[Travels] When Ultimate gets a little Rugby

Last weekend we had the joy of attending the second edition of Symp’HATrick, a St. Patrick’s day HAT organized by Arnas Shamrock Ultimate Frisbee. They also organized Winter League the day after, in which many of the HAT’s players also participated. The pictures below are from that league and were made by John Kofi.

It was a wonderful weekend of Ultimate in perfect Irish conditions: an exciting balance of grass, mud, grey skies and the threat of rain.

Cover Photo Credit: Arnas Shamrock Ultimate Frisbee

6 Nations Ultimate

In honor of the occasion, the tournament was heavily themed in keeping with the 6 nations tournament. That’s a rugby tournament, for the many of us who forget that from time to time, or never knew that to begin with. Short of exchanging the disc for a ball, Shamrock Ultimate did all they could to infuse rugby into the proceedings. Their commitment to theme added a lot of levity to the day.

There were 6 teams, each named after one of the nations that participate in the 6 nations tournament: England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. Wins earned teams four points, losses earned you zero points, and ties (which were possible) earned teams two points. The tweaking did not end there since winning teams that had scored 12 or more points earned an additional point as an offensive bonus while loosing teams that lost by 2 points of less also earned an extra point but as a defensive bonus. And points, as always, mean prizes.

Had to share this gathering of TOKAY’s on the field!
Photo Credit: The Ultimate Life of John Kofi

To add rugby to the game itself, there was even a 2 minute period per game of touch frisbee. You could run with the disc, you had to ground tap discs in the endzone to validate a score, and a turn-over resulted if and when an opponent touched you with two hands while you had possession of the disc. It was anarchy. Players forgot to ground tap the disc for scores resulting in rather brutal touch turnovers, desperation throws were very common and all structured play was thrown out the window.

Camila effected another first for us: the first pair of TOKAY cleats in the lost and found!
Photo Credit: The Ultimate Life of John Kofi

In addition to crowning the winners (England) and spirit winners (Wales), the tournament also awarded a Golden Leprechaun and Wooden Spoon for the respectively the best and worst action of the weekend. Joss from team Italy won the Golden Leprechaun for a huge layout grab on an upline pass. Théo from team England won the Wooden Spoon: perfectly placed and open in the endzone while playing against a zone defense, he failed to catch the goal scoring pass from his teammate due to slipping in the mud. Despite crawling desperately towards the disc afterwards, he fell short of the disc and earned himself a Spoon instead.

It served as a nice reminder for us to own and learn from both our successes and failures. And having an extra wooden spoon around the house can always come in handy.

Between games we had the joy of welcoming many players into the shelter of our testing tent to try on some TOKAY’s. The feedback we received, just at this tournament, was incredible.

“I could play all 8 games of the weekend comfortably and without getting my feet wet.”

– Anaïs

“After a day, my first feeling is very positive. My feet remained dry despite the high humidity, the grip was good and the comfort excellent.

I didn’t feel the usual foot pain that has me limping at the party and the day after. Now I hope I can rely on durability and quality.”

– Backman

“The grip of the shoes was nice but the best remains the comfort, the warmth and keeping my feet dry despite the Irish weather!”

– Clémentine

We had a great weekend running back and forth between playing in the HAT itself and manning the booth. Thank you to all the players in attendance, everyone who dropped by for a chat, and all of you already wearing TOKAY cleats! It was very exciting to see so many TOKAY’s sprinting and jumping about in Arnas.

Thank you Arnas Shamrock Ultimate Frisbee for organizing. Merci!

[Interview] Talking About Upwind Ultimate

Laurel Oldershaw is the founder and CEO of Upwind Ultimate. Founded in July 2017, Upwind Ultimate works to increase the value of women in Ultimate. The organisation is currently undertaking a tour of the US and Canada, the Crosswind Tour, to play, discuss and celebrate Ultimate.

To mark the partnership between TOKAY and Upwind Ultimate, we caught up with Laurel between Montreal and Burlington to discuss the start, present and future of her exciting, young company.

What led you to founding Upwind Ultimate?

It was a few years ago that I started looking at what would it take to build a women’s professional league. In undergrad, I had studied Education and Community Health so I understood the social importance of empowering women and nonbinary folks, although I didn’t have the business or technical knowledge to support it. I then got my Masters in Business Administration at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada to dive into these questions more in depth.

I founded Upwind to be a for-profit company that aggressively invests in women, nonbinary, and Trans folks in ultimate since that’s the definition of gender equity. It’s the acknowledgement that some groups (women, nonbinary, and Trans folks) have had a lack to resources, opportunity, and power based on their gender & gender identity, and so we have to provide an imbalance of resources to support those groups that need it.

