Coaches’ Corner: Introduction & Preparing For The Season

UMass in the huddle at 2017 Nationals with Tiina Booth and Russell Wallack. Photo: Paul Rutherford —

During the 2018 college season, UMass Men’s coaches Tiina Booth and Russell Wallack will be writing a weekly Coaches’ Corner for Ultiworld subscribers. Their intention is to offer a template for coaches (or captains) on how to put together a new team or how to help a struggling team. Topics will include setting goals, introducing mental toughness, designing effective practices, and avoiding the traps of competition. Throughout the series, they will also answer questions periodically in a Coaches’ Mailbag feature, freely available to all readers. Tiina and Russell look forward to sharing their expertise with the coaching community, as well as sharing their empathy when things do not go as planned, on and off the field.


I coach because I teach. Having been a public school teacher for 25 years, I see little distinction between standing in front of a classroom and standing in a huddle. And just like I was once an inept and stressed-out teacher, I was the same as a coach. Chaotic management, misplaced priorities, and emotional upheaval characterized my early days of both teaching and coaching. I was lucky to have a few mentors to help me along the way. Russell and I wish to serve in that capacity for new and struggling coaches through this series of columns.

Ultimate coaches are so hard to find that often we do not have to go through a formal interview process with an athletic director. We lose an opportunity to reflect on why we want this job, so please take a few moments and conduct a “self-interview.”

  1. Why do you want to coach?
  2. What are your strengths and challenges as an educator?
  3. What is your vision for your team?

Now I will not presume to answer these three questions for you. Everyone has their own reason for joining the ultimate coaching corps and we thank you for undertaking this enormous challenge. After decades of observing and mentoring, however, I am well aware of the pitfalls that await those who are unclear about what the job really entails. Here are some common traps with, of course, a few suggestions on how to become a successful ultimate coach.

Coaches’ Corner: Introduction & Preparing For The Season is only available to Ultiworld Subscribers

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  1. Tiina Booth
    Tiina Booth

    Tiina Booth is the director of the National Ultimate Training Camp and a co-coach of the University of Massachusetts men. She founded the Amherst Invitational in 1992 and co-founded Junior Nationals in 1998. In 2006, she published a book about ultimate with Michael Baccarini, entitled Essential Ultimate. She has coached teams to numerous national and international titles. Her ongoing passion is sports psychology, and she offers clinics to coaches of ultimate and other sports. Tiina will be inducted into the Ultimate Hall of Fame at USAU Club Nationals in October of 2018.

  2. Russell Wallack
    Russell Wallack

    Russell Wallack is the co-coach of the University of Massachusetts Men’s team. He began playing ultimate at Tiina Booth’s camp in 2000 (when he was 10). Since then, he has captained Kenyon College SERF and Boston Ironside and won national and world championships. He has coached in the U.S., Denmark, the Czech Republic, and Germany, where he will be launching the first ever session of GUTC (Global Ultimate Training Camp) in 2018. He lives, coaches, and works in Amherst where he is developing regional chestnut production, helping companies to adopt regenerative agricultural, and supporting young athletes in their development.


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