Why the Pressure is On
AUDL players faced a unique challenge within the sport in playing out the full regular season. Most high-level Ultimate players are used to preparing themselves for only a handful of very important tournaments every year, but they each last a full weekend and feature several games—one after the other. There’s plenty of practice and playing in the months leading up to these tournaments, but they prepare themselves to reach peak physical condition for those weekends, while everything else is lower priority.
The AUDL, on the other hand, forced players to be ready for a 16-week season, plus a couple playoff games for some. With each game carrying the same weight, it changed the players’ approach to the season.
“I definitely started training much earlier in the year than I normally do when playing USAU (USA Ultimate or club Ultimate),” Rainwater says. “I knew going into the AUDL season that I would be playing through until the end of October with USAU's club series. I have been gradually getting myself in top shape rather than pushing myself too early in the season and risking injury.”
Switching Up Training Routines
Rainwater stresses speed, explosiveness, and endurance in his workouts for anyone who wants to compete on a higher level in Ultimate, although that can also go for a number of other sports that hinge on running and sprinting.
“A workout as simple as sprinting straight-aways and jogging curves on a track can help an Ultimate player so much,” he says. “Hills and stair workouts are two other types of workouts that I believe to be very helpful toward [my game]. Leg strength and explosiveness are keys to becoming a better athlete on an Ultimate field.”
For Rob Dulabon, another all-league player from the Buffalo Hunters, being able to maintain a high level of fitness throughout the season—and even improve as the season went on—was something he was constantly working at, frequently keeping his workouts fresh and doing something different every day of the week.
“Do a variety of exercises and try to incorporate explosive movements,” he says. “I’m always looking for different workouts to try and new exercises to bring into my routine.”
He warned players not to lift too much, recalling a season in which he got his legs stronger than ever but they slowed him down a bit. Here’s an example of a typical training schedule he utilized throughout the season:
Monday: Lower Body Lift
Tuesday: Plyometric Workout
Wednesday: Track Workout
Thursday: Upper Body Lift
Friday: Active Recovery (Yoga typically)
Sunday: Cross Training (Raquetball, basketball, kayaking–variety day)