Ultimate Frisbee and Training for Sports

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It was my junior year of college when I decided to start playing Ultimate Frisbee*, having known many members of the team already. This was also around the same time that I was taking the meat of my exercise science classes. What resulted was a learning experience not taught in the classroom.

When you think of strength and conditioning, football is probably the first sport that pops up. You may also recognize that college athletes train for their sport or event.

Any competitive sport puts a lot of demand on the body and good competition forces you to keep up with the pack.

So what does non-varsity Ultimate at a Division 3 school have to do with training? It is more important than most people know.

Everyone makes the team and is given a shot to play. If you can’t make it to practice or a tournament, we’ll see you at the next one. The laid back nature has its perks for those who really want to succeed and for those that just want to be a part of something.

For those that did train, they ran for distance.

Analysis of the Sport

First and foremost, Ultimate is made up of repeated sprint ability. There are no whistles and the pace of the game fluctuates constantly. You may be running for a pass only to have to change and start sprinting after your previous defender.

Transitioning from sprints to maximal jumps is also essential to the sport. Simply, you need to jump to get the disc.

Multi-directional movements are necessary due to constant changes of direction. Cutting in all planes of motion occur even through one play.

The ugly part of the game is that most players on the team have been injured at least once while playing. Ankles, knees, feet, and hip injuries were experienced at an alarming rate.

Usually at the end of the tournament, players were too sore to continue playing. Maybe distance running forgot some of the demands of the game? 

If you do not train for lower body power and strength (in any sport) your performance will suffer. This also means that the ability to repeat those movements is going to be poor as well.

I can only imagine what Squats, Deadlifts, sprinting and explosive movements could have done for the team.

This experience taught me that you must train (appropriately) for ALL sports, even if they are not high school, collegiate, etc. Golf is the easiest sport in the world right? Ask a frequent golfer how his/her back feels. I can play slow pitch softball no problem! How come your shoulder is all of the sudden tight?

You may not consider your activity serious or strenuous but your body will. No matter what the activity or sport is, you must train accordingly to increase your performance, but more importantly reduce the risk of injury.

5Ks, adventure races, and men’s/women’s sport leagues all gain in popularity when organized sports are no longer an option. Aerobic endurance (cardio) training will not prepare the body to resist injury.

If your sport requires you to sprint, interval training is a great way to train. A couple of options are:

1.      Sprint one set of telephone poles, jog through the next 1-2 sets for a total of 10 sprints.

2.      Sprint up a hill, jog down for 7-10 sets

3.      Sprint 20 seconds, jog or walk for 40 seconds for 10 minutes total.

Remember to warm up, cool down, and never exercise through pain or bad technique.

If you are not strength and power training for your sport/event, start. Just please don’t think running 3 miles will make you jump higher, hit a home run, or drive the ball 300. (Aerobic athletes: Go nuts but resistance training is essential for protecting your body)

*Ultimate is the actual name for the sport of Ultimate Frisbee. A Frisbee is actually a product from a company and is not used for the sport, ironically. Discs are used in Ultimate. And yes, I know I am a geek.

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