EDGE Ultimate’s training philosophy is based on the M.O.R.R. training system. This advanced training system was developed by renowned sports performance coach Chip Smith. After studying at the Soviet Sports Institute in Moscow in the late 1980s, Chip developed the M.O.R.R. performance training system with a focus on training that was sport-specific and movement-specific. Chip went on to found Competitive Edge Sports (CES), an elite sports performance company based in Duluth, Georgia. Chip has trained over 1,000 professional and Olympic athletes and is the author of Football Training Like the Pros. The M.O.R.R. system is an acronym for Movement, Overspeed, Resistance, and Reaction. Over the past two years, Pete Dreisbach has worked closely with Chip and other expert CES performance coaches to apply the M.O.R.R. principles to the sport of Ultimate.
Movement is the first component of the M.O.R.R. acronym. Of course, all training programs require movement. However, the focus of EDGE Ultimate is much more specific. We emphasize movement-specific performance training. There are a myriad of activities that are great workouts for building muscle and improving speed and endurance. However, we will avoid these activities if they do not closely mirror the movements required on the Ultimate field. For example, a push sled is an excellent tool for resisted sprinting used by football players and other athletes as a way to increase speed and power. However, an Ultimate player does not push things during competition and he or she does not run for long distances in an extreme forward leaning position. At EDGE Ultimate, we equip the athlete with a waist belt and resistance cables in a way that allows the athlete to perform resisted sprints while maintaining the mechanics that he or she would have on the field. The mechanics of Ultimate are of utmost importance. So if we are adding resistance or overspeed to an exercise that focuses on throwing, catching, jumping, cutting, or pivoting, we will do so in a way that does not impede the mechanics of the skill. While other strengthening programs may translate indirectly to on-field performance, the EDGE Ultimate program applies directly. The movements the athlete does during the workouts are identical to those that the athlete does during competition, so the athlete increases power and explosiveness while performing Ultimate-specific movements.
The second element of our program is overspeed. Overspeed is a training technique that forces the body to run at a speed that is faster than the athlete’s normal capabilities. Overspeed running can be performed by running downhill at a 2% grade or by using a high-speed treadmill. In the former Soviet Union, athletes were even towed behind a moving vehicle with a winch! These methods obviously have their limitations and safety concerns. EDGE Ultimate uses industrial-strength elastic cabling to pull the athlete into overspeed movements. By stretching out the cable and then running with the assistance of the contracting elastic cable, the athlete can significantly increase his or her sprinting speed. This enhanced speed helps the athlete to develop fast-twitch muscle fibers. It also helps the body and the body’s muscle memory to grow accustomed to the feeling of running faster, which will allow the body to push its limits of top-end speed. When performed correctly, overspeed training reinforces proper running mechanics. It also helps to increase stride length, which helps the athlete gain more ground with each step he or she takes on the field. Unlike other overspeed training methods, the elastic cables also allow the athlete to change directions in a 360° range of motion. In their excellent book Essential Ultimate, Michael Baccarini and Tiina Booth advocate dropping from a box or bleacher to develop deceleration (eccentric) strength. Overspeed training is another great way to improve deceleration strength. By starting in an overspeed run and then aiming to decelerate in a small area, the athlete is training his or her lower body to absorb force and change directions more efficiently. Overspeed training is an excellent way to improve both linear speed and deceleration strength.
Resistance is the third element of the EDGE Ultimate program. Methods of resistance training include, but are not limited to: free weights, weight vests, ankle weights, uphill running, running stadiums, sled work, parachutes, partnered resistance, underwater running, and resistance cables. At EDGE Ultimate, we use a wide variety of resistance devices, including weight vests, resistance cables, release harnesses, spider harnesses, shackles, throwing harnesses, agility harnesses, punch belts, free weights, and medicine balls. By applying resistance to Ultimate-specific movements, we are forcing the athlete’s body to activate additional motor units and to recruit explosive muscle fibers. The athlete’s body adapts and continues to fire these additional motor units even after the resistance has been removed, thereby allowing the athlete to jump higher, sprint faster, and move more quickly. Resistance training also produces micro-tears in the muscles. When supported by proper rest and nutrition, the reparation of these micro-tears leads to muscle hypertrophy and increased strength. This increased strength will help the athlete in both power production and injury prevention. And the best part is that this explosive strength is gained in the exact movement mechanics required on the Ultimate field. Finally, resistance training helps to improve stride frequency. By performing resisted sprints, the athlete must fire his or her feet extremely fast in order to achieve small gains on the field. This fast foot-fire carries over after the resistance device has been removed, thereby increasing the turnover rate. The improved stride frequency, when partnered with the increased stride length from the overspeed training, helps the athlete take quicker, longer steps, which translates to improved running speed.
Reaction is the final piece of the M.O.R.R. system. The best Ultimate players are not always the ones who are the biggest or the fastest. A player can gain a tremendous advantage by having the ability to anticipate and to react quickly to various stimuli. The player may need to break on a disc in the air, or holster a throw when he notices a poaching defender, or turn when an “UP!” call is made from the sideline. The ability to see or hear a stimulus, process the information, and react is critical to success on the field. EDGE Ultimate incorporates reaction elements into every workout. The average athlete can improve reaction time by up to 15%. The EDGE Ultimate program incorporates both visual and audio stimuli into drills that challenge the athlete to perceive and process information as quickly as possible. This focused approach to reaction training can help the athlete react more quickly during competition.
Although not included in the acronym, the pool workout is another element in the M.O.R.R. training system. The EDGE Ultimate pool workout uses resistance bands for underwater running and swimming. We also use the water as a resistance element to strengthen the shoulder and rotator cuff muscles. The pool workout is an excellent low-impact cardio workout that allows the body to process lactic acid and recover from the rigorous demands of on-field training or competition. After the pool workout, the athlete’s legs will feel fresher and his or her shoulders will be stronger and more stable.
Pete Dreisbach is very proud of his relationship with Chip Smith and the CES family and is proud of how the M.O.R.R. training system has been adapted to meet the specific needs for the sport of Ultimate. This training philosophy has had a great impact on professional and Olympic athletes all over the world. Now EDGE Ultimate hopes to use this training system to revolutionize the sport of Ultimate.
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