Youth ultimate summertime opportunities near Seattle

There are LOTS of summer playing opportunities in and near Seattle in 2016!  In addition to the normal summer camps and clinics, we are seeing a blossoming of new youth ultimate opportunities this summer.  It’s complicated to sort out all the dates, times, age-levels, and program details, and some are just opening this week for registration, so we’ve compiled a Google spreadsheet of seasonal youth ultimate playing opportunities to help you sort out your options.

Note that in addition to the start and end dates, there are columns that list the format, age range, grade range, etc., as well as links to more information and/or registration pages.  Feel free to sort the columns (e.g. chronologically by start date, or by the school group columns (ES=Elementary, MS=Middle school, HS=high school).  We’ll add playing opportunities for other seasons, including any that you suggest in the comments, to both the Google spreadsheet and this Google calendar (though the latter is a work in progress — and help is welcome).


Elementary school options

Here is a synopsis of the options for current 3rd-4th graders —

6/12/2016 6/12/2016 Riot summer clinic
6/20/2016 6/24/2016 DiscNW summer camp – June
6/24/2016 7/29/2016 TUC summer league
6/27/2016 7/1/2016 DiscNW summer camp – July
7/11/2016 7/15/2016 Nike option (Vancouver, Canada?)
8/8/2016 8/12/2016 TUC U12 camp
8/15/2016 8/19/2016 DiscNW summer camp – August


— and in addition to the above listings, here are extra options for current fifth graders (many middle school summer programs incorporate incoming 6th graders) —

6/4/2016 6/4/2016 UpDawg MS Tournament
7/5/2016 7/8/2016 TUC summer camp – Jane Addams
7/18/2016 7/22/2016 TUC summer camp – Eckstein


There are also other TUC camps in the spreadsheet aimed at kids heading to other middle schools around the city…

Middle and high school options

There are really too many middle and high school options to summarize! Take a look at the spreadsheet and sort accordingly… but here are two quick cut/pasted lists of middle school and high school ops.

Middle school:
6/3/2016 6/3/2016 Seattle Jam
6/4/2016 6/4/2016 UpDawg MS Tournament
6/12/2016 6/12/2016 Riot summer clinic
6/20/2016 8/1/2016 DiscNW U19/U16 Hat League
6/20/2016 8/1/2016 DiscNW U19/U16 Performance League
6/20/2016 6/24/2016 DiscNW summer camp – June
6/27/2016 7/1/2016 DiscNW summer camp – July
7/5/2016 7/8/2016 TUC summer camp – Jane Addams
7/11/2016 7/15/2016 Nike option (Vancouver, Canada?)
7/11/2016 7/15/2016 TUC summer camp – Hamilton
7/11/2016 7/15/2016 Rise Up leadership camps
7/18/2016 7/22/2016 TUC summer camp – Eckstein
8/1/2016 8/5/2016 TUC summer camp – Washington MS
8/1/2016 8/5/2016 TUC summer camp – Salmon Bay, Whitman, & Broadview
8/8/2016 8/12/2016 TUC summer camp – Southwest Seattle Camp
8/15/2016 8/19/2016 DiscNW summer camp – August
High school:
6/12/2016 6/12/2016 Riot summer clinic
6/20/2016 8/1/2016 DiscNW U19/U16 Hat League
6/20/2016 8/1/2016 DiscNW U19/U16 Performance League
6/20/2016 6/24/2016 DiscNW summer camp – June
6/27/2016 7/1/2016 DiscNW summer camp – July
7/11/2016 7/15/2016 Nike option (Vancouver, Canada?)
7/30/2016 8/4/2016 VC leadership camp – session 1
8/6/2016 8/11/2016 VC leadership camp – session 2
8/15/2016 8/19/2016 DiscNW summer camp – August


Again — please comment if you have other suggestions, or just request to edit the Google spreadsheet directly.  Any help is mapping out the increasingly, wonderfully complex ultimate landscape of the Pacific Northwest is welcome!

Your Guide to Understanding Ultimate Frisbee Tournaments

Trying to understand that ultimate tournament, we’ve got ya covered.


