The Training Montage Before the Highlight Reel

by | October 8, 2015, 1:04pm 0

While we’re all still inspired by highlight reel plays from last week’s nationals like the catch from Brian Schoenrock, the crazy grab from Cassidy Rasmussen, and the insane almost D from Robyn Wiseman let’s take a moment to talk about what you need to do to get ready for your own highlight reel plays next season.

Ask any elite athlete and they’ve likely had moments of training in rain, snow, cold — whatever. They likely have moments when training is not very fun. These moments, the ones you’d like to fast forward and paste together in a movie montage, are the moments that make highlight reel plays possible.

To get to the highlight reel in October, you need a plan for what you’re doing in January.

Yes, there are some athletes who can get away with little training or seemingly no organized plan. Are you one of them? Now is a good time to reflect on what YOU need in order to get what you want out of next season. Freak athletes aside, most of us need an organized plan to reach our full athletic potential.

How did last year’s plan (or lack thereof) work for you? What can you do better? Thought, reflection, education and planning now will increase your chances of success next season.

Let’s look at some ways you can either tweak your current off season training plan or build one from scratch if that’s what you need.

Easy Wins

If you’re mostly happy with what you’re doing, then seek small continuous improvement from year to year. Here are three ways you can tweak what you did last offseason to get the most out of your efforts.

  1. Strength Training.

If you have never participated in strength training, investing time here will get you the best results by far. If you’re intimidated by the weight room, it will be worth the investment to hire a personal trainer to help you learn the basic lifts and movement patterns. The movements you’ll want to learn and practice are lunges, squats, deadlifts, bench press, pushups, and pull ups. Become proficient at those movements and you’ll realize that 97% of all lifts are derivatives or combinations of those movements.

  1. Core Training

Functional strength and stability in your core affects how efficiently you move, how quickly you fatigue and how far you can throw. Learn a variety of exercises that challenge core stability rather than simply relying on crunches. Consider making core training a high priority and doing it first in your training sessions rather than treating it as an afterthought. A few sets of situps at the end of practice is not the type of core training you need.

  1. Rethink your Conditioning

If you’re still going out for runs of several miles to get in shape for the season, you can easily improve your rate of adaptation and your specificity of training for ultimate by switching over to interval training. Check out last year’s Ultimate Conditioning 101 for more details and workout ideas.

The Complete Revamp

If you’re just starting your training or if you want more dramatic gains, maybe it’s time to ditch what you did last offseason and start from scratch.


If you want to learn more about program design and functional strength training I highly recommend Athletic Development by Vern Gambetta, Functional Training for Sports by Mike Boyle and Triphasic Training by Cal Deitz. Though some of these books are a few years old, I haven’t come across many other resources that explain so many concepts as thoroughly and simply as these.


Educate yourself on the full spectrum of athletic qualities required for ultimate with Tim Morrill’s MPFPT or the latest Rise Up season featuring Ren Caldwell.


If you’d rather spend time training than planning, you can use programming designed for you. The Ultimate Athlete Project will be open to new members in a few weeks. Or you can check out 12 Weeks to Game Time for a simple off season program.

If you want a complete and personalized experience, do some research about strength and conditioning coaches in your area. Look for a facility that focuses on athletes. These will often be smaller and more difficult to find online unfortunately.

Cities that have ultimate specific S&C coaches are:

  • Jean-Philippe Riopel in Montreal
  • Thomas Wendelboe in Kitchener-Waterloo
  • Ren Caldwell in Seattle
  • Tim Morrill in Ocean City, MD
  • Alan Janzen in San Antonio, TX
  • Jools Murray in Toronto
  • Jonah Wisch  and Rob Dulabon in Pittsburgh

Did I miss anyone? Post them in the comments please.

If it is cold and rainy, you are unlikely to get to your training session if you rely on working out when you feel like it. But if you have a plan, if you understand how each week, each session impacts the others, you will be much more motivated and consistent. When you step on the field in April you will have had hundreds of montage moments behind you, and you will be prepared for the highlight reel plays when the opportunities arise.  

I hope this off season you will dedicate yourself to living in the montage. Dedicate yourself to the work. Give yourself the best chance of making your own highlight reel.

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