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Ultimate Fitness, the DVD

November 19, 2009

Today we’re going to do a review of Bryan Doo and Dan Cogan-Drew’s Ultimate Fitness DVD (Amazon detail page here).

Bryan Doo, now a strength & conditioning coach for the Boston Celtics, and Dan Cogan-Drew are long-time Ultimate players on Boston’s Death of Glory club team, and it’s great to see them bring their Ultimate training expertise to the table in producing this well-made DVD.

After an Introduction but before the Cooldown lap, Bryan and Dan take us through Warm-ups (both for a start-of-day and for in between games), Speed / Agility / Quickness, and Functional Strength Development. You may have seen a number of these drills in Baccarini and Booth’s Essential Ultimate, such as the scramble-up (shown below), but it’s always useful to see live athletes performing the drills. In particular, Bryan Doo is an exemplar of movement quality and as he goes through the drills makes sure to point out common pitfalls and does some impromptu coaching and cuing for the demo athletes he works with on the DVD.

In this review I’m going to focus on the Warm-up and Speed / Agility / Quickness drills, since strength work has been covered extensively elsewhere here. I also didn’t want to get distracted quibbling with the advice to draw-in versus brace for core work or pondering the 2,000  or so Newtons of force a Superman is measured to exert on the spine [see Stu McGill’s survey works], and the interconnected too-much-flexion debate.

Bryan’s Warm-up #1 (start of day) consists of:

  • High Knee Hugs, Straight Leg Deadlifts, Step / Lunge / Twist
  • High Knees, Butt Kicks, Carioca, and Backpedaling.

Your team probably does some variation of this, but as they say the devil is in the details, and you can always get better at warming up more safely and effectively. For example, when you do high knees, do you just hike your knees or do you also make sure you get some arm drive action in there too?

When you do a Step / Lunge / Twist, do you also make sure (1) the lunging foot stays pointed forward (rather than internally or externally rotated) with heel on the ground (2) lunging knee forming a 90 degree angle with (3) core musculature is engaged with an appropriate level of tension and a tall/long spine and (4) twisting only to the lunging leg side?

Another example. When you do cariocas as a warm-up, do you go for distance or take smaller steps, trying to open up your hips and lower-back as a warm-up as Bryan suggests?

These may seem like simple corrections, but as Pavel says when it comes to fundamentals, “it is the mastery of the basics that separates the elite from the rest.” While we’re at it, for extra credit I’m going to mention the concept of bone rhythm that I learned from Dr. Cobb as part of the Z-health system.

You are what you consistently do, so why not do that well? =)

I’m not going to cover Warm-up #2, but just mention that some kind of Spiderman is a good thing to get better at.

And rather than ramble on about the dozen or so Speed / Agility / Quickness drills that Bryan has picked out I’m just going to suggest you check out the 1-2 Stick preview video on Cogan-Drew’s web page for another sample of the high-quality instruction and footage offered on this DVD.

Now, go and check out those hips!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. November 23, 2009 2:21 pm

    Wow, thanks for the review, I may have to pick these up to help with my current “Step up my game” training program.

    One thing with the agility moves like the 1-2 stick, high knees, or grapevines, is there a reason agility work like this never goes past the warmup? For handlers and mids, agility trumps top speed, but every time I see agility drills, they are always treated as a warmup.

    Is there a reason for this? Does doing a heavy rotation of agility drills yield diminishing returns? Or is it a cultural thing, and should I put some serious focus into those agility drills during my training days to improve my moves for being and covering handlers?

    Thanks, the site and articles are fantastic.


    • Leslie Wu permalink
      November 23, 2009 6:19 pm

      Hi Char,

      Good question! Here at Stanford I have seen teams practice agility drills after warming up, whether it’s simulating an agility ladder with cones or doing a combination of agility and sprint work in the same drill (1-2 stick whilst moving forward on a “ladder” finishing with a 10 yd sprint, for example).

      One could posit that many folks come from a track&field S&C perspective, where top speed is king, rather than a transitional field sport where the first 10 yards often determines the winner.

      There is some argument that there is a specificity to agility practice, and beyond some point if all you are doing is agility ladder work without learning to apply that in a game, there are diminishing returns.

      Chris Frost has a great article on “The Huddle” which mentions agility work here:

      Also see

      and perhaps more specifically

      Does that answer the question? The challenge behind athletic development is that there are so many factors at work (Coach Vern Gambetta has a great book which covers this), from work capacity and endurance to movement aptitude, from core to strength, from power training to linear and multidimensional speed / quickness.

      So I’d hazard that it is partly cultural, but that you’ll find that some teams do more agility work than others. I do think that for covering and being a handler, agility and mobility (particularly in the ankles, knees and hips) are important, as are the ability to quickly accelerate and decelerate for the first 10 yds (we seem to so often train positive-sign acceleration moreso than deceleration, but it’s been said that deceleration more easily determines quickness than (top) speed).

      Anyone else have thoughts?

    • Leslie Wu permalink
      November 23, 2009 6:23 pm

      Also, to clarify the agility drills mentioned in Ultimate Fitness are:

      Heiden Hop
      Power Skips (8-10 yards, 2 sets)
      1-2 Skips (4-6 each direction for 2 or 3 sets)
      Box with Tennis Balls (2-3 yds between cones)
      Man-in-the-Middle (30-45s)
      Shadowing (15-25s)

      To learn more, ask or buy the DVD for details =)

      [For quickness, the three are Scramble-Ups, Ball Drops, Knee Tucks & Quick Sprints.]

  2. November 24, 2009 12:56 pm

    That gives me a good place to start, I’m going to make sure I have some agility work in my workouts. The theme I see is that form needs to be a focus, so doing them earlier in a workout is probably more beneficial than as the later stages of a cardio/conditioning workout. Which is probably why I associate them with warmups.

    Thanks Leslie,


  3. March 3, 2012 3:35 pm

    Thanks for the info, interesting stuff here.

  4. October 3, 2013 5:50 am

    Nice blog here! Additionally your site quite a bit up fast! What web host are you the use of? Can I am getting your associate link to your host? I want my web site loaded up as quickly as yours lol


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