Full disclosure: I have never played club. I have, however, heard dozens of times about the incredible value that college players get out of playing club over summer.
So, I spoke with some experts who have been there, and I'm now thoroughly convinced that playing club this summer is the best thing you can do to improve as a player, teammate, captain, and community member.
I'm here to present you with the evidence that won me over, along with some other great advice these fine folks shared.
(Scroll to the bottom to see who I talked to!)
You'll get better.
It's obvious that you'll get better by playing more ultimate. You'll also get better by learning from and being pushed by new teammates with more experience and higher level skills than you.
Here are the tips we compiled from our experts to use your club time more effectively to improve:
Be open to learning and trying new things.
Brace yourself, I'm about to blow your mind: there are more offensive strategies than a vert stack.
That's right. You might be running the show on your college team, But you'll get a lot more out of playing club if you try to humble yourself and try out new positions, strategies, concepts, and play styles.
find a mentor.
Look for someone you respect on the team. Someone who has skills that you want.
Ask them questions about their training routines, field mentality, practice sessions, etc. Ask for specific advice for how you can lean into your strengths to get the disc more.
This feedback can help give you clear direction on how to improve your game and might even develop into a long-term mentor relationship.
hone your skills.
If you're a top player on your college team, odds are that you have to be a generalist. In contrast, your new club team probably wants you for a very specific skill that you possess.
Be confident, and focus on becoming the best at that one skill. Role players often define the outcome of games just as much as the big stars.
Another pro tip from our experts: Remember to take care of your body! When you're playing college and club, you end up playing competitive ultimate from January to August, and that can take a toll on a person's temple. Eat, sleep, and nurse injuries to help your body work for you.
You'll meet awesome people and expand your ultimate network.
No one can deny that college ultimate is one of the most incredible experiences a person can have in their life. Part of what makes it so special, other than it being a lot of folks' first time playing ultimate, is the close friendships that form on the team. Players usually live within a mile of their best buds and have this weird, niche love in common that they can do together all the time.
And while it takes a little more work to foster similar friendships on a club team, where people have their own separate lives, club teammates can be pretty remarkable too.
Here are some new experiences that you can get from opening yourself up to a new group of teammates:
Expose yourself to a higher level.
Imagine a team where each player has the fundamentals down and is committed to working hard for the team.
For a lot of college players, especially coming from a D-III college, playing this level of ultimate isn't something they ever considered as a possibility. It'll rock your world.
Try out a new division.
Most folks don't have the opportunity to play mixed ultimate until they play club. It can be an eye-opening experience to play with a different gender - players with different skills and motivations for playing. You can have conversations about gender equity in ultimate outside of your bubble.
We highly recommend trying it out, even if you decide later that single gender is more your speed.
Discover more reasons to love ultimate.
Branching out of your comfort zone will open you up to a bunch of new perspectives on ultimate - how the game should be played and what the best parts are to hold onto as ultimate grows.
Listening to these different viewpoints will help you more fully appreciate all that ultimate has to offer.
Not only is it rewarding to have your love for ultimate reaffirmed, but it can also help you as a teammate to accept and encourage teammates that see ultimate differently than you do.
Have a voice in determining the future of our sport.
Because ultimate is still growing, there's a lot up in the air about ultimate's future. And the cool thing about that is that we as players, have the opportunity to voice our opinions to shape the direction of ultimate. What power!
Most college teams are so focused on their bubble that they don't see the bigger picture of ultimate. Taking a step out of the bubble will grant you access to more opportunities within the sport.
You can use your new skills and community you built to make your college team better.
Sure, playing club is great development time for you as an individual player, but it can also help build your college program too, if you're intentional about it.
Here are some ways our experts told us they were able to invest what they gained playing club, back into their college team in the fall:
use your new-found confidence.
Take a stroll to a neighbor's ultimate block, and you'll know a thing or two more than your stale-cleated teammates who decided they'd rather re-watch all of Game of Thrones than play ultimate over summer.
Use that confidence to inspire and lead your comrades in arms!
(Just remember that you don't know everything and have still got room to grow and learn too!)
Utilize your new club teammates' skills and knowledge!
Your new, more-experienced buds could be great resources tap when you're looking for advice or more opponents to play in a scrimmage. There's no reason to lose touch over the school year!
Help explain to newer players.
With your new perspectives and greater understanding of ultimate, you'll be able to help new players get a grasp on new concepts, their role, and why ultimate is the best sport in the world.
Our experts also mentioned a new appreciation for the fundamentals. High performing teams are able to develop strategies that work because there's a foundation of throwing, catching, and cutting in every player on the field. Give club a try, and you may find that your focused throwing session at the beginning of practice will become a little more focused.
Thanks to all the wonderful ultimate rockstars that shared their time and knowledge with me to make this post happen!
Rob Korbel - UPS Postmen (2013 - 2017), Denver Inception (2014), Portland Rhino (2016)
Cady Kalenscher - UPS Clearcut (2013 - 2017), Schwa (2016)
Grace Castro - Catholic University Nun Betta (2014 - present), Hope (2015), Baywatch (2016), Grit (2017)
Chris Roach - UPS Postmen (2014 - present), Pegasus (2016)
Qxhna Titcomb - Tufts Ewo (2010-2014), Brute Squad (2014), Riot (2015 - present)
Sarah Levinn - Richmond Redhots (2007 - 2011), Seven Minutes in Heaven (2008 - 2011), Texas Melee (2011 - 2013), Happy Hour (2011), Showdown (2012 - present)
Carolina Gonzalez-Llanos - UCF Sirens (2011 - 2014), Mooseknuckle (2011), FSU Seminole Ladies (2015-2016), Tabby Rosa (2013 - 2015)
over to you!
Did you make the jump from college to club? What was your experience like? Share what you learned in the comments below, so new players can learn from your experiences!