Sophie Scofield-Selby of Birdfruit fame and no stranger to Ultimate tournaments has put together this ever so handy primer on understanding tournament formats. With Spring Reign right around the corner, it seemed a perfectly fine time to get this out there. Whether this is your first tournament or you are a seasoned veteran, this guide is a nice brain dump of information.

No doubt that Spring Reign will give more information rather than less, but some times the information can take awhile to puzzle out. Hopefully this helps.
Note there is something of a glossary at the bottom of this post in case some terms or references don’t make sense.


Generally, but not always, a two-day tournament will have pool play take place on Saturday, and bracket play take place on Sunday. Sometimes however, the first game or two of bracket play will take place after pool play on Saturday. This usually happens when the pools are only 4 teams big.

Reading a schedule:

Reading a schedule is probably the most daunting part of an ultimate tournament. Schedules are covered in seemingly arbitrary numbers and letters, that are somehow supposed to correspond to games, that then point you to a place on a map (usually several numbered rectangles). But the thing to keep in mind is that all the information is there, you just have to get used to how it’s formatted.

An above-and-beyond TD will write down and email out each team’s location and opponent explicitly for each round. This is rare, however, as most TDs have far too much to do.

In the most confusing case, each team is assigned an ID of sorts going into the tournament. If my team is the 7th seed in the B division going into a tournament, my initial ID will be B7. This will show me what pool I’m in, and the pool play will then have a tabular schedule I can reference. Usually the fields will be on one axis, and the round on another. For any given round, I can look to find my team’s ID, then see which field number that corresponds to. I will then have to look at the field map to see where my field number is.

The really confusing part comes in after pool play, when teams are put into bracket. It’s confusing because that initial ID your team had [usually*] no longer matters (and the way your team is referenced will continue to change based on the outcome of games). Each division’s bracket will be labeled, with each game on the bracket attached to a pre-determined field. Each game in bracket will be lettered. Pay attention, because these letters are important later.

Usually, teams will be initially placed in brackets based with the name, but sometimes you may be labeled with a combination of your pool and rank within the pool. For instance, if I finish 3rd in the B pool of Division B, I would look at the Division B bracket, and find B3 (because obviously).

If my teams wins all of our games, the bracket is usually pretty straight forward, and can be followed visually with ease. Losing, however, makes things a little trickier, because you then move into the consolation bracket. Let’s say my team loses in quarter finals, in the game labeled ‘G’. To find my next game, I need to find the consolation game between ‘LG’ (meaning ‘loser of the G game’) and some opponent. This game will also have a letter, and I will then have to follow the bracket somewhere else at the end of that game.

Obviously this sounds like a huge headache and you’re probably wondering why on earth tournaments are set up like this. The answer is that it allows for organizers to follow a pre-determined schedule, that can be followed an read regardless of the outcome of games. This removes the need for organizers to check in a tournament central to give TDs their scores and tell them the outcome and next round and for TDs to then distribute that information, all within a narrow time frame.

*The only time this isn’t true is when pool play doesn’t matter and only exists for the sake of giving teams more games. This is rarely the case, but can usually be figured out through context or labels.