You can check out more resources on our website: www.upwindultimate.com/learn

What are the current activities Upwind Ultimate is involved in?

This first year, we’ve established a newsletter (The Current), as well as hosted our first online courses, Upwind Academy, and are right now on a 40+ city tour across the US and Canada called The Crosswind Tour.

We’re also working with different companies that are either women-run or have good values, such as TOKAY, to create an economic network that supports and funds a better future in a capitalist world.

The Madison, Wisconsin stop of The Crosswind Tour.
With 116 people in attendance, this is the tour’s most well attended event yet.

Upwind Ultimate, like TOKAY Ultimate, is quite a young company. What have been some of your greatest successes, most euphoric and most educational moments so far?

This past year, we did a poster campaign with some top US players (Opi Payne, Lien Hoffman, Kami Groom, Robyn Wiseman, Georgia Bosscher, and the talented World Games players from Vancouver Traffic), which was super successful and an awesome way to start. We’ll be continuing that this upcoming season with even more posters and I can’t wait for those to drop!

Upwind Poster with the Canadian World Games players from Vancouver Traffic

The most educational moments for myself would have to be the business side of things, which this is still very much my rookie year in the sports business. I have a personal background in coaching and writing and so to develop a business has been entirely out of my setting, but also very rewarding!

What are your goals for Upwind Ultimate?

Upwind’s short term goals are to make sure we are all on the same page when we talk about equity. Right now, the equity movement in ultimate has been primarily hosted in the US or online, and we’ve all been using different definitions of equity. The point of The Crosswind Tour is for communities to practice using these conversations themselves and exploring what we can specifically do next to bring equity to our community, especially for those who support the cause but don’t know how to engage.

Long-term, Upwind will continue to economically empower women, Trans, and nonbinary folks to thrive in ultimate and in business. Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date as we release that new strategy moving forward!

Laurel, thank you so much for your time!

TOKAY Ultimate is incredibly excited to be partnering with Upwind Ultimate.

Check out all of the incredible work Laurel and Upwind are doing by following the links below. And don’t forget to order your TOKAY cleats with the coupon code UPWIND10 to directly support Upwind Ultimate and yourself with a 10% discount.

[Travels] ISPO Munich 2018

When TOKAY travels, we usually travel to Ultimate events. But for ISPO Munich, the largest sports industry trade fair in the world, we definitely made an exception.

Last week Robin traveled to Munich for a one-day sprint around the fair’s 2,800+ exhibitors. ISPO Munich focuses heavily on the spectacular world of Outdoor, Snowsports, and Urban sport. Multiply your excitement at visiting a sporting good store by a thousand, and you might get close to the giddy feeling of a Robin at ISPO. Here you can discover the products and trends that will hit the market next season, surrounded by tiny future pro-riders landing back-flips on their scooters, hipsters carving longboards and factories presenting their latest mermaid-style mono-fins.

Robin started attending the trade fair years ago, in his pre-TOKAY days working in the sporting goods innovation industry. He was glad to attend this year with our good friend Antoine, the man who designed TOKAY cleats, to feast their eyes and be inspired by the many innovations and trends in attendance. Having already sampled Bavaria’s finest beverages on a previous visit, Robin could focus instead on meeting with technical suppliers and trying on hats he pretended not to like.


The most impressive booth, by far, (at least for a shoemaker), was the FitStation where they had basically installed an entire shoe factory in the middle of the fair! The shoe factory was part of an inspiring project that aims to automate the production of custom-tailored running shoes. The project still has a ways to go, but has already had some impressive results. At the fair they could scan someone’s feet and gait to calculate and directly inject a custom outsole, tailored on length, width, drop (the height difference between your heel and forefoot once wearing the shoes) and dampening (injecting different kind of foams depending on your gait).

a few shots of this super custom shoe factory

What makes this innovation so crazy impressive? (more so than just the crazy awesome act of installing a shoe factory into a trade fair?):

  • Biomechanically, most customization projects so far could only only be based on a static foot, not a foot in motion.
  • Technically, the customizable injection molds are also quite a nice puzzle challenge.

The next steps could be able to also customize the upper. The future of footwear is exciting indeed! (If that is one too many technical footwear terms, check out our article on how shoes are made for more insight).

Other Innovation

Some of the innovations on show are better explained with a video, just like this water repellent product. The product, sprayed onto a coffee filter, prevents water from going through in one direction while still allowing air injected by the pump to pass through in the other direction.

Magic trick or straight up magic? You decide.

Technical Suppliers

Once we had walked past all of that excitement, we also visited the supplier portion of the trade fair. This portion does feel a bit less impressive, but it serves a crucial basis for any quality product. There you can see machines like this one. This particular machine tests the abrasion resistance of transfers, to verify that images like the TOKAY logo on the cleats don’t disappear after one training.

