Tuesday Tips: 20 Ultimate New Year’s Resolutions, Presented By Spin Ultimate

BFG and Pie Wagon. Photo: Paul Rutherford — UltiPhotos.com

It’s the time of year for resolutions and reflection, so let’s plan ahead for the next year and create a bucket list of things to accomplish, ranging from the good to the fun to the frivolous.

Here are 20 things to accomplish before the year 2020, set up in three categories: personal improvement, community improvement, and fun experiences.

Personal Improvement

  1. Set and Track SMART Goals

To truly improve as a player, you need to be meticulous and as objective as possible. That means being data driven, even if data is your own written reflection.

To start, you need to know exactly what you want to accomplish. This is a very important and individual experience. The fastest player on the team shouldn’t be focusing on her 40 yard speed, but instead working on completing her forehand break throws. 

Start by setting 3-5 goals and writing them down. Putting it on paper is key. Frivolous goals or flexible goals in your own head simply don’t count.

Next, track them, ideally at least weekly. Write down what you are doing to accomplish them and measure them as best you can for success. Reflect and repeat. Eventually, you’ll be checking things off and moving on to future goals.

  1. Create or acquire a training plan

Most players in this sport are the classic ‘I’ll work out at the gym and figure out what I’m doing when I get there.’ Or, possibly even worse, they’ll do the same routine every time.

Create a training plan, doing your best to specifically focus on your weak areas in fitness or throwing. Build in changes to push progression.

Or, if you’re not sure what to do, get a training plan from an expert, possibly from your team leadership or  a program online. Improving your strength and conditioning can work wonders for your ability to excel on the field.

  1. Add 10 yards to your hucks

Simple. Straightforward. Smart.

It’s a great goal that is especially useful for the still developing player. It’s certainly not an easy one to accomplish, and it will require the right amount of practice time and changes to technique.

To be even more specific and focused, choose a particular type of throw to work on first (OI backhand hucks, perhaps) and improve that for accuracy and distance.

For players who can already hit the big yardage, think about a switch to a different type of throw or need.

  1. Be able to have a consistent off-hand pass of 10 yards

This is another basic building block, but a good one to check off your list before 2020.

The offhand throw, especially the backhand, is a great one for up-line cuts, dumps, and other small quick attacks. It can throw the opponent off-balance and provide you with a new angle to strike with the disc.

  1. Drop 10% of time from your selected interval

This is a less general plan, but can be just as straightforward as some of the other personal improvement goals.

Pick an interval that matters to you. A classic is the mile, but while it is a great general measuring stick for athletic preparedness, it doesn’t always directly translate into success on the ultimate field. Maybe this is a shuttle run or serpentine cone, or a 40 yard dash (another classic), or some secret agility ladder throwing obstacle course that you created.

Whatever it is, go out and do that interval and measure it for time. Do it more than once. Write these times down.

Then take ten percent of that time. So if it takes you a minute to do, take off six seconds. Your goal is to hit that interval by the new margin by the end of your training period.

It may seem minor, but a PR can offer a big boost to pride.

  1. Add 10% of ability to selected metric

Just the same, except instead of subtracting, we are adding.

This can be for a one rep max in the weightroom, an explosive jump measurement, or something else.

Get stronger!

  1. Add to your highlight reel (and check those epic plays off)

This is your chance to checkoff those sweet play boxes for your stories.

Ever gotten a Callahan? This is year is your chance. Same for the greatest, the double game point score, the foot block, or the layout D on your arch rival.

These are rare, and sometimes lucky, occurrences, but they aren’t totally random. Be specific both about visualizing them mentally and attempting them physically, both in practice and games. You’ll start seeing more opportunities (or creating them for yourself) and have the chances you need to try for those amazing moments.

Remember, you may have to fail a few times before you get that grand glory.

Community Improvement

  1. Mentor a younger player

So important and overlooked are the abilities that the status of “veteran” give us.

Ultimate is a fun game. It can also be a hard game, a very hard game for someone who is just starting out in the sport.

Do something that will make a new player’s life better. Choose a younger player and help mentor him or her. First, make sure they want a mentor. Then, if they do, give them advice off the field, cheer them on the field, and work with them in practice and in games.

If this is a youngblood on your squad, it will not only make the team better, but it will improve chemistry and relationships for everyone.

  1. Coach a team

Another great way to use your ultimate knowledge and talent is to coach.

Most ultimate teams, by far, do not have a coach, simply because the infrastructure and experience levels aren’t there yet for the sport.

But you can help! Get a group and let them learn and grow from you. Not only will it be good for them, but it can help improve your own knowledge, skills, and connections on the ultimate field.

  1. Attend a learning event or discussion panel

One of the fantastic developments in ultimate in the last few years has been a targeted improvement to increase community participation in events, many of which are designed to educate, promote discussion, or help others.