  • Division: Subset of teams competing. Sometimes divisions are broken up by gender (men’s, women’s, co-ed/mixed), sometimes by experience/skill (A division, B division, etc), sometimes by age (middle school, high school, etc), and sometimes by size of school (Div I college, Div III college). With large tournaments, some combination of criteria might used to create divisions. In the case of skill-based divisions, placement is either dictated by past performance, or by self-selection. For any given competition, teams will generally only play other teams within their division.
  • Seed: Rank going into a competition.
  • Pool: Within a tournament, a pool is a further subset of 4-5  of the teams in a division. If a division at a tournament has 16 teams, there could be 4 pools, each with 4 teams. Usually the goal is to make each pool an even sampling of the talent in a division. For instance, Pool 1 might have the 1st seed, 5th seed, 9th seed and 13th seed, while Pool 2 has the 2nd seed, 6th seed, 10th seed and 14th seed, and so on.
  • Pool play: Pool play consists of playing a round-robin with all the teams in your pool. This is basically a sanity-check on the seeding. In the example above, Pool 1 had the 1st seed, 5th seed, 9th seed, and 13th seed. If the 9th seed beats the 5th seed in pool play, this will then affect their rankings in the next stage of the event: bracket play.
  • Bracket play: After the ranking are shifted due to the outcome of pool play, the new rankings determines a team’s placement within a bracket. The format of the bracket can vary a ton tournament to tournament, but the general idea is that, as long as a team continues to win, they will progress to the finals. Most tournaments also have consolation brackets, so when you’re eliminated from the championship, there are still games to play.
  • Tournament Director (TD): The person, or people, in charge of organizing the event.
  • Tournament Central: At a tournament, this is the location to go for information. At a sparse tournament, this may just be where the TD(s) hang out. At a large tournament this will include snacks, merchandise, a trainer, as well as maps, schedules, and of course, your friendly TDs. Most tournaments fall somewhere in the middle.
  • Round: A period of time during which several games are being played simultaneously
  • Bye: A round that a specific team doesn’t play. Ex: My team has a round 2 bye, so we won’t be playing between 11am and 1pm.

6 Free Online Tools for the Quasi Savvy Ultimate Frisbee Coach

So you’ve signed up to coach Ultimate.


You are in fairly decent physical condition, been learning some drills and think you are all set. But then SURPRISE the administrative side of things takes over your life and you are up late trying to keep track of jersey orders, planning practices, getting waivers in and so much more.

Below are 6 free online tools for the quasi-web savvy coach. These range from tracking tasks, to planning practices to creating flyers and posters for recruiting.

  1. Canva: Ever need to make a poster or maybe post something on a Facebook group and find yourself lacking in your design skills? Well if you are not a designer or don’t have access to one, Canva is free and makes graphic design easy. Canva has an interactive web canvas that is brain dead simple and can be used for most of your design needs.
  2. Google Docs/Google Apps: Nothing beats Google’s free suite of tools for spreadsheets or word processing. You can use Google Docs to track your jersey orders, plan practices, write cheers, and so much more. If you want to see this in action, check out these Youth Ultimate Resources.
  3. Trello: Trello is a free project management tool that is based off of a model known as Kanban, made famous by Toyota in the ’80s. Create tasks and have them represented as cards, which allows you to create a visual representation of what is happening with a project. It may sound heavy handed, but Trello is great for tackling a house project, mapping out your vacation and of course for planning your season. Use Trello for all the various tasks that come in during the ramp up to the season.
  4. Drop Box: If you have stored a bunch of photos from practice and games or need a place to put your team logo or assets from your school, Drop Box is a free service that lets you store all sorts of things.
  5. Evernote: Evernote is a note taking application on steroids. With an app for Android and iOS as well as a desktop client and a nice web interface, Evernote has it all. Use it for that annual coaches meeting or to take notes during a clinic or to line up your practices. It has a premium option, but the free version is more than enough for basic needs. One caveat, if you are a Mac addict, the Notes app on the Mac and iOS makes for a nice alternative.
  6. Doodle: Do you need to schedule a parents’ meeting before the season starts? Trying to setup that end of season pizza party? But  schedules are all over the map and there is no way to get people on the same page. Fear not, use Doodle. Doddle is a quick and dirty scheduler that is easy to use. Just setup a meeting, propose a few possible times for the meeting and then invite people to choose when they can attend. There is a clear tally of the number of people for each time and date available. You can see when the most people can attend an event at a given time. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Have a tool that is a life saver? Let us know in the comments.

Seattle DiscNW spring elementary league coach meeting

Notes from the mandatory pre-season meeting run by Jude Larene, Youth Coordinator for Disc Northwest, on Wednesday, March 2, 2016 from 6-7:30.  Impressively the number of teams has increased by ~20% this year (including 5 new teams within Seattle) — the fastest growth of all the youth spring leagues run by DiscNW.  The meeting was attended by ~40 coaches, as well as Jude and the DiscNW Account Manager, Kate Speck.  A highlight was receiving 5 free J-star 140-gram discs with an entrancing rainbow print of the DiscNW logo!

