Using to illustrate drills

Whether you’re trying to coordinate a practice plan with an assistant coach or “flipping the field” and giving your youth players some homework related to your offensive system, the website can be a useful resource.  The site allows you to register and create your own animations of drills, tactics, games, etc.  You can then embed the animation (e.g. in your team web site), attach a YouTube video that further illustrates the animation, and then share the product via Twitter, Facebook, or a public or private link.

As an example, here’s the embedded version of a simplified horizontal stack continuation drill we use for 7th graders to help them begin to understand when and where to cut and throw to open space —

You can also search their database of plays, drills, and tactics. Sadly, a search for content tagged “youth” in the Ultimate sport only returns 4 results (as of fall 2015).

Screen grab of all "youth" ultimate content on in fall 2015.
Screen grab of all “youth” ultimate content on in fall 2015.

Let’s generate some more youth-specific content!

William Bartram’s Perspectives on Youth Ultimate Programming for Coaches

William Bartram (aka “Bunny”) had been Executive Director of the Northwest Ultimate Association (aka DiscNW) for almost 10 years when he gave the following presentation at the inaugural 2014 Youth Ultimate Coaching Conference.

Below are the notes I took (along time stamps) while watching the recording archived by the Bay Area Disc Association and Skyd Magazine’s YouTube channel.   The first slides offered a little background on Bunny (which is otherwise hard to find):

Brief ultimate bio of William Bartram
Brief ultimate bio of William Bartram

“Perspectives on Youth Ultimate Programming for Coaches”

Overview of youth ultimate in Seattle

  • Time line — Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 11.14.32 PM
  • Early youth scene in Seattle was all coach-driven.  Key coaches were teachers who formed teams independently at their schools and eventually organized scrimmages
  • Mary would photocopy rules & newspaper clippings and send to PE teachers around town
  • Over time a league developed (MS in lat 1990s)
  • Those middle school players drove development at HS level because they wanted to keep playing
  • Jeff Jorgensen, Mary and Joe started Spring Reign [in 1998?]
  • Joey Gray and others formed DiscNW (mostly focused on adult players)
  • Mike Mullen and Roger Crafts start summer camps (originally in partnership with Seattle Parks with 40 players; 10 years later it would partner with DiscNW serving 900 campers each summer )
  • Over time, DiscNW took on administration of youth programs (web site, registration tools, insurance, communication, scheduling, etc.)
    • 2004: first full-time staff
    • Eventually hired admin assistant
  • League thrives due to DiscNW handing logistics so coaches can focus more on coaching
  • Financial story
    • Originally subsidized by adult leagues
    • Now many youth programs are self-supporting
    • Youth Development Fund provides financial aid and important programs that might otherwise be unsustainable
    • Fall Bid fundraising event
    • Hosted youth summits (to get feedback from community)
  • (6:10) Overview of DisNW youth programs
    • (6:30) Leagues
      • Good financial performer
      • Spring elementary and middle school
      • Fall boys HS; spring girls HS
      • Fall middle school league with Seattle Public Schools
        • Started when Joey Gray & others lobbied District to use funds from the Families and Education Levy
        • SPS pays for fields and coaching stipends
        • Principals love it because $ comes from District budget, not their own, and it’s a great after-school program
        • DiscNW provides expertise, scheduling, free discs
      • Spring club league (but most teams still based on school affiliations)
      • Summer league leads towards YCC; 2014 new winter club league also popular with the U16 crowd
    • (8:45) Camps
      • Very successful as a learning program and financially
      • 2013: 255k$ revenue, 150k$ in expenses (100k$ profit supported $16k financial aid & 4k$ for south Seattle free camps [led by Sam Terry])
      • Camp directors, counselors, leads all paid
      • More popular with MS than HS, but elite HS players getting new elite & leadership training during summer 2014 implemented with Lou Berris (sp? skilled coach)
    • (10:33) Tournaments
      • Many run but most discontinued because they aren’t profitable & sustainable
      • Usually take a lot of energy and serve teams that already have regular playing opportunities
      • Trying now to serve teams that have fewer options?
      • Spring Reign is largest
        • 96 teams (8 elementary, 40 MS, 48 HS)
        • Last week of April
    • (11:45) Elite Club
      • Started with MoHo in late 1990s
        • Not affiliated with DiscNW initially
        • Started when NOMS MS players wanted to keep playing together as high schoolers
        • Interest has waned, but spirit of that program guides current programs
        • Elite player development centered on Youth Club Championships
          • Early summer club leads into Championships in Minnesota
          • League incorporates YCC and other high-level teams
          • Hiring committee for coaches who select assistants
          • Coaches paid by DiscNW and travel with teams, manages player fees, order uniforms, logistics
          • Rusty Brown serves as general manager
    • (14:25) Beyond DiscNW (filling gaps, developing new programs)
      • Fryz – Started by Randy Lim (over 200 players in 2014; travel to play teams across U.S.)
      • RiseUp
      • Ultimate for Peace
      • All Girl Everything
      • Future YUCC focus?
      • Up Dawg (UW Element)
      • Fall Drizzle (WWU Chaos)

