Expert Panel Responds: Off-Season Training

by | January 27, 2011, 7:00am 0

Earlier this month, Skyd called for your questions about “Off-Season Training” for our panel of training professionals and elite level athletes (Tim Morrill, Tyler Kinley, Melissa Witmer and Craig Cooper). We picked the top five questions submitted, as voted by you, and dished them out to our panelists. Some of our panelists went on to answer an additional question of their choice. If you questions were not answered in this panel please submit again to our next training professional panel. If you have follow up questions, please ask them in the comments. We have encouraged our panelists to respond there.

And now for the questions and responses:

1. Do you guys think you could help a high school team out? We’re going to a major tourney on Feb 25th, and have no idea how to get in shape….We practice Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and want to have some kind of workout each of those days. Any help would be appreciated, I know there are other high school readers out there. – Matthew M.

TIM MORRILL, Strength & Conditioning Specialist

Don’t bother weight training, you don’t have the time. Play as much as you can and work to increase the competition within the practices.  Structure a mini tourney within the team from week to week.  Play mini 3 v 3 games.  At the end of practice, do a 5 week conditioning program using progressive overload; make it harder each week then pull back and recovery the week prior to competition.   Create a cone suicide, when the last person finishes the recovery time starts.  Each week either add reps or decrease recovery time.  Push them hard, then pull back.

TYLER KINLEY, Captain of Seattle Sockeye

I’ll assume you will only workout at the practices you have (not having guys go to the gym or run outside of practice time).

With 3 weekly practices, I’d suggest incorporating sprints into your scrimmages and drills.

As a team, you will get the most from practicing together (more than fitness even), and you will undoubtedly endure many multiple-turnover points. Therefore, instead of having a normal scrimmage to conclude a practice, try separating into an O and D squad, with the D line pulling every time, but up 6-0 in a game to 10, and both teams have to run a full 70yd sprint (or a shuttle) before each point. This will force you to play tired, will put the onus on the offense to score every time, and the D is never receiving the pull (which they wouldn’t anyways in a real game).

Using creative drills like these that combine sprinting with play will give you the most benefit over a short period.


While you aren’t giving yourselves much time to adequately prepare for a tournamnet, you should at least be able to see some gains in general fitness. I’d say you’ll get the most applicable gains in fitness by playing a lot.  The key is to make your practices as physically taxing as possible by not allowing much rest during practice.  Keep time between points short.  If your primary goal is fitness, you may have to sacrifice time usually spent talking strategy.  Eliminate chalk talks and time spent chatting between points.  Count on players to learn from their own mistakes.  Water breaks should be no longer than the time allowed for a time out.

CRAIG COOPER, CrossFit/Exercise Physiology

Without knowing in what areas the team is lacking the most, this question is impossible to answer.  Also, your time frame (5 weeks) is much too short to produce any significant, measurable results.

2. This is my first time stepping into the gym for off-season training. As most of the Ultimate blogs and USAU mag. suggested, I’ve been taught the basic lifts (squats/deadlifts) from the people at my local Crossfit gym. They’ve been beating me up past few weeks (in a good way). The gym focuses mainly on General Physical Preparedness (GPP) – low weight/high reps rather than strength.

What will I be losing out on when compared to an Ultimate player who to transitions to a more strength focused workout? Should I attempt to stay as explosive as possible at all times? – Nick


No one gets truly strong doing GPP, though you do build a work capacity. Which is great.  Your performance will increase but not to its highest potential because it lacks specificity.  GPP is the precursor to strength, strength is the precursor to power and power is what is needed in Ultimate.   I’d recommend you stay with the CrossFit until you have the resources enough to be able to execute an effective Ultimate specific periodized program.


Great question. My formula is always Strength -> Power -> Power Endurance.

That is, in the preseason/early season, increase the maximum amount of weight you can move. Low reps, multiple sets. You are not peaking yet, and this part of the season doesn’t matter, so build your strength.

By the middle of the season, begin transitioning to include more fast movements, like jump squats, cleans (if you know how), dumbell snatches– all developing power, your ability to move weight quickly.

Finally, nearing the end of the season, while allowing yourself at least 2 weeks to taper, develop your power endurance, that is your ability to move weight, fast, over a longer period of time. Higher reps with the same weight you were doing, etc. This is my formula (in a nutshell) for peaking in Ultimate.


Training for strength versus power requires heavier loads.  By nature, training for strength will be less explosive because you won’t be able to move the weight as fast.  If you choose to do explosive lifts and lifts emphasizing strength in the same workout, the explosive lifts should come first.

Strength is the basis for developing more power.  Right now it seems like you’re working on general fitness.  The simple truth in training is that, unless you are out of shape, you can’t improve all aspects of fitness at the same time.  So you’ll want to have about four to six weeks where you focus more on strength development and four to six weeks when you focus more on power development.  When truly focusing on power development you still won’t be doing super high reps.  You’ll be needing recovery between sets and you’ll be focusing on getting 100% intensity effort in each movement.


Power is a measure of Work / Time, where work is defined as Force x Distance.  For any given activity, increasing your Power Output requires:

– Moving more weight (force) over the same distance in the same amount of time.
– Moving the same weight a greater distance in the same amount of time.
– Moving the same weight the same distance in a shorter amount of time.
– Any combination of the above.

The most effective way to increase your power output through Training is to get stronger, which requires Strength Training. Increasing your strength means increasing the amount of force that you can produce, which once applied to a specific movement through Practice will result in increased Power.

3. I am still in high school we all know it sucks covering someone a 6 inches taller than you. What are some good workouts to increase my vertical? – Jake


Begginner athlete: Clean, Squat, Deadlift
Advanced athlete: Clean, Squat, Deadlift, Plyometrics
Tip: Perfect the use of your arms during the vertical jump. Learn how to use them for momentum and you will jump higher.


Your highest vertical comes from maximizing 3 disciplines: form, strength, and power. Often people train 1 or 2, but rarely all 3.

Training strength means increasing the maximum amount of weight you can move in lifts like the squat & deadlift.

Training power means (to me at least) training your body’s acceleration, through plyometrics and the like (ie depth jumps, Jumpsoles, AirAlert, etc).

Training form means developing your body’s movements to achieve maximum height– I like to throw long hucks to friends with nice gentle curves that allow me to read the disc and practice catching it at my peak, jumping early (often too early) to test my own limit. If you don’t know form at all, watch videos of the game’s leapers, and see how they jump, and mimic it as best you can in a way that works for you.


Fortunately vertical jumping ability is highly trainable.  This is because maximal vertical jumping is a motor skill.  It will improve with practice as your body learns how to fire the right muscles, in the right order, with the right timing.

Also since many players don’t spend much time in maximal power development, there is a lot of room for improvement.  Three training tools used for power development are Olympic lifts, plyometrics, and medicine ball training.  Since you’re in high school, you may not have adequate access to proper training in Olympic lifts.  Plyometrics are great but you have to be careful with not overdoing it.  Medicine ball throws are probably going to be the safest and easiest mode of training for you.  Doing full body throws mimics the motor pattern of jumping.  You will be able to see improvements as you are able to throw higher and farther.


It has been my experience that your vertical is something that you’re born with, and thus can’t be significantly increased through training.

Next Page: Questions on – Workout Variety, Flexibility, Confidence, ACL Recovery & Resistance Throws.

Comments Policy: At Skyd, we value all legitimate contributions to the discussion of ultimate. However, please ensure your input is respectful. Hateful, slanderous, or disrespectful comments will be deleted. For grammatical, factual, and typographic errors, instead of leaving a comment, please e-mail our editors directly at editors [at]