Witmer’s Wisdom: How to Avoid Getting ‘Stuck’ in your Ultimate Career

Three ways players get stuck in their ultimate careers - and how to avoid them

This post is sponsored by The Ultimate Athlete Project. See how the UAP can help you become a better, healthier, smarter ultimate athlete at theuap.com.

Our goal with the Ultimate Athlete Project Premium Program is to help you get better at ultimate as quickly as possible.

An ultimate frisbee career is short. I want to help you make the most of it! Especially if you got a late start or didn’t have access to great coaching early in your ultimate career.

Since starting the first iteration of UAP Premium four years ago, I’ve uncovered a few places that players commonly get stuck as they go from one level of play to the next.

In helping players get from one level to the next, here are some places that players commonly get stuck. And some tips for how to avoid that fate.

1. Getting Stuck on Athleticism

This may come as a shock to some of you. We are famous for our Strength and Conditioning program and we have helped hundreds of athletes and teams go to Nationals for the first time because of it.

For many athletes, more athleticism is what they need to get to the next level. This is especially true for athletes in the Sectionals or Regionals levels. If you have the skills and game IQ, a season on the UAP Strength and Conditioning or another high quality training program is sometimes all that’s needed to make a national team roster.

But if you have been using a program designed for athletic performance, for two seasons or more, then you are likely near the top of your athletic potential.

Getting the initial gains from an athletic performance program is a ton of fun. You turn into a different athlete. But players often get stuck by obsessing over their athleticism when it’s not really what they need to focus on anymore. This is especially common for players at the advanced levels of play. You’re so close to making the team you want at tryouts. It can seem that all you need is just one more inch of vertical or a little more speed.

Yes, it might still be possible to find some more gains, but there’s always a time and attention cost. If you continue to try to eke out another inch of vertical or another PR on your deadlift, you are likely going to have diminishing returns on time invested.

For players at the advanced level who have already used an athletic performance program for more than one year, there are two areas that are much more likely holding back your performance.

Here’s what might be happening:

  • Your mental game is an obstacle. Sometimes you don’t get to the next level because you don’t really believe you belong there. And a weak mental game often leads to the perfectionist behavior associated with working harder for diminishing returns or obsessing over another inch of vertical jump ability.
  • To be honest, everyone I’ve worked with at the advanced level has needed mental strength training to play confidently at the elite level. But the other area likely holding back your game is your Game IQ. And as long as you’re blaming things like your speed and agility, you’re not going to be looking for improvements in your ability to anticipate what is happening on the field. If you’re blaming your vertical jump, you’re not going to be focused as much on improvements in your defensive positioning.

For advanced players (or anyone else) stuck on athleticism – this is your wake-up call and your big opportunity to change your approach and get unstuck!

Y’all are the main reason I created UAP Premium. I noticed that for some athletes, (including myself) athleticism was not enough and I started to ask why. We will be opening a new version of our UAP Premium program in January. I’ll tell folks who sign up for our waitlist more about how the program works and they’ll be first to know when we open.

2. Not Discovering your Full Athletic Potential

This issue is common for intermediate level ultimate players. You’ve gotten to a pretty decent level of play. Sometimes you have a few nagging injuries by now. And you’re not as young as you used to be. So…getting a little slower and more injury prone must be normal, right? Maybe you’ve already maxed out what you’re capable of on the ultimate field. But I ask you to consider…maybe not.

If you’re surrounded by other athletes, you may notice that some don’t seem to need to work very hard for their athletic skill. So, it’s easy to believe that you either have it or you don’t.

But what many athletes fail to understand is how much of a difference an ultimate specific, athletic performance program can make in an ultimate player’s life.

Especially if you are at the intermediate level, one season on a professionally designed S&C program can be all you need to make it to the top of your roster or even on a nationals level team.

If you’ve been generally staying in shape, if you have some experience in the weight room, you’re a perfect candidate for a well designed program. It will be different than what you’re used to. But if you trust the process, you too can make a nationals level team for the first time.

3. Not Getting Honest About the Work

Everywhere I go folks ask me about my low release forehand. It looks impressive.

What looked less impressive were the hours I spent learning to find my balance in that deep lunge. And trying to figure out how to keep my arm from hitting my leg or my knee from jamming into my sternum. There were thousands of ugly throws used to generate one consistently unstoppable throw. And unlike a lot of folks, I had no one to teach me.

The truth is that if you want to advance from beginner or Sectionals level athlete to a Regionals or advanced level athlete, there are some skills you will need to work on.

And these elite level skills are usually acquired outside of normal practice hours.

I believe that with the right kind of focused practice, elite level skills are readily available to most of us.

From Beginner to Nationals Level in Less Than Six Years

This is a bold claim, but I believe it is possible. If you are committed to the journey, a dedicated player can go from being a beginner level to Nationals level athlete in six years or less. It will take some work, it’s not an unreasonable amount.

And it will be a lot easier working with a program than trying to do it on your own. If you want to get started (or continue) on that journey with me, click here to join the wait list for the UAP Premium Club – we’re on target to open to new members in January. You’ll be the first to know when we open and be eligible for early bird pricing.

  1. Melissa Witmer
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    Melissa Witmer is the founder of the Ultimate Athlete Project. She has been a part of the ultimate community since 1996, and is an author, content creator, and coach. Something of a citizen of the world, Melissa lives and works abroad and has instructed and connected ultimate players and coaches from all over the world.

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