In high school ultimate, and even at some levels of college play, windy conditions can serve to be disastrous for teams. Once the winds hit 20mph+, game play changes dramatically and the opposing team usually puts on a zone or some sort of “poachy set”. No matter how hard you may have worked at practice, if you haven’t had experience playing in strong wind, you are going to struggle. One key recommendation that I would make for high school teams is to dedicate one or two throwers on your team to become specialists in overhead throws. This includes both hammers and scoobers. The easiest way to break a zone in wind is by throwing it right over the cup to a teammate who is uncovered. You don’t need everyone on your team to be able to do it, but having one or two individuals with the capability will give your team the significant upper hand when mother-nature decides to let loose on tournament day. Make sure to practice these overhead throws in wind, as windy conditions is when you will be using them the most!
For those of you who haven’t had a chance to check out Brodie Smith’s instructional videos, I really encourage you to take a look. Sometimes there is no better way than watching someone else throw to learn how to do it yourself. Brodie has posted a series of four videos thus far: throwing a backhand, throwing a forehand, hucking a backhand, hucking a forehand. He talks you through the motions, and even slows down footage for you to get a better look and exactly what he is doing. Brodie played the University of Florida for 5 years. He most recently led his team to a College National Champion in 2010 prior to graduating last spring. I have inserted his first video, “How to Throw a Backhand”, below. To check out the rest of his videos, head to http://www.youtube.com/user/brodiesmith21 – p/u
Of course cleats are a vital piece of equipment needed to play Ultimate, but often times the benefit received from a quality pair of socks is overlooked. There is nothing worse than waking up Sunday morning of a tournament with an awful blister or a spot of raw skin on your feet/toe that makes it that much harder to play at 100% in bracket play when it counts. Players invest a lot of time and effort into preparing for tournaments, and the idea of your feet keeping you from being able to push hard through Sunday’s games is the worst possible scenario.
Personally, I have suffered from this type of situation far too many times. That being said, I think I have found a helpful solution. Invest in a 3 pack of Nike Dri-Fit Half-Cushion Low-Cut Socks (White). You can pick these up for $15.00 at your local sports store, or buy them online if you click here. I wore these for the first time this last weekend and they were amazing. My feet felt better than they ever had before on Sunday morning, and I didn’t have to favor certain parts of my foot on Monday morning to avoid pain.
NOTE: Make sure to get the “Low-Cut” version of the socks, as the “No Show” version won’t cover the part of your Achilles that will often rub against your cleat (leading to a blister for some people).
One thing that many high school Ultimate players struggle with is breaking the mark. Due to the slower release of a backhand throw relative to a forehand, many players aren’t as comfortable trying to throw the around backhand break, as they will often be blocked/stopped by the mark.
One tool that will immediately help a player with this problem is through feet positioning. If a given player (right-handed) is currently in a position to throw a forehand, and is being forced forehand, they need to pivot across the mark in order to throw their backhand. This means they must pick up their right foot and reposition it across their body. When pivoting over and attempting the break with an around backhand, many players will try to step out horizontally as far as possible with their right foot while maintaining their pivot. This is in effort to get a release point that is as far away from the mark as possible. If done quickly enough, this will often work. If done too slowly, the mark is easily able to slide across and adjust their mark to cut off the throw.
For those struggling with this break throw, I recommend bringing your right foot across your body, and instead of stepping out as far horizontally as possible, position your right foot forward past the defender’s right foot. This will result in your throw being released past the mark, and if he or she attempts to stop you from throwing it, it will likely result in a foul (and possibly a free throw). When you step past your mark, your shoulder and upper arm cross the plane of your defender. This makes it difficult for your defender to slide across and stop the throw without fouling you. Their only option is to try and step back off the mark and cut off the throw from a wider angle, or in a worst-case scenario, give up brutal break throw!
Next Level Ultimate Director
As we go through the spring and the summer, we will be asking our staff and counselors to contribute some tips and tricks that will help you improve your own Ultimate game. We hope that high school players will be able to take this information and share it with their teammates to make them better as well! These tips are only a small preview to the true teaching that we provide to our campers during the summer!
Next Level Ultimate started in the spring of 2009. Ben Feldman, one of the owners and camp directors, attended Junior Elite Methods (JEM) Camp in the summer of 2005, an overnight Ultimate camp founded by the University of Colorado players and coaches. His experience was one that furthered his interest in the sport, and better prepared him for his last year of high school ultimate and the college division. You can view a highlight reel of that 2005 summer session created by Justin Salvia, a former player of Colorado Mamabird, below. After the summer of 2006, the University of Colorado stopped hosting the camp for various reasons.
In the spring of 2009, in effort to fill the gap that was now present with the closing of JEM Camp, Ben started Next Level Ultimate, which would offer its first single gender session in Madison, WI, at Edgewood College. The camp was for boys only, with the intentions of offering girls sessions in future years once the company had further developed. This is a goal that will be reached this summer, with the first inaugural Next Level female session being hosted in Eugene, OR. Next Level focuses solely on single gender sessions, as it best prepare players for college level play.
Our company hopes to continue to build upon the opportunities that we offer for high school players looking to advance their skills in preparation for the college division. We provide single gender instruction to our campers as it best mimics college level play, and will best prepare our campers to succeed going forward into the college division. You can view information regarding Summer 2011 sessions here!