Thursday, June 30, 2005

CTG - Flick Outline

Alright, I’ve gotten a bunch of feedback, but I’m gonna need some more. My evil plan is to come up with an outline for each section, let you guys comment on it. Then write a draft and let you guys comment on it. After you’ve commented on the draft of each section, I’ll make changes and put together the CTG. We’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, here is a rough outline of how I’m thinking about writing the flick section of the CTG. What I want from you is – 1) do you agree with what I’m going to say? – is this the general consensus based on our discussions? 2) are there more topics to address in a particular section? If so what are they? 3) does the organization make sense? Should one topic be moved to a different section?

Just a warning: this is real rough – I didn’t necessarily write in complete sentences because this is just an outline. I’ll clean it up by the time I post a draft.

I. Beginners
A. Grip – encourage some version of the power grip – 2 fingers on the rim. Some folks don’t hate the split grip, but I think the majority opinion has been why waste time with it.
B. Stance – I’m thinking let’s go ahead and put them in the stance I talked about in part III of this series – in other words pivot foot pointing straight non pivot foot forward and open to somewhere between 45-70 degrees. I debated on whether or not this is too much to handle when you’re first learning, but I think it’s fine.
C. Isolation – At this point it’s primarily about generating wrist snap – Focus on this. Don’t let the player use her arm/body to throw. Make them use their wrist snap! One suggested way to do this is to have a new player hold her arm out fully extended and only allow her to throw with her wrist.
D. Drills – 1) throw with a partner. Anyone have another drill that’s good for super new players?
E. Desired Skills – 1) Player is consistently holding the disc correctly 2) Player is consistently standing correctly when throwing. 3) Player has good wrist snap. The player may be throwing the disc too hard or spraying it around, but she is consistently generating a good amount of spin.

II. Intermediate
A. Using Arm/Body – At this point your players are generating good wrist snap and you want to help them generate more power and consistency. Through the course of these discussions we’ve heard some different ways to teach using the arm. We’ve all got our favorite catch phrases – Martin tells players to “pull from the hip” as a way to teach players to get their arms back and away from their bodies” Tarr teaches “lead with your elbow” to encourage proper arm motion. I like both of these and will probably steal them for the guide. Any objections/better suggestions? The drills suggested for teaching this were the sitting and throwing drill and kneeling and throwing drill. In the sitting and throwing drill you have player sit Indian style and throw back and forth. This prevents them from generating power with their legs and forces them to use their arms. I’m not sure if we’ve talked about the kneeling and throwing drill, but it’s another one I stole from Baccarini. Basically you have your right handed player kneel on her left knee and put her right knee up with her right foot on the ground. Does this make sense? It’s like football players in a post game huddle – when they’re on one knee? I’ll have to come up with a better description prior to finishing the guide, but anyway, basically you have your player reach around their outstretched knee and throw. Baccarini likes it because it forces players to get their arm away from their body.

For encouraging use of the body/torso all I’ve got right now is Tim Halt’s mantra of “lead with the hip.” Anyone have anything else here? Drills?
B. Throwing curves – This is about the time when I like to start talking about the different ways to make the disc curve and when to use each curve. Prior to this point, I pretty much preach keeping the disc flat, but I don’t worry if the disc turns over a little bit in either direction. I think my favorite drill for teaching this is the drill the philosophically minded Dawgs call “Nietzsche’s.” Basically it is a two person lead pass throwing drill. Each player forms one point of an imaginary triangle. The player without the disc runs to third point of the triangle and the player with the disc throws a lead pass to the cutter. The former thrower then runs to the point of the triangle no longer occupied and receives a lead pass from the new thrower etc. You (the wise coach) have they players go through one set for each throw (IO Flick, OI Flick, IO Backhand, OI Backhand). The drill also works on fitness as it requires a lot of running.
C. Pivoting/Extension
I like to start talking about pivoting when I start talking about the different curves. The reason for this is that I like to talk about using the throws that have the same curve (e.g. IO flick/around backhand) in conjunction with each other via pivoting. Maybe this isn’t the right place to talk about extension? – it seems to go together with pivoting, but I’m not sure I have a great way to explain what I want players to do in terms of extension – basically I think you want to be able to get as out as possible while still maintaining balance and the ability to quickly pivot back to the complementary throw (Aside – I see a lot of college players who extend way too far – if you extend so far that you’re off balance and can only realistically threaten one throw what have you gained?). If anyone has a better place for this let me know. For drills here – Martin has the Tai Chi drill that I really like – basically he has the girls mimic his go through a series of pivots and fakes that works on maintaining balance while pivoting and getting extension. I’ll have a better explanation of this one by the time this makes it into the guide. The other one I like is just to have players pair up – give one player a disc and tell the other person to mark them. Basically you just say disc in and one player pivots and pretends to throw while the other person marks them. Any other drills for this?

D. Desired skills 1)Player can reliably uses arm/torso to assist in the throwing of forehands 2)Player can consistently throw flicks with all curves and knows what curve to use in what situation 3) Player pivots well and gets extension when throwing without losing balance.

III. Advanced

I’m not sure how I want to organize this. It might make sense to organize the guide such that there are 5 sections two sections for beginning/intermediate flicks 2 sections for beginning and intermediate backhands and then 1 advanced section that addresses both flick and backhand at the same time.