140-g J-star youth ultimate disc with RAINBOW DiscNW logo!
140-g J-star youth ultimate disc with RAINBOW DiscNW logo!  You can buy more for $7/each!

Here is a (low quality) audio recording of the meeting…

Jude on spring season orientation

  • Private Facebook group: DiscNW youth coaching forum
  • 11th edition rules
  • Gender ratio
    • Always at least 3 girls on the team in 7v7
    • In 5v5 teams, offense chooses 3:2.
    • Goal is to ensure equal playing time for girls and boys
    • Jude’s team has an all-girl line
  • Non-contact sport
  • Encourage egalitarian subbing (no “kill lines”)
  • Kids make the calls (coaches need to educate parents about this)
  • Coaching Code of Conduct (Archived PDF of 2015-2016 DiscNW Coaching Code of Conduct)
    • Revised last year after a lot of work
    • Please read it before you sign it!  (Feedback is very welcome)
    • Consider the role you play as a coach in the lives of your players
    • Set the coaching bar very high!
  • You may also need to sign a coach’s liability waiver
  • Spirit scores
    • Average will be visible after 3rd week of play
    • Please enter after each game, along with point score
    • Get your team together at end of game and ask their opinion
    • Provide feedback to the opposing coach via on-line form
    • Score of 2 or 1 will require a comment this year; please provide a detailed explanation; Jude will contact the other team and help educate.
  • If you can’t field a team for a Saturday game, please notify other team and Jude by Thursday
  • Games to 11; 75 minutes; hard cap at 60 minutes.
  • Only one field marshall hired for whole league!
    • So, don’t expect timing horns (except at Magnuson); bring cones & keep time; know field dimensions (It’s OK with Jude if agree with other coach on smaller field, e.g. in high winds!!)
    • Send responsible high school seniors to Jude to be additional marshalls!
    • Please manage your own lost and found items (use Facebook group if necessary, not Jude!)
  • Weather hotline

Kate on rosters & waivers

  • Hard copy hand-out
  • Minimum roster requirement is 3 girls and 4 boys (by Saturday deadline)
  • There is sometime a ~1-2 hour delay between roster additions and waiver availability
  • Advice if you are still placing kids (e.g. by skill) onto teams: put them all on one roster so they can sign waivers, then re-organize later.
  • Paper waivers can be scanned and emailed, or snail mailed; be sure to use current version of waiver!
  • Encouraged but not required: Have medical authorizations on hand; there is a template on the DiscNW web site
  • Report incidents to Jude so he can check in and utilize DiscNW insurance coverage (can help improve access for future emergencies)


Jude on other topics

  • J-star discs (one for free to each coach tonight!)
    • Can get thumb further on top to help stabilize forehand
    • New throwers have a lot of success with them
    • May be less stable in high winds
    • Kids may develop better form and throwing mechanics using smaller discs
    • Buy more (rainbow!) for ~$7 through Disc NW
    • Vision is for all 3rd and 4th grade teams to use
    • If you like them want more, there are some emerging options for buying J-star discs in bulk (but they’re much less pretty than the DiscNW ones)
  • Issues with our growing youth population
    • Field access
    • Coach shortage
      • If one coach of multiple teams needs sequenced games in one location, it increases scheduling challenges
      • Working on Coach Development Program (but may be ~5 years behind)
    • May need to make league changes
      • E.g. go to 5v5 in elementary
        • fixes field problem by allowing
        • but requires even more coaches
      • E.g. go to 4v4 to for gender equality
      • As one of biggest youth program in world/U.S. we have a chance to influence

7:30 end

  • More growth and teams will require more financial aid to maintain access for all
  • Save the date and start planning bid items — 2016 Fall Bid is Saturday Nov 12 is Fall Bid


  • Are there AEDs available at major fields like Magnuson?
  • Phillips deal through Michael Lapin on AEDs for kids (cardiac risk is relatively low for elementary students; risk increases dramatically around grade 9)
  • John Leahy: is going to 5v5 a sacrifice or not?
    • Jude personally thinks it works better for elementary kids
    • Scores are higher; more touches per game; more success
    • Jenn
      • voluntarily signed up new 4th graders
      • expectation is that girls will have a more equal experience
    • Shannon’s 5v5 fall league packed a lot of kids onto the Roosevelt field


