’m more pleased that you accepted “Miss Booth” on the forum than the compliment you handed me. This went better than our meeting in Queen City, when I couldn’t help but say ma’am when our teams faced each other. The result led to me slightly getting chewed out (all fun). I know Queen City is a bit faded as a memory, but I’m from the VCU team you guys rolled.
Thanks again for the useful information you provided.

Our team is having a lot of trouble with consistency. We are a relatively young team with a lot of great athletes that are still developing. When we are firing at all cylinders, we look fantastic. When we aren’t on it, we fall to teams that should never beat us. Do you have any suggestions for ways to foster more consistent play?

I’ll speak from experience on this topic. We approached this at first by talking about it at tournament weekends, after a signature win followed by a disappointing loss (or vise versa). Some people begin to attempt to implement changes into their style. But like other times, did not consistently stick. We did not have a quick fix anywhere near.
After that (weeks later possibly) we tried talking about the issue outside of a tournament/game setting. Either it would include a team hangout or meeting. This was to get everyone to talk about what bothered them, or how they can see the team improve and move to the next level. This allowed everyone to be on the same page and verbally talk about their goals. Not only that but possible suggestions related to drills or fundamentals were also taken. Everyone is now on the same page and know what standard is being held for the person they play with.
Finally, we gained the ability of filming our games. We were able to visually see ourselves making mistakes or doing something well. Developing a film culture was the next step. It can involve watching your own team play or watch other teams that play at a high level. Discuss and compare the differences between those teams and yours. Have the team visually acknowledge the lack of fundamentals, and that it is not a quick fix. Develop drills and habits to focus on certain inconsistencies with fundamentals.Communication is the biggest part of making it work.
For actual game play, I would suggest mini scrimmages of (4v4), possibly on a big field. It can be stop and go or make it take it. The players will quickly realize what works and what doesn’t along with what is efficient and what wastes their energy. Exhaustion is a great teacher if used the right way.

Ask the team if they are content with where they are, if this is a level everyone is happy with playing with. Are they ready to move on? In my opinion, I feel this is the first step.

I think one of our big challenges is not having guys who have “been there before”. We can’t use previous experiences of winning key games in bracket play, beating teams on universe because we simply lack that experience.

I have three questions, and I realize they might be a lot to tackle, but would really appreciate the advice (all comments are welcome).

I’ve been trying to think about ways to not pay attention to national rank while still celebrating our team’s achievements so far this season. For example, I think that our national ranking shows our team that we’ve been working really hard, and that hard work does pay off. However, I do think it would be easy to let this kind of ranking go to our heads and that we could consequently ease off the gas. How do we reconcile celebrating our accomplishments while still playing in the moment?

We’ve seen how incredibly our team plays when we have the right attitude and are playing in the moment. However, that mental frame tends to be relatively inconsistent, and hard for us to recover once we lose it. How can we work to recover mental toughness in our teammates, especially when we aren’t feeling it ourselves?

Additionally, what can we do if a member of our team (especially one with a lot of influence) resists these changes, making it more difficult for the rest of the team to get on board?

I would say it all depends on the culture of your team. As a captain and ultimate junkie, I constantly look at the national rankings on usau, the power rankings on ultiworld, and some high level videos uploaded during the season, but take it with a grain of salt. We had the privilege of playing some of the top teams in the country this year too. When I look at the rankings, I also look at the film of the top teams, then the film of us playing some of those top teams. I think to myself, on our best day, if our execution is clicking on all cylinders, we can hang with these top teams. This is what you tell your team, not to show where they are as a team, but to set a goal for a level to attain as a team. Usually only a few people on the team look at these rankings like I do. The tough part is whether to announce the rankings to the rest of the team. But by this time, you spent a lot of time with your team. You should know how they react if they encounter good or bad. You can celebrate moments with team hangouts: bowling, parties, super smash bros tournaments, etc. It’s up to you and the culture.

Mental toughness starts on how you run your practice. Some teams don’t have the luxury of time (like mine), so they make conditioning a priority outside of practice. During practice we sometimes do some high cardio drills that don’t involve a disc: Serpentine, suicides, agility drills, etc. With little rest in between each rep, immediately move on to minis or normal scrimmaging. The focus is to play while exhausted and fatigued. After the scrimmage if there is time, possibly try to work on fundamental throwing drills. This practice can be done often in this order or even reverse, but it depends on your team structure.

For the member who resists change. Simple conversation involving the team leadership. The conversation should involve what direction they want the team to head towards. Ask if they are ready for the next stage. Respect their decision and try to make it come true. Next approach the member with high influence. Ask what vision does he have for this team. Does his views coincide with the leadership? Try to make sure everyone is on the same page. It all starts with communication, before action is made.

Sorry for the long answer. Hope it helped.


How do you handle the last week and a half leading up to Regionals?
Some back story, we just finished sectionals and were a bit exposed in some areas (depth, strategy, mentality, defensive assignments, etc.) especially against the top half of our section. We aspire to punch that hopeful bid in.
We compete in a region where perennial national contenders (UNC/UNC-W) exist, and it’s a two bid region.
I understand there is no magic bullet, but any hints to becoming a successful giant killer is most certainly welcomed.
Harsh reality, not being able to rely on a tight rotation of 8-10 players. It’s not realistic if you want to save your legs for a later run. Do we rely on our younger talent or just become more efficient (easier said than done)?
Being in the heat of intense points, halves or the game itself, it’s hard to come up with a strategy that will become an instant effect. Our main defensive schemes are not as effective as the previous games. Do I suggest a scheme that works similar fundamentals even if we haven’t worked on the actual scheme?
This runs from the freshmen to the top core that are critical to the team’s success. For sectionals, I feel it was a blessing in disguise that we didn’t do as well as we hoped. I felt we lost sight of doing well, and looked too far forward to Regionals. This allowed for us bring our true identity, “underdogs”. This identity is exciting and full of intensity, but is a double edge sword. It relies on high emotion, but how do you pace the team so that you are ready against that critical giant?

