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The Ultimate Athlete Handbook

A PRODUCT REVIEW I’ve been playing this sport for some

8 years now (yikes), and my interest in training for sport predates even that; long term I’m likely to follow in the steps of Jamie Nuwer and go into Sports Medicine. I’ve spent more time than I care to admit reading up on training, fitness, injury pre- vention, and putting it all into practice, and yet still I find myself learning some- thing new every day. Thus far, no-one has stepped forward to really address the specific needs of our sport; sure, you can copy from other sports, approximate the methods of those who you view as successful, but the fact remains that tre- mendous potential to develop capital-A Athleticism in our sport exists in just about every player on the field, even at the sport’s highest levels. Enter Melissa Witmer – she, along with

Tim Morrill, are both taking great strides to step up the level of training for our sport. It’s been great fun watching them make continual, stellar contributions to the field, bringing all of our collective levels up in the process.The occasional elite team will hire an outside trainer, but we’re talking about people who have come up within our sport and are bringing Ultimate to fit- ness, not the other way around. Melissa’s Ultimate Athlete Handbook is, I believe, the first fully-focused resource to this end. This represents a huge step forward for Ultimate. It’s is a real treat, and a resource I’ve been wanting for years but just didn’t realize until I had it in front of me. I’ve been fortunate enough to be asked by Melissa to write up a review, which fol-


lows. General impressions follow some specific ones below: Mobility – All money – great ideas for

athletes as a warm up to replace the jog around the field and play that can be so common; you’re sure to find a couple exercises here you’ll want to incorpo- rate into your usual dynamic routine if you have one, too. One minor point of contention I have is on the notion of “drawing in” the core – this is a common cue to work the core, specifically the deep abdominal musculature (the transversus abdominus); however, there is some work by Dr. Stuart McGill, who’s a noted back expert, that suggests that bracing actu- ally benefits from forcing the abodominal muscles out – pressurizing the abdomen and drawing taut the muscles supporting the spine – than to drawing in. Drawing in as an exercise is a good learning move in isolation, but stick to a solid braced & acti- vated core when doing your heavy lifting. Strength – The demo videos are a great

help, and give a solid introduction to the fundamentals (though in-person coach- ing by an experienced coach is always the ideal). However, it could go farther into the why and how of programming – when to use certain sets/rep schemes, how to program for various points of the season, etc (I’ve written on this some before). The example workouts are a good starting point though! Like she says, good for folks getting off the ground – for more individualization, I suggest more independent reading*, exploring programs from the like of Eric Cressey (who informs

a lot of my training methods), and of course, employing an able coach if you can find/afford it *I highly recommend Practical

Programming for Strength Training if you happen to be more interested in a bit of theory behind some common lift- ing rationales (linear progression, weekly variation, etc). Starting Strength is the definitive book for lifting technique on the “big lifts” (squat, bench, deadlift, OH press, as well as the Olympic lifts) for those who want a rigorous understanding of those lifts. Finally, Vern Gambetta has written some great broad-strokes work on Athletic Development – great for a prospective coach, and good to give a sense of how strength/conditioning/skills all interplay with one another. Speed/Agility/Jumping, Conditioning –

Where the book really adds a lot to the state of our sport’s training, in my opin- ion, is with the agility/quickness/plyo and conditioning sections. Too often I think burgeoning players fall into the trap of wanting to do too much in these areas; with explosive work, the key is technique and quality, not quantity, and the book gives good guidelines on how to begin exploring plyometric training in a way that produces results without substantial injury risk. Likewise with conditioning – run- ning 5k’s and marathons may have helped you feel conditioned in high school, but in a sport where the elite teams are scor- ing in under 30 seconds with regularity, is it really that critical to be able to sustain a slow jog or even brisk running pace, when

Ultimate Canada Magazine —

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