‘Team Ninja Warrior’: Women of Season 2 Reveal 15 Strategy Secrets

Team Ninja Warrior is back and the female competitors are ready to fight it out. Last season was the first where we saw how the dynamic of having two men and one woman on each team works. We saw some of the female competitors break records last season so they should be even better this year.

But what have they learned from their accomplishments and failures? What are their secrets to winning the game? And most importantly what are the biggest misconceptions everyone has about the female ninjas? We decided to get answers by catching up with some of the ladies on Season 2.

The Cheat Sheet caught up with fan favorite Jessie Graff, former course tester Erica Cook, and the former rookie Tiana Webberly to talk about the new season and they emailed their answers. Find out what the ladies have in store in order to win this season of Team Ninja Warrior.

1. What did you learn last season of Team Ninja Warrior that you took with you in Season 2?

Jessie Graff, Nick Coolridge, and Jesse LaFlair pose together in light blue uniforms.

Jessie Graff, Nick Coolridge, and Jesse LaFlair | USA Network

Jessie Graff: On Team Ninja, the whole thing is an all-out sprint, and if your opponent gets slightly ahead of you, you have to take huge risks to regain the lead. It’s all or nothing, and it doesn’t matter how close the finish is. If you don’t hit the buzzer first, you get no points for your team. Since there’s no benefit to finishing a fraction of a second behind vs. falling on the 3rd obstacle. Competitors who are only a step behind have to take huge risks to get ahead. It makes for some really exciting races, incredible recoveries, and epic wipeouts.

2. What do you think is the biggest misconception of female Ninja Warrior competitors?

Jessie Graff has each hand on ladders on American Ninja Warrior.

Jessie Graff | Esquire TV

Jessie Graff: There’s a myth that women can’t build upper body strength. I think that’s silly. If you start upper body training early enough, women can build upper body muscles just as easily as lower body. And if you start later in life, you just have to expect it to feel impossible at first, and diligently follow the progressions, until it becomes possible. The older you are, the longer those progressions will take, but my mom did her first pull up EVER at age 64, and a year later, she’s up to 9! So the girls can be just as ninja as the guys, but we have to train harder and SMARTER to do it.

3. Other than win, what was your goal for this season?

Jessie Graff has her hands in the air on Team Ninja Warrior.

Jessie Graff | Esquire TV

Jessie Graff: Push my speed, and take bigger risks. I’m very cautious and careful on [American Ninja Warrior], but on Team Ninja, I want to test the limits of how fast I can go without making mistakes. And have fun!

4. If you do your own makeup what product do you swear by that is workout-proof?

Jessie Graff is about to get on a platform in the course of Team Ninja Warrior.

Jessie Graff | USA Network

Jessie Graff: I’m all about a natural tan and some waterproof mascara. For TV appearances, I’ll throw on some lightweight foundation too. But too much makeup makes me feel fake, and I want to look like me!

5. What was your first reaction to the news that Meagan Martin is getting her own team for Season 2?

Jessie Graff and Meagan Martin talking to Alex on the sideline of Team Ninja Warrior.

Jessie Graff and Meagan Martin | USA Network

Jessie Graff: Meagan Martin AND Jesse LaBreck! They rocked the city finals courses, and qualified for Vegas Finals (AKA Nationals) in Season 8, so they seemed like obvious choices for team captains.

6. What would you say was the most difficult part of competing last season?

Jessie Graff, Drew Dreschsel, Erica Cook, and Evan Dollard talk in front of a ninja warrior gym.

Jessie Graff, Drew Dreschsel, Erica Cook, and Evan Dollard | Youtube/Evan Dollard

Erica Cook: My inexperience! I was so new and paired with two of the best athletes in the game. They really helped me get accustomed to competition so I felt much more confident coming into season two!

7. What did you learn from last season that you took with you this season?

The team Real Life Beasts wear yellow shorts with their team name on it.

Real Life Beasts | Esquire TV

Erica Cook: Last season was my first experience with anything Ninja Warrior/ TV related so I had no idea what to expect. This year, after knowing better what was going on, I was able to focus much more on competing and less on all of the other things happening around me!

8. What are your tips for shorter women who might feel intimidated to accomplish certain fitness goals due to their height?

Erica Cook is talking to the camera and wearing a yellow tank top on Team Ninja Warrior.

Erica Cook | Esquire TV

Erica Cook: Never let a permanent physical trait stop you from setting and attaining goals. I always tell people, I didn’t wake up 5′ tall just this morning – I’ve been short all of my life. You just have to learn how to adapt and overcome. There are ways to succeed in anything, you just may have to do it differently!

9. How do you become a course tester for the show?

Erica Cook and Jeri D'Aurelio are running up steps next to each other on the course of Team Ninja Warrior.

Erica Cook and Jeri D’Aurelio | Esquire TV

Erica Cook: Anyone can become a course tester for the show, which makes it a great way to introduce yourself as to what it’s like being on the course. There’s always a person in charge and they generally reach out to athletes who they think may be interested in helping test before filming. Usually, you can email casting and they will point you in the right direction.

10. What is one weird thing about course testing that fans don’t know?

Erica Cook is climbing on a rope course.

Erica Cook | Esquire TV

Erica Cook: They change and alter the obstacles during testing. For example, if too many people are failing (or clearing) they’ll often times change it to make it easier or harder. They usually test many variations of the same obstacle before they decide how it’s actually going to be applied for taping.

11. You were a rookie last season and became the fifth woman to go up the Warped Wall in a competition. How did that winning moment against Rose Wetzel feel?

Tiana Webberly is on top of the warped wall looking down at Rose Wetzel.

Tiana Webberly and Rose Wetzel | Esquire TV

Tiana Webberly: Getting up that Warped Wall was such an incredible feeling. I didn’t care who I was competing against or whether I had won or lost at that point. My goal was to get up that wall as fast as I personally could. The win was just icing on the cake— that feeling of all that hard work paying off and the support of my family and teammates was what mattered most to me.

12. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your Team Ronin teammates?

Team Ronin is walking to the camera in black and yellow uniforms.

Team Ronin | Esquire TV

Tiana Webberly: No matter how far ahead or behind you might be, give it all you got until the very end because anything can happen. Never give up – 150% effort all the way

13. Other than win, what was your goal for this season of Team Ninja Warrior?

This is a closeup of Tiana Webberly in a black tank top.

Tiana Webberly | Esquire TV

Tiana Webberly: To not put too much pressure on myself and just go out there and have fun! Going to give it my all and whatever happens, happens I’m thankful to be there.

14. What do you think is the biggest misconception of female Ninja Warrior competitors?

Tiana Webberly is jumping between stands on the course of American Ninja Warrior.

Tiana Webberly | USA Network

Tiana Webberly: That we can’t keep up with the guys, while Jessie Graff and Jesse Labreck have both proved otherwise so far for us females.

15. What is one funny fact about you that fans don’t know about?

Team Ronin pose together in black and yellow uniforms.

Team Ronin | USA Network

Tiana Webberly: Anytime I try [to] watch a movie I tend to fall asleep at some point.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published April 27, 2017.

Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice

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