HS Ultimate has a great structure. Our big, competitive season is the spring, which lets us use the fall to recruit and have some fun teaching the sport.
At the school I coach at, we set up our year in two distinct seasons. The fall is set up like a hat league. We teach a lot. Almost the entire fall, we are teaching how to throw, catch, cut, play D, and most importantly, we are building a solid foundation of Spirit. We only play one tournament, KitKatInTheHat, and then, lots and lots of pick-up. I love the fall, I love the ability to focus on the fundamentals, and recruit.
Our veteran players love it too. Some of them love to teach, and some of them really love pickup. Others really like the chance to assemble something on their own, and this year, they put together a mixed team for Club Sectionals. Nevermind that they didn't win a game, they learned a ton.
Spring is when we break out the big guns. We talk to the new recruits from the fall, and we make it very clear, if you are not here to work, see you next fall. We don't want to chase anyone away, but, we also don't want players to get the wrong opinion of what we are doing. We workout to get better at Ultimate, so that we can play the game at a higher level, and have a great time.
Our workouts start with a captains' meeting. The team captains meet with me and set our goals. Usually 3-5 team goals. We also work out 5-10 strategies to meet these goals. I want my captains to see and experience the process of planning to win. It is crucial to actually playing good Ultimate and success. We then explain these objectives to the team, get complete buy-in, and start working out.
We have a 12 week workout that meets the players where-ever they are in their own fitness. We set realistic goals for each other and ourselves, we push each other, we encourage each other, and when necessary, we heckle each other. We workout twice a week, and we also include a classroom session every week. In the classroom, as a coach, I attempt to teach the rules more in-depth, I teach more about SOTG, and strategy. Players don't seriously touch the field without a solid foundation of practical knowledge about the game. Our favorite part is watching other games, muting the commentary, and providing our ow. YouTube and UltiVillage are AWESOME for clips, and full games.
We try to plan our workout season to end with our first tournament. I schedule our tournaments, the captains schedule all the individual games with minimal guidance from me. I just give them a calendar of other activities and limit of games.
Preparing for the season is a long process. As a coach, it is vital that I plan, or else every practice, and the entire season loses focus. I have found that my players love a solid structure, they don't want to waste their time. Neither do I.
How do you prepare for the season?