I’m also not sure what else I want to put in this section. I’ll definitely talk about breaking the mark. Maybe talk about how conditions effect throwing?- Throw like X when going upwind and Y when going downwind? Hucking?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Mail Bag - Cutting

Today’s question comes from Crystal in Maryland

So I was reading various posts about getting open on a defender. It seems that with a good read on your defender and a good fake to get them going in one direction, you can always get open. It makes sense, but I've run into many situations where faking one way (i.e. deep or break) isn't bought cause the defender knows that isn't a viable option. Basically, they know that the only way to go is for an in-cut. My question is how do you get open on an in cut when they're positioned to defend that cut (and do it without ending right on top of the thrower)?

First, Crystal – Good to hear from you. Hope all is well and good luck with the upcoming move. As usual, I’ve pretty much stolen my theory from someone else, so I’ll point you in the direction of the source material. In 1999, Parinella wrote an article that addresses the basic rules of offense. His book contains an updated version of his theory.

Parinella’s first two basic principles of offense are:
1. Take what they give you
2. If you really want something they're not giving you, try to fake them into giving it to you.

According to the principle of taking what they give you, if you’re being fronted (as you describe in your question) you should look to attack the away cutting space. It sounds like what’s making your situation difficult is that you’re only threatening one space. In a previous post, I talk about finding a “sweet spot” where you can viably threaten two cutting spaces. If you’re not viably threatening the deep space, presumably it’s because you’re too far away from the thrower. My suggestion, in this situation, would be to take a few steps toward the disc while you're moving into the cutting lane and then cut hard back towards the disc. When your defender turns her hips to commit to the in-cut, turn and take her to the house. I like to think about the set-up for a cut as opening up a window for the thrower to put the disc in. By running back to the frisbee you’re effectively opening up the throwing window behind you. At the beginning of your scenario you may have been 30 yards away from the disc, meaning your thrower was going to have to throw the bejesus out of it if you were going to be open on the deep one. Now after your hard run back towards the disc you may only be 12-15 yards away from the thrower when you turn and head for the house. This makes the throw much easier.

Parinella’s second basic principle of offense is “if you really want something they’re not giving you, try to fake them into giving it to you." In the scenario you describe where the defender is just absolutely determined to stop the underneath cut you’re probably better off not trying to overpower them to get the disc. Generally, I’d rather set myself to catch a big swing and punish them for over committing to the open side in-cut. However, if you’re just absolutely set on getting the disc on the in-cut I like to use the z-cut in this situation. The idea behind the z-cut is to mimic the standard v cut and take advantage of the defender when they cover the cut like the standard v cut. In most cases, when a defender is camping out underneath you, she expects you to make a few steps towards her and then turn and run in the opposite direction. With the z cut you want to take 5 or 6 lazy jog steps toward your defender then turn and go as hard as you can for 2-5 steps in the opposite direction before stopping and sprinting back towards the disc. Hopefully, you can be stopping to come back to the disc while she is still accelerating to run with the deep cut.

The final thing here is sometimes you’re just not in the best position to make the next cut. If you feel like you’re in a position where getting the disc is going to be exceedingly difficult, actively get out of the way of teammates who are in better position to make the next cut.

Monday, June 27, 2005

QotW: Worst Coaching Moment

A few weeks ago we talked about coaching highlights. That started me thinking about my most unpleasant coaching experiences. I have a tendency to curse way too much on the Ultimate field. My first year coaching Southern Poly, we were playing at Terminus in the last game Saturday to make the 'upper fields'. I don't remember what happened exactly, but I wasn't pleased with it and I let loose with a flurry of f-bombs. I turn around and see one of my player's parents sitting right behind me. I apologized to the player after the game, and although he said they were used to worse from his highschool baseball coach, I still regret it and wish I'd have apologized to them directly.

Have you ever gotten so wrapped up in a game that you slip and do something you end up regretting? Maybe you've yelled at a player, or encouraged some form of bad spirit by one of your players, or even just not corrected a player for an unspirited act.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Why I hate Mixed

Maybe hate is too strong of a word. I don’t have a problem with people playing mixed if that’s what they want to do. I guess I just don’t like playing mixed. But more than that I think if you’re interested in ever becoming a really good ultimate player you shouldn’t learn how to play by playing mixed. Part of this is that the divisions have different levels of talent, but I think it’s more than that. I’m saying, even independent of the talent disparity in the divisions, you can’t ever be really good if all you ever do is play mixed. Wow, that sounds incredibly arrogant…let me try an analogy. When coaching, I teach my kids to play straight stack rather than a horizontal stack. I think a lot of colleges run the horizontal stack because you can get away with not paying attention to what your teammates are doing. It’s definitely conceivable, it may even be probable, that my team would have more success with a horizontal stack at this stage in their development, but I still teach them the straight stack. I want them to have to think about what their teammates are doing in order to succeed. . I guess, I just think that’s what good ultimate players do, and I want my kids to be good ultimate players not just good runners. I feel like mixed breeds some of the same problems as running exclusively h-stack. There is much more available space to cut into than in open because of the fact that half of the players on the field can’t really help out on a throw to a man. As a result, players never learn to think about their teammates when cutting.