It was really inspiring to see so many projects and the caliber of the innovation present at ISPO Munich. We brought back many ideas that we hope to infuse into TOKAY and its products. If you have any ideas you would like us to realize or improvement suggestions for the cleats, get in touch!

How to Measure your Feet

Today, January 23rd, is Measure Your Feet Day! No doubt one of the biggest foot days on your calendar. And a day, sadly, that very few people look forward to… let’s see if we can change that.

Feet are an often neglected part of our bodies, hidden away in socks and shoes and then tucked under a desk and out of sight. Today is the perfect day to show your feet a little extra attention. Since taking your feet out for a drink might be a little awkward, we recommend getting to know your feet a little better by measuring them.

Why should you measure your feet?

If simple curiosity cannot convince you to whip out a tape measure, consider this: having accurate foot measurements will help you buy shoes in the correct size for your feet. Since shoe sizes vary between manufacturers, your actual foot measurements are a more reliable indicator of your shoe size than the number of EU 39 shoes in your wardrobe. And buying shoes that actually fit will spare you the discomfort and potential injury of wearing shoes that do not fit.

Anywhere between 25% – 75% of people wear the wrong size shoe for their feet (lots of research, lots of conflicting findings). I will spare you the pictures available showcasing the array of conditions caused by incorrectly sizes shoes. Think hammer toes, bunions, corns, ingrown toenails, blisters, etc. But incorrectly sized shoes also increase the risk of pain and problems in your feet, ankles, legs and even your lower back. Poorly fitting shoes can also alter your gait and distort your posture leading to DISASTER (or just the pain and discomfort we mentioned earlier).

A day dedicated to the practice, curiosity, avoiding the pain of shoes that don’t fit: all good reasons to measure your feet.

How do I measure my feet?

Grab a piece of paper, a pen, a ruler, a wall, a friend and the feet you want to measure; then simply follow the steps below. The best time to measure your feet is in the evening since feet tend to swell throughout the day.

Step 1: Place a sheet of paper on the floor against a wall. Put your foot on the sheet of paper with your heel touching the wall. Stand up straight and balanced on both of your feet.

Step 2: Have a friend draw a line tracing your foot (this might tickle a bit). You can do this yourself, but you risk a slightly less accurate measurement. Now, repeat step 1 and 2 with your other foot.

Step 3: Measure the maximum length of both of your feet. The length of the longer foot will be decisive for determining what shoe size you need.

Step 4: Measure the width of your feet parallel to the short edge of the sheet of paper. So do not measure the width diagonally from widest point to widest point, that will skew the result and make most feet seem ridiculously wide.

How do I use my foot measurements to determine my (TOKAY) shoe size?

Check your size in the chart below by choosing the shoe size with a “maximum recommended foot size” equal to or larger than your own maximum foot size.

This is our TOKAY size chart, obviously only useful for determining your TOKAY size. As mentioned previously, shoe sizes vary between manufacturers, so don’t be swayed by the size your current cleats or shoes claim to be.


Length Size Chart


Width Size Chart

The width chart above shows the standard foot width range for TOKAY cleats. If your feet are narrower than the standard foot width range, you can choose a smaller size. If your feet are wider, you can choose a larger size. We recommend not deviating more than one size from the size you selected according to the length of your feet.

You have now successfully celebrated Measure Your Feet Day by measuring your feet. You might now also know your ideal TOKAY size. We know just what to do with that intel: buy some TOKAY cleats! Here is a link to our store, just in case you need it.

If you have any questions about measuring your feet or our sizing system, be sure to get in touch. And continue having an incredible Measure your Feet day!

[Welcome] How to Maintain your Cleats

Taking good care of your cleats will make them look better for longer, and (more importantly) it will keep your cleats in better working condition. TOKAY cleats were designed and made to be durable, and taking care of them will help them last even longer.

By playing ultimate, your cleats will often get dirty and wet. That is totally fine. But it is much better for your cleats if they do not stay muddy and wet for too long. So: clean them, let them dry, and use your cleats like cleats.

CLEANING – clean your cleats regularly

Mud gets into the fabric pores and over time this affects the breathability, flexibility and therefore also the durability of your cleats. Simply use a wet towel or sponge to remove the mud off of your cleats after a muddy training or tournament.

Do NOT use solvents to clean your cleats and do NOT put your cleats into the washing machine. This will moisten the inner foams and help the growth of bacteria.

DRYING – allow your cleats to dry

Encourage your cleats to dry naturally by placing them in a dry and well-ventilated area. Remove the insoles and let these dry separately. Insoles usually retain a lot of water. If your cleats are very wet you can also put some balled up newspaper paper into them to help absorb out the moisture.

