Trying out? Here’s some advice

I’ve collected a number of links from around the internet that I think have great things to say about trying out. I’ve pulled out a few quotes from each article that I think get to the key points, but I’d recommend opening the links and reading the articles to get the full picture. Three of the articles are from The Huddle, a now defunct web magazine with lots of interesting ultimate information.

  1. Trying out? Here’s some advice, by Calise Cardenas.

    … But even if you do all of those things, there is still no guarantee that you will make this squad. You should absolutely be doing all of those things, if you’re able, but it won’t get you on [Crash].

    If you want to give yourself the best possible chance of making it, here’s what you do:

    • Play smart, aggressive defense
    • Be a good teammate

    The first bit of advice is quantifiable, which makes it infinitely more useful. The second bit, however, is just as important. Some quick guidelines if you’re having trouble with the phrase “good teammate”: be a helpful sideline presence, be supportive of other tryouts, and don’t assume that you’re better than anyone. Being bummed when you turn the disc over is natural, but know how to bounce back (namely by playing great defense).

    It is possible to make up for deficiencies in these two categories with excellent throws, perfect offense, speed, or any number of super powers, but I suggest you work on these two things. Play great defense. Be a good teammate.

  2. Perspective from The Team & From a Player, by Ben Wiggins.

    Any young player that wants to improve should be trying out for any team possible. Tryout ultimate is typically intense, cheap, and with players that you don’t normally play with. This can be an amazing opportunity to improve …

    If you are invested in making the team, you should know the answer to this question: What is the point of the entire tryout process? It isn’t to be fair, and it isn’t to give everyone an equal chance. It darn sure is not to find the best 24 players. The point of tryouts is to WIN GAMES …

    If you ever come to a point in a tryout practice where you aren’t sure whether you should give full effort or not…win. Returning players have a history of success on the team, and will be excused for their inability to get up for practices to some extent. You, however, do not have this history. Win drills, win games.

    The team is trying to pick a team that will win games. If you show yourself to be a player that will give them their best chance of winning, they should take you. This is very different than trying to be their 23rd best player. If you don’t make the team, and spend your time thinking about how you are, in fact, better than player #24…you missed the point.

  3. Play to your best, tone down the rest, by Lou Burruss

    You have to ask yourself, “What do I do that is great?” This is your ticket onto a team. For most young players, this is blue-collar Ultimate: tough D, swing passes and safe choices. If what you have to offer is something different (big throws, great receivership), then showcase those skills.

  4. Go after similar, more experienced players by Greg Husak

    Guard the returners who do your thing as often as possible. If you can do their thing better than them, that’s going to be apparent if you are guarding them. If you’re making them work harder than usual, that will get filtered up to decision-makers. If you’re getting schooled, you’ll at least know why you didn’t make the team and will have hopefully learned something from a better player than you.

I think these four articles contain a lot of good, general, advice about tryouts. We’ll be posting more specifics about what we’ll be looking for at Crash tryouts in the upcoming weeks.


I think one of the most important aspects of a team’s identity in any team sport is trust. The very best moments in ultimate happen when all 7 players on the field are threats to score, move the disc, and make plays on defense and only when every player on the field trusts their teammates to perform at a high level can this happen.

What does trust look like?

This is a hard question to answer and I think it’s often easier to recognize a lack of trust, but here are some signs that a team trusts each other.

  1. Quick disc movement where many players touch the disc, the ever-elusive “flow”.
  2. Team Ds that result from everyone on the team shutting people down until a high count.
  3. Support and encouragement from the sideline between and during points.

One of our goals for this season as captains is to build up every player on our roster to the point where no matter who is on the field the players on the field will trust each other to play well together and the players off the field will trust the players on the field to get the job done. Everybody should feel confident that their teammates will make the right plays at the right times.

Creating Trust

So, how does this happen? How do we develop trust on a team? Here are a few ideas but this is certainly not an exhaustive list.

  1. The team needs to communicate well with each other. When things go right talk about the things that worked, and when things go wrong be constructive about how to fix them. Instead of being angry and frustrated, focus on the things we can control and support and encourage each other to succeed.

  2. Simply spending time together. Time spent driving to tournaments, hanging out at the hotel, chatting between games is all important and valuable time. Get to know your teammates and let them get to know you! Trust comes partly from familiarity.

