Category Archives: elementary

DiscNW Executive Director job opening, leadership history, & investment in youth

Last week the lead post on the home page of DiscNW was the announcement that the current Executive Director, William Bartram (aka “Bunny”) will leave the organization and the search is on for a new leader.  The announcement (text appended) included a job description (archived PDF) which referenced the 2016 strategic plan (text also appended).

What does this mean for youth ultimate in the greater Seattle area and the Northwest region?  I offer a few inferences from materials posted on the DiscNW web site, as well as some historical perspective gleaned from the organization’s annual financial reports (Form 990s for DiscNW, 2002-2014).

Reading through the announcement, job description, and overview of the strategic plan, there’s not a crystal-clear vision for youth ultimate.  After all, youth programming is only about 1/3 of DiscNW’s annual efforts.

The documents, however, do contain a few hints about where DiscNW may take youth ultimate in the next few years.   The announcement rightly applauds Bunny for increasing “youth participation from about 1000 to 4000” players per year, and for establishing the “Youth Development Fund now in excess of $130,000 annually.”  The job announcement seeks candidates who will “direct industry standard youth programming” and “ensure gender equity and accessibility.”  I’m not sure if “industry standard” means that the board considers the awesome programs that Bunny has grown to define the industry standard, or if DiscNW intends to emulate some other regional or National programs (e.g. the Canadian LTAD model).  It could also be an allusion to the LTAD benchmarks and re-vamped coach development program (CDP) that USA Ultimate has been working on for the last year or two, or to the roll-out of State chapters by the National governing body which began last year…  The call for gender equity in both the job description and the strategic plan, combined with the emphasis on promoting gender equity in the recent DiscNW coaching clinics, suggests that the organization may be seeking leadership that could incorporate new structure (e.g. the GUM middle school girls curriculum) into the DiscNW youth programs and coach development.

It’s exciting to consider who will lead DiscNW for the next era, especially when you look back through Bunny’s long run (from ~2004-2017), the evolution of the administration, and even into the early leadership.  Here’s a Google spreadsheet that characterizes the history of DiscNW with an emphasis on the organization’s “youth activities.”  It’s clear from the associated graphs (below) that DiscNW has grown consistently over the last 15 years, both in total revenues and in its expenditures on “youth activities” (which according to the IRS documents includes youth leagues, tournaments, camps, clinics, and total youth players served).

Youth expenditures were less than 10% of revenues when they were first reported separately in the 2004 Form 990, but in the next few years they rose to ~30%.  They have remained near 1/3 of total revenues since then, though there was an interesting (yet to be explained) dip in 2012.

Administrative costs (also as a % of total revenue) have also risen.  In 2002 when Mike Keran was the E.D., administrative costs (compensation) were about 10% of total revenue.  The percentage stayed pretty constant until ~2008, about the time the organization’s staff started to grow.  In 2004-2006, the E.D. changed from Mike to Bunny, with Morgan Ahouse serving as an interim E.D. as first Wilma Comenat and then William Bertrand (Bunny) were hired and trained, with paid assistance from Mike for Wilma.   Then in 2007, Bunny brought on Frank Nam as the first Youth Director.  The next year Wynne Scherf was hired and paid along with Frank (who presumably brought her up to speed).  About the same time (2008), Jeff Dairiki began being paid to help maintain the web site which he’s continued to do since, with some help from Mike in 2010-11 and a concerted paid effort (to rebuild the site?) in 2013.  Finally, in 2011, Elizabeth Brown was paid as an Operations Manager, a position which switched to Rusty Brown the next year.

The growth in adminstrative staff has brought total compensation to about 20% of total revenue.  This seems quite reasonable (for an organization that doesn’t maintain a central office and has staff living in Seattle where expenses are high) but it would be interesting to compare to other comparable regional entitities, to the extent that the exist.  Perhaps the Bay Area Disc Association (founded 2008) or Minnesota Youth Ultimate (founded 2003)?

Know of any other organizations that might be comparable?  Leave them in the comments!


Archived text of the DiscNW home page announcement:

Message from the DiscNW Board

Our Executive Director (ED), William Bartram, has recently informed us that he will be leaving our organization.

Bunny, as he’s known around the community, has graced us with his leadership for the past 12 years. In an organization like ours, this is a lifetime. Bunny has brought to DiscNW a sense of wisdom, patience, and caring instrumental in helping us grow into the tight-knit community we are now. Under his tenure, DiscNW has experienced extraordinary growth, in many dimensions:

  • Increased youth participation from about 1000 to 4000
  • Established Youth Development Fund now in excess of $130,000 annually
  • Expanded adult league participation by more than 60%
  • Led budget growth from $220,000 to more than $1,100,000
  • Grew from one employee to four full-time staff, hundreds of volunteers, and several contractors

The board thanks Bunny for his work, love of the sport, and commitment to our community. We are lucky to have a resilient organization with dedicated staff members, who will continue to provide excellent programs to the community as we begin recruitment for a new ED.

The job description is now available and the position is open for applications — please spread the word if you know of a motivated, sport-loving, non-profit leader. Bunny will continue in his position in the interim, and will work with the new ED to transition his responsibilities by early summer. For questions about the position, contact jobs@discnw.org.

