For the past two months, I have been working with the BCUS to develop and implement the Youth Ultimate Development Program. With a $21,000 grant from ViaSport, the BCUS plans to bring the sport of ultimate to various cities throughout the province with the two main goals of improving physical literacy, and creating leadership opportunities. With the potential of the project being a long time endeavour, there are various steps that are being made to ensure the sustainability of ultimate in British Columbia.
The first part of the process for the Youth Development Program is to create a Starter Pack that will be delivered with a workshop for interested participants. The starter pack contains the following:
• the Starter Pack manual that explains the basics of Ultimate
• 5 Canada Ultimate approved ‘Ultra-Star 175’ discs
• a set of field cones
• a pack of ultimate drills cards
• a DVD which is currently being produced
With the Starter Pack, I will be delivering workshops to interested schools and communities. The workshop agenda will include walking through the manual, and live demonstrations of throwing, in addition to basic offensive and defensive strategies. Attendees of the workshop can hopefully learn the essential skills to teach youth the fundamentals of the sport. As well as learning a new sport, we want to emphasize that athletes can benefit from the endurance, agility, speed, and strength required of ultimate; it can be an amazing cross-training tool. It is also a great way to reach out to youth who are not interested in conventional sports.
Currently, we have interested individuals from small cities and towns – they include Vernon, Kelowna, Nanaimo, Revelstoke, and other communities that dot the province. As well, the Aboriginal Sports, Recreation and Physical Activity Partners Council – an untapped group when it comes to ultimate. Up until the end of of March, we hope to visit at least four different BC Games Zones.
Many Canadians are lucky to be literate – they are able to comprehend the words they read and communicate their words through their writing. While it is important to be literate when it comes to reading and writing, though, it is almost just as important to be physically literate!
Physical literacy is a term that may be difficult to define. Physical and Health Education Canada has described an individual who possesses physical literacy:
- Physically literate individuals consistently develop the motivation and ability to understand, communicate, apply, and analyze different forms of movement.
- They are able to demonstrate a variety of movements confidently, competently, creatively and strategically across a wide range of health-related physical activities.
- These skills enable individuals to make healthy, active choices that are both beneficial to and respectful of their whole self, others, and their environment.
Essentially, physical literacy is the ability to participate confidentially and effectively in recreational settings. Participating in physical literacy (which can also be seen as “learned fundamental movement and sport skills”), can help young people choose active forms of leisure in their spare time, and to make decisions for a better and healthy lifestyle.
The purpose of the Youth Ultimate Development Program is to improve physical literacy and create leadership opportunities for youth. By introducing ultimate, this unique sport can create opportunities to either improve physical literacy or even introduce the idea of playing sports. It is a great activity to use as a cross-training tool for other sports, or to maintain conditioning in the off season. According to Canada Ultimate’s ‘Long Term Athlete Development’ Plan, it is important to encourage a multi-sport foundation to avoid: one-sided sport-specific preparation, lack of fundamental movement skills, overuse injuries, early burnout, and early retirement from training and competition and often withdrawal from physical activity.
Ultimate is a sport that many youth take ownership of. They often are heavily involved in ensuring the success of the team from encouraging teammates to attend practices, to designing a team jersey that proudly represent their team. It is a highly social sport, where many players are very dedicated to their teammates and the Spirit of the Game, a code of conduct practiced from the amateur to the elite level of ultimate. With ownership, leadership, and dedication, confidence can be derived and expressed in sports movement. The mental and physical work together to create high quality recreational experiences that create feelings in individuals that can encourage healthy lifestyle choices and the pursuit of further sporting opportunities in the future.
Physical literacy is an essential part of youth development. It is important to utilize it in order to live a healthy lifestyle. In combination with amazing leadership opportunities, ultimate can be a great alternative sport to introduce to our youth in order to reinforce these ideals.