This is a tough question (in my opinion) for a teams in the underdog role or the teams of a loaded pedigree (coaching or team) to answer. This post both asks for preparation for how to make the final push into possibly the last tournament and also put in perspective, issues of mid to upper mid tiers. Thanks again for reading.

It is very tough to replicate actual experience but there are certain things you can do. Make practices really hard and replicate “in-game” situations during scrimmages, such as being down 3-6 in a game to 8. It is not exactly like actual competition but if you can convince your team to buy in, this may give you a step up at your next tournament.

  1. Rankings are rankings and are impossible to ignore. But giving them the power to predict how you will do at your next tournament is where the trap lies. The same with celebrating. If you allow your joy over doing well to seep into your current preparation, you are relying on the past to dictate the future.
    None of that is healthy for the growth of your team.

  2. Fake it til you make it. You can only really be in charge of yourself and if you show overt energy about the task in front of you, whether it is sideline presence or working hard on a drill, others will follow. And the more you fake it, the easier it is to eventually embrace it and it will feel authentic.

  3. I think almost every team in the country has this challenge. There are many ways to get someone on board but I also suggest not wasting too much time on this toxic teammate. S/he is just another uncontrollable and while it would be better for team morale if everyone were on the same page, sometimes it just won’t work.

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Here’s a classic Tiina article on uncontrollables to avoid spending time thinking about:

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Being an underdog is the best. You have nothing to lose and teams will most likely not take you seriously. Here are some quick suggestions:

  1. You still have time to work on catching and throwing. Do it every day at practice, until they mutiny.
    There is no strategy that replaces poor catching and throwing.
  2. Play everybody but keep the ratio at 4/3 or 5/2 vets vs rookies. You never know when someone will step up.
  3. Stop worrying about your legs. Your mind gets tired before your body so keep churning those legs.
  4. I know of no defense where you don’t have to work hard. I would suggest working on 1 or 2 zones with maybe a minor tweak but less is always more. No quick fix on this one, other than good hard defense.
  5. High emotion can be a trap. It will only fuel you for so long. I suggest striving for consistent energy as it will take you farther in the long run.
    Best of luck at Regionals!
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Thank you very much for the response Miss Booth. I will definitely look forward to implementing these suggestions into my practice menu. I plan to use as much luck as possible that weekend, definitely don’t mind that provision.
I’ll save my other question for the week leading up to Regionals.

My question is relevant leading up to this weekend. Given the circumstances, a lot of teams are heading into this weekend with similar aspirations. “Punch the ticket to Nationals”. However, in your way there are your rivals and last but not least, the perennial powerhouse teams. You face either the team you usually have a close gritty game with any given circumstances or the top dog who lives in the thin air on the top like it is natural.
What preparations are made approaching Regionals on the week of?

  • What do you do on the last practice day.
  • Is yoga a bad choice leading up to the weekend?
  • etc.

How do you relieve some of the pressure people building on themselves, leading up to this weekend?

  • Last tournament, “I need to make this happen, anything necessary to make a bid for Nationals” type of attitude.
  • How do we focus those individuals on not changing their usual game on the biggest stage of their career?

How do you take on the Buzz-saw type of giant? the UNC-Ws and Michigans of the world

  • Always hot and cold, an unpredictable team. They play an unorthodox style, but there is a reason why they are the top dog, so their fundamentals are still top tier.
  • When they are hot, you will regret being in their way even if you are playing a solid game.
    *When they are cold, they can lose to anyone playing their best game.
  • How do we take advantage of this?

How do you take on the methodical type of giant? the UNCs , Harvards, and Carletons of the world

  • This team breathes dump swing, and has the composure of a solid club team (of course that’s why they are the top dog)

  • They rarely give up the disc on offense, and will make you regret turning it once on your offense.

  • But you feel your athleticism is an x factor that can bring the game to your realm. How do you approach this team?

Sorry for the long post, any type of advice is welcomed from anyone. Some of this is what I will be approaching this weekend in the Atlantic Coast, but I understand other people can benefit from similar scenarios too.

We have a light scrimmage this Thursday and that’s it.
I wouldn’t introduce yoga if you haven’t done it all season. But certainly a light stretch can’t hurt.

This is a tough one to answer if you haven’t been working on it all year, but the answer is to be consistent and rely on your training. If you have the opportunity for a “big” play, go for it, but don’t expect to string together a lot of big plays if you haven’t worked on it. Deepen your game. Don’t change it.

Gosh. I am not sure about this one. I think I would still go for consistency but perhaps be more aggressive on downfield looks. I would also mix up your defenses so you can try to take them off their game.

Methodical giants
Hmmm. You most likely cannot beat them at their kind of game but you certainly can value the disc like crazy when you get a chance to break. The Buzz-saws may give you multiple opportunities to break, but not these guys. Again, I would play various types of defenses and perhaps put your stronger defenders on their best cutters if you don’t feel that you can shut down their handlers. Make it more difficult for their receivers and that could fluster their handlers.

My last suggestion is that no matter who you are playing, when you make a mistake, you must recover as quickly as possible. No time for theatrics. Just get back on the horse and try again.

Best of luck!


Ahhh such awesome answers, I definitely appreciate all of the information you provided. I’ll also make sure to incorporate some film to see if anything is noticed.
I’ve always tell my teammates to maximize their role on the field most of this season. I will also make sure to reinforce this thought process in our practice.
Thanks again for the suggestions and hints. Hopefully we meet up as opponents again at Nationals haha.
Best of luck this weekend for you guys too.