  3. Leadership. As captains, we need to demonstrate trust in the players on the team to play by giving them opportunities to succeed. But leadership doesn’t just come from the appointed captains and coaches though, every player on the team should have the goal of making their teammates succeed. This can mean many things: maybe it’s spending time with another player after practice working on a particular throw, maybe it’s organizing extra throwing for people in your city, maybe it’s clearing hard to make space and trusting that a teammate will make the right cut, maybe it’s trusting another handler to get open on the bail, maybe it’s helping the players on the field from the sideline.

  4. Finally, and most importantly, practice is the best place for trust to develop. Instead of writing about it, I’m just going to quote the article that inspired this post.

Your goal for every practice should be to make your teammates better in every drill, every sprint, and every scrimmage. If you play your hardest, most physical D on a player, you are going to push them to get better. Likewise, on Offense, if you make it your goal to punish whoever is covering you by making hard real cuts, they are going to learn how to play better and better D. Challenge them to get better. Set the bar higher and higher for them each practice, and through these battles, you will get better by them pushing you to do the same.

Look your teammates in the eyes at the end of practice. Look at them with the pride of knowing that you pushed them and they, in turn, pushed back. By the end of the season, when you look them in the eye, you will also see the complete trust in knowing that no other team is going to push as hard as you pushed each other. That is a wonderful and unstoppable feeling.

No Heroes

This is my first year captaining a touring ultimate team and I’ve been thinking a lot about it. I spend time every day training, practicing, thinking about training and practicing, planning and considering what I’d like this team to be in the summer. I’ve decided that I wanted to share some of those readings and thoughts and this seems like the appropriate place. So, over the next few weeks leading up to tryouts and maybe into the summertime, I plan to post some things here that I find interesting and that have shaped my values as a player.

The first thing I want you to read is this article from The ShowGame entitled No Heroes written by the coach of the UK National team. It’s a discussion of what makes a player a successful team player vs. individual player and how to be a successful team player. One of the values that Crash will seek to build and embody throughout our season is effort and hard work. Whether we’re up 10 or down 10, playing in our first game of the year, or the game to go to Nationals, we want to be working 100% of the time.

As we approach tryouts, this is one of the key things that we’ll be looking for. A willingness to put in the work that’s required: in practice and in games, every time we step on the field together.

… effort is vital. Anyone who goes to a tryout or serious tournament and needs to be reminded that it’s competitive sport and they need to put in some effort, just doesn’t have the right mental attitude. And I don’t just mean physical effort, I mean mental too; focus on the person you’re marking, remember the force, get your body positioning right. Remember our offensive systems and your role in them. Effort, dedication. An unrelenting desire to outwork the opposition. Do your job, and nothing more. No heroes.

Crash and Thunder

We are excited to announce that the KW-Guelph mixed team for the Summer of 2014 (and hopefully moving forward from there) will be known as Crash (after the name for a group of rhinoceri).

Please sign up for tryouts using this form.

Tryouts will be held on the following dates:

  • April 22 – 6:30-8:30pm – University of Guelph Soccer Complex, East Field
  • April 24 – 9:00-11:00pm – Woodside Park 1, Kitchener
  • April 29 – 6:30-8:30pm – University of Guelph Soccer Complex, East Field
  • May 1 – 9:00-11:00pm – Woodside Park 1, Kitchener

  • May 3 & 4 – Soggy Bottom Bowl Tryout Tournament in Guelph

The first tryout (April 22) will be for players who did not tour with either Whiplash 2013 or MuD 2012. Depending on turnout, first cuts may be made after this tryout, and all players will be expected to attend the remaining tryouts. After Soggy Bottom Bowl, the final team roster will be selected.

A second competitive team, called Thunder, will also be formed and we are excited to announce that Natalie Mullin, coach of the UW women’s team, has agreed to coach this team. We also intend to run a development team for players who are looking for skill building opportunities this summer.

Crash and Thunder practices will be held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings throughout the season, and will likely be held at St John’s Kilmarnock School (off Highway 7 between KW and Guelph). Practice is mandatory.

We are expecting to enter 7 tournaments this summer including (some dates tentative):

  • Soggy Bottom (May 3rd/4th)
  • TUF (May 10th/11th)
  • May Day (May 24th)
  • Comedy of Errors/Northern Flights (June 14th/15th)
  • Regionals (July 12th/13th)
  • No Borders (July 26th/27th)
  • Nationals (August 14th-17th)

Looking forward to seeing you at tryouts! Dan, Chris, Bry and Yaacov