(16:20) Conceptual Framework for Events

  • Build it and they will come works for a while; but long-term growth requires more planning
  • Focus here is on local or regional level (not National like RiseUp)
  • Ultimate does not yet enjoy “Varsity Status” — Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 12.05.22 AM
  • Ultimate can grow within a club sport setting with key advanatages:
    • Self-officiation, Spirit of the Game
    • Strong community
  • (22:19) Youth ultimate event components
    • Spring Reign as an example with goal being “celebrate community”
    • State Championships
      • in fall for boys and spring for girls
      • (31:30) tried co-ed a couple times, but interest wasn’t there

(32:00) Building a Coaching Community

  • “Finding coaches to meet player demand is one of the biggest hurdles to growth in our area.”
    • We try to find coaches within our membership
    • Low rate of success, but matches are valuable!
    • Learning ops for coaches
      • Host USAU clinics
      • Educate PE teachers
    • Development ops
      • YCC coaching ops
      • Many returning players choose to coach
      • Fall 2015 Disc NW starts paying stipends to fall HS boys coaches
    • Role of coaches to make organizing easier — Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 1.04.14 AM
    • (40:00) Couple anecdotes about coaches
      • Ken Round
        • Didn’t know ultimate when he formed MS team and brought to Spring Reign (caused friction)
        • Parents brought RVs, set up tents
        • Took 6th grade cohort through 12th grade
        • Some players went to YCC and Westerns (2nd)
      • Fighting in ultimate!
        • Seattle team and less experienced Vancouver team
        • Fisticuffs in 2nd half
        • Spirit circle later in the weekend (including some parents)
        • Vancouver team made finals on Sunday playing OR team
        • Foul called on final point; resolved without violence; came back to win!
      • Help find more coaches! Builds resiliency
        • Mr. Jamsheed
          • Large program at Bailey Gasherd (sp)
          • Terrible at administration (e.g. Spring Reign registration)
          • Started team at Jane Addams and recruited team parent to handle logistics

(45:00) Q&A

  • (47:00) How do transition from volunteer to staffed organization?
    • (47:25) DiscNW example
      • Managing DiscNW was done by operational Board and voluntary E.D.
      • Lot’s of uber-volunteers doing things, but buy-in from Board and understanding from the community that there was going to be a paid leader
      • 2001: Part-time E.D. Mike Keiran (main job was to figure out how to fund his position!)  IT guy, so he made changes to web site and forced payments (via a waitlist).
      • As you get organized, you can deliver higher-quality events and therefore raise fees.
    • Youth director was hired because Bunny was doing it on his own, but youth was a different customer!
      • Hired a part-time organizer and lost money, but promoted youth programs, and hired Wynne and later an assistant to 3.5 FTEs…


Tom Crawford on Athlete Development Models in the U.S.

CEO of USA Ultimate, Dr. Crawford, discusses athlete development models in the United States in this talk given at the the 2015 Youth Ultimate Coaching Conference, thankfully archived by the Bay Area Disc Association and Skyd Magazine’s YouTube playlists.  Below you’ll find a talk outline (with time stamps) and a few notes I took while watching the video…


3:46 — Serving on a Council at the US Olympic Committee which is studying an American Development Model  (led by USOC, NCAA, Nike, coordinated by Aspen Institute) and is about to initiate a major push to implement it.  Ultimate is being held up as an example for other sports to learn from…

5:25 — Has worked with many professional sports and believes that when sports are done right, they can enhance the human experience.  When they’re done wrong, they don’t.