  • What about playing on other days of week, e.g. after school?
  • Could elementary teams play in other seasons?  (Conflict with soccer?)
  • Field advocacy group (in 80s?) used to go to city council meetings and wave discs around (John Beal is still at Seattle City Parks)
  • Jude: City wants to put turf only where lights already exist (due to NIMBY light pollution concerns)
  • Sometimes less is more
    • Maybe 3 game tournament once a month is as good as weekly Saturday games
    • Do playoffs make sense for elementary school?
    • Maybe play 2 weeks out of 3?  Weekend conflicts are tough, e.g. jazz
    • Fridays?  Some elementary soccer teams like a Friday evening practice
  • Could fields along I-5 corridor expand capacity (e.g. Shoreline)?


2016 USA Ultimate CDP workshop in Seattle

On Sunday February 21, 2016, the USA Ultimate Coach Development Program (CDP) offered a Level 1 Certification workshop in Seattle, WA.  Taught by UW Men’s coach Alex Wells, the workshop was co-hosted by John Leahy and Scott Veirs and took place at Green Lake Elementary School from 8:30-5.

It was a cold, crisp morning (even in the classroom).
It was a cold, crisp morning (even in the classroom).


John welcomed us to his awesome teaching space.
John welcomed us to his awesome teaching space.

(We all thank John for helping us access the school where he’s a teacher.  Prior to his help, Scott was really struggling to find a space that met the USAU facility requirements and budget!)

8:30 Introductions

Alex led the group in a quick name-game.  We went to the cafeteria and threw a soft cone in two circles of ~10 participants.  You had to thank the person who through to you (e.g. “Thanks, Alex”), say your name, say the name of a person who had not yet been thrown while making eye contact with them, and then throw the “disc” to them.

Getting to know name-game
Getting to know name-game

The two groups competed to see who could cycle through everyone in the circle and back to the original thrower.  The groups were different sizes, so it wasn’t fair, but it was fun to add complexity to the game — first by speeding up the cycle; then by adding a second “disc” that was started after the first disc had reached the third or fourth person.  We headed back to Leahy Land with a new game that could help a team of unfamiliar players learn each others names efficiently.

IMG_6250 IMG_6237Back in the classroom, Alex had us go around the room introducing ourselves.  This was the beginning of one of the best aspects of the in-person workshop: getting to know other local coaches and sharing ideas with them.  Here are a few topics that folks said they were hoping to learn about during the day:

  • How to manage middle schoolers!
  • Nuts and bolts of running a practice
  • How to get more young girls involved
  • How to teach the rules
  • How to get equal improvement in a group with varied experience or different learning styles (e.g. not leaving passive kids behind)
  • How to “seed” elementary and middle school teams in ways that support the development of high school teams
  • Best practices for coaching elementary school

9:00 Why do people play ultimate

This was a great group discussion.  We came up with lots of ways to “hook” new players on the sport, as well as some shortcomings of the game as it’s currently played by younger youth (mostly grades 3-8).  I’ve listed some highlights (ideas that were new to me), but there were many more that Alex noted and discussed.

IMG_6232Why people play ultimate:

  • The beauty of the disc flying (play Dog on the first practice!)
  • Spirit of the Game (try playing look-up/down to choose throwing partners)
  • More equitable and confidence-building play:
    • Don’t say sorry rituals
    • The “special” (has to be thrown to before team can score)
    • All-touch points
    • Keep away (practice low-emotion mistakes)
    • 2v2 scrimmages (lots of touches for everyone)
    • try mixed and single-gender practices/drills/scrimmages
    • rotate who leads a middle school team each practice
      • girl-girl leadership pair
      • boy-girl leadership pair
      • boy-boy leadership pair
    • Try 4 girl, 3 boy scrimmages
    • Hire more female middle school coaches!
  • Attracting more girls and retaining them through middle school
    • understand other sport calendars and trends
    • market to groups of girls/women
      • classrooms, especially social groups of girls
      • siblings
      • teams from other sports that are burning out
    • Verbal face-to-face recruitment of girls by coaches (helps make them feel valued!)
  • Riot’s 3 tenets: ETL = Excellence. Trust. Love.
  • Team work and athletic development: be purposeful with a charter?
    • Seattle Public Schools has a process to follow for creating a charter (Charlie mentioned it, but I missed its name)
    • A charter should describe how do you want to feel (as players; as a team)
    • Then plan: What do you do to achieve the charter?
    • Camp Orkila has a process for creating a constitution/charter with new campers…
  • Engagement
    • As a coach: watch 1 player for about 2 minutes and ask “Are they engaged in this drill/lecture/game?”
    • TED = Throw every day
    • Experienced parent’s role: teach ultimate culture to other parents

IMG_6236Things that detract from ultimate:

  • “Disc-organization”
    • soccer gets calendars out 6 months in advance!
    • USAU web site is messy (trick is to google your search term and append “”)
  • General turn-offs
    • Lack of good practice fields
    • Canceled games (because many youth games are played on grass fields which SPS closes when super-wet)

10:30 Ethics

Handout: 25-page booklet — “Coaching Ethics Workshop” including sections on: intro; the sport; Spirit of the Game; Liability and Insurance; Safety; & Emergency procedures; plus 2 appendices on: child abuse reporting agencies; references/readings.

We read  through the USAU ethics pamphlet, discussing each point (many of which originated with the U.S. Olympic Committee).

Key concepts for coaches of youngest youth:

  1. Teach and practice the foul/conflict resolution process (Rules; how to call fouls; how to contest; how to resolve; best perspective)
  2. In game, coach is a resource not a judge
    1. “Do you have a question about the rules?”
    2. “Can I help you with the process of calling and resolving a foul?”
  3. Spirit circles
    1. Use them mostly for compliments and positive coaching
    2. If both teams mis-understood a rule in the game, coach can use as a teachable moment and clarify for all
  4. Pet peeves (of various participants)
    1. Don’t teach middle schoolers to call travels!
    2. Don’t allow kids to kick rolling discs!
  5. Common issues
    1. Playing time: try to keep it balanced by using a sub-sheet
    2. Player is unspirited (cheating): start with a question, like “How did you feel about that last play?”  Then educate about a relevant rule or process.

10:50 Took a 15 minute break for snacks!

and snack tables
and snack tables

11:15 Parents

11:20 Spirit of the Game

We broke up into small groups to define and discuss SotG.  Then came back together to share and look for commonalities.

  • Try having a spirit “captain” (esp on high or club school teams)
  • Coaches role is as a model of good spirit (calm communication; fairness
  • Incorporate SotG into drills: e.g. high 5s when you enter a line; offering encouragement and compliments to teammates.

IMG_6239 IMG_6243 IMG_6242 IMG_6245

12:05 Liability

5 duties to avoid exposure

  1. Proper instruction for risky activities (e.g. lay outs)
  2. Provide safety equipment (safe field; don’t mix cleats and bare feet!)
  3. ?
  4. Supervise
  5. Provide care (upon injury)

12:10 Insurance

12:15 Concussions

12:20 Lunch

We made sandwiches, ate chips, drank juice, and chatted at our desks.

12:55 Fundamentals

Handout: 76-page booklet “Coaching Performance Workshop” covering: intro; communicating with your school; parents; logistics; growth/promotion; equipment; conditioning; & tips; plus 12 appendices on rules; affiliates; state associations; sample season schedule; sample parent letter; sample med form; intro clinic schedule; 12-week fitness program; injury prevention; nutrition/hydration; injuries; and references/readings.)

We discussed the fundamental skills and knowledge we need to teach in ultimate, then prioritized them into an optimal sequence for new players.

In what order would you teach these fundamentals?
In what order would you teach these fundamentals?

5 steps to learning:

  1. explain
  2. demonstrate
  3. imitate
  4. critique
  5. repeat

Brevity ends with a “Why?”