One thing I’m always struck by when playing mixed is how much harder it is to play man to man defense. When I’m playing defense one of the first thing I try to figure out is where my help is. Assume I’m playing in a 3-4 coed game and one of the other team’s men is holding the disc, the other man is his dump, meanwhile I’m stuck covering the guy downfield. There’s no incentive for the guy I’m covering to worry about his teammates if he wants to get open. For all intents and purposes it’s me and him alone downfield. There’s no need for him to learn how to time his cuts because he’s always cutting out on an island. I think a lot of men who play exclusively mixed learn how to get open only by over-powering their opponent. In the last couple of years, we’ve had several athletic young guys that have come to tryout for Chain, who have only played mixed. Almost to a man, they’ve stuck out as being dumb cutters (to stick out as being a dumb cutter on a team as dumb as Chain…that’s truly impressive). It seems like all they want to do is juke and then run as hard as they can in one direction. They go to weird places on the field and look at you like why aren’t you throwing it – I assume this is just because there are more places to deliver the frisbee to in mixed due to the fact that players can cover less field.

I don’t like playing mixed because the game just feels disjointed and slow to me. But the real reason I have a strong distaste for mixed is that I think it stunts the development of a lot of potentially very strong players. I really wish the young players who don’t make Chain, but have the potential to make Chain in the future, would be play on a second men’s team rather than playing mixed. Anyway, I still think most of you mixed folks are nice people – hopefully, I wasn’t too obnoxious in this one.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

MTV Offense

Ok, not really MTV. I stumbled across the "Empty V" offense last year while searching the web for 'ultimate frisbee strategy offense'. I keep wanting to try it but have never had the opportunity. Basically, it looks like a spread offense with two diagonal (V-shaped) lanes. The purpose is to give the thrower more "offensive opportunities." Russell Young apparentally came up with the offense. I'll let you check out his page on the Empty V for a full description of the offense. I'm curious what everyone thinks of the offense. Has anyone run anything similar before? He's got some other interesting ideas on his site including disliking the force, stack, and zones (w/cups). I'm also starting to wonder what an MTV offense would look like.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Training for Ultimate part 2 of 3: Plyometrics

In the first part of our three part series on training for Ultimate, we covered track workouts. They are probably the most common element in many players’ training. In the second part we introduce plyometrics into our workouts. Plyos can be helpful for increasing speed, quickness, and explosiveness. Plyos can make your first step quicker, and make you jump higher. They also help prevent injuries. By getting your body accustomed to the kinds of forces you will experience in a game, you can prepare your muscles and joints so that they are less likely to break down. The important thing to remember, however, is that plyos are to be done in a controlled environment and that we will build up slowly so that we avoid injury before the game as well.

A general rule of thumb to know that you’re ready to add plyometrics to your workout routine is the ability to squat twice your weight. Our plyo routine starts out relatively slowly, but you should not ignore weight training as part of your workout regimen. Part 3 will cover weight training.

Disclaimer: You should consult a physician before beginning any workout program. If something hurts, you should stop doing it. We are assuming a base level of fitness and strength. These are the workouts we will be doing for the next few months. We are posting them as an example and they should be used for educational purposes.

As with the track workouts, below is a 3-month plyos program. The program is broken up into 3 separate 1-month periods. The first month is light in intensity, twice a week, and focuses on running form and building the solid base of lower body strength we’ll need for the later workouts. Month two increases the intensity to start working on explosiveness. The last month has a high intensity but drops to a once weekly workout.

Again we try to build on the themes from the track workouts. There are a variety of different exercises throughout the program. We start out with a light intensity but higher volume, and work our way to high-intensity low-volume workouts by the end. The first two months of the program have two days of plyos, we do these on the same days as our track workouts, Sunday and Wednesday. If you have free days in your weekly schedule, you may prefer to switch your plyos to those days instead. The last month of the program is only once a week and we move the workout to it’s own day, Friday. You will likely not want to do this workout the day before a tournament, so reschedule or cancel the workout as necessary.

Each month of the workout has a group of 8-10 exercises that you will be doing. For each week’s workout(s), do all but two of the exercises. Rotate which exercises you do so that the exercises you are doing the exercises that you skipped the week before. You should do 3-5 sets of each exercise unless otherwise noted in the description. The amount of reps is listed along with each exercise and its description below.

Month 1

A Skips (15m): Skip using ‘A’ Form. Bring your knee up and forward to be parallel with the ground, keep your foot flexed (toe towards shin). Push off of the ball of your foot; don’t let your heel hit the ground. Improves running form.

Paw Drill (1 min/leg): Lean forward in an attempt to get your body between 60 and 45 degrees with the ground. Place your hand on a wall and keep your back straight and so the heels of your feet are lifted up slightly. The goal is to simulate the running motion by "pawing" at the ground. Start by bringing the heel of your right foot to your butt, following the line of your other leg. Then drive the foot back to ground, but in front of its old position. Hit with the ball of your foot just behind where your hips are. The goal is to be able to hit the ground and paw through, back to your original position then repeat. If you hit the ground too early you will get a lot of resistance and be pushed upward. If you hit too far back you will barely touch your foot on the ground. Repeat this motion with the same foot for about a minute, focusing on a smooth transition from the strike to the recovery. Also, focus on pulling your heel back to your butt quickly after the paw motion, but not so fast it is out of control. Improves running form.