For many of us, just taking our cleats out of our bags after practice is a good first step in the right direction.

Even more importantly: do not actively dry your cleats by putting them in the dryer, on a radiator, or blasting them with a hairdryer. As with all cleats, active drying methods are quite bad for cleats and will cause the materials to break more quickly.

OFF FIELD TIPS – use your cleats properly

Finally, use your cleats like cleats. Work them hard, but please do not walk on concrete in your cleats. This will damage the studs and will make them less effective. Also, since they don’t provide any grip on concrete, you’re more likely to slip and fall.  So stay safe, and change out of your cleats if you need to walk across an area of concrete.

Wear flip-flops between games, but don’t wear your cleats like flip-flops. The reinforced heel counter plays an integral role in the functionality of your cleats, wearing your cleats like flip-flops will damage the heel and decrease functionality of the cleats overall. Taking your cleats off between games is also really good for your feet. Pop on a change of socks and you and your cleats will both feel brand new.

[Welcome] How to Tie your Laces

Once you’ve laced up your cleats you tie them! There are many different ways tie your shoes, and the method you learned as a kid might not be the best match for your current needs.

Do your shoelaces frequently untie themselves? You might be suffering from the “Granny Knot” problem. Or you might simply need a different knot. Read on to discover the world’s fastest knot to tie as well as a few super secure knot options.


Do your shoelaces frequently get untied? You might be the victim of the “Granny Knot” problem.

The process of tying your shoelaces usually occurs in two stages: the starting knot and the finishing bow. Each of these stages twist the laces. A balanced or symmetrical knot is created when the twisting of these stages balance each other out: left-over-right followed by right-over-left or vice versa. If the stages are twisted in the same direction (e.g. left-over-right followed by left-over-right again) an unbalanced and rotated bow results. Not only does this unbalanced “Granny Knot” look messy, it is also less secure and will more easily come undone.

(left) balanced knot
(right) unbalanced “Granny Knot”

Your quick fix to more securely tied shoes might therefore be fixing your “Granny Knot” tendencies by reversing the direction of either your starting knot or finishing bow step. It might take some time to break this bad habit, but avoiding the “Granny Knot” will make your knots more secure.


The Ian Knot is the fastest way to tie your shoelaces (invented by Ian Fieggen of Ian’s Shoelace Site).

Follow the video above or the instructions below to try the Ian Knot for yourself.

Tie a starting knot left-over-right. Hold the lace ends as loops: the lace end on the left looped towards you over your index finger and the lace end on the right looped away from you over your thumb. Simultaneously push the loose side of the left loop through the right loop and the loose side of the right loop through the left loop. Pull the loose sides tight to complete the bow. According to Ian Fieggen, inventor of the Ian Knot, this knot takes about one third of the time to tie compared to a conventional knot.


This knot is three times as secure as the Ian Knot.

Follow the video above or the instructions below to try the Double Slip Knot for yourself. 

Tie a starting knot left-over-right. Create a loop with each loose lace end. Cross the loops so that the right loop crosses over the left loop. Wrap the end of the left loop up and over the right loop and the end of the right loop back and around the left loop. Pull both loop ends through the central hole created and pull the loops tight to create the knot.


My personal go-to knot: quick, easy and secure.

Follow the video above or the instructions below to try the Surgeon’s Shoelace Knot for yourself. 

Tie a starting knot left-over-right. Create a loop with the right lace end. Now pass the left lace behind the right loop and bring it around and to the front of that loop. Feed the left lace through the hole created. Wrap the loop hereby created by the left lace around the right loop again and feed through the same central hole before tightening to finish the knot.


Fieggen, Ian. “The Granny Knot.” Ian’s Shoelace Site, 18 Oct. 2017.
Fieggen, Ian. “Tying Shoelaces.” Ian’s Shoelace Site, 18 Oct. 2017.

[Welcome] How to Lace your Cleats

The lacing technique you use on your cleats can make a significant difference to your feet and therefore impact your overall performance. We want you to make a deliberate decision about what lacing technique best suits your feet, because happy feet make for a happier player.  

We have compiled a small selection of functional lacing techniques that will accomplish things like relieving the discomfort felt by athletes with wide feet, narrow feet, high arches, and everything in between including toe pain and heel slippage. We’ve also included two lacing alternatives for those of you whose shoes fit just right but still want to get in on the fun of different lacing styles.

Once you’ve laced up those cleats, give our shoe tying article a look for tips on how to keep your laces tied.


This lacing style will loosen your entire shoe.


Alternative lacing style if your entire shoe feels too tight. In this technique the laces are more evenly distributed giving a more comfortable fit.


