Ultimate x Fitness: A Performance Training Guide For Frisbee Players

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Why Participating in Performance Training as an Ultimate Player is More Critical Than Ever Right Now: 

If you’re a tournament player, the wear and tear on your body is significantly higher than if you participate in a pro league where you’re not playing back-to-backs with little recovery time and reduced amounts of sleep. It’s a no-brainer that getting beat up repeatedly in close-succession in tournament-based leagues will make you much more susceptible to injuries. While this applies more so to those involved in tournament play, the all-inclusive rationale for seeking out performance training as an ultimate player right now is the fact ultimate players haven’t been able to compete during the pandemic.

Trying to jump right back into play without taking measures to gradually build yourself back to your pre-pandemic-self is likely to result in you being sidelined by an injury, as many sports leagues that have recently resumed have demonstrated. 

Many on-field performance movements can be trained in a performance setting, ultimately smoothening your return to competition. Here are some examples of where we apply performance training to ultimate-specific movements: 

  • Sprinting 
  • Cutting 
  • Jumping 
  • Conditioning 
  • Throwing


What Areas to Focus On In Your Performance Training to Benefit Your On-Field Performance: 

The Importance of Acceleration/Deceleration movements/Change of Direction: In ultimate, your ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction on a dime is a huge difference-maker in terms of your individual and team performance. While the magnitude of which these key aspects affect performance varies from position to position, there’s no getting around it — these are imperative components of the game as a whole. 

Many deceleration training movements such as depth jumps, which train the neuromuscular system, have corresponding benefits for acceleration. Some purists may argue against the benefits overlap, but physics gets the last say — isolating one quality entirely isn’t possible. The value of adapting your neuromuscular system to anticipate many different styles of landing after jump pays off big time when it comes to your ability to land in a cut.

The problem with a lot of the training programs we see, as they apply to Ultimate and similar sports is that there’s a dominance of forwarding plane concentric training. This minimizes the training of a lot of muscle groups and movement patterns that are more functionally necessary for eccentric and lateral movements. 

The Importance of Unilateral Strength Training: Single-limb strength and unilateral movement patterns are a key aspect underscoring the value of ultimate-specific performance training. We don’t want to sound like a broken record, as highlighting the importance of unilateral training in tandem with bilateral training is overstated in athletic training for a reason. Yet, it boils down to the not so evident fact that most sports are played primarily on one leg. No, not continuously but while you’re running, cutting, or jumping your legs are not on the ground at the same time.

The biggest thing unilateral strength training does is fight against imbalance. Evening out the discrepancy in strength among your dominant and non-dominant sides translates to more balance which subsequently translates to fewer injuries, normally. 

The Importance of Power: Power in Ultimate covers a lot of ground and if trained properly can make you a major threat in many different aspects of the game. The first aspect we’ll cover is the importance of power throwing and how performance training can give you a boost when working towards being a powerful thrower: 

Who doesn’t like hucking a disc and admiring the disc’s flight? While developing this skill, in general, is best improved by actual throw repetitions using a mark, performance training can help with the raw power part of the power and precision formula that make greats like Nicky Spiva or Alex Snyder elite. At Infinite, we advise players to focus on core and lower body strength to increase the ease and force with which they can send that thing the distance of the field! 

The next aspects we’ll focus on are on the actual field itself and in the air too! After decelerating from a sprint it’s key to be able to pivot and be quick off the cut, it goes without saying this takes the powerful ability to change speed explosively. One’s ability to do this can contribute to your advantage when beating others to the frisbee. The other aspect as it relates to this start-stop-cut aspect is the mechanics of the first step which plyometrics are well fit for training.

The last aspect we’ll cover when it comes to how strength training can improve your overall powerfulness is jumping. Being able to get up and catch some hang time gives you the advantage of verticality in a sport that is most frequently played in the horizontal plane. At Infinite we have a plethora of diverse movement patterns to help you tack on inches to your vertical, but again more on the training specifics later. 

The Importance of Conditioning: No one needs to be told why conditioning is important in Ultimate; you’re either in shape or you’re not and that will be evident in your performance. Instead, we bring our own style to conditioning. We believe that training for strength is a great catalyst for improving your conditioning. When it comes to cardio, we’re huge advocates of using primarily bikes due to the low impact they have on your joints and body in general!