7:30 — How does ultimate fit within the framework of sports in the U.S.? [first slide]

  • Structure of sport in the world
    • Top: International Olympic Committee (IOC) works through
      • National Olympic Committee (in the U.S. that’s the USOC = our Ministry of Sport (including a family of organizations like NCCA, YMCA, JCC, CYOs, Boys & Girls clubs, and now USA Ultimate)
      • International Federations (for ultimate that’s WFDF [pronounced “whiffdiff”], the World Flying Disc Federation)
      • Those bodies work through National Governing Bodies:
        • USAU, Ultimate Canada
        • US Tennis Association, USA Hockey…
      • which facilitate athlete development, e.g. USA Ultimate is trying to work though
        • Affiliates (Bay Area Disc, Disc NW)
        • Chapters
        • Youth Service organizations (JCC, CYO, Boys & Girls clubs), so expect an influx of 1000s of kids!

17:45 — The aspects of ultimate that are most attractive to the IOC , USOC, and ESPN (and parents!) are:

  • Spirit of the game
  • Self-officiation

17:56 —

“The reason ESPN has the observers miked up is not because they want to listen to the observers, it’s because they’re trying to figure out how to get that discussion between the athletes clearly on the ear — in a way where it becomes a unique element and makes the sport totally different from other sports.”

19:30 — the American Development Model (ADM)

  • Built on the Ultimate Canada’s LTAD model
  • Translated the Canadian development periods into US grade and age ranges:
U.S. grade & age levels associated with stages of the Canadian Ultimate LTAD model
U.S. grade & age levels associated with stages of the Canadian Ultimate LTAD model


  • Note: no specialization in single-sport until high school!
    • 3 sports for 9-12 year olds
    • 2 sports from ages 12-16 years
  • Sports are applications of fundamental movement skills (run, leap, throw…)

23:15 — Differences in the U.S. relative to other countries

  • We have parents that think $25k/yr investment in worth it to get NCAA scholarships or success professional sports.  There is early specialization inertia that we’ll have to overcome through education and marketing.
  • Kids get more exposure to sports and opportunities
  • NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, Pro Soccer, Winter, X-games, Olympics, Triple Crown Tour
  • School based system (27:25 — V/JV tradition with only 15ish kids per team drives the steep drop-off in sports participation at ages 13-15…)

25:10 ADM Statement and 5 stages to a better sport experience:

  1. Discover Learn Play (0-12 years)
  2. Develop and Challenge (10-16 years)
  3. Train and Compete (13-19 years)
  4. Stage 4 has two modes (13-15 year, when most attrition happens)
    1. Participate and succeed (15+)
    2. Excel for high performance (15+)
  5. Thrive and mentor (for life)

27:27 — Ultimate’s big opportunity is receiving those kids that didn’t make the J/V cut in other sports!

28:55 — Key principles that will drive the ADM

  1. Universal access (USAU Foundation: raises $ to allow everyone to play; e.g. GUM aspiring to have 70% girls and 30% boys!)
  2. Develop motor and skills thru appropriate activities (teach parents and teachers to create opportunities)
  3. Encourage multisport participation (economics makes this tough: e.g. US Tennis [$200-250M/yr operating budget] is bigger than the USOC [US Hockey (30-40M$/yr)] and employs many professional coaches who don’t want other sports.  They want year-round participation!  This means a huge opportunity to create economically-viable multi-sport facilities.)
  4. Fun, engaging, challenging atmospheres (not just “good job,” but “this is how you can be the best that you can be.”)
  5. Quality coaching at all levels (Coaching is the delivery system of sport.  [SV: What if it was just peers through play, e.g. neighborhood pick-up?]

38:45 — Key outcomes

  1. Grow general pool of athletes and pool of elite athletes (Olympians)
  2. Develop fundamental skills that transfer between sports
  3. Appropriate avenue to fulfill athletic potential (maximize potential; not get a scholarship, or play in the NBA)
  4. Create a generation that loves sport and physical activity and transfers to that passion to the next generation (Nike’s involved because there’s a huge drop-off in youth participation.  Why?  The focus on winning, lack of fun, and increasing injury.  “My coaches are teaching me how to cheat!”

44:50 — Next steps for USOC and ADM

  • USOC get support from all NGBs and logos on ADM site
  • Aug 2015: Workshop to implement ADM/LTAD concepts through US NGBs
  • Continue to support research and awareness

46:00 — interlocking finger model of sport (one hand players, one hand coaches)

48:00 — Exciting stuff!

  • USAU just moved to Colorado Springs where we had meetings that suggest ultimate can get onto Olympic Program way earlier than any of us dreamed
  • IOC just finished 2020 reforms (Olympic program will change to be by discipline, not limited by sport, and will illiminate sports that are no longer played and replace them with hip/cool ones that are also inexpensive [facilities, easy access, entertaining=ESPN, and mixed gender])

52:00 Q: How to increase access?

Youth serving agencies are putting us on their menu and then delivering those kids to us!