This method will tighten your entire shoe, but make sure you can still flex your feet normally. Avoid over tightening your shoes since that could prevents normal blood flow causing numbness and even bruising.


Alleviate pressure on a particular part of your foot by skipping two eyelets above an area where you experience a lot of tightness (e.g. the forefoot if you have especially wide forefeet or the middle of your shoe if you have high arches). This will reduce pressure without losing a lot of support.


TOKAY cleats have been designed to give your toes more room, but this lacing method will lift the toe cap and give your toes even more space. Be sure to thread from your big toe up to the opposite top.


Use this finish in combination with your preferred lacing technique to avoid getting blisters and wearing out the heel of your cleats. It secures your heel without tightening the rest of the shoe and even provides additional ankle support.


This method will allow you to quickly and evenly tighten your shoes by pulling on the loose ends.


Difficult to tighten, but the hash symbol nicely shows off the gradient coloring of the low-cut’s tongue. #WOW #nice


Fieggen, Ian. “Shoe Lacing Methods.” Ian’s Shoelace Site, 18 Oct. 2017.
F., Jenn. “Podiatrist Secrets: How To Tie Your Shoes To Prevent Foot Injuries.”
Healing Feet NYC Podiatrist Foot Doctor RSS, The Center For Podiatric Care And Sports Medicine, 10 Apr. 2015.
How To Lace Running Shoes.” DICK’S Pro Tips, DICK’S Sporting Goods, 12 July 2017.
Palmer, Amanda. “Custom Lace Your Running Shoes for Pain Relief.” Wellness, Womanista, 18 Jan. 2017.
Rinkunas, Susan. “Alternative Ways to Tie Your Running Shoes.” Runnersworld.com, Runner’s World, 27 Nov. 2007.
Running Shoe Lacing Techniques.” KatieRUNSthis, 4 Oct. 2011.
Running Shoe Lacing Techniques.” The Color Run ™, 29 Dec. 2016.
Top 12 Running Shoe Lacing Techniques and Knots.” Run Repeat.

History of Ultimate Cleats: Part 2

Here at TOKAY we are really into cleats. As we get closer and closer to releasing our own; join us for a look back at the fascinating history of cleats.

PART 1 – Cordwainers and Cobblers (from the first mention of football boots to the early 20th century)
PART 2 – Rise of the Brands (cleats of the early 20th century)


As we read in Part 1, the late 19th century saw the introduction of studs to working boots, and their regulation. This development transformed ordinary working boots into cleats. These early cleats, with their above ankle cut and nailed in leather studs, soon left the custody of the cordwainers and the cobbles as brands took over and made cleats a business. The early 20th century introduced us to some of the big names in the sports footwear industry. And although cleats didn’t really change that much in this time, there was a lot of stud specific tinkering in order to develop the replaceable or screw-in stud.

Soccer was a popular sport throughout the world wars, and brands we still recognize today (like Gola, Valsport and Hummel) started to come into circulation. Gola, founded back in 1905, even supplied the British Army with army boots (not soccer boots) during WWII. Other soccer and rugby brands like Umbro and Canterbury were founded in the early 20th century, although they would not produce cleats for their respective sports until much later.

The Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory, founded in 1920, also produced soccer boots, although it was primarily known for their athletic spikes for sprinting. Dassler’s athletic spikes were worn by none other than Jesse Owens at the Olympic Games in 1936, a big coup for the company. Disagreements between the two brothers brought their collaboration to a premature end. The event that pushed their relationship into irreconcilable differences is widely believed to be Rudolf Dassler being falsely accused of being a member of the SS, since Rudolf believed his brother Adolf was behind the false accusation. The brothers dissolved the company shortly after WWII, but both remained in the soccer cleat business: Rudolf Dassler founded Puma in 1948 and Adolf “Adi” Dassler founded adidas in 1949. Both companies were based in the town of Herzogenaurach where competition between the two brothers kept the town strongly divided. The town even has two soccer teams, one historically sponsored by Puma and one by adidas. Tensions within Herzogenaurach have largely subsided since the deaths of Rudolf and Adolf Dassler in the 1970’s. 

adidas founder Adi Dassler (left), Puma founder Rudolf Dassler (center), and the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory (right)

While there is considerable debate about the first inventor of studs for cleats and boots, adidas is often credited as the first manufacturer of replaceable and interchangeable studs. While untrue, the claim is given credence by the compelling story of Adi Dassler’s involvement in West Germany’s victory over Hungary in the 1954 FIFA World Cup final. Heavy rain during the final made the pitch increasingly slippery. As kit manager of the West German national team, Adi was able to quickly change the team’s adidas screw-in studs during half-time. Changing studs was a process that usually took a considerable amount of time and was usually only done for repair purposes, not to improve grip on muddy terrain. The Hungarians, whose studs could not be so quickly changed, played out the game on short cork studs nailed into place.

