Those who have been following our product reviews will no doubt be familiar with Aero Ultimate, the company that produces the SkyLight vertical jump training tool we previewed back in August of last year. Aero Ultimate is back with a new product that explores the mental side of the sport: The Ultimate State of Mind. With a major release, Version 1.1, debuting just days ago, we caught up with designer Ken Kaminski to get his view on how this product can improve any Ultimate player’s mental game.
Liam Rosen: First of all, for those that aren’t familiar with yourself and Aero Ultimate, can you give us a rundown of your background in Ultimate and your history with Aero?
Ken Kaminski: My name is Ken Kaminski and I’ve been playing Ultimate for about 4-5 years now. In 2008, I was the president of my high school Ultimate club in my senior year. In 2009, when I started college at Kettering University, I founded our team, the Kettnetic Thunder, which achieved “varsity” status in less than 2 years. I coordinate and direct ThunderStorm (College tournament) at Kettering every year in the Fall. I’m also a Level 1 USAU certified coach, was selected to be the USAU GL Regional Director for this 2012 season, and was recently hired in to be on the coaching staff of the Detroit Mechanix, helping out in many other business aspects as well. Coach, captain, player, tournament director, manager, webmaster, innovator, everything else, I like to do it all!
In Fall 2010, I invented the SkyLight prototype, and I started Aero Ultimate in May 2011 based on the concept of innovation products for the sport. Mark Worsfold got in touch when he found out and we’ve been working together since.
In a nutshell, what is the Ultimate State of Mind and how did you come up with the idea?
Ken: The Ultimate State of Mind is a modern educational system for the sport of Ultimate with emphasis on the use of the mind for skill development, maximum performance, and many other unique abilities.
I originally came up with idea when I saw how often I was thinking about Ultimate on a regular basis while being busy in the business/management aspects of my college team. Practice time for me was very minimal while teaching others but I still saw myself keeping my skills fine-tuned. I would often practice throws or drills in my head throughout the day. I know it sounds very strange, but after doing a lot of research and deep thought, there are a few tricks I discovered with using the mind for Ultimate!
In 2010 I started to put together my findings in a PowerPoint format to help teach my teammates the visualization and mental skills, but I just kept going with it. The ‘V0.5 prototype’ PowerPoint reached over 211 slides with information on many other skills like the forehand throw or cutting. It just got to be a bit too much though and there was still so much about Ultimate to put into it. I abandoned the project but still used my developed mental techniques to keep my skills sharp.
Later after I started Aero Ultimate with the SkyLight, I thought back to the Ultimate State of Mind project. What if I could package it in a way to not only cover the fundamentals and mental skills, but also re-invent the way Ultimate is taught off the field? I came up with some new features: Simulations and Sequences, in addition to the Skills and Science of the original. You can learn about these different features on the USM product webpage.
But my biggest motivation for making USM an actual product came from when I thought about how difficult it was for me to do my research coming into the sport. I had read the articles, bought the books, but probably spent way too much time filtering through all the different ways to learn skills. Not only that, I didn’t like reading very much. So sometimes I wish I could get straight to the point. With today’s generation, technology is an important part in the learning process as well. Bringing all those concepts together, I knew studying Ultimate needed to be done in a new and more dynamic way.
So for the past few months my vision of the final USM product has been evolving to something that could change the learning process of Ultimate forever. There are some details I haven’t even released yet, even the ‘final’ version 2.0 is just the start. It really is exciting with the way the sport is growing today too. I know there are plenty of new players out there just getting into the sport and doing all their research online like I did. But overall, concepts like digital interfaces, multiple features, a mix of detailed and summarized information, and the unexplored use of the mind Ultimate should make studying Ultimate easier and more enjoyable for everyone. My goal with Aero Ultimate in general is to give players new tools to help them play the way they want to play.
What sort of player is the Ultimate State of Mind suited for?
Ken: I am developing the Ultimate State of Mind to have something for everyone. The visual learners, the heavy readers, the new, the experienced, the everyday awesome Ultimate player! There are a few additional steps I will have to take with the content delivery, but by V2.0 there will be something any Ultimate player can benefit from.
How will the beta process work?
Ken: During the Beta phase (v1.0-v1.9) a discounted 1-time subscription is available for $5 and includes:
- All future updates, even after v2.0
- Free access to web-based version (v1.4)
- Free mobile version download (v1.5)
After version 2.0 is released by the end of 2012, the price will go up to $10 as it will be a fully functional and highly developed Ultimate educational product.
Subscribers can also help develop the USM by giving feedback on the content, delivery, or anything else by emailing email@example.com. I will also be looking for assistant developers and could be releasing job applications by this summer.
A mobile app is planned. Which mobile platforms will this support?
Ken: The market statistics show that Android is on the rise and the best option, so we will most likely start there, but we will of course develop an iOS version too. Expect the early application version by the end of summer.
Ken: I can’t give too much away right now, but there are BIG plans in progress. Mark and I have mapped our entire 2012 project timeline and even a rough brainstorm of 2013. You can definitely look forward to future developments!
In conjunction with the release of Version 1.1, Aero Ultimate is running a Facebook contest called the “Ultimate Egg Hunt”, which allows users to hunt through the application for Easter eggs, with a chance to win Five Ultimate gear. Those wishing to participate in the contest can join via the Facebook event, which begins on February 6.