Product Review: Ulticards – NexGen Signature Deck
By Ben Beehner
NexGen has proven itself as a top resource for elite ultimate games and media. The NexGen Ultimate Tour had a successful first season last year and has blown away elite teams this year. In its new product, Ulticards presents a NexGen Signature Series deck that features unique drills, advice, quotes, and stats from the 2011 NexGen players themselves.
At a Glance
The deck consists of about 50 cards, split into drills, skills training, and unique NexGen player content. To start off, you get a look at the stats of each player over the 2011 tour. After feeling bad seeing that Alex Kapinos only got to play one point, you’ll be impressed to see George Stubbs threw 31 scores, Dylan Freechild caught 38 goals, and Simon Montague had one of the best retention rates despite getting 200 more touches than any other player.
The real meat of the deck is the drill cards. Each drill is chosen by a NexGen player and includes a picture diagram, step by step instructions, minimum number of discs and players needed, and what it is useful for. The cards can sometimes be hard to read, and the lack of space can be a challenge. Also, the illustrations can get pretty complex. Yet the drills themselves are staples of the Ultimate scene. The cards can be used for team practice, individual warmup, or skills training.
The other half of cards focus on specific skills. Dylan Freechild explains the I/O backhand, Nick Lance goes in to open field cutting, and Colin Camp tells you how to cut deep. Each skills card shows a picture of the player and his credentials (Did you know Noah Saul was a 3-time Pennsylvania State High School Champ?) The deck finishes with a few cards dedicated to words of wisdom from each player on how to enhance your Ultimate experience and further your game.
The lack of space on the card is evident in some of the more complex drills. If I didn’t already know how to play Mini or do a breakmark drill, I doubt I’d be able to do it just from reading the card. In that way the card is better tailored to a coach who has likely seen some of these drills before.
Ideas for Use
I first started playing Ultimate in college, leading a struggling new team in Ohio. It was difficult to teach others when I still needed to learn the sport for myself. While I was stuck poring through The Huddle or teaching myself, today’s athletes are lucky to have better resources like this deck. The cards show you how to run drills and explain what they are useful for. Also, the skill cards give input on things like throwing farther or positioning better on defense.
I wish I could have had these back in college. Unlike a playbook or internet article, these cards are small and portable. Just pick out the drills and skills training you want to do that practice, throw them in your sportsbag or pocket, and pull them out for reference. Also, each card shows how many discs or people you need, which is useful in a pod workout or small practice.
After graduating from college, I’d coached a high school team in Seattle. When coaching new players, it is all about developing skills and proper technique. The skills cards address so many important aspects of the game like proper cutting, breaking the mark, throwing, and footwork. Also, with this deck you can give a specific card to a player as an assignment on some aspect to work on.
The fact that these cards are designed by the NexGen players gives a lot of credibility to them. Even as a competitive club player, I’m still fascinated to know what Simon “Colin” Montague’s pregame throwing warmup is. While after 7 years of playing, I already knew almost all the drills, I still find myself grabbing a few for reference before running a weekly pod practice.
Ulticards are a new way to teach developing players and coaches how to further their game. They definitely achieve their goal. The cards are good quality and the content is great for new players.
These cards set themselves apart from the other Ulticards decks by bringing some credibility and novelty with input from NexGen players. This deck is my go-to present for a new player in high school or college. Yet with the way the NexGen boys has been beating elite club teams this year, it seems like everyone should be learning from these cards.