Like those around the country (and beyond) I visited my parents and sister today for a BBQ in the evening before fireworks. My sister is a few years younger and not quite as involved in sports as I am (she is a bit of a brainiac though, just a bit). A few years ago she started to take an interest in Ultimate but it never went beyond wanting to throw in the park. Unfortunately she moved away and I was unable to teach her to throw. Today I took the opportunity to get her to throw. It was the first time that we’d thrown a disc together and my focus was to impart as much knowledge as possible. We progressed quite quickly and before long she was asking me to throw it so she could jump for it. We went through the usual coaching of how to catch it in the air (don’t just throw your hands at the disc!) as well as tracking and before long my looping 15 yard throws were easy for her to track. It was interesting how quickly she picked things up. I’ve played with league players for years that still struggle with basic concepts and I wonder if it’s because of ingrained habits or whether somebody just didn’t tell them what few things to change at the beginning.
Nevertheless a few minutes later my wife (yes, I’m married now, ruined my life, etc. etc.) joined us to also throw the disc. My wifey isn’t an Ultimate player but she knows how to throw and catch basic 10-20 yard backhands. She learned her throws under pressure at a small train station in Italy after we were kicked off the train for not having tickets (minor oversight). Regardless, since she’s had more throwing time her spin and release were much better than my sister’s. After 15 minutes of throwing amongst ourselves they headed indoors to have some tea but I still wanted to throw. Fortunately, my mom stepped in.
Like the other ladies mentioned in this post, my mom has never played Ultimate, she’s not athletic nor does she participate in sports. However, as we started throwing it became very obvious why I was able to learn how to throw so easily. When I started playing quite a while back my backhand was pretty good right from the get go (my flick, still isn’t great). It turns out that when I was a kid my mom and I used to throw a frisbee from time to time. My original coach was my mom.
As the night ended and I was walking home I came to a realization that I wish to share.
It is not enough to have great coaches to develop great players and teams. In order for any country, province, or region to have a great team we must start with the parents. Parents must teach their kids how to throw and develop basic skills. We see this constantly in other sports and we too must teach our children. This isn’t the end of the realization though. In particular we must concentrate on Women’s Ultimate. Women are still the primary caregivers for children in their formative years. Women also tend to build skills constructively rather than for purely competitive advantages. With this in mind, I believe, that putting resources into Women’s Ultimate will generate a larger set of talented youth that can enter regional programs. Simply concentrating on Open (as exciting as it may be) does nothing other than make good TV. Those countries that invest in Women’s Ultimate now shall reap the rewards for the coming decades with improved performance across all divisions.
That is the realization I have come to: Women’s Ultimate is more valuable than we give it credit for (I’ll go into this in another post) and develops Ultimate in general far better than any other investment we can make into Ultimate at this time.