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Find What Works For Your Team

by Chelsea Putnam

We all know how exciting it is to play Ultimate, and we all know what it feels like to have those butterflies before game time.  Having a well executed pre-game warm-up can literally mean the difference, in my opinion, between winning or losing the game. Setting the appropriate tone for game time is essential because this game we play is at least 80% mental. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are creating a warm-up:

Dynamic Warm-up is the key:  The warm-up is not just drills, it is also jogging, plyos, stretching, throwing, and logistics (flipping, changing jerseys, eating that wonderful Gu). Many elite club teams have moved, in the past few years, to a dynamic warm-up. I completely agree with this move, and it can be awesome if you do it right. A dynamic warm-up incorporates getting your heart rate up, stretching, and plyos all together. Most teams follow a set pattern of plyos (ex. butt kickers, lunges, frankensteins, and many more) and once your team learns the exercises it can be very easy to run. My team would also use this time to focus and visualize about personal goals for that game. I think for most teams the dynamic warm-up works better than static stretching because it is less time consuming and incorporates more movement into your warm-up.

Find your fire and stick to it: Every team that I have ever played on has drills that they excel at. It depends on the personality of your team and what kind of players you have. For some, it is a D drill and for some it is a simple box drill. The key is finding drills that will fire up your team, but also get you game ready. Look for drills that are not too complicated, ones that get many repetitions in (as opposed to standing in lines) and ones that mimic game time motions (like cutting, throwing with a mark, and defense). I say develop an arsenal of 5-6 drills that work well for your team and then you can choose 3-4 of them to do before a game (if it is your warm-up before your first game of the day). This could differ depending on weather conditions, what team you are playing, and how late it is in the tournament. The important thing is that everyone on the team is comfortable and confident in the drills you choose. By doing this, you will find that your team will be more fired up and focused to do the drills, and therefore more game ready!

Leave strategy for another time:  Almost all elite teams have a strategy plan for each of their opponents. This could include different team goals, different defenses they will run, or key match-ups. In my opinion, all of that should be discussed at a team meeting at a different time then your pre-game warm-up. I personally like doing it the night before you play that team because it gives your players time to mentally prepare. I think it is totally fine to re-visit your team goals for the game before you start, but the logistics about the other team should be dealt with at another time. Pre-game warm-up is about your team – don’t let it get clouded by worrying about the other team’s best player or how good they look doing their drills right before your game.

Allow time for individual needs: One thing that Schwa did that worked really well is that we had a set warm-up time. Everyone knew it, and everyone committed to it. It also meant that if you had things you needed to do – the rule was do them before our team warm-up starts. That means if your warm-up starts at 8:00am, but you know you need to get your ankle taped, mix your Citomax, and go hug your friend on the other team, then that means you start that process at 7:40am. By doing this, players won’t be worried about the things they need to do and they aren’t feeling rushed. It allows the whole team to be more present during the warm-up.  Everyone has different things they need to do to get themselves ready for a game, but it is also essential that your team find their flow together. By committing to the team warm-up, you can achieve this.

The bottom line is that you have to find what works for your individual team. Some players need intensity, some need defense, some need focused throwing, and some need it to be light-hearted. We all get fired up in different ways. Take input from your team and mold your warm-up to what it needs to be to fit the needs of your specific players.  Remember, it WILL set the tone for your game whether you like it or not, so choose wisely. Finally, don’t forget to put a stellar D drill in there because we all know defense wins games :)

huddle issue033

Tue June 28th, 2011

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by Max Cook

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Routine Need Not Mean Redundant
by Matt Mackey

The New School Warm-up
by Tim Morrill

Find What Works For Your Team
by Chelsea Putnam

Three Warm-Up Fundamentals
by Miranda Roth

Team Pregame Warm-Up Routines
by John Sandahl

Shift Your Focus
by Melissa Witmer

We Will Laugh
by Ben Wiggins




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