  • CYO = East coast sports organization plans to introduce ultimate to their 7,000 player basketball program
  • Boys and Girls clubs
  • JCCs

USAU Foundation

  • Help us find donors
  • Highest priority: Build network of entreprenurial partners who deliver the coaching!




2016 Youth Ultimate Coaching Conference (YUCC) theme: Developing Girls’ Ultimate

The new Executive Director of the Bay Area Disc Association announced in his 9/30/15 welcome letter that the theme for the 2016 Youth Ultimate Coaching Conference (YUCC) will be “Developing Girls’ Ultimate.”  The conference is to be held next March (2016) in the Bay Area and plans to “convene inspirational role models from around the country like Qxhna Titcomb (All-Star Ultimate Tour founder and World Champion) to present…”  Watch their youth ultimate event calendar for further details.

In anticipation of learning more about how to coach girls, here’s a related presentation from the 2015 YUCC by DiscNW’s Heather Ann Brauer entitled “Giving Girls a Voice: Tools for empowerment and confidence on and off the ultimate field” with my notes appended —

1:05 Asked 7 girls and 7 boys why do you love ultimate

  • girls: community, spirit, friends, athleticism, fun
  • boys: similar themes (though also + layout, callahan, greatest, aggression, intensity)

2:00 More important than these differences is how we approach the off-field culture and connectedness of the team.

Girls (and women) often under-rank themselves

How do you empower them?  CLEAR

  • Culture – giving girls tools to create a culture they want to see in their team
  • Language – e.g. not saying “sorry,” saying “person-defense” instead of “man defense”
  • Emotions – talking about empathy, connectedness; being able to be where you’re at and valuing those emotions
  • Agency – giving girls a voice or say, adds to the buy-in they have in the team
  • Role models – getting women to be role models, but also giving girls a chance to be role models themselves (e.g. GUM clinics)

4:55 Tips and tricks

  1. Create a team charter
    1. How do you want to feel as an individual (at practices, at games)?  [Challenged to learn; happy and social; enthusiastic, excited; valued; accomplished; improved/better; successful]
    2. Narrow down to 4-6 words and create actionable items, e.g. for “confidence” the high school girls came up with: “We will consistently attend practice and hold one another accountable.  We will not say “I’m sorry.” We will be stars.  We will give one another positive feedback. We will give each other high fives.  And we will conduct ourselves with the utmost swagger.”
    3. (11:55) Establish a buddy system
      1. Usually not established friends
      2. Check-ins throughout the season; ask buddy if you missed practice; share personal goals
    4. Coaches can help create tangible goals (e.g. 50 completions in a go-to drill) and remind team of the goal, especially if they are straying away from the key-words of their charter
    5. Attendance at practice went from ~8 before charter to 12-14 afterwards because they felt bought-in
  2. (15:40) Check-in/Check-outs
    1. At beginning of practice let each player say one word describing how they’re feeling (or using thumbs up/down/sideways)
    2. Check-out? [presumably the same process, but at the end of practice…]
  3. (17:35) Interactive warm-up
    1. Variation of team USA U23 warm-up
      1. (19:30) Demo of paired, interactive plyos
      2. hi-5s are the most important part!
  4. (22:35) I’m a star!
    1. If a player makes a mistake and says “I’m sorry”
    2. Teammates say “What did you say?”
    3. And player jumps up and says “I’m a star!”
    4. To which teammates respond “Yes you are.”
  5. (23:35) Collaborative challenges work really well
    1. Try to meet a goal.  Each time you make it as a team, reduce your 10 planned 40-yard sprints by one.
    2. Create drills that have progressions to create challenge: dishy pass + look to huck + add defender + a fake + under pass…
    3. Supportive drills: e.g. 3 or 5 lines with people cutting towards you.  By saying names and making eye contacts, you make a social connection every time.



Danny Saunders on Long Term Athlete Development in youth ultimate

Deciding what a youth ultimate player should know and be able to do is a prelude to assessing youth ultimate curricula this fall, and possibly designing a new one for the elementary and/or middle school levels.  One way to get at such learning objectives is to understand “Long Term Athlete Development” (aka LTAD).   A search for LTAD and ultimate quickly takes you to Ultimate Canada’s LTAD model for ultimate (released in 2014).

While the 72-page document (overview pamphlet; full PDF) needs to be reviewed from a U.S. perspective, I figured I’d start with a video introduction by Danny Saunders, the executive director of Ultimate Canada and a co-author of the model.  Below are my notes (with time-stamps) taken as I watched his talk from the 2015 Youth Ultimate Coaching Conference, thankfully archived by the Bay Area Disc Association.