While this tale is considered the origin story of screw-in studs, such studs had been in development for at least the previous 30 years. There was an earlier German patent in 1925, a French patent in 1924, an American patent in 1922 and a British patent in 1921. The methods of these earlier patents were however usually only meant for repair purposes, and Adi Dassler also improved on these methods with a more firm anchoring of the stud into the shoe, making his design less prone to damage.

1954 World Cup Cleats by adidas and Adi Dassler’s 1953 patent illustrations

Meanwhile, in the US, the switch from cobblers to companies was even more strongly marked by the search for interchangeable studs. Here John T. Riddell was credited with the invention of the removable stud. The initial cleats for American football were similar to those used for soccer and rugby. And as Head Football Coach for Evanston Township High School, Riddell often ran into problems with the leather studs of the day. The school was dependant on the same cobbler as Northwestern University for the replacement of studs, and the cobbler was frequently unable to service all of the Evanston Township High School cleats before the start of their games. In the US, the interchanging of studs for other studs better suited to different terrain seems to have been more prevalent than in Europe. And to bypass their dependance on the local cobbler, John T. Riddell invented, or at least developed and patented, a removable cleat stud.

diagrams in Riddell’s patent application, submitted in 1922

The success of these removable football cleats prompted him to start Riddell in 1929, a company currently better known for their helmets. Riddell’s innovations in the field of cleats did not end there. He also developed an “Action Last.” A last is the form, similar in shape to a the human foot, that is used in the production and repair of shoes. Other American football shoes were usually fabricated using regular street shoe lasts, but Riddell’s “Action Lasts” gave the shoes a more active form. 

early Riddell cleats (left) and Pipal’s mud cleats (right)

Another innovator of the American football cleat was Joseph Pipal, who also revolutionized the sport itself. In 1913 Pipal introduced the lateral pass to American football. At the time, its ancestor rugby was threatening to replace American football entirely. Pipal’s introduction of the lateral pass, a move common to rugby, is credited by some as saving the young sport. Later, in the 1930’s, Pipal introduced the mud cleat: a cleat with longer and pointier studs better suited to…. muddy conditions.

The early days of cleat development were mainly focused on the sole of the shoes and the studs themselves. The leather upper saw very little development in the first half of the 20th century, but from the 1950’s onward, an increased focus on performance would transform cleats in their entirety.

PART 3 coming soon…


Adidas Football Boots.Adidas Football Boots, Fubra Limited.
Bang, Anna. “Gola | Born In Britain.Volt Café, Volt Magazine, 14 June 2013.
Burwell, Fred. “Fridays with Fred: Beloiter Invents the Lateral Pass.The Terrarium, Beloit College, 27 Sept. 2013.
Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory.The Herzogenaurach Story, 30 Mar. 2015.
Gallagher, Brenden. “The Surprising and Unexpected Evolution of Football Cleats.Complex, Complex Media Inc., 13 Sept. 2012.
Riddell, John Tate. Athletic Shoe. 12 Oct. 1926.
Seitz, Markus, and Klaus Wollny. “Studs.Football and Technology, Deutsches Patent- Und Markenamt, 29 Feb. 2016.
The History of Soccer Cleats – Part 1.
Golden Shoes Soccer Movie, Norman Koza Production, 11 Oct. 2013.
Woods, Jerry. “John Tate Riddell.Genealogy.com, 10 Dec. 2006.

[Interview] Melissa Witmer on Ultimate Fitness

Melissa Witmer is the mind and body behind The Ultimate Athlete Project, a fitness program designed specifically for Ultimate performance. She has graced us with her fitness and training knowledge on this blog already, and so we were happy to finally catch her for a more thorough interview.

We sat down with her ahead of the Ultimate Athlete Project’s reopening this week to find out more about Melissa herself, her journey through fitness, the UAP, and a brief look at the boatload of other projects Witmer is involved in.

Read those previous blogposts here:
Three Agility Drills for Ultimate
2 Easy Exercices to Warmup your Feet

Had you done strength and conditioning work before you started playing Ultimate? And when did you first partake in fitness for Ultimate?

Like many players in the US at the time, I started playing when I got to university. That was in 1996 at Virginia Tech. I was introduced to strength training in high school with the girls field hockey team. I loved it and continued strength training as a normal part of my fitness routine even before I started training for ultimate. It wasn’t until much later that I made the transition from playing ultimate to stay in shape to training for ultimate.

