Building a Better Mark

author - robyn wiseman skills
a frisbee players sets up a mark against a thrower in an ultimate frisbee game

This post is an excerpt of Robyn Wiseman's Ultimate Skills Project module Building a Better Mark that starts Monday! 

Below are just a few of the drills from week 1 of her four week module on Building a Better Mark. I've used Robyn's drills to improve my own mark this season. Even after 20 years of playing, it's amazing how going back to the basics like this can boost your performance. 

I've repeatedly found that the difference between elite ultimate players, professional athletes, and the rest of us is their relentless focus on the basics. That's what these drills, and the UAP Skills and Technique membership are all about! Now onto the drills from Robyn Wiseman!

Building a Better Mark: Week 1

Note: more progressions of these drills can be found in the Ultimate Athlete Project - Skills and Technique Membership.

Day 1: Establishing our “Marking Base”

Some of you may have seen my talk in the Coaching and Game IQ Classroom about marking. If so, this will be a bit of review.

Before we can move forward, I want to explain what we’re going to look for in marking positioning, starting from the ground up. Let’s all build the same “marking base” before we try to move.

  • Stance: feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart
  • Weight: evenly distributed between both feet/legs, slightly shifted forward onto the balls of your feet
  • Knees: in line with your toes, slight bend in your knees
  • Hips: shifted back Neutral spine
  • Shoulders: slightly in front of your knees/toes
  • Chest: open to face the thrower
  • Arms: Out wide, slight bend in the elbow
  • Hands: open to the thrower
  • Eyes: up at the thrower

Drill 1: Athletic Marking Base

Hold Hold your athletic marking base for 30 seconds on, 10-30 seconds off, repeat 5 times

Drill 2: One Foot Backward Hop into Marking Base

Hop backward off of one foot and land in your marking base. Hold for 2-5 seconds. Reset and repeat for 10 jumps off your left foot and 10 jumps off of your right foot.

Drill 3: Fast Feet in Place

Standing in your marking base, chop your feet as quickly as you can for 10 seconds. Your goal is to get as many ground contacts as you possibly can in that 10 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

Why are we practicing this base so much? We want to make sure our base is strong before we drill movement. If our base is not strong and we start moving, our movement patterns will not be strong either! Our goal is for you to move efficiently and effectively -- everything about marking comes from this base. Let’s be as flawless as we can with this base before we start moving.


Day 2: Basics of Lateral Change of Direction

Before we can start drilling at game speed and getting really good at marking, we need to clean up our change of directions. The closer we are to the disc, the more efficient we need to be at changing directions as a defender to take space away (and we can’t get any closer than on the mark!). Today’s drills might seem simple, but they are tiring. The best players work on making their changes of direction efficient, explosive and quick.

You will need two cones (or any two items like shoes, water bottles, etc.) to mark distances and lines.

Drill 1: Fast Feet Shuffle

Standing in your marking base, you’re going to do the fast feet drill, but this time you’ll be shuffling between two cones at about 5 yards (4.5 meters) apart.

Chop your feet as quickly as you can for 10 seconds as you move from cone to cone. Rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 4 times; alternate which direction you start. Do 2 where you start toward the left and 2 where you start toward the right.

Drill 2: 5 yard (4.5 meter) Side Shuffle with Pause

Place two cones about 5 yards or 4.5 meters away from each other. Standing in your athletic marking base in front of one cone, side shuffle to the other cone. Focus on decelerating and shifting your weight toward the inside leg away from the cone you’re shuffling toward.

Pause and take a look at your form. Are you loading your inside leg? Is your outside foot too far away or is it in a good base? Are your knees and toes still in line? Are your shoulders slightly in front of your knees/toes? Check in on your form, correct anything that needs a quick fix and reset. Repeat toward the other side. Do 5 reps going toward each cone.

Drill 3: 5 yard (4.5 meter) Side Shuffle with Pause and Reach

Do the same drill set up as the “Side Shuffle with Pause,” except this time add a reach when you get to the end. You’re trying to block a high release, low release or standard release throw as you’re pausing. Your goal is to be able to reach without letting your weight shift to your outside leg.


We hope you use these drills to revisit and refine your marking form. Many of Wiseman's drills in the Skills and Techniques module double as excellent injury risk reduction drills. This blog post is just a taste of what Wiseman has in store. 

Building a Better Mark starts Now!

Join us for the whole marking adventure here!

Get more examples of Ultimate Frisbee Drills here!