Today's installment of Mail bag comes from Jason Becker, coach of Francis Howell High School's Seven Sages Ultimate in St. Charles, Missouri.
I have a question that I'd like to see addressed on the blog, although it doesn't specifically pertain to coaching, really.
I've heard lots of tricks and tactics that players use to avoid turning their feet to hamburger during hot summer tournaments. Everything from careful boot selection to a coat of Vaseline has been advanced--but what really works? As someone who is sick of sitting around for a week after tournaments, waiting for my poor little feet to heal, I'd really like to know how people deal with this annoyance.
Thanks for the blog. It's a fantastic resource for coaches in a sport with very little to go on (as of yet).
It is always nice to hear we are reaching the community, Jason. Now, on to your question.
Foot care, like sun protection, is an underrated part of tournament preparation. While the right footware is a topic worthy of its own discussion, there are many other things one can do to prevent blisters over the course of a grueling weekend of ultimate.
In high school, when I was doing six-mile cross-country training runs in the middle of the Atlanta summer, I would often develop blisters between my toes. My father, a long time runner himself, suggested I use Vaseline to reduce the friction on my feet, and it has never let me down for running or for ultimate. Before cleating up, I apply the Vaseline to all sides of my toes, the ball of the foot and around the heel. In addition, a little Vaseline is often more effective than a tape or bandage if you feel a blister coming on, because it won't come off when cutting or create additional friction in a new area.
Wearing proper socks, along with changing them regularly, will also aid in blister prevention. I prefer using Thorlo brand, specifically those made for tennis, as they have a lot of padding in the front of the foot that helps with the friction created by ultimate's footwork and cutting movements. Additionally, I often choose to wear a thin pair of liner-type socks underneath my thicker main socks (something I ported from playing soccer). While not only providing more cushion, this technique can also lead to a more secure boot fit which will prevent the foot from slipping inside the cleat, another problem that leads to blisters.
Changing your socks before every game can also help. A clean, dry pair of socks will go a long way towards avoiding the damp conditions that often cause blisters. If I am beginning play early in the day when the grass is still wet, I will also change my socks (and sometimes my cleats) in between warming-up and playing.
Some players will use a product such as Gold Bond Medicated Power to combat the potential dampness within their socks and shoes.
Finally, your blisters may be caused by a lack of padding and support in the cleats themselves. If your cleat has a flimsy insole, or one that has broken down over time, you may want to look into purchasing a pair of athletic insoles (I use those manufactured by Sof Sole) and fitting them into your boots. Athletic insloes can also improve cleat fit.
Jason, I hope I have touched on enough different methods of blister prevention here that you will be able to find one that works for you. Thanks for the question! I look forward to hearing comments from other visitors about what they have done as well.