How to Apply Functional Strength Training to These Specific Areas:


Split Squats:

WhySingle-leg strength is key to deceleration and split squats really emphasize putting concentrated force and resistance on one leg. They’re also really effective for increasing mobility which is key when pivoting in Ultimate as well as balance which is a universally important attribute in the world of sport. 

What to keep in mind when doing this movement:

  • Your front leg should be absorbing the majority of the weight while the back foot is used for balancing
  • Avoiding losing control or wobbling (take your time)
  • Put effort into centering your mass over your feet and maintaining control
  • You should be slightly leaning forward
  • Maintain a steady pace at all times and don’t slam the knee downwards
Goblet Squat:


Why: We find the Goblet Squat to be a favorable alternative to the barbell squat for our athletes and their specific goals. We find there’s less wear and tear on the body and that it maximizes many athletic attributes of our athletes. This is also much safer for those wanting to start out in the weight room and can then be progressed to a barbell squat.

Unilateral Training: How you can apply strength training to eliminate muscular imbalance and discrepancy between your dominant and non-dominant sides. 

One-Legged Squat:

Why: The one-legged squat is a quintessential unilateral exercise and its importance to the program underscores what has already been mentioned in this article in regards to unilateral training. It also improves balance!

One-Legged Deadlift:

Why: This unilaterally focused variation of the deadlift is super effective for targeting the hamstrings and glutes which are critical to gaining explosiveness.

What to keep in mind when doing this movement:

  • Avoid hips swinging into a wider position 
  • Avoid wobbliness (stop in a safe way, if you begin to lose balance)
  • Breath through the nose and brace the core
  • Breath through in through the belly and then fill the thoracic cavity protecting your spine from moving unintentionally
Lateral Lunges:

Why: Lateral lunges are very important for increasing the power and agility you have when you cut in Ultimate. As we age we need to mindfully focus on the side-to-side movement as this becomes more difficult. These also really target the adductors making you less injury prone and more mobile.

What to keep in mind when doing this movement:

  • Ease into this movement as it takes muscle memory to execute the form correctly
  • One leg is bent while the other is straight, but don’t lock the knee
  • Sit back into your heels for stability

Why: This is a great progression to the split squat as it is more difficult and has more resistance.

What to keep in mind when doing this movement:

  • Don’t lean the chest too far forward
  • Your shin and back should be parallel
Single-Leg Bridge:

Why: This another hamstring-focused movement that really works the posterior chain in an isolating fashion.

What to keep in mind when doing this movement:

  • Keep your core and rib cage down
  • Avoid a dip in the lower back


Training power: How to build power both on the field and in the air (throwing). Perform sets for these types of movements with extra rest in between for recovery. Explosivity is key here so, keep weight light and repetitions low (between 3-6). 


Why: Jumping is just one of those things, the only way you make progress is by doing it consistently over and over. It doesn’t matter how much you can squat, proper jump mechanics, aren’t going to be developed on their own. 

What to keep in mind when doing this movement:

  • Make sure you’re jumping on a stable box (if using a plyobox)
  • Commit to making the jump (jumping on to the box starts in your mind)
  • Use your whole body
  • Focus on your landing 
Weighted jumps:

Why:  Highly effective progression from plyobox jumps.

Medicine-Ball Throws:

Why: Medicine ball throws really increase power and explosiveness in the upper body by making use of the core and back muscles. They also work for improving precision and accuracy when making a powerful movement. This is a great way to develop the upper body strength to throw long distances effortlessly (at least seemingly).

What to keep in mind when doing this movement:

  • Don’t use too much weight. Start by underestimating yourself and go light. 
  • Keep reps low — don’t overdo it!
  • Make sure to exert a lot of force when throwing the ball.
  • Try to use your whole upper body.


Hang Cleans:

Why: This is an advanced power movement and will if done correctly add on a lot of strength.

Thank you for reading! We hope that this guide helped you understand the importance of performance-oriented training for Ultimate players (and team-sport players of all kinds)!



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