I started to train for ultimate when I was in graduate school. I left my PhD program in chemistry with no backup plan and decided to just pursue all of the things I loved for a year or two. I got a masters in kinesiology and made a first pass at applying what I was learning to getting better at ultimate. In graduate school the training I was doing was not tailored to athletic performance in the way it is now. I made the most progress in understanding how athletes train after school, when I was in my thirties and decided to give myself one more shot at playing elite level club.

I devoted a lot of time from 2010-2012 to studying how professional athletes actually train. This studying was much more specific and much more in-depth than the learning I did in school. I also had the benefit of working at a center where american football players prepped for the NFL combine. My exposure to professional athletes and the programs they were doing confirmed much of what I had learned. Of course, experimenting on myself was the most convincing confirmation. Despite doing less work, I got far more out of my body athletically in my mid-thirties than in my mid-twenties. It wasn’t even a close comparison.

The main difference is in the focus and timing of training sessions. It’s difficult to understand what a profound difference proper planning makes until you experience it for yourself. The difference in philosophy is to plan training sessions for maximal adaptation, not maximal output. This causes some difficulty for us because when some athletes begin The Ultimate Athlete Project they have the misconception that it’s too easy. Anyone can make a workout hard. But not everyone can plan your schedule so that you adapt to training consistently over a long period of time. The UAP puts a high priority on being efficient and effective with time spent on training. We put zero priority on making sure the workout or the training schedule “feels hard.”

What was your main goal in starting the UAP?

The Ultimate Athlete Project was built to improve the way that players train for ultimate. Ultimate players were already putting time into training. But by not understanding how to train for athletic performance rather than general fitness, they were leaving a lot of athletic potential untapped.

The Ultimate Athlete Project is not the 100% perfect solution. The gold standard is to work with a strength and conditioning coach (not the same thing as a personal trainer!) over a period of several years.

What I am doing is providing a system that will get players far closer to athletic performance training then they currently are. I provide an effective, practical solution that is about a tenth of the price of a personal strength and conditioning coach.

In your experience, where do athletes who design their own fitness plans often go wrong? What aspects do they over and under emphasize?

Common mistakes:

  • too much volume
  • prioritizing endurance over power
  • too little focus (trying to improve everything at once)
  • deciding strength is important and jumping on a common barbell plan that does not include functional strength
  • deciding functional strength is important and neglecting getting really strong

But the biggest problem is really not having a plan. Players have very little idea of how to approach long term planning, and why should they? It’s hard. That’s why people spend multiple years studying the topic of strength training. What The Ultimate Athlete Project does best is to tell players exactly what to do and when to do it. So they can focus on training and on all the other things they need to worry about to become better players.

The UAP is customizable to a specific athlete’s needs, and caters to any level of players (no previous fitness experience required), but how does that work? How is this fitness program able to work for the variety of athletes it caters to?

The UAP is a system built on solid scientific principles. Not many ultimate players have had experience with a strength and conditioning coach writing an individualized program. So despite being at various levels of play, most ultimate players are relatively new to athletic performance training. This is why the UAP works for almost everyone. In fact, it tends to work best for those who have the most strength training experience. Experienced athletes are already used to putting in training time. The UAP directs that effort in the most efficient direction.

I would not say that it is customozable to a specific athlete’s needs. It is customozable to various schedules. The UAP by itself is not individualized training. If an athlete wants some extra attention or modifications due to an injury history, we provide the option to pay for consulting with Ren Caldwell of Ren Fitness. She is familiar with the UAP programming and is excellent at helping players sort through movement pattern problems. Ren and I are huge fans of each others work and it’s an honor to have her hanging out in the UAP, answering member questions when she can, and helping players with individualization when they need it.

Subscription to the UAP opened on Monday the 9th of October. Why is subscription opening at this time, and only open for a limited period?

In the past the UAP has been open for a week at a time during various opening windows. The reason we close is that we need players to understand that the UAP is a long term plan. We do not want players signing up 8 weeks before their season begins. Having everyone join at the same time has helped us to handle the customer support issues that come with managing a large group of people. It has been helpful to have people get started on the program together.

This year we’re doing things differently. We will leave the UAP open for several months. We hope this will allow people to sign up when they are most ready to begin training. The UAP has more help on board this year to take care of ongoing customer support. We hope this change will be beneficial to everyone. We may close at the end of February to again when most players are close to in season.

You first launched the UAP in 2011, how has the program evolved since then?

The principles behind athletic performance training have not changed dramatically since 2011. The UAP is committed to using scientifically validated training methods whenever possible. We won’t change every year depending on what new piece of equipment is fashionable at the time. Every year we make improvements that either make the UAP easier to use or that help our athletes better understand the principles behind the training. We try various experiments each year to see what our athletes find most helpful.

Our latest and upcoming changes are about providing modules that athletes can use to slightly tailor their programming. For example, last year we provided conditioning modules specific to beach ultimate. This year we will provide substitute SAQ and conditioning modules for those who are playing indoor over the winter. We may do a module specifically for those who want to work on their running form. We have other ideas and will be consulting our members for more.

Our biggest innovation on the horizon is the UAP app which will allow athletes to log their workouts on their phones. This project is still in the beginning phases so we don’t want to promise too much. Our long term goal is to help our athletes use their own data to drive better adaptation to training. That’s more like a five year project. Right now we’re happy if the app makes the program easier to use by making it fully functional on mobile.

You’re very well known for your work on Ultimate fitness with the UAP, but that is not the limit of your contribution to Ultimate specific knowledge. What other projects are you currently working on?

Our newest adventure is The Ultimate Skills Project. Like The Ultimate Athlete Project, the focus is on providing players with things they can do to improve their playing. I have brought in some of the best ultimate coaches in the world to create skills modules that players can work on in 1-2 hours per week by themselves or with a partner.

For anyone who has wondered what the difference is between intermediate players and the elites, The Ultimate Skills Project is where you can get that level of focus and detail.

Outside of the US, we are better known for our coaching resources in the Ulty Results Coaching Academy. Every year since 2013, we’ve brought the best ultimate coaches together for a yearly online conference. And we’re building a small but very dedicated group of global ultimate coaches in our URCA Classroom. For those who want a taste of what we offer, we’ve just put together a package of some of our best URCA content from the past few years that covers the breadth of what a coach should know about the game.

Melissa, thank you so much for your time.

The Ultimate Athlete Project and The Ultimate Skills Project are currently accepting new members.

The Ultimate Athlete Project provides a complete strength and conditioning program designed with athletic performance for ultimate in mind. Choose a plan from 2-6 hours per week of training and peak at the time you want to perform best.

The Ultimate Skills Project provides skills training you can do in 1-2 hours per week. Choose the skills you need to work on and work at your own pace.

[Travels] EUCF 2017 Recap

From September the 29th to October the 1st, we were happily surrounded by high level play at the European Ultimate Championship Finals 2017 in Caorle, Italy. Check out our short aftermovie below for a quick peek at the action!

Thursday night we arrived at camping San Francesco and joined the melee at check-in. After we finally found our spot in the dark, we set up our tents and first met our true foes for the weekend: the now notorious mosquitos of Caorle. They flew into my eyeballs the villains! Anyways… back to the ultimate.

Games started bright and early at 8:30 on Friday. As we set up our little booth the first warm-ups and pool play games carried on all around us. On Friday we mostly stayed near the tent, talking to players and coaches as they tried on the prototypes. As the wind picked up during the day and zones became the defense of choice, our little tent held fast.

We had announced another Disc Giveaway Contest(!) ahead of the tournament and were pleasantly surprised when both the first Callahan and the first Greatest of the tournament happened on the first day of play.

(left) 1st Callahan winner: Laurent of Sesquidistus (Stasbourg)
(right) 1st Greatest winner : Dvojta of FUJ (Prague)

The first Callahan was scored in Sesquidistus’ match against Colorado. During a time-out taken by the other team, the Sesquidistus O-line captain set up the defensive play. Laurent told his team: “Alright, let’s set up a cup and get a Callahan.” Setting the example, Laurent did just that. He even came back later in the tournament to claim the disc for the first successful Greatest assist, but Dvojta of FUJ had beaten him to it.

The first Greatest score of EUCF 2017 was successfully assisted in the game between FUJ and KFK. Dvojta was on the receiving end of a banana flick that was tailing out of bounds when he heroically layed-out and threw the disc back inbounds where it was caught by his teammate for the score. Nicely done!

These are just two small stories that showcase the incredible plays that were made throughout the weekend. Not just Callahans and Greatests, although they are of course shows of talent and focus, but beautiful offenses and stifling defenses, picture perfect throws, unstoppable cuts, and massive bids. Ingeborg was even fortunate enough to watch two games from the scaffolding while she co-commentated the Helsinki Ultimate – Troubles game and the women’s final Iceni – Atletico with the wonderful Hannah Pendlebury.

A huge congratulations to all teams, those that medalled this year and the SOTG award recipients. You were a joy to behold.

Thank you everyone for stopping by the stand to try on the cleats or just for a short chat. We enjoyed receiving your feedback and hearing your enthusiasm (which we totally share) that the cleats are almost here! Thank you to everyone who made this EUCF the incredible event that it was. We will see you next year in Wroclaw (Poland) and in the run up to EUCF 2018!