Running Balance (30sec): Go onto one foot and mimic proper running form mid stride. You should be on the ball of your foot, with arms bent at 90 degrees. Off knee should be up with foot flexed (toe towards shin). Hold for 30 seconds if possible. If you lose your balance simply start over. Hold for a total of 30 seconds, not necessarily continuous. It is better to reset with proper form then try and stay balanced with improper form. Improves balance and running form.

Swinging Arm (30sec): Stand still and swing arms as if running. Increase arm speed while maintaining proper form. Arms bent at 90 degrees, close to body, not swinging wildly. Improves running form.

High Knees (10m): Run bringing knees up as high as possible. Improves leg speed.

Butt Kicks (10m): Run bringing feet up high towards butt. Keep feet flexed. Improves leg speed.

Ankle Hops (10): Stand with knees slightly bent. Jump straight up using only your ankles. Do not swing arms and try not to use your quads. Builds lower leg strength.

1 Leg Lateral Hops (10/leg): Stand on one leg and hop back and forth. Try to increase the distance you hop while still hopping back as soon as you land. Alternately, use two legs if the exercise is uncomfortable. Builds lateral leg strength.

Forward Lunges (10/leg): Take a large step forward. Front knee should never pass your toe. Keep upper body upright. Hold for 2 seconds then push back up to standing position and do the other leg. Builds leg strength.

Side Lunges (10/leg): Step wide to right. Keep left leg straight, bend right leg but knee should bend past 90 degrees. Hold for 2 seconds then push back up to standing position and step wide to the left. Builds leg strength.

Month 2

Standing Broad Jump (5): From a standstill with feet shoulder-width apart, bend at waist and knees and jump forward. Use arm swing to improve distance. Land with bent knees to absorb shock. Builds lower body explosiveness and jumping form.

Diagonal Lunges (10/leg): Step out with right leg at a 45 degree angle. Keep left leg straight and bend right knee, but not past your toe. Hold for two seconds then bring left leg forward and step out with left leg at a 45 degree angle from right left. Repeat. Builds lower body strength.

Ankle Hops (15): Stand with knees slightly bent. Jump straight up using only your ankles. Do not swing arms and try not to use your quads. Builds lower leg strength.

Running Balance (30sec): Go onto one foot and mimic proper running form mid stride. You should be on the ball of your foot, with arms bent at 90 degrees. Off knee should be up with foot flexed (toe towards shin). Hold for 30 seconds if possible. If you lose your balance simply start over. Hold for a total of 30 seconds, not necessarily continuous. It is better to reset with proper form then try and stay balanced with improper form. Improves balance and running form.

A Skips w/Vertical (15m): Skip using ‘A’ Form. Bring your knee up and forward to be parallel with the ground, keep your foot flexed (toe towards shin). Push off of the ball of your foot; don’t let your heel hit the ground. Try to get as high as possible. Improves running form, builds lower leg strength.

1 Leg Lateral Hops (10/leg): Stand on one leg and hop back and forth. Try to increase the distance you hop while still hopping back as soon as you land. Builds lateral leg strength.

Plyo Pushup (7-10): Start out on hands and knees. Bend arms and push up explosively to get body upright. Have someone throw you a disc to catch. Throw disc back then drop back to hands and repeat. Advanced – use a medicine ball instead of a disc. Builds upper body strength and explosiveness.

Month 3

Single Leg Cross Pattern Jumps (5): Form a mental cross on the ground. Stand on one leg and jump into each quadrant of the cross. Jump immediately when hitting the ground. Keep jumps going for full 5 reps. Vary the pattern as desired. Try to increase distance of jumps. Builds leg strength and explosiveness.

Diagonal Bounding (20m): Similar to the diagonal lunges except that we’re jumping. Start on left leg and jump at a 45 degree angle and land on right leg. Immediately jump forwards at a 45 degree angle to land back on the left foot. Continue for 20 yards. Use arm swings to help increase your jumping distance. Make sure your landing leg is bent. Explode off landing leg. Builds leg explosiveness.

Depth Jumps (5): Start on a box or step 1-2 feet high. Step off box, land on both feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent, and immediately jump straight up. Step back onto box and repeat. Builds leg explosiveness.

Plyo Pushup (7-10): Start out on hands and knees. Bend arms and push up explosively to get body upright. Have someone throw you a disc to catch. Throw disc back then drop back to hands and repeat. Advanced – use a medicine ball instead of a disc. Builds upper body strength and explosiveness.

2 Leg Lateral Jump Over Object (10): From a standing position, feet shoulder-width apart, jump to your side over an object (such as a cone). Land with feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent, and immediately jump back to the other side, again over the object. Builds lateral leg explosiveness.

Rim Jumps (7-10): From a standing position, feet shoulder-width apart, jump straight up reaching with one hand as high as you can on a basketball backboard (or alternately a wall, tree, your imagination). Land with knees bent and immediately jump back up, reaching with the opposite hand. Use arm swing to increase vertical. Builds leg explosiveness and improves jumping form.

Bunny Hops (3): From a standing position, feet shoulder-width apart, jump forward as far as possible. Land on both feet, with knees bent, and immediately jump forward again. Do this for a total of 3 jumps per rep. Use arm swing to increase distance. Builds leg explosiveness and improves jumping form.