  • TALK LESS (2 minutes is too long)
  • Why (explain)
  • Use 2 or 3 cues, e.g. for backhand “keep disc level” (see hard-copy handout “Skill Specific Cues” for lots more)
  • Try mnemonics

13:15 Transition to gym

The active portion of the workshop included: coming up with a drill (in groups of ~4 participants) to teach fundamentals; demonstrating how to run those drills to the rest of the group; and Alex demonstrating typical parts of a practice (warm-up/plyos, throw foci; drill iterations).

13:15-14:30 — Coming up with a drill to teach each fundamental

Groups formed up, took 10-15 minutes to prep a drill, and then demonstrated it (for a few minutes).  [I have video of some of these if folks want to see themselves in action!]

IMG_6252 IMG_6254 IMG_6253 IMG_6257 IMG_6255Cues and notes on each demo:

  1. Backhand
    1. level the release by thinking of serving a glass of water on it
    2. Step out
    3. Snap your wrist (like snapping a towel?)
    4. “pull through” (not uncurl, that’s the “BBQ throw”)
    5. hinge from the shoulder
    6. “buckle the seatbelt
  2. Forehand
    1. booger flick
    2. outside edge down
    3. finish with palm up
  3. Mark
    1. hips low, shoulders up
    2. arms active and low
    3. “low hands”
    4. high energy
  4. Pivot
    1. “land” then throw
    2. be clear with language
      1. “pivot on foot opposite your throwing hand?”
      2. “move foot on same side as your throwing hand?”
  5. Force — emphasize it is a form of team work
  6. Cutting
    1. Sharp change in direction
    2. Clap near end of cut?
    3. Chop stop (NOT 1 big stop and step)
    4. Go/fake away from target area, then cut back
    5. “Cut to a cone” (e.g. any corner of the endzone)
  7. Defense
    1. 3D: defend, deny, deflect?
    2. dictate (instead of chase)?
    3. But be careful with language and younger players!
    4. “head up”
    5. backing, fronting
    6. stop the under; stay between receiver and disc
    7. shadow movement; dance
    8. “be the mirror (image)”

14:30-15:00 — Demonstration practice (by Alex)

  1. Started with a cheer: e.g. “1, 2, Learn!”
  2. Do a lap while tossing with a partner (take note: 40 throws/lap x 10 practices = 400 extra throws per season!)
  3. Warm-ups
    1. We’re teaching movement (to protect bodies over a lifetime)
    2. The goal is to talk about and practice movement (e.g. running form)
    3. Think of plyos (dynamic warm-up) as movement puzzles
    4. Have a base warm-up; make small changes; add new challenges
    5. Practice names of muscles and parts of bodies
    6. Go from small, low intensity to big, high-intensity movements
    7. Practice names of muscles and parts of bodies
    8. Science shows: static stretching is good for flexibility after exercise (not before when a dynamic warm-up is better)
    9. Sequence of plyos (from toes to head) [we did these as a big group lined up across the gym]:
      1. Toes out; heels back
      2. High knees; lunges
      3. Airplane; picking dandelions
      4. Close the gate; open the gate
      5. Torso twists
      6. Arm circles (forward, backward)
      7. Fast feet out; high knees back
      8. Butt kickers out; Door busters back (toe pointing to sky; hit door with sole not toe)
      9. Leg swings (with partner or fence)
      10. Side shuffle
      11. Kareoka (or Kareoke)
      12. Run @67% out; 42% back
      13. Skips (emphasize height, or distance, or both)
      14. Jump and land (prevent ACL tears [7x more prevalent in girls than boys!]: quiet; soft; knees over toes, NOT knocked-knees)
      15. Proplyoception => challenges (do it backwards; close eyes); try airplanes w/eyes closed; fast knees backwards (and eyes closed?!)
      16. Retro-runs (forward, backward)

IMG_6259 IMG_6266 IMG_6267 IMG_6272

15:00 Drilling

  • Choose high repetition
  • Prioritize familiar drills; then build on them
  • Lots of iterations w/small changes and limited focus (2-3 cues max)
  • Examples of coach challenges and nuanced skills:
    • How to counter blacksmith leg (from always pivoting on leg opposite dominant throwing hand)?
    • Catch with dominant/throwing hand under in the alligator (so grip is ready to throw)!
    • Step back to throw hammer.
  • Variants on paired throwing drill (we tried these with a partner)
    • 3 forehands; 3 backhands
    • vary release points (regular, high, low, wide)
    • vary release angles (inside/out; outside/in;…)
    • Goofy foot compass throws

15:20 Overhead throws

Normally discouraged with youth, but Alex likes them for fun and to help handlers practice decision making.

