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Essential Ultimate is written by 2 of the best coaches in the Junior scene. It is targeted at beginner and intermediate coaches of high school and college/university clubs, yet is very applicable to most senior clubs.
I compared Essential Ultimate to Parinella and Zazslow's "Ultimate Techniques and Tactics" as they have a similar audience, and you may know that text.
- has a better format as a teaching resource (examples of drills with diagrams, trouble shooting tips, as opposed to large chunks of prose, though it could improve even more)
- includes a better introduction for those new to ultimate: 10 simple rules, the field dimensions, and notes on self-refereeing
- has more on non-ultimate coaching elements such as warm ups, cool downs, the mental game and starting a team.
The difference between the 2 texts is encapsulated by the section on throwing. Baccarini and Booth talk about the key mechanics and how to coach them: correct grip (photos shown), wrist snap and follow through, troubleshooting tips for backhand, forehand and the hammer, how to throw in the wind, and a simple drill for teaching beginners to throw. In comparison, Parinella and Zazslow start with 4 principles of throwing that assume decent throwing skills, then discuss handling tactics, how to break the mark and more.
Essential Ultimate is aimed at coaches, while Ultimate Techniques and Tactics is aimed at experienced players (who probably lead and are player-coaches on their team).
My only significant gripe with Essential Ultimate is that it still has a bit of the flaw that Ultimate Techniques and Tactics had: parts of the book are large slabs of text. It is mostly a reference book, but at times tries to be more of an essay.
The text can explain some good general philosophies that may open you to new ideas, such as "Rather than just react, defenders should pre-act... so that an offensive player's explosive movement is preempted by an equally explosive anticipatory action on the part of the defender."
Unfortunately there are a number of self-evident observations that are unlikely to impact on how a coach coaches, if they have played more than a little ultimate, e.g. on man-on-man defense "What you hope will result is that covered receivers are scattered and clogging the passing lanes and thrower's choices are limited throwing into coverage, punting a Hail Mary pass downfield, or being stalled... And no-one ever wants to be stalled". Or the details on how a disc doesn't fly like a ball in the first paragraph. Truisms like these are clear once you have played even a little ultimate, where they are better learnt, and they feel superfluous to the book.
In comparison, pretty much all the diagrams, drill explanations, breakout boxes with tips, and troubleshooting lists are gold. They are very clear and very applicable. If a coach has a need for a certain type or drill, or issues with teaching a specific skill, they can easily refer to these tools. I've played at numerous World Championships, and coached for 8 years, and found quite a few concepts and drills I am now keen to use.
My wishes for the second edition are:
- communicate some ideas and tools through tables, case studies or acronyms as well, with more concise text.
- examples of session plans and season plans
- an index of the drills for quick reference
Lastly the sections on fitness, psychology and starting a program are brilliant. Any quality coach should consider these aspects and they give a good basic coverage of how they apply to an ultimate team. An experienced ultimate player who is a coach, will learn the most from these 3 chapters. A coach or teacher coming in from another sport will likely learn more from the rich chapters on ultimate specific skills.
Essential Ultimate has set the bar for all coaching resources in Ultimate.