Triple Jumps (2): Take a step or two then jump off left leg as far forward as possible. Land on right leg with knee bent and immediately jump forward again. Land on left leg and again jump, landing back on the right leg. This is one rep. Start the second rep off the right leg. Builds leg explosiveness and improves jumping form.

Martin and I have both found the book Jumping into Plyometrics by Donald A. Chu to be an invaluable resource in the past. While the above information is based on our knowledge and personal experience, we feel it would be a mistake not to acknowledge such a great resource.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Mail Bag: H-Stacks - Downfield Motion

Today’s reader email comes from Weilang in Singapore, who writes:

Hi there,
I've been reading up on the horizontal stack and I'm wondering how exactly should the players run after the first throw (to the mids), so that the structure of the stack is still intact. Thanks in advance :)

First, thanks for reading. Idris published an online newsletter on this subject. If you’re interested in horizontal stacks you should definitely check it out. The book Idris references in the newsletter is here.

One way that the horizontal stack is different from the straight stack is that once the downfield players start cutting, the initial set-up pretty much disappears. In the straight stack players who are not cutting or actively clearing, are generally striving to stay in the middle of the field in order to maintain open space on both sides of the stack and behind the stack. With the horizontal stack there isn’t a home position that players are constantly moving back to.

The exact motion of downfield cutters is going to largely depend on what you’re trying to use the horizontal stack for. Are you just trying to run a called pull play out of it as a way to mix it up and keep the defense off-balance? In that case, you can be very rigid as to exactly when and where you want each player to cut. If the play doesn’t materialize you hit the dump, swing the disc and you’re back into standard straight stack.

If you’re trying to run the horizontal stack as your primary offense you’re going to want to have some sort of what Idris calls a “regenerative component.” In other words, you’re going to want to have some plan for what to do when the horizontal stack gets bogged down. What you decide to use as your regenerative component is going to be largely based on your personnel (More on utilizing players of varying skill level in the horizontal stack can be found here. Maybe you run the handler give and go when the downfield cutters get too deep, or maybe you just say when all hell breaks lose everybody gets out of Bob’s way. It really just depends on your personnel; let your players natural strengths get you out of trouble. If your players don’t have any natural strengths, you could definitely do worse than just hitting the dump and swinging the disc. It’s more difficult to punish the defense with the dump-swing in a horizontal stack, but it will still buy your cutters some time to get back into position.

In terms of motion - at the very minimum you want to let people know where to clear and you probably want to set up some sort of cutting hierarchy. Where you want people to clear is again dependant upon what you want to do with your H-Stack, but you should definitely decide where you want people to go when they’re not cutting. Generally speaking, just moving to the side of the field opposite of the disc is not a terrible idea - be ready to get back into the action quickly though. For cutting hierarchy, just something as simple as Bob’s the primary, Johnny’s the secondary is fine. You can get more elaborate if you like.

Assuming you’re a newer team, that doesn’t really want to take the time to talk about regenerative sets and cutting hierarchy – it’s not terrible to just let your guys run around without too much structure. One of the joys of the horizontal stack is that you don’t necessarily need to work with your teammates in order to get open. Of course, it’s certainly easier if you do...If you decide to go with this free form plan the basic rules of cutting, which you learned when you were running straight stack, still apply. Good deep cuts originate 10-15 yards from the thrower. So don’t start cutting to the house from 35 yards away. It doesn’t matter how open you are, your defender will catch-up. Similarly, it’s still a good idea to cut back to the disc if you find that you’re the deeper than any of your teammates. Even if you don’t get the disc, you’ll open up the deep space for them.

Thanks for the email. Hopefully, some of our readers will post how they like to run the H-Stack.

Monday, June 20, 2005

QotW: Why do you play Mixed?

In response to AJ's post about coed I thought I'd ask our mixed readers out there why they've chosen to play mixed. There has been a lot of speculation about players who can't make elite open or women's teams playing mixed for a shot at Nationals, etc. I certainly think there is some merit to that argument. I think, down here in Atlanta, that a lot of young players who want to get better are playing mixed for the experience, to get better and one day play open or womens.

Personally, I prefer mixed to open. Maybe it's because I started playing Ultimate in leagues rather than at college. It's always been more comfortable for me. I also tend to see open as more, "I'm faster and can jump higher so I win," where I feel mixed encourages more strategy. The level of competition factors does probably factor in for me though. I could probably make Chain if that were my goal, but I'd never have the role I have on Rival. Perhaps I'm settling, but I'm happy and still motivated enough to work hard trying to get better.

So, why do you play mixed?

Friday, June 17, 2005

RToTD - Chain v. DoG 2002

I was just looking atParinella’s website. It’s pretty nuts; he’s included a summary of every tournament DoG ever played in. I was reading his write up of 2002 Tune-Up and he talks about the DoG-Chain Game. Here’s what Jim says
We took a lead of 8-4 on Chain. They quickly tied it at 10, 11, and 12, so it was next point wins (hard cap at 13 in all non-finals games). OB pull, I cut first from the back, my defender comes very close to blocking it (he may have even touched the disc just as I caught it), but otherwise they had no bids on us, and after I caught the winning goal, I flipped the disc to a Subzero guy standing on the sideline, saying, "Here you go, kid" and walked off the field.

I was covering Jim on that play and thought I’d throw in my 2 cents. This doesn’t have anything to do with strategy or coaching, so if you’re looking for something informative you’ve come to the wrong place (if you’ve read this blog more than once, you probably already knew that though).