1:48 end of introducing himself; verbal outline of talk (what is LTAD, key aspects, what Ultimate Canada is doing with it)

3:20 Plays this video from the American Tennis Association to help us understand what’s motivating the athlete development model across all sports (kids have trouble playing with adult sized fields, equipment, and rules)

5:35 Ten factors to optimize for each age group

  1. Excellence takes time
    1. 10 yrs, 10khrs vs cross training in other sports [may be developmentally appropriate for youth!?]
    2. (7:25) Develop physical literacy
      1. fundamental and sport skills before age ~11
      2. ABCs: Agility; Balance; Coordination & speed
      3. Have fun [are “standard” ultimate games the best idea for grades 3-4? what about disc golf?]
      4. (12:20) Hockey video showing how other supports (including ultimate) help train good youth hockey players
    3. (14:00) Specialization
      1. Very few sports require early specialization (eg. gymnastics) for long term development (Martindale et al., 2015)
      2. Ultimate is a late specialization sport (40% ultimate and 60% other sports is appropriate for ages 6-10ish)
    4. (17:45) Developmental age
      1. Same age kids have huge variation in physical and mental maturity
      2. Playtime guidelines (make sure everyone gets a chance, tries different positions, that coaches are balanced in their attentions
    5. (22:20) Sensitive periods
      1. At certain ages, kids have accelerated adaptation (in strength, speed, etc)
      2. Peak height velocity (growth rate) has maxima around puberty for both genders
        1. Before they are more adapted to speed/agility, suppleness/flexibility (age 6-10)
        2. Skill window is near ages 8-12: best time to learn a new sport!  This led them to adjust sport at this age to acquire skills (LOTS of touches, keeping it fun):
          1. field size
          2. disc size
          3. adjusting rules to focus on skills (no zone in middle school)
          4. fewer players per side (4v4, 5v5)
        3. After they are more adapted to speed and strength training
      3. (27:15) Holistic coaching
        1. Develop whole athlete (build character and ethics)
        2. Spirit of the game (developed resource about children and SotG for youth coaches)
      4. (29:10) Periodization
        1. How do you sequence training and growth in logical, scientifically-based ways
        2. What level of competition is appropriate?
        3. How do you obtain peak performance at different stages
      5. (30:40) Competition calendar
        1. Does the coach have enough time to develop the athlete?
        2. Does competition favor athlete development?  (Too many games to absorb skills optimally…  Parents love games and may want more than is appropriate.)
        3. <8-9 y.o. (~3rd grade) just have FUN
        4. ~9-16 (4th-8th): 30-40% competition
        5. ~16-23 (9th-college): 60% competition
        6. Adult: 75% competition; 25% training
        7. How many games per tournament and how much time/$$ to spend traveling
      6. (34:55) System harmony
        1. Everybody has their baggage (interests, biases): players, coaches, administrators, parents, etc.
        2. Schools; community center recreational ultimate; high performance clubs
        3. Canada has both player & coach development models
          1. How do we incorporate
          2. National Coaching Association of Canada oversees
          3. Community coaches (introducing kids to sport)
          4. Competition coaches (don’t take community training)
          5. Evaluator comes out to watch you coach as part of certification!
          6. Developing resources that describes coach roles at each stage
      7. (38:25) Kaizen
        1. Continuous improvement and openness to change
        2. The LTAD model should evolve through
          1. Pilot projects, e.g. I love ultimate program (Canadian Tyre sponsored)
          2. Planned updates

40:00 Summary of talk

Need good coaches — ones who take an interest in athlete development beyond just the field!

41:10 end and questions


  • Can you explain about your coaching delivery methods (online? full-day workshops?)?
    • Community one is a 1-day workshop
    • Competition is more complicated
      • Coaching Assoc. Canada handles: planning practice; making ethical decisions; nutrition
      • This limits in-person course length and frees learning facilitators (coach instructors)  to teach their passion: ultimate-specific elements
      • Evaluation has a grid/rubric to make coach expectations clear
  • Did you have to integrate with Sport Canada’s LTAD and coach certifications to be aligned with everything that’s going on in Canada?
    • Yes.  To obtain funding and meet goal of developing high-level Canadian athletes, we needed to use these approaches and templates.
  • Can you talk about how mddle school games on a full-sized field can have low scores relative to one on a slightly smaller field?
    • Snow-bound, windy tournaments on prairies had middle school games actually finish with just 10-15 yards shortening!