Photos by Sean Carpenter –

After a competitive first Spinners tryout last night, Strength and Conditioning Coach Ben Johnson offers a few tips for aspiring MLU players.

Tryouts mark the beginning of preseason for MLU players. To prepare for tryouts, it takes some hard work in the offseason. Physically preparing for both tryouts and preseason can take weeks of hitting the gym for strength and power development, the turf for agility work and the track or field for game-simulating conditioning. Coming off year-round playing, it can be difficult to prepare for high demand events like the tryout process.

With tryouts occurring over the coming weeks, it is too late to see dramatic physical developments from training. Increasing your training frequency to “catch-up” may actually impede your progress by reducing your ability to recover and could increase your chances of injury from overuse or improper exercise progression.

The preseason is no time to increase your chances of injury. The time from tryouts in January through April involve rigorous training and practice in preparation for the MLU season. I’ve seen many great players unable to perform at their best until midseason as they fight back from nagging or chronic injuries. No team wants to see the star veteran or upcoming young player sidelined due to a practice injury. Following a structured progression to build quality over several weeks can reduce injuries and allow you to continue to improve throughout the tryouts and preseason.

One thing in particular comes to mind when preparing for Spinners tryouts: mental fortitude. In the world of ultimate frisbee, Major League Ultimate represents the sport on the biggest scale of talent and fans. There is an enormous amount of stress on players in game situations. Teams, including the Spinners, are looking for players that can thrive in high pressure scenarios. A tryout places players under the scrutiny of coaches, captains and veteran players to perform at the highest level. Coach Billy Maroon has a way of testing the mental strength of players and I’d suspect he has something up his sleeve for this year.

One tool I use to mentally prepare is a checklist. Accounting for everything I need physically and mentally as I approach a tryout brings me from The Everyday to The Game Day. I’m not just talking about organizing your light, dark, cleats and water. I’m also referring items in a mental checklist: strengths to demonstrate to coaches (my speed or throws), weaknesses to get feedback on (playing within my means) or even meeting a favorite Spinner (I got to guard Jake Rainwater!).

Using a mental checklist can allow you to visualize your night, prepare for the best and worst scenarios and reach a mindset for your highest level of play. Being mentally prepared can allow you to overcome many of the physical demands you might see in the next round of tryouts.

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