These events are happening all over the country, and they really just need a little bit of research (or a five second search on social media) to find.

Be open-minded to try something new. If you haven’t been to an event, go to one, from organizations like GUM (Girls Ultimate Movement), Ultimate Peace, or others. If you already attend such events, expand your horizons with a new group.

  1. Impact a less privileged group

The next logical step after learning and discussing is making a difference through action.

This can come in a variety of forms, but three key ways to make a difference is to use your time, talent, and treasure.

Time: Spend time volunteering to help others, whether it is running an ultimate clinic or supporting an organization.

Talent: Use your platform, your privilege, and your skill set to find ways to reach out. This can be through vocal or written support or through other methods. 

Treasure: Put your money where your mouth is. Donate money to help organizations run or find a way to support ultimate players.

  1. Cheer on a local squad (more than once)

No matter what their size or venue, there is a team in your local area that does not have enough fans.

Ultimate players need to step into this area and support each other. We can’t continue to demand the sport be watched by others and then not want to step in to be fans ourselves.

Cultivate support for different squads and different divisions in your area. Follow them online, and try to attend at least a couple of their local events, whether those are showcase scrimmages, tournaments, or other events.

If you are a team that doesn’t have local events, start thinking about making some and reach out to encourage and remind others to come.

  1. Teach the game to five new people (better yet, kids)

Just like we have to start being better fans, so too do we have to start being better advocates.

Find a way to teach the sport to new people. It is the only way to get more people to know about it and to play and watch.

Bring a friend to pickup or summer league, or find a way to go visit a school or camp and teach the game there.

Be genuine and helpful. Make it a real goal to list at least five different people by 2020 that have played the game now because of your efforts.

  1. Promote the game of ultimate non-ironically in new ways

Ultimate players can do a better job of genuinely promoting the game to new people.

A good tip is to really think about the target audience here: your grandma will love you, but still probably won’t get ultimate even if you explain it fifty times. On the other hand, your co workers and non-ultimate friends can realistically learn the game and see its merits, even if they don’t want to play. Simply getting it into people’s minds as a legitimate sport is a big step.

Fun Experiences

  1. Promote the game of ultimate ironically

OK, if you put in the time for the genuine promotion, you can go all out on trolling.

Although if you want to have real fun, target people who already play the game, so they can get the jokes.

Other ways to promote the game with a self-aware air is to do all the little things about ultimate that get the eye rolls but that are actually super fun. See here: playing sideline games, miniature tanks, etc.

  1. Create ultimate-related humor content

There is not enough of this stuff out there. When is the Onion of the ultimate world going to start (RIP Ultiwhirled)? More than just Mean Machine’s occasional play.

Right now there are a few great examples of ultimate-specific humor, such as great Twitter accounts (although PoNY has now gone legit with a championship?), hilarious parody and bad lip reading videos, and even fake teams (though rumors swirl of Mean Machine’s retirement).

Be an innovator. Go make something funny.

  1. Enter your top three party tournaments

This is easy but worth it. Write down three party tournaments that you want to attend.

Then, find ways to actually get to them this year.

If you plan properly (and, yes, that sometimes means a year in advance), you can save money, take time off work or school, and buy plane tickets to go. Take a team of old friends or jump in on a pickup team to make new ones.

  1. Reach out to another team to create an event

Even better than attending a tournament is creating your own or any other kind of great event, be it a party or a showcase.

Reach out to another team (or more) and create that cool duel board game tournament or brewery tour. It’s a great way to build relationships across divisions or with other local teams. 

  1. Play ultimate against people from another country

Ultimate is not just an American sport, but a global one with different playing styles and opinions. It’s more incentive to go visit another country and represent your home colors and style, while also possibly checking another epic tournament off your list. (See #17)

  1. Set aside time to watch or read about ultimate each week (no really, it’s important)

Really, set aside time in your schedule to do more ultimate spectating.

Read Ultiworld. Watch videos. Discuss the game online.

This promotes the sport from the comfort of your own couch. Be the consumer of content so that more can be created. Or even better, go create some content yourself.

Remember why you got into ultimate and what makes it fun, and be sure to go out and see some of the fantastic things happening in this sport.


There’s a lot to do before the 2020 rolls around.  Make your plans and commit to them. Happy New Year!

  1. Alex Rummelhart

    Alex "UBER" Rummelhart is an Ultiworld reporter. He majored in English at the University of Iowa, where he played and captained IHUC. He lives and teaches in Chicago, Illinois, where he has played for several ultimate teams, including the Chicago Wildfire and Chicago Machine. Alex loves writing of all types, especially telling interesting and engaging stories. He is the author of the novel The Ultimate Outsider, one of the first fictional works ever written about ultimate.


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