Set specific measures to reduce the dropouts

As a coach, you need to use tactics and methods that use the strengths of everyone. This means using different coaching methods and playing strategies catered to the individual players' strengths and the team as a whole. As a result, an inclusive and conscientious approach to this issue is essential.

Mixed sports

In various sports, especially at the youth level, mixed practices are quite common. Once the difference in physical size and strength between boys and girls becomes a factor, it is no longer possible for a trainer to consider all players the same. Still, it is important to address these differences and mention that although physical size and strength can provide an athletic advantage, there are other important characteristics of a good athlete and team member. We want to avoid direct comparisons between man-matching and women-matching players. Creating comparisons purely on athleticism can lead to adverse effects on the team, as women-matching players may feel they are not as valuable as their man-matching peers, or the man-matching players may think that they are superior to their woman-matching counterparts. It is therefore important to highlight the many different strengths present in an athlete and emphasise the importance of a team with depth in ability, skill and strategy.
A survey run by the European Ultimate Federation revealed that playing mixed can be difficult for women-matching players for many reasons, but that with the right team, it can be very rewarding. The same survey showed that many women-matching players drop out of the mixed division because they are not integrated enough into the game (for example, not enough disc time).
The key is to develop tactics based not only on speed, size, physical power and individual performance but also on good positioning, timing, skills, accuracy and team playing. The latter are gender independent and force a good integration and mutual support of all players.
Be sure to give all athletes the same opportunity to grow.

Practices to make your mixed ultimate tactics more inclusive

In Ultimate there are various strategies on how to play mixed. Below is a non-exhaustive list of practices to put in place as a coach. The case studies provide additional and more detailed examples, too.

  • In offence:
    • keep tall and fast male players out of the cutting area to avoid poaching
    • have a flow-based game rather than a power-cutting one. For example, HEX focuses more on individual skills and space usage
  • In defence:
    • junk or zone-like defences to have physical mismatches where you want them
    • Focus more on the whole team positioning instead on one-to-one matches

These principles can make the team a real mixed team and avoid the dropout of women-matching players and, ultimately, the team's end.

Follow the EUF:
Any feedback on this page?
With the support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.