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Planning Youth Practices

by Shannon O'Malley

Elementary Ultimate (Ages 8-11) Beginners
Fun, fun fun. 

When it comes down to it, these guys just aren’t quite developed enough to hold attention on one thing for anything longer than 15 minutes. So first things first, you really have to chunk your practice out. Secondly, these kids are just learning how to use their bodies in an athletic way and ultimately a lot of what you do will be teaching them overall coordination and control of their bodies. Lastly, you are probably introducing this game to the kids for the first time in the life, teach them to love the game make every minute exciting and fun! Get them started with an activity that doesn’t even involve a disc or involves it but not in a conventional way. (Tag, Capture the Frisbee, Relay races with the disc as a baton). 

Now that they are warmed up and hopefully a little bit tired, this would be the time to teach them in their first chunk, whether it’s throwing, catching or the basics on cutting you have about 15 to 20 minutes. The basic outline of practice should alternate between a skill focused drill and a game that works on that skill. It’s also important to remember when planning a practice for a group of kids this age is to include an activity or game that really emphasizes teamwork, sportsmanship, and spirit. Along with learning the game these guys are still learning how to work with others and how to do it respectfully in a competitive environment. 

Favorite drills/games for kids this age
Potential Practice Plan 1.5 hours
  • Dog: two players run deep for a pass trying to catch it.
  • Frisbee tag: players who are "it" work together to pass the disc around and tag others with the disc or by throwing a soft pass at another player for them to become it as well. Played in an end zone.
  • Ladder drill races: team members must run ahead of the player with the disc and receive a pass to gain yards and make their way down the field. Players must throw and receive from the same player, teams of 4 or 5.
  • 0-10/15min: Warm up game
  • 15min-30: Partner throwing/catching
  • 30-45: Ladder relay drill
  • Break
  • 55min-1hr 10: Basic come to drill
  • 1:15-1:30: Dog Drill

Middle School (Grade 11-14) Intermediate
This age can often be a tough group to plan a practice for. For developing programs you may end up with a mix of kids some of which have never touched a disc before and some of which have been playing for 3 years. Many of these practices can be run with the same mentality as the Elementary level but with more in depth and intermediate level skill work. For programs that are developed with multiple teams you now have the option to really break the practice into groups based on skill. It is still really important at this age to be running drills that focus a lot on teamwork and sportsmanship especially as the kids start to get more competitive and obtain egos. 

On to planning, as a teacher I take every moment as a teaching opportunity even if the kids don’t know it. Start off with a proper warm up, jog, stretch, some beginning plyos. Teach them good habits for when they are old because at the rate they are going they may not be playing past 25. From there it is great to start with throwing because all players at this age especially need it and it’s a great time to get your one on one in with the kids. Move on to your first drill of the day, a nice warm up with some sort of game aspect to it or challenge, even though they are older attention spans are still low. For my older kids, 8th grade, I like to have two drills in a row come next focusing on the theme of that days practice, the first breaking down the skill and the second being an application of that skill in a real time situation. I always like to end practice with a full scrimmage, they deserve it and really these kids just need to play, play, play, have fun and learn to play as a team. 

Themes for practice at this level
Practice Outline 2 hours
  • Fundamentals!: Footwork, how to cut, finding open space, proper throwing form
  • Timing cuts off others, Offensive cutting patters, Vert or Ho stack
  • Defense body positioning
  • Marking and the Force
  • 0-20minutes Warm up
  • 20-30minutes Throwing
  • 30-40/45minutes Warm up drill/game
  • 45minutes -1hr first drill, skill focus
  • Break
  • 1:05-1:20 2nd drill - application, more game like situation than first
  • 1:30-2hr Scrimmage, Game to 5



huddle issue031

Mon February 28th, 2011

Practice? We Talkin' About Practice?
by Jeff Eastham-Anderson

Full Focus, Full Effort
by Greg Husak

Practice Planning Musts
by Tyler Kinley

Take Control of Your Practice
by John Korber

Managing Intensity, Concepts, and Fun
by Peri Kurshan

Getting More Out of the Practice Warm-Up
by Pat McCarthy

Planning Youth Practices
by Shannon O'Malley

Parts of a Whole
by Shane Rubenfeld

Three Easy Targets
by Ben Slade

Planning Ahead
by Ryan Thompson

Minutes Are Precious
by Ben Wiggins

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Throwers: How to Plan a Throwing Practice
by Melissa Witmer




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