15:30 Practical aspects of drills

  • Clear wide; yell “Safety” to prevent collisions
  • Alex led a “Go to” drill (2 sets of participants) as an example of how to iterate w/distinct cues
    • chop feet; go to disc; ready; eye contact
    • alternate sides to give drops a chance to clear
    • different focus point each day
      • 5 full steps = deep cut
      • chop feet; get low; rotate hips; explosive first 3 steps; drive knees.
      • challenges: pancake every disc; non-dominant hand catch
      • add a mark (open side; break mark)
      • different cuts (out/in; handler cut = fake to open side, cut to break mark side)
      • competitions; games


15:45 Return to classroom to discuss practice planning and structure

15:50 Practices

  • Set expectations with players and parents
  • Pre-season “goal setting” (+ a mid-season check-in)
    • will this work for elementary?
    • best practices for goal-setting are still developing
    • SMART = specific; measurable; A?; realistic; time-bound
  • Map out general plan
    • How many practices before first game?
    • How many practices in the season?
  • Plan season (to some extent)
    • Next 2 weeks?
    • Next month?
    • Make list of 5-10 skills to work on next
    • Plan specific practices to tick off skills; select specific drills
    • Planning process should help clarify goals…
    • For each practice, don’t forget:
      • Talk about Spirit of the Game
      • Specific over-arching concepts: e.g. throwing skills, or a particular defensive strategy

Every good practice looks like — group brainstorm:


16:30 End with evaluation forms, handing out coach bags, discs, FiveUltimate coach benefits (CDP Odyssey 1/4 zip, other gear if your team orders gear thru them), etc.

Resources to share

Good ideas?  (Some voiced; some just in Scott’s head)

  • What about a dual-model for coach development by USAU (and/or local organizations)?
    • Youth only (grades K-8): FREE workshop (maybe requires a coach membership, but fee is subsidized) for volunteer coaches of elementary/middle players, camp counselors, etc.
    • Level 1 (high school, college, club, pro): ethics and performance workshop for new coaches (typically paid, not volunteer?) of teams that may have some players who are new to the game
    • Level 2 (high school, college, club, pro): strategy workshop for advanced coaches of more competitive teams
  • Ways to boost girl recruitment and retention
  • We should have a community brainstorm or survey on these topics
    • 10 most commonly confused rules in youth ultimate
    • 10 favorite ways to promote spirit of the game
      • games (and how to play them safely)
      • spirit circles (real examples that work)
      • cheers & songs
      • sideline roles

Post workshop activities

  • Alex emailed an awesome list of resources to all participants
  • Suggestions for future workshops or subsequent activities
    • General
      • Management strategies (logistics; behavior)
      • Spirit of the Game, & fairness (case studies; examples)
      • More practice design details
      • How to prevent injuries
      • How to teach specific skills
        • more examples for new coaches
        • advanced examples for experienced coaches
      • Develop more tools for coach community, conversation, networking, peer-learning (Inter?National?)
      • Move some of morning activities (liability, insurance, ethics?) to online format; use workshop for more active learning, coach sharing/discussion
    • Elementary school
      • More drills
      • Strategy or not (horizontal, vertical, neither, something?)
      • School relationships
    • Middle school
      • Demo games to keep practice extra fun!
      • Age-appropriate drills?
      • How to teach offensive strategy to beginners
      • Drills that also help teach the rules?
    • High school
      • Fitness progressions
      • HS-College strategies (D, O) and process for developing them
      • More discussion of increasing/nurturing diversity (racial, gender equity)