DiscNW will be posting occasional updates on our social media channels about our recruitment process. If you see Bunny on the fields this spring, please thank him for his years of service to our community!

Sincerely,
DiscNW Board of Directors


Archived text of the 2016 Strategic Plan

Strengthening Our Community – DiscNW Strategic Plan 2017-2019

In 2016 DiscNW developed a new strategic plan to guide the organization through the next three years. Through this new plan, DiscNW will strive to strengthen our ultimate community. The plan will allow the organization to be more nimble, and it will empower staff to take action. DiscNW will serve as a regional resource by being a model organization and reaffirming our commitment to the Spirit of the Game.

 

Prioritize building community relationships

  • Through improved and strengthened communications to our constituents
  • Through outreach to other coordinators and organizers
  • Through our business partnerships
  • Through messaging, branding, and promotion

Continue improving upon and delivering excellent programs

  • By emphasizing Spirit of the Game at the forefront of our decision making
  • By ensuring gender equity
  • By ensuring accessibility and inclusiveness
  • By developing and supporting high quality leadership and coaching
  • By continuing to focus on efficient operational procedures and best practice

Devote resources to organizational resilience

  • To provide the agility to address rapid changes in our regional Ultimate community
  • To grow the sport by more thoughtfully expanding regional services

Coach youth ultimate! (synopsis of the 2010 USA Ultimate resource guide)

Google “coach youth ultimate” in 2017 and the top two hits will be these PDFs from USA Ultimate:

  1. Coaching Youth League Ultimate By Carey Goldenberg
  2. PART 4: Teaching Ultimate

It turns out these PDFs were created in 2010 as part of a larger USAU document called the “USA Ultimate Resource Guide” (archived PDF, 08/09/2010 version).  The 2nd Google hit is Part 4 of the Resource Guide, while the 1st hit is one section in that same Part.  It turns out that most of the guide is still quite timely and useful — whether for coaches, team managers, or organizers of clinics, camps, or leagues.  There are even some sections about growing the sport that might be worth reviving — even in Seattle where youth ultimate is already big — like field acquisition, facilitating ultimate in PE classes,  and getting the word out.   Here’s the entire table of contents…

Table of Contents

  • PART 1: Ultimate Organizations
    • Organizational Structures
  • PART 2: Ultimate Leagues
    • Recruiting Players for Leagues
    • Timing Strategy when Starting a League
    • Field Acquisition for Local Leagues
    • Recruiting and Retaining Women
  • PART 3: Ultimate In Schools
    • 10 Simple Steps To Starting a School-based Ultimate Team
    • Starting an Ultimate Club At Your School
    • Starting a High School League
    • Traveling With a Youth Ultimate Team
    • Growing Youth Ultimate Through PE Classes
  • PART 4: Teaching Ultimate
    • Ultimate In 10 Simple Rules
    • Teaching the Spirit of the Game™
    • Teaching Self-officiating
    • Coaching Youth League Ultimate
    • Running a Youth Skills Clinic
    • Starting an Ultimate Camp
    • Ultimate Drills
  • PART 5: Getting the Word Out
    • Gaining Media Attention
    • Building the Ultimate On-line Presence
  • PART 6: Appendices
    • Appendix A: Sample Camp Application Form
    • Appendix B: Sample Camp Evaluation Form
    • Appendix C: Sample Medical Authorization Form
    • Appendix D: Sample Youth Chaperone Consent and Release Form
    • Appendix E: Sample Waiver/Release of Liability Form
    • Appendix F: Sample Player Information Form
    • Appendix G: Sample Press Release Layout
    • Appendix H: 10 Tips For Writing a Press Release

Things that caught my eye:

  1. The idea of getting some official discs for your school’s PE program.  I’ve meant to do this for years at Eckstein.  I bet just 10-15 discs would be a welcome contribution for a typical PE class.
  2. Goldenberg’s coaching suggestions are aimed mostly at high school, but her ideas of teaching defense first, and then letting a team find their own offensive strategy makes good sense.  I also noticed that when she lists off strategies that a (high school) team could consider, the list included not only horizontal and vertical stack, but also “dominator” and “chaos.”  This reminds me we need a historical list of all the offenses ever tried — just to show kids that they can be creative in how the create, defend, and claim open space.
  3. Goldenberg also mentions the compliment sandwich at the end of her piece… as “praise, comment, praise.”
  4. Goldenberg verbally describes a “straight-on throwing” drill which is diagrammed (with much less confusion for me) in the last section of Part 4 (Ultimate Drills).  The other two drills she describes are also diagrammed.
  5. There’s a historical depiction of DiscNW on page 14.  I was interested in the mention of their role in the “Magnuson Park upgrade” and the proud mention of their online tools: the DiscNW “bulletin board” (which still exists!) and photo/video sharing mechanisms (not sure what these were)…

 

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!

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)

7pm

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

Questions:

  • 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

Ideas:

  • 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 “site:usaultimate.org”)
  • 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!

Sign-in and snack tables
Sign-in 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)

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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

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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:

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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)