7 Ways to Prepare for Success in the College Series

The postseason presents a unique environment at tournaments and practices. How should your team prepare?

Florida State’s Cam Curvey on the line at the 2022 D-I College Championships. Photo: Paul Rutherford – UltiPhotos.com

This article is presented by the National Ultimate Training Camp! Registration for 2023 is open! Scholarships available. More info at www.NUTC.net

The time between the end of the regular season until the Series begins is an unusual space in the college season. “This is probably the hardest section in college ultimate,” an ex-player and now friend once said. Not all of this advice will apply to every program, of course. For some of you, Conferences is just a few days away. But take what makes sense for you and leave the rest for another day. Or another team.

1. Shed Preconceptions

Almost every team will have improved since the first time you played them. Relying on past narratives as you game plan for an opponent is a trap. Assume nothing and prepare for everything.

2. No Cram Sessions

Oops. “Prepare for everything” is wrong. Obviously you can’t prepare for everything. There is no need to cram your last prep days with new strategies for your team. Instead focus on consistency. Not perfection. Consistent play from most of your players is the goal that will get you further along in the Series.

3. Tune for Consistency

What does consistency look like on your team? You are not going to turn everyone into an elite thrower in a few weeks. However, everyone’s throwing choices can improve and I have hours of recent college games rattling around in my brain as proof. Quick takes:

  • Learn how to throw better in the wind. Choose to practice in awful weather.
  • Flat throws are your friend.
  • Away throws are turnover throws. If you can consistently complete a throw 9.5/10 times, use it. Lower than that, leave it home.

4. Investin’ in Receptions

You can turn most of your team into elite catchers, however. The amount of drops or missed 50/50s can be fixed and fixed quickly. If you have avoided working on this fundamental early in your season, make it a priority now. Twenty minutes of focused and intentional catching each practice will yield quick results at your next game.

5. Time for R&R: Red Zones and Resets

Drill your reset and endzone offense sets more than anyone wants to. They need to be automatic.

6. Clean Up for Cohesion

I am ready to retire the term Toxic Teammate. It has almost become a badge of misplaced honor on some teams. Team Saboteur is more precise for the person who consistently works against the best interests of the team. If you don’t have a TS on your team this year, be grateful. If you do, it is beyond time to reel them in. Or bench them.

7. Extend Grace

With that said, pay attention to the very real mental and physical struggles of your players and teammates. Playing a sport enables many of us to cope with real life responsibilities in a healthy way. And as we all know, sometimes coping turns into avoiding. Schoolwork. Jobs. Relationships. Family. Add in the state of the world and I am amazed that we can even have a spring season. Extend grace to everyone. Especially yourself.

If your season stretches to Cincinnati or Columbus, check back next month. I will offer advice on recognizing and avoiding traps at Natties, peaking at the right time, and how to enjoy the funnest and most intense moments of college ultimate.

  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.

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