Ultimate Frisbee 5 Questions With Julianna Czapska

It’s the end of March and a switch back to daylight savings time. It means an extra hour of playing ultimate in early spring. The indoor season is officially over and the favourite part of pretty much all ultimate frisbee players is about to begin. The outdoor season. It’s also the last call for the National Teams to prepare before many tournaments that take place this summer. You can read about that in February interview – 5 Questions With… Kuba Wróbel.

Speaking of preparing for important events and the upcoming outdoor season… Sport isn’t only about the skills and physical preparation. Your mindset plays a vital part in all of this. Luckily, Julianna Czapska (who is a sports psychologist) is here to explain why it matters for you and your team.

Name: Julianna Czapska
Number: 23
Height: 172
Plays Ultimate Since: 2015
Team: Lost’n’Found, Bez Ciśnień Kosmodysk
Cutter/Handler: Cutter
Favourite throw: IO forehand
Favourite type of the tournament: every tournament on grass or beach
Favourite division: women
Favourite thing outside of Ultimate: travelling

5 Questions With Julianna Czapska | Photo by Łukasz Zdunek
Photo: Łukasz Zdunek

1. How did you first get into Ultimate Frisbee?

My friend (Julia Wrzosińska) was telling me about joining this sport for 2 years, but I had no clue what was she talking about. Then my other friend went for one of Julia’s women team open training and she said it was super fun and I should come next time. I did and I shrank into this sport from this very first training. I have never threw a disc before, but the team spirit was nice, the sport was intense and challenging in a good way, so I wanted to continue. And, as a sport psychologist, I was amazed with the existence of SOTG and how does that influence the people.

2. What does this sport mean to you?

It’s most of my life now, hah. Few years ago I would never say that I’m gonna get so involved into a totally new sport and I will spend most of my time on it.

At this moment: I’m training to get into the Mixed Polish National Team, leading a women team Lost’n’Found, working as a sports psychologist of the U20 Open Polish National Team and co-working in a couple of projects, for example with Ultizone, PSGU and #WarsawWomenUltimate (stay tuned).

Ultimate is definitely one of the most important things to me in these years.

3. Skills are not everything in sport. The right mindset is also a vital part if you’re going to succeed. What would be your advice for ambitious players when they find themselves in a crisis?

It depends a lot on what kind of crisis it is – lack of motivation, having an injury, not progressing, not reaching the goal, having problems playing under pressure… There is a lot of topics in sport psychology – and they are not only about problems and crises!

Actually, it’s much better when you work on your mindset in the neutral moment of your season, when you don’t have any emotional crisis and you have quite a lot of time before the important goal. That’s when you can learn to be a conscious athlete, to focus on what depends from you and practice being mindful. You can also develop your positive attitude, build your solid motivation and confidence, as well as check what helps you to play on your highest level.

When you think about all these things earlier, it’s more possible to avoid the crises. However, if you are in one anyways – the best thing you can do is give yourself some human support, take a deep breath, maybe a longer rest and look on the situation with a wider perspective. And don’t hesitate with talking about the crisis with someone you trust or an expert of what you’re going through.

4. Team’s mindset can decide how the game is going to unfold. What would be your advice to rise the team spirit in a difficult game when all seems lost?

There are two very important things that the team can do in these moments.

First: keep on believing in success and being 100% in the game from the beginning until the very end of the game. For example, when you get off the field – be an active sideline, motivate the team to give all they can. It’s very important that you don’t question the team’s ability to win the game because the moment you start doing that – you start losing it. If you have a big problem with avoiding these thoughts, try to stop looking at the scores and just play all the time on the same level of intensity.

Second: take care of the helpful, supportive communication. During the game there is no space for pointing the mistakes of someone – believe me, that person already knows he/she screwed up. You can analyze how he/she could improve after the game, but now all this person needs is some support. Cheering and motivating each other to focus on the nearest step are very good things to do. What’s also important is being conscious of your body language. You might think you didn’t show any of your frustration outside, but believe me that every gesture and gaze of disappointment is visible for others. And it’s very common that if one person starts to show his/her frustration, there will be more to join it. Work on positive and confident body language in your team.

5. You’ve been travelling a lot recently and had the chance to train with teams, especially those in Colombia. What have you learned and what would you introduce from Colombian to Polish ultimate?

I must admit that the Colombian ultimate made a huge impression on me. I had to think for a while to give a short answer to this question. There are 3 main things that I think we could learn from them and introduce to our environment.

First is making all the athletes in a team feel the same engagement into the team. And that’s the coach/captain’s role to ensure everyone care. In Revolution every girl is responsible for something, they have various roles and everybody feels needed.

Second is the way they organise trainings. They spend always a lot of time talking, integrating and just playing matches. Fewer drills, more teambuilding and learning how to play together on the field.

The third thing that I have really loved and I would be very happy if it developed in polish ultimate is the way they treat psychology. In the top level teams (Revolution, Comudidad el Oso, Bamboo) the psychological fundament is the basis of all the rest. All they do in the sport is basically challenging themselves to be a better person. They develop individual skills of self-evaluation and they are confronting difficult situations on trainings and in games, so they can face themselves and try to be better every next time.

From my perspective that’s why they learn so fast and why they are in the top level of the world. If anyone would like to learn more about their methods – check out my sport psychology-travel blog Dookoła Sportu Pozytywnego or write to me.

Hope this interview only got you more interested in sports psychology. I certainly have more questions than before. 🙂 I guess everyone can learn something, especially when it comes to team’s mindset. Can you recall a situation when a bad mindset led to a lost game?

What’s your Ultimate Frisbee story? Would you like to share it? Feel free to message me on Introverted Ultimate or via email. I’ll get back to you with 5 Questions. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

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