The new Ultimate season quickly approaches and this year it starts earlier than ever before. With the firsts starting in week 5 versus OW! and the seconds in week 6 against Haze 2, before both travel away for tricky fixtures against Fling 1 & 2, the first few weeks have never been more crucial. So here are my 5 tips towards early season dominance:
1. Throw Lots
This one is the most obvious and probably most effective of all these steps. When you have to play at Grove “The Wind Tunnel” Farm early in the season against any team with Ben “That guy from worlds” Poole, giving it to Frig to jack deep and hoping for the best isn’t going to yield the best results. However, if you use the next 6 weeks properly and everyone can schedule in 4 hours of throwing a week (this includes outdoor trainings), then you will have the early advantage. Sure, we have the BURLA advantage and you can guarantee we have done more throwing than most, but we need to make sure everyone can pull there weight. The game has progressed beyond having two or three handlers, everyone has to be able to throw if you want to be successful. Personally, I suggest following Zen Throwing:
It takes slightly longer than Kung Fu Throwing but it works on perfecting your existing throws and importantly has catching elements, something that I feel has let this team down in recent years.
2. Fitness, Fitness, Fitness
Fitness is one of the most important aspects of ultimate, you don’t have to be the fastest, tallest or best handler, if you can keep sprinting when everyone else can only manage a jog you are going to get D’s and score goals. Again, hopefully our exploits in BURLA will give us a slight head start heading into the season but that is no guarantee. Fitness is the thing that takes the longest to regain after a long off-season break, but if you start now you will begin to see the rewards by the time the season begins. Don’t expect to see huge improvements immediately, but come the first game you will be running circles around your man. In terms of a program you should follow, it really depends on you and your fitness levels, the Warwick Bears Core Routine is a great place to start when working on muscular fitness:
In regard to cardiovascular there really is no set regime, people may say that long distance running isn’t tangible to the sprint-stop nature of Ultimate, but we’d be lying if we said it didn’t help; go for a run, swim, or bike-ride just remember what you are training for and don’t be afraid to put in some intervals to improve that recovery time.
3. Eat Properly
This is something I have been extremely guilty of, particularly last year, and is the thing I intend to change the most. I am not trying to say, stick to a strict diet (It’s almost impossible to stick to and generally doesn’t work, ask Ed), but simply eat healthily and in moderation, a Dirty Dog’s Dinner is fine after a Wednesday training and a Spoons will always provide the perfect tournament snack. However, make sure you are balancing this with the right stuff. I’m not going to lecture you on the basic food groups but simply warn you that all the gains you might have made in the strength and fitness categories are easily undone because those doughnuts just looked too good. Again there are not set diets I would recommend you stick to but this is a good article on “superfoods” and the other is one by our very own Rory “Huge” Hughes:
4. Lift Weights
Now, we all love the core routine and it definitely serves a useful purpose, but aside from giving you an incredible core, which is 80% of the battle, you aren’t going to develop the strength or power to allow you to dominate opponents. Similar to fitness, this is something that takes time to develop and improve but if you stick to a plan, the rewards will show for themselves. Now is a brilliant time to put the work in and start to see the results before the season begins, you don’t have to have a gym membership to achieve these goals, simply use things around the house you feel will give you a challenge (heavy text books, cases of beer). This is a routine I started over summer before getting injured (due to cricket not the workout) and is something I would like to see through to the end:
This is one for people who haven’t done much gym work before:
And for those with lots of experience there’s always Euro training:
5. Try Yoga
There is nothing more annoying than getting injured during an intense session or at the start of a tournament, sure warm-ups are great and help to limit these injuries but stretching before and after is only going to do so much. You wouldn’t warm-up and cool down and say that was your fitness done for the week, so why should we be any different about stretching. Stretching the body will not only decrease the risk of injury but any increase in flexibility will allow you stretch that little bit further or reach that little bit higher. Not only is yoga a great way to stretch the body it also helps develop core muscles and will increase your self awareness of the body. I know some of you may be sceptical, but believe me as one sceptic to another, it is extremely relaxing whilst also helps you to get into the shape needed for the start of the season. I recommend 30 Days of Yoga by Yoga with Adriene it takes you through the basics and only takes half and hour a day, perfect to relieve a bit of stress: http://yogawithadriene.com/30days/
So these are my tips to help you prepare for the upcoming season, I know time is a luxury so try, if you can, try to follow through on at least the top 2 and maybe one of the other 3 and you will quickly find yourself destroying your early season opposition.