Wednesday, February 15, 2006

3 Points of Ultimate

Many times, discussions about training degenerate into basic boasting about the most difficult workouts that folks have heard about. This has never interested me as a) it seems pretty easy to conceive of very difficult workouts, and b) one particular workout represents, for the most part, less than 1% of my training plan for the year. I think my training posts made it clear that I believe that acclimating your body in a steady way is the best way to put yourself into the position of doing intense training sessions.

Having said that, I have spent some time thinking about speed workouts that are good for Ultimate. I came up with one several years ago that I call "3 Points of Ultimate". I think this drill does a good job of simulating Ultimate-type movements, and, if the macho folks will indulge me in a little boast, I can frankly say that "3 Points of Ultimate" is met by my Wellesley girls with a particularly unique sense of dread. I think the only way that they can reconcile my subjecting them to this is by fabricating that I must be in a really bad mood that day. While this bragging is an obvious lapse on my part, I only do this drill when I am at or near my peak of speed work (usually 6-7 months into my training year), and when I am focused on developing specific Ultimate tasks.

For this drill, you will need 5 markers. Cones work well. The course should be set up as follows:

The 5 cones will be a straight line that is 70 yards long.
The first cone (A) is the starting point.
The 2nd(B) is placed 40 yards from the start.
The 3rd(C) is placed 50 yards from the start.
The 4th(D) is 60 yards from the start.
The 5th(E) is 70 yards from the start.

After a REAL AND PROPER WARM-UP (no less than 15 minutes), you are ready for the drill:

Start with the Pull- Sprint from A to E
10 second rest
Play some D-Shuttle run(E-D-E-C-E-B-E)
20 second rest
Play some downfield O (not Al O)-Shuttle run (same as before)
30 second rest
Score the goal-Sprint from E to A
Celebrate-90 Second rest (the time between points)

Repeat two more times

Cool Down


Sunday, February 12, 2006

E-mail Feedback on the Training Program Posts

I have received several e-mails about the training program posts. Good feedback. I will address two of the general themes.

1) I received some inquiries about my experience and credentials. These are valid and resonable questions. I think pretty much anything above "Go out and run some 400's" deserves some scrutiny. I have no formal training other than my personal experience, reading books, working with Bryan Doo (strength coach for the Celtics), and several e-mails with Rob Sleamaker. I do not make any suggestions about strength training, as I think lifting heavy weights needs to be advised by a professional. I do feel comfortable essentially recommending that people run slowly in the off-season.

2) Concerns about developing fast twitch muscles

Some folks have concerns that focusing on slow twitch muscles in the off-season will come at the expense of developing fast twitch muscles when it counts. I understand this, and I think it comes down to scheduling. You need to answer for yourself when you need to begin doing speed work. My opinion is that 3-4 months is plenty of time to get your fast twitch muscles firing as you need. If your peak is in Sept, that means starting speed work in mid April-beginning of May. This leaves plenty of time (roughly Dec-April) to do beneficial aerobic work that does not come at the expense of when you would normally begin your speed work.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Physiology of the Four Training Levels

It is important to understand the benefits of dividing your workouts into specific heart rate ranges(levels). Working in specific levels results in your body adapting to the challenges you provide. This tunes the body to perform better as you have increased your bodies ability to perform certain physiological actions. Overall, this gives a sense of purpose and focus to your workouts and training plan.


As I have said before, it is pretty much impossible to do level1 workouts without a heart rate monitor. This is because they feel, as Sleamaker says, "ridiculously easy". I had one person write me at the beginning of the week and say that they would not have considered this an actual workout. It just feels too easy.

Basically, training in this heart rate range improves your body's ability to process oxygen and its ability to use its energy sources.. The primary physiological are: it increases your aerobic energy sources and pathways, increased capillary density, increased mitochondria density, and free fatty acid mobilization.

You will notice, however, that these workouts become quite tiring after you begin to deplete your energy sources.


Most people run in this range most of the time when they "go for a run". While it is important to increase your pace and intensity, this level should not be allocated as much time as Level 1 because the physiological benefits do not include things like increased capillary density.


Intervals increase your bodies ability to transport oxygen, remove metabolic waste, and shorten lactic acid clearance time. It is important to do these slightly below your Anerobic Threshold (the point at which your body can no longer clear away lactic acid) Your AT should be around the top end of this level.


Speed work benefits your fast twitch muscles and develops your reserve energy sources.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Setting Outcome Goals

We had a team meeting last week, and one of the primary purposes was to discuss our goals for the upcoming season. In the past, we have had team discussions about what each of us wants to get out of the season, but this year, I wanted to convey the sense that we were signing off, as a team, on the team goals. I think this was a positive process as we acknowledged, as a team, what we are trying to achieve(Outcome Goals), but more importantly, how we are going to get there (Process Goals). I met a few times with my captains prior to the meeting because I wanted to make sure that our goals were team driven and not imposed on the team by me.

Our Process Goals are pretty clear and the team felt very comfortable with them. It is hard to argue with a Process Goal like "Work on throwing and catching at every practice". We did have a couple of Outcome Goals that generated a lot of discussion, and I think revealed some frequent issues that teams have with goal setting. A few examples are; concerns about pressure when faced with "stretch" goals, priority of achievement over process, and being distracted by the awareness of having to achieve goals.

In 2001, I captained a team and I set out as one of our goals "Make quarters at Nationals". I felt that this was an appropriate goal for the team based on our talent and the history of Mixed teams in our Region. When we qualified for Nationals, some of the players took issue with the goal of getting to quarters. The rationale was "If we are not trying to win the tournament, why bother playing in it". This is a good example of how goal setting is difficult. I think the idea of dividing up the team goals into Process Goals and Outcome Goals really helps the team focus on what is important.

Outcome Goals focus on uncontrollable elements, and they can be used to raise the ceiling on what the team is trying to achieve. They are dependent, however, on solid and well-thought out Process Goals. A team that has only Outcome Goals (I would hazard a guess that most Ultimate teams are like this) not only puts their stock solely into uncontrollable concerns, but also has no means by which to build a foundation upon which they can achieve success. It is easy to say "The Goal of the team is to win Nationals". Any team can say this. The process of doing it is a different matter altogether.

One of the great things about dividing up your goals is that it allows you to focus on the moment. When you arrive at the big tournament, you know that you have worked hard to achieve your Process Goals and, as a result, that you are properly prepared. You are also not distracted by the pressure of achieving your Outcome Goals sometime later in the weekend because the things that you control are occuring in the present.

The result of our discussion was, I hope, an agreement upon an appropriate sets of goals. I think we have solid Process Goals that inform us on a daily basis, but also Outcome Goals that are both challenging yet reward us for enjoying the gift of trying to play good Ultimate.