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Getting More Out of the Practice Warm-Up

by Pat McCarthy

Nearly every team I've played on had what I would call the "traditional" ultimate warm up. You jog/plyo/stretch in some combination, and then you do some set of drills which can be roughly summarized as: the down field under "cutting" drill (Go To, etc), the dump/swing/continue "handler" drill and the huck drill. There are lots of different flavors of them, with or without marks, where you start, etc, but at their core, these drills focus on 2 or 3 players while everyone else is watching. While these drills are easy to set up and run, they are incredibly inefficient from a "maximize your time" perspective. Even worse, you're constantly battling team wide focus issues in these drills with artificial goals because you really only need to be focused 20% of the time to do the drills perfectly (20 completions in a row then we're done!). Before you know it, 20-30 minutes have passed and you're not much closer to being ready to play. I don’t feel qualified to say what the best jog/plyo/stretch phase looks like, but I can confidently say that the drill aspect of warm up can be much improved if you focus on three main goals. 

1. Get your team Focused
At the end of the warm up your team should be alert and attentive. The entire warm up should take 100% focus from every player to execute. If this is all you get out of your warm up, at least you have a team that's ready for the rest of practice. Warm up drills should involve 2-3 players at most. 

2. Realistic reps at the basic mechanics of ultimate
Cut. Change directions. Catch. Set your feet after the catch. Go from catch to a throwing grip. Pivot and transition from one grip to the other. Make clean break mark moves and throws. Cut again. Get lots of touches for each player (in the range of 100) so that everyone is comfortable making the basic ultimate plays that the rest of your practice plan depends on. 

3. Get it done quickly
The Drill phase of warm up should be completed in 10 minutes or less. By shaving 10 minutes off your warm up, you save 10 hours of practice time over the course of the college season. 

My favorite warm up is a drill we call "Dishie Warm Ups". They take 5 minutes to run, and each player gets roughly 100 catches & throws, 60 pivots & grip changes & 30 cuts. Each of these should build focus; if your team does one set lazily, or has lots of turnovers, don’t be afraid to stop the drill and restart it. You can easily add a mark to around dishies, or change the distance between the throwing partners to get more variation in your warm up. 

Partner up with a disc, set up 10 yards apart and go 70-90 yards up and back doing: 

  • Regular Dishies: Complete running passes to each other up and down the field. Try to throw less than 2 steps after the catch (ideally within 1 step).
  • Inside Out Dishies: Repeat with a pump fake to the outside, then hitting your partner with an in stride inside out throw. Focus on a quick pivot & throw.
  • Around Dishies: Partner goes up the line, then cuts for an around throw off of the pump fake. The timing is different on this one than it is for inside out dishies. Take the imaginary downfield look, then inside, then beat your imaginary mark with a quick move to the around throw.


huddle issue031

Mon February 28th, 2011

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Getting More Out of the Practice Warm-Up
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