Wednesday, September 10, 2014

RISE UP Think Tank: Leveling Up

by Jonathan Neeley

Most of us were pretty clueless when we started playing ultimate. We tried to throw discs the same way one throws a baseball, and we had little concept of where to go on the field, let alone why. Imagine if it had stayed that way. This game wouldn’t be too enjoyable if you never got any better, would it?

Would the answer to that question change even if you didn’t struggle when you started? What would ultimate mean to you without the hours of figuring out how to put enough spin on your flick while still releasing it flat or those early season practices where you notice the work you put in over the last few months has made you faster? Improvement is the name of the game in sports. It makes playing both fun in the short term and rewarding in the long term.

Photo courtesy of Tino Tran --

What’s the best way to improve? By practicing, of course. But it’s not about just practicing hard and often. If you really want to maximize your potential, you’ve got to practice smart.

Leveling Up, RISE UP’s inaugural issue of Think Tank, is all about elevating your game. In the coming weeks, eight highly-accomplished players will give you their thoughts on how to get better. Here’s the track list:

And the really important part? These aren’t just players. They’re coaches. Each author in this issue has given serious thought to the methodology behind how to spot areas for improvement, how to repeat something until it becomes habit, and how to teach that process to others.

We actually set out to make this series about the more specific topic of improving in the offseason. But as the authors and I worked together, it quickly became apparent that getting better is a year-round process. The fact is, every practice, every workout, every game, every point– each and every time you associate yourself with ultimate, really– is an opportunity to be better than you were yesterday.  That’s why a core RISE UP philosophy is that we’re Always Building.

One way to bolster our efforts to improve is to do it together. Think Tank is an opportunity to reflect on what others have to say while also sharing your own thoughts, both of which will open all of us up to new possibilities. Practically speaking, that means putting the comments section to use and sharing articles when you see them come out. The more folks we bring into the fold to ask questions and offer points of view, the better!

I hope you enjoy Think Tank. More importantly, I hope you put it to use. I hope you get better.

Always Building,


  • Great idea! Especially for those players like me who don’t get to talk with experienced players so often.

  • Zog

    Having a growth mindset is critical in any sort of learning environment, whether it is on the field, in the classroom or sitting in a cubicle. Thanks for putting this together!