Ellipsis 2021: Solo Training through a pandemic by Jodie Palmer

The Covid pandemic has had a huge impact on the world. Here, Jodie Palmer discusses how it affected Ellipsis and what adjustments she made to her solo training

Team-wide Pandemic Adjustments

Typically, an Ellipsis season will start with selections in October, team training beginning in November, warm up tournaments from February, and nationals in late April. As you can imagine, the 2021 season was a little different. We started planning for the season while Victoria was still in lockdown, and were planning selections with various contingencies based on how many people we were allowed to have attend in one group. Restrictions started to ease in November, and we pushed our selections back to mid-December to allow players to get their training volume back up before playing again, and to increase the chances of us being able to run selections as one big group rather than multiple smaller groups. Combined with nationals also being moved two weeks earlier than usual, our season turned into 3 months rather than the usual 5-6. As the leadership group planning the season, this made things challenging. We had to prioritise the most important aspects we wanted to teach and train, and had to let go of many things that we wanted to cover.

Jodie Palmer in action for Ellipsis

Preparing for Nationals with a short season

In a typical season, we would usually play ~3 interstate warm up tournaments against other division 1 women’s teams leading into nationals. Despite our best efforts to organise interstate competition this season, it was not feasible with the ever-changing border restrictions. We instead played against the Victorian division 1 women’s teams, against Victorian division 2 open teams, and ran monthly intra-team game days between our two lines. While this definitely helped with our preparation, we still had not met the majority of the division 1 women’s teams until we arrived at nationals. This also made prioritising content for training sessions challenging, as usually we would reflect and adapt following each interstate tournament based on how we fared against the competition, and this season we only had hypotheticals. We as leaders spent time discussing how we thought opposition teams might play against us, and did our best to plan accordingly.

Efficiency of practice time

In terms of how the leadership team planned for the season, we spent a lot of time discussing and planning which structures we wanted to run and which content we wanted to cover. Every single aspect of our training sessions is part of an overarching plan, and every drill or activity has a purpose. We think about what structures we want to play, and what skills we will need to be able to execute those structures, and run each session with a specific content theme. I think this meticulous planning is one of the things that sets us apart. We never run a drill for the sake of it, it is always building towards something. Another thing that sets us apart is our team culture of consistently striving to be the best, and supporting our teammates to be the best. Our trainings are filled with intent and perpetual reflection and feedback on how we can do better. We never settle.

Solo training

From an individual training perspective, I have a unique situation with Ellipsis in that I am based in Bendigo, 2 hours from Melbourne. I have spent a large portion of my playing career training alone due to where I live in relation to the team that I play for, so while commuting twice a week for team training and completing all my individual training on my own is surprising to most, it’s something that I’m used to. Playing for Ellipsis is such a privilege, so all the time spent commuting and training alone is worth it. I try hard to not make excuses for why I can’t do something, and instead spend a lot of time planning my training and thinking of ways to make sure I’m not letting my team down.

My typical training week during the season looks like this:
Monday: footy training
Tuesday: gym
Wednesday: Ellipsis training
Thursday: gym
Friday: conditioning
Saturday: rest
Sunday: Ellipsis training

Structured strength & conditioning

Something that I think is incredibly important is completing a properly periodised training program written by a professional strength and conditioning coach. We get so much more reward for effort by completing a well-written program, and it’s something that doesn’t get anywhere near enough attention in ultimate.

Fitting it all in

I implement a few strategies to make sure I get all my training done each week. The first is I plan out my training week based on what commitments I have that week so that I can easily see how I will fit it all in. The second is I train in the morning so that it’s the first thing I do in the day and I get it out of the way early. The third is I schedule as much of my individual training as possible during the week so that if I miss a session due to unforeseen circumstances, I can make it up on the weekend.

Throwing Solo

The most challenging part of training on my own is throwing. While I often throw before or after Ellipsis training in Melbourne, I need to throw more than twice a week to make improvements. What I do in Bendigo is find a field with soccer goals and throw into the goals with a stack of discs. While this means I don’t get much practice throwing to a moving target or with a mark, I am still able to practice throwing to a static target with all the different throws in my repertoire. I try my best to visualise on-field situations while I am throwing, and make my throws as game-realistic as possible.

My best innovation of the season was video calling my partner (who lives hundreds of miles away in NSW) during throwing sets and having him call out different throws for me to throw (e.g. inside out backhand, high release flick, backhand to forehand pivot) so that I could get some reactive decision-making into my throws.

Training on my own is tough and obviously not ideal, but I think what I’ve been able to achieve shows that not having someone to train with doesn’t have to be an excuse. This season was full of adversity and the need to constantly adapt, and coming out of it as national champions has made all the work worth it.

Jodie in action with Australia u23 in 2015


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