First some background information – Chain hadn’t made nationals since the Dark Ages. I think it had been at least 5 years since Chain’s last trip to the show and we only had 2 guys (Goode and Smitty) on our squad who had ever played at Nationals. We somehow pimped our way into the elite division at Chicago and played much better than anyone expected. On Saturday, we beat E-Pig, who went on to beat DoG in the finals, and we also beat Sub Zero so we were in great shape to make semis coming into our last round on Saturday. If we beat Valhalla we’re in the semis. Of course we lose to Valhalla which means we have to beat DoG on Sunday morning to make it to the round of 4.

We come out Sunday morning a little scared by DoG and go down 4-8. We call a time-out, settle down and go on a 6-2 run to tie it at 10’s. Three plays stick out in my mind from that run. The first is a huck to Simpson with Zip on him. From where I was standing it looked like Zip had position and would run it down easily. They both end up laying out, and Simpson is able to layout passed Zip for the ridiculous catch and goal. Another highlight is Dylan cutting back to the disc being covered by Forch, Dylan starts to break off his cut right as the disc is being released and Forch has position coming back to the disc. Dylan accelerates again and sort of half jumps/half dives and comes around Forch to make the catch. Chasing Plastic had a photo of this catch and they put it on one of their discs. I would link to it, but it doesn’t look like it’s up on their site anymore. My favorite highlight from the run though is calling the 5-2 poach (a defense my summer league team was running at the time) against DoG. We couldn’t figure out a way to get a block on them, so basically I drew this D in the dirt in between points.
is playing off-side wing and he comes flying through the cup for the huge layout block. Florian used to call Seto “mini-Stu” and this play was definitely Stu-like.

So we come all the way back to tie it at 10’s, then the offenses trade to 12-12. I feel like we turned it over at 11-12 and got it back and punched it in. Anyway, so it’s 12-12 and we throw the pull out of bounds. I’m covering Jim and he’s lined up at the back of the stack slightly in the open side lane. I distinctly remember Alex walking the disc in and giving Jim an inquisitive look, as if to say “do you want it?” Jim gives the full nod, so I was pretty confident I was going to be isolated. I talked about how I like to play defense in this situation here. I forced Jim under from the back of the stack and picked out the spot I wanted to beat him to. I was on his inside hip in a sprint back to the frisbee. As soon as Alex released the disc I thought it was a block. I had the inside path and the disc wasn’t far enough outside for Jim to be able seal me with his body. I’ve never been very graceful when going for my dives(fall downs), and I kind of stumbled as I was setting up for the disc that was coming in low, but I was still going fast enough that I should be able to make the block. I fling myself to the ground and the disc goes right over my left hand. Jim catches the low disc while still standing up. I get scored on for the loss - 13-12 bad guys….terrible. To this day, I get irritated when I think about that point. It was RIGHT THERE…JUST HIT THE DISC DUMMY!...sigh…anyway, that concludes the story of the time Chain (almost) beat DoG.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Coed ate my division

As Wood mentioned in a previous post, Vicious Cycle, Tanasi, and much of Dallas (3 of the top 6 teams in the southern region) have decided to make the switch to mixed. I started digging around to see what kind of impact mixed has had on the growth of the single sex divisions. Unfortunately, a lot of the old data has disappeared after the migration of Anyway here's a table summarizing the info I was able to find (If anyone has more complete numbers, please let me know). The numbers from 1999 are closest to the numbers before the split as mixed was still a fledgling division at that point. Another factor to consider is that UPA membership was roughly 11,000 in 1999 whereas current membership is at approximately 19,200.







































































Obviously, there are way too many holes in the data/external variables to be super confident in any conclusions one might draw from this data. However, it's interesting to note, that while most of the 1998-1999 RSD posts on the subject bemoan how coed will destroy women's, it's actually open that has taken the biggest hit.

Have other people noticed this in their regions as well? It looks like the Northwest Open region took a particularly big hit going from 30 on time rosters in 1999 to 20 last year. Meanwhile mixed has exploded in the Northwest.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Training for Ultimate part 1 of 3: Track Workouts

There are many reason to train for any sport. You can increase your endurance, your speed, your jumping ability, etc. Training is also very important in reducing injuries. Over the next several weeks we will be bringing you a three part series on training for Ultimate. We will focus on a different aspect of your training in each part. Part one will focus on track workouts, part two will focus on adding plyometrics to your workouts, and part three will focus on weight training. We will outline a 3 month program that will help you run longer, faster, and with less injuries.

"We" are Michael Wood and Martin Aguilera. Martin is a Nationally Certified Track and Field coach. He is quick to point out that he is "NOT a certified personal trainer, but someone who has been curious and read a lot of books." Martin helped me develop this program for Rival this season. Martin would also like to remind everyone "Don't push too hard."

Disclaimer: You should consult a physician before beginning any workout program. If something hurts, you should stop doing it. We are assuming a base level of fitness and strength. These are the workouts we will be doing for the next few months. We are posting them as an example and they should be used for educational purposes.

The first part of the series focuses on our track workouts...

