Hello all you lanky, stringy, gangly, stretch mark covered ultimate players,
Let me start by saying that there is nothing more frustrating to me than someone that doesn't take advantage of a gift that they are given. Now, I'm not talking about that friend we all have that could be one of the best players on the team but instead, chooses to play some idiotic sport like lacrosse. And I'm not talking about that handler on your team that has the best hucks in the league, yet, continually chooses to dump it to their other handler that doesn't do much other than turf every throw they put up. No, I'm talking about the players who have the greatest gift imaginable. The one thing that can't be taught. You guessed it; height.
Now, being a tall guy myself, standing at the unnatural, backbreaking height of 6'7", I've often been at the receiving end of a "You can't teach tall!" call from the sideline. The annoying thing is, they're right. If you're like me, height is the one thing you are gifted with and can always rely on. What a lot of people don't realize, however, is the way in which this gift can restrict you as an ultimate player. It is easy to rely too heavily on your height and allow yourself to start using it as a crutch; leaving you as nothing more than a bean stock in the middle of the field. So, to keep you from making that mistake, I'm here to supply some tips on aspects of play that often go overlooked for you lovable, gumpy-esk gangle monsters among us.
If you're a tall ultimate player, start by priding yourself on your deep game. You are already naturally gifted with the two things you need to be a strong deep cutter; you're tall and you (hopefully) have the ability to run in one direction. Now all you need is to be able to catch the disc, which starts with reading where that disc is going to end up.
Now, the unfortunate truth that makes this skill so necessary is that you can only fail when it comes to your deep game. This may sound pessimistic, but, let me explain. If you are a tall player that manages to get a block on a deep huck or sky's for a goal, good, you did your job. But if you get sky'd or out-read by anyone on the field, you failed. Winning the deep game will never be a victory for you, it's just you fulfilling expectations. That being said, take pride in it.
Speed and quickness are gifts that some people are just born with, though, don't think that it is something that can't be developed. There are so many companies and small businesses all over that exist with the sole purpose of speed and agility training. When I was in high school and in pursuit of a soccer scholarship, I did one summer with a, now unfortunately non-existent, program to increase my agility. At the end of the summer, I had cut my 40-yard sprint by .6 seconds and cut my change of direction in half. So take it from me, these programs work and they are everywhere. You would be a fool not to take advantage of them.
The biggest thing to remember when considering working on this aspect of your game is how dangerous a quick, tall player is. The other team won't be able to put their tallest defender on you because chances are, you're faster than them and you'll burn them every time. Then, when they put a smaller, quicker player on you, you'll have no problem taking them deep and winning that disc; assuming that you have already fully absorbed tip number one and you have no problem reading a disc. So just remember, height, speed, and quickness are the perfect foundation for a next level ultimate player. Fortunate for you stretched out taffy folk, though "they can't teach tall", they can teach speed and quickness.
So now you're tall, you're fast, and all of this is adding up to you being pretty much impossible to cover. That's great, though, here is the real question: How are your throws?
If the teams you are playing are at all smart, they are probably forcing you under and not letting you anywhere near the deep space. This is a way that they are, intelligently, taking away one of your obvious strengths. So, the best way to combat that would be by learning how to throw, right? Right. The most effective players in ultimate make their opponent afraid to give them anything, so, if you want to be that kind of player, you need to learn how to throw.
Even if it's just being able to complete force side throws it makes a world of difference to your teammates. It allows them to set up cuts for you downfield and not worry about having to get an immediate reset from one of the handlers. A commitment to throwing every day and really solidifying the idea of wrist snap on the disc is sure to help you be successful!
I hope, by reading these tips, that all you growth spurt survivors now understand the importance of your gift on height. The phrase in ultimate, "you can't teach tall", exists because it is literally the only aspect of the game that can't be taught. Anybody can work on reading a disc, getting faster, and throwing but no one can change how tall they are. If you're tall, you're starting off with such a painfully obvious advantage, so, for my last bit of advice, I'll put this bluntly and boldly: don't be stupid, take advantage of your height.
Much love and best of luck,
Austin (Huge and Goofy) DarlingP.S. For all you extra long people, such as myself, who have never had a well-fitted ultimate jersey before, there is a solution. Taiga offers an option to the freakishly tall that allows for you to request a little extra couple of inches to be added to the bottom of your jersey. So, be sure to ask about it when your team puts their order in and experience what it's like to not flash the entire field every time you put your hand up for a pull!
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