USA Ultimate Strategic Plan 2013-2018


Dear USA Ultimate Members and the Entire Ultimate Community,

The USA Ultimate Board of Directors is very excited to announce and describe our new six-year strategic plan.  The development of this plan has included a great deal of research with all of you, as well as in-depth analysis of the data collected.  We were fortunate to have this 18 month-long process guided by a top-notch professional firm, Rader Consulting, who is considered the guru of strategic planning for National Governing Bodies and the Olympic movement in the U.S.  We thank everyone for your time and your input, and are very excited to get going on this ambitious and bold plan for our future.

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Our Mission:  

To advance the sport of Ultimate in the United States by enhancing and promoting Character. Community and Competition.

Our Vision: 

Ultimate is widely known, played, and respected in the United States as a sport that inspires athletic excellence and integrity among participants and fans.

Our Goals:

  1. Increase the visibility of Ultimate
  2. Grow youth, college, and league Ultimate
  3. Organize the highest quality US competitive events
  4. Make Spirit of the Game real for today’s Ultimate players and community
  5. Achieve sustained excellence of USA Ultimate teams in international competition
  6. Govern the organization to ensure stability and excellence

Our Core Values:

Respect - we honor the rights, views, dignity, and inherent value of others, striving for an environment of mutual trust. 

Integrity - we stay true to the mission of USA Ultimate and the highest ethical standards, demonstrating honesty and fairness in every action that we take. 

Responsibility - we hold ourselves accountable for our decisions and actions, while striving for excellence in all that we do; we are dedicated stewards of the sport of Ultimate. 

Leadership - we drive thoughtful growth, development, and innovation in competition and the Ultimate community, enhancing and promoting the sport as a joy to play and watch. 

Teamwork - we encourage a diverse and inclusive Ultimate community, and work cooperatively with members and partners to achieve our mission.

USA Ultimate holds itself to the high standards of character exhibited by members of the Ultimate community who uphold Spirit of the Game, within competition and beyond. With that consideration, we commit to the above core values to guide the organization’s decisions and behaviors.


We began our work by developing, for the first time in our organization’s history, a vision and set of core values that will guide all of our work.  This vision and values reflect who we are and what we stand for. We are committed to them and proud of them.

Why do we need a new strategic plan?  Our original strategic plan comes to a very successful conclusion this year. The staff has executed the strategies and objectives of the most recent plan exceptionally well, and we are confident they will do the same with this plan.  We are at an important point in the evolution of our sport and organization, and we need a new strategic plan to guide our decision making, resource allocation, and prioritization of work.  

We took our time building this plan, and as mentioned above, our work was preceded by a great deal of research conducted with all of you, including multiple national surveys, focus groups, committee inputs, and detailed analysis of this data by a group of data-crunching experts.  As a result of taking this methodical and thoughtful approach, this is really your plan for the future of our sport and organization.

You can view the strategies and goals of this plan below.  In a nutshell, this is a plan to take our sport to the next level, with an emphasis on increasing our visibility and driving growth across all ages and divisions, with a particular emphasis on youth.  Our newly restructured club division will showcase the sport at the highest level, while exposing Ultimate to millions of kids nationwide.  Simultaneously, we will be hard at work helping leagues and associations build up their local infrastructures and programs to be ready for the influx of interest we build via the increased national exposure. By investing in visibility and exposure as a top priority, we are saying to the sports community at large: "Here we are, the coolest sport on the planet. Check us out and have your kids give it a try!"

We will continue to provide the highest quality events all over the country, with our quality standards receiving more emphasis.  We’ll revisit and make real to our thousands of new players our core guiding philosophy of Spirit of the Game.  We’ll develop long-term athlete development pipelines and increased levels of support for our international teams, so that we build a model of sustained competitive excellence.  And we are building a stable and innovative organization driven by a culture of excellence.  We’ll be modernizing our structure with revised bylaws to reflect our current evolution and building best practices and financial plans to ensure the long-term viability and vitality of USA Ultimate.

A sincere thanks to all that helped us build this plan – your plan – for the incredibly exciting future of USA Ultimate! 

- Mike Payne, USA Ultimate Board President (2013 - 2016)


GOAL 1: Increase the visibility of Ultimate

ESPNU flag

  1. Partner with media to broadcast USA Ultimate’s premier 3-5 events to a mass audience. 
  2. Reach a broad audience via promotions done in collaboration with sponsors and other partners. 
  3. Reach targeted populations through emerging media channels. 
  4. Achieve national sports news visibility with a targeted publicity plan. 
  5. Develop a promotional plan specifically for youth and parents. 
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GOAL 2: Grow youth, college, and league Ultimate

StratPlan Goal2

  1. Develop and oversee a broad spectrum of programs for a diverse community of youth players and administrators.

    2. Facilitate knowledge transfer and program integration between leagues, other local organizations, and USA Ultimate.
    3. Provide tools to players and administrators to increase the number of sustainable college programs.
    4. Vastly increase the number of qualified coaches and observers via training and certification programs.
    5. Encourage lifetime participation in programs, competitive divisions, and roles (coaching, observing, etc.) 

GOAL 3: Organize the highest quality U.S. competitive events

StratPlan Goal3

  1. Complete Club division restructuring efforts.

    2. Establish the U.S. Open as a top international event focused on premier competition, education, and community building. 
    3. Attract the best athletes and teams to play in USA Ultimate’s premier events 
    4. Evolve and enforce operational quality standards for all stages of USA Ultimate’s championship events. 
    5. Oversee event organizer certification programs, and provide resources for profitable event planning. 
    6. Lead a world-class marketing and promotional program to showcase USA Ultimate events and athletes. 
    7. Attract and retain in-person and media viewership of both Ultimate-playing and other fans. 

GOAL 4: Make Spirit of the Game real for today’s Ultimate players and community

StratPlan Goal4

  1. Lead a community-wide effort to clarify and communicate how Spirit of the Game applies to behaviors on and off the field. 
  2. Exercise watchful, decisive, and fair oversight of SOTG and values at USA Ultimate events.
  3. Develop coordinated values-focused internal publicity program focusing on exemplary teams and individuals. 

GOAL 5: Achieve sustained excellence of USA Ultimate teams in international competition

StratPlan Goal5

  1. Refine and maintain fair and effective Team USA player and team selection processes at all levels. 
  2. Provide training and operational support for teams at priority international competition. 
  3. Develop and support an ongoing Team USA Coaching program.
  4. Communicate guidelines for athlete development across all levels. 
  5. Support gradual progress of Ultimate towards Pan-American, and eventually Olympic Games participation.

GOAL 6: Govern the organization to ensure stability and excellence

StratPlan Goal6

  1. Evolve governance model and organizational structure to support growth and quality. 
  2. Maintain transparent and sound financial practices. 
  3. Evolve risk management policies and processes to minimize organizational liability. 
  4. Diversify and expand revenue base including a USA Ultimate fundraising program. 
  5. Develop USA Ultimate’s branding strategy in relation to competitive, educational and recreational Ultimate. 

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