The following is a 3 month track workout program. We have 2 workouts a week. We suggest one on Sunday, one on Wednesday. We are only suggesting days so that you can fit in the rest of your workouts. We scheduled the workouts so that you have time to recover before doing a similar workout. Sunday workouts can obviously be tough on tournament weekends. My suggestion would be to either drop the workout altogether or you may be able to reschedule your week. Here in Atlanta we have 2 nights of league play during the summer. That factored into our scheduling somewhat.

We incorporate several themes into the workouts. First, we try and have a variety of different workouts so that no one will get bored. We also start out with longer distances in the beginning, to build a solid base, then do more short distances and speed work towards the end of the 3 months. This is a general track workout with a relatively low volume. The two weekly workouts are different in focus. In general, Wednesdays will focus on endurance, while Sundays focuses more on speed and quickness. This helps us in scheduling as Wednesday workouts are generally at the track, and Sunday workouts are generally a part of our practices. We do switch activities between the two days occasionally, again to add variety.

Note: It is common for people running track workouts to run as fast as they can the whole time. This can lead to muscle strains and tears. Also, at the end of your workout, you may feel good enough to add another rep, but resist the temptation as it can lead to injury or just stunt your development. Realize that perhaps this was meant to be an easy or recovery day. You can change the workouts if you don't feel they are pushing you enough, but make the changes in advance rather than during the workout.

Now to the Schedule

Week 1
Sun:- 1x800m slow, 2 shuttles*
Wed: 1-3 miles (dependent on current fitness level)

Week 2
Sun: 1x800m slow, 1x200m slow, 3 shuttles*
Wed: 1-3 miles

Week 3
Sun: 1x600m slow, 3 shuttles*
Wed: 2-4 miles

Week 4
Sun: 2-3 miles, rest, 1x800m slow
Wed: 1x800m slow, 1x400m slow, 2 shuttles*

Week 5
Sun: 1-2 miles, 1x800m slow, rest, 3 shuttles*
Wed: 2-5 miles

Week 6
Sun: 2x400m fast, 3 shuttles*
Wed: 1 mile, 2x400m medium, 1x800m slow

Week 7
Sun: 1x400m medium, 3x200m fast, 2 shuttles*(begin scheduling starts)
Wed: 2x800m medium-fast, 2x400m medium, 1x800m slow

Week 8
Sun: 3 shuttles*, 3x400m medium
Wed: 1x800m medium, 1x400m fast, 3x200m fast

Week 9
Sun: 2x800m medium, 3x400m medium, 2x100m medium
Wed: 3 shuttles*, 3x200m fast, 1x400m slow-medium, 2x200m fast

Week 10
Sun: 5 shuttles*, 3x100m fast, 1x200m fast, 3x50m fast
Wed: 2 fartleks**, 4x200m fast, 4x100m fast

Week 11
Sun: 5 shuttles*, 4x100m fast, 10x50m fast
Wed: 2x200m fast, 4 fartleks**

Week 12
Sun: 2 shuttles*, 10x50m fast, 3 shuttles*, 4x100m fast
Wed: 6 fartleks**

*We consider shuttles any of the following exercises. Mix them up however you choose to add variety. One shuttle on the schedule equals however many reps suggested in the shuttle description.

20 yard shuttle – 3 cones in a line, 10 yards apart. Start at the center cone, sprint to side cone, stop, cut back to other side cone, stop, cut back to center cone. Do 5 reps with rest between reps. Works on quickness and cutting. Variations: Carioca, backpedal, shuffle.

Zig-zag – Set up cones for 90 degree cutting in a zigzag fashion. I'll generally set up two lines, about 5 yards apart, with cones every 5 yards for 25 yards. Do 3 reps with rest between reps. Works on cutting.

90 degree – Set up a running lane with cones ~1 yard wide for 10 yards, then have it turn right or left and continue for 10 yards. Goal is to build speed and work on cutting while staying within the cones. Do 3 reps on each side with rest between reps. Works on cutting.

Stop sign – Set up 2 cones at a start line and 15-20 yards away at the finish line. After the finish line, set up 2 more cones after 2 yards, 2 more cones 1 yards after that, and 2 more cones 1 yard after that. The goal is to build speed during the 15-20 yards, and work on stopping as soon as you cross the finish line. The cones after the finish line will help you measure your stopping speed. Do 5 reps with rest between reps. Works on deceleration.

Box Runs – Set up a square of cones, with 10 yard sides. Start at one cone, sprint forward to the first cone, shuffle (or carioca) along the next side, backpedal down the third side, then turn and sprint out past the first cone. Do 5 reps with rest between reps. Works on acceleration, lateral movement, hip rotation, etc. Variations: Diagonal Box run.

40 yard suicides – Set up 4 cones in a line, 10 yards apart. Start at first cone, sprint to second cone, turn, sprint back to first cone, turn, sprint to 3rd cone, turn, etc. Do 2 reps with rest between reps. Works on acceleration, quickness, endurance.

Scrambles – start in one of several different positions (sitting, lying on stomach, back, etc.) Have someone signal the start, get up rapidly and sprint forward 15 yards. Do 5 reps with rest between reps. Works on acceleration, body control.

Team Relays – Run 40 yards relay races. Do 3 races with rest between races. Fun way to add variety to workouts. Variations: Do a relay of any of the shuttles listed.

Starts – Set up a start line and a finish line 15-20 yards away. Start from a standstill (runner's position if you like) and accelerate full speed through the finish line, then run through (rather than stopping suddenly). Concentrate on the initial burst, maintaining good form, and accelerating straight ahead, don't waste momentum laterally. Do 5 reps with rest between reps. Works on acceleration. Start these in week 7.

**We consider fartleks to be 100m walking, 100m jogging, 100m sprinting, and 100m jogging.

Monday, June 13, 2005

QotW: Team-building

Football season is coming up (woohoo). Minicamps have started around the country, and I saw something on ESPN about the Packers playing dodgeball. It was supposed to be a team-building activity. Have any of you tried so called team-building activities, and if so, how successful do you think they were?

Friday, June 10, 2005

Mail Bag: The German Offense

I’ve been soliciting requests for suggested post topics both here and on the AFDC forum. The reason being is that all things being equal, we’d rather write about things that people are interested in rather than things they’re not. So, if you have a question please drop me a line. I may not be able to answer your question, but I can usually find someone who has something interesting to say about it.

Today’s question comes from Mike in Atlanta who writes, “Can you please post something about the German Offense? Is it just a normal spread offense? How does it differ from Horizontal Stack and Box?”

Thanks for reading and thanks for sending us a question. Since this is our first Mail Bag, I decided to turn this question over to Florian Pfender (expert on all things German), rather than just make something up. Flo played on various Atlanta teams (Chain, Gridlock, Rival) while completing his Ph.D at Emory. He played on the German Mixed National Team at the last Club Worlds. Currently, he has returned to the fatherland where he is living in Berlin teaching mathematics. He’s also a scheduling/format/rules guru – basically he’s the German Tarr who can dance. In any event, he wrote the great 4-1-2 write up that’s posted below.

The 4-1-2 is a possession based offense; some people call it lawn chess (it's certainly not the most exciting offense to watch). It tries to score with one mid-risk pass plus a few low risk passes.
The set up is as follows: 4 handlers in the back in a horizontal stack, one person in the middle (the 1) with almost the whole field around him to work with and two people all the way down-field.
An optimal sequence would be: handler catches pull, throws to one of the middle handlers. 1 posts up fairly close to disc, gets a lead pass, and the three down-field players homey it in for the score.

So the only risky pass is the one to the middle, and that's not so risky after all. the worst that can happen is that it turns in a game of 500 if you float it way too much (always rather throw it too high than too low, this way the 1 can save you on an errant throw). That's why I like to play it if I got someone like aj, Goffi or Goodson on my team.

The positions in detail

1. The two middle handlers
The two best throwers on the team. Their job is to hold the disc and wait for an opportunity to throw it to 1, preferably going away, but at least for a big gain in yardage. The main reason that they cannot get this throw off (if 1 plays well) are poaches from the handler defenders. In this case it should be easy to reset the stall count with a lateral dump throw. Never cut diagonally in front of the disc, this will lead to turnovers. If the other thrower has the disc, the best cut to get open for the dump is "go hard for 3-5 yards down-field, and cut straight back", works almost every time, since there is no immediate help down-field. Also be ready for the "angucker", the dump thrown to space (preferably to the down-field side) when the defender is face guarding.
Be patient. The reset is easy, so you can really wait for a good chance to throw it to the 1. At the prime of this strategy (when some teams used it almost exclusively in Germany, which is not done anymore), games could be really boring reset fests until finally the disc was thrown to the middle. often there would only be 1-2 turnovers in the first half before teams got a little too tired and lost concentration towards the end (well, Germans aren't really known for their stellar defense...).

2. The two side handlers
Two jobs-keep their defenders from poaching and reset the stall count. So if a thrower needs a reset, one option is to throw to the side handler (usually poached a little), and get it right back on a fake give-and-go.

3. The 1 (aka "the man")
Usually a player that combines ups/speed/boxing out with decent throws. He sets up in the free space. No big cuts, just find the spot on the field where your defender doesn't know if he should guard you from the front or back, from the left or right. In general try to position yourself, such that you can get the mid range go away pass with as much green as possible in front of you.
If the defender is always playing you from the back, push further out, and
See what happens when you cut in. if he chases hard, you are set up for the 180 and the go-away throw. If he is not chasing hard, break off the cut, turn around and push out even further. Now you are set up for the easy 20 yard gainer on the 45 in-cut.
If the defender is face guarding you, think "DUFUS!!" Move closer to your thrower (best is usually 10-15 yards), and wait for the angucker somewhere behind you. No cut on your side is required, let the thrower do the work. Just give him a good spot to throw to (you gotta know which throw he likes best). He will put the disc in a place where your body is between the disc and the defender. On top of that you get a head start (at this distance, an "up"-call doesn't help much).
If the defender is looking at the disc, move in a similar position, with as much green to work with on one side as possible. Now it's your turn to cut. One quick start should be enough to get you wide open.
Eventually (after you’ve schooled him several times), a good defender will find a mix of looking at you and at the disc. In this case, position yourself again at the sweet spot 10-15 yards away, a little to the forced side. Every time he looks at the disc, move a step or two to make him lose track of your position. Eventually he will either look at you long enough for the angucker, or he will no longer know where you are, and you can get a quick head start to the green space.
Once you get the disc, throw an easy continuation pass to one of the two deeps. You’ve got the whole field for 3 on 3, usually first throw unmarked. This should be easy. Remember, it's a possession offