Lesley Sim: Unlocking Ultimate Skill Acceleration

Experience Coaching the Singaporean Ultimate Women’s World Championship Team in 2020

Lesley Sim, a renowned coach, talks to Cedric Chin about her unique approach to coaching the Singaporean Ultimate Women’s World Championship Team in 2020. In this interview, we will dive into Lesley’s remarkable approach to pedagogical development and skill acceleration in the game of Ultimate. We will also discuss desirable and undesirable problems in training, playing to win, and how she used a training method originally designed for dolphins and dogs and adapted it to humans successfully.

Introduction to Ultimate

Ultimate is a sport that is sometimes known as frisbee. It is a fast-paced, non-contact game that is played with a flying disc. The objective of the game is to score points by catching the disc in the opponent’s end zone. Ultimate is enjoyed by people of all ages and is played in more than 70 countries around the world.

Lesley’s Coaching Experience

Lesley Sim coached the Singaporean Ultimate Women’s World Championship team in 2020. She has been an elite Ultimate player and coach for over a decade. Lesley was drawn to Ultimate because of its combination of athleticism and strategy.

Different Styles of Play

Lesley discussed the different styles of play in Ultimate. She describes how fast-paced the game is and how important communication and teamwork are in the sport. Lesley emphasized how each player has a distinct role in a team and that coaches must understand the strengths and weaknesses of each player to create a winning strategy.

Coaching Singapore’s Women’s Worlds Team

Lesley discussed the challenges of coaching Singapore’s Women’s Worlds Team. She emphasized how important it is to understand the player’s strengths and weaknesses and tailor training to suit their individual needs. Lesley believes that a coach should also have a supportive role, building trust with the players and ensuring that they are comfortable to confide in them.

Using TAG Teach as a Teaching Tool

Lesley used TAG Teach, a teaching technique similar to clicker training, which was originally developed for animals, to train her team. TAG Teach provides immediate feedback through positive reinforcement, which greatly speeds up skill acquisition. Lesley discussed how TAG Teach allows coaches to focus on one skill at a time and isolate and correct errors that occur during practice.

Positive Reinforcement in Training

Lesley emphasized how important positive reinforcement is in training. By highlighting what players are doing well, coaches can help create a positive learning environment. This approach helps players gain confidence and become more motivated to learn and try new things when they feel confident about their abilities.

Failing Forwards as a Training Philosophy

Lesley encourages her players always to learn from their failures. She believes that it’s essential to create an environment where players can fail without feeling judged. Instead, they should feel free to experiment and take calculated risks. This approach helps players develop resilience, grit and be comfortable with the process of learning.

Desirable and Undesirable Problems

Lesley believes that there are two types of problems in training: desirable and undesirable. Desirable problems are challenges that push players out of their comfort zones and help them improve their skills. Undesirable problems are obstacles that hinder player development, such as injuries or poor coaching. Lesley explained that coaches must be able to distinguish between desirable and undesirable problems and create a training environment that fosters growth.

What Makes for a Good Drill?

Lesley discussed what makes for a good drill. She explained that a good drill has several key elements. Firstly, the drill must be game-realistic, and the player’s skills must be transferable to game scenarios. Secondly, the drill should be challenging but not so difficult that the player becomes frustrated. Lastly, the drill should be fun and enjoyable to the players.

Playing to Play vs. Playing to Win

Lesley discussed the differences between playing for enjoyment and playing to win. She believes that it’s possible to balance both aspects, but it’s essential to set reasonable goals. Lesley emphasizes that coaches must have a clear understanding of their team’s strengths and weaknesses and devise a game plan that suits their players’ ability levels.


Lesley’s approach to coaching the Singaporean Ultimate Women’s World Championship Team in 2020 was remarkable. Her use of TAG Teach and positive reinforcement greatly accelerated the skill acquisition of her team. Her philosophy of failing forwards and creating a training environment that fosters growth and development is an attitude that is beneficial to players of all levels. Lesley’s coaching methods highlight the importance of creating a supportive coaching environment, understanding individual player’s strengths, and focusing on a player’s individual needs while creating a balanced and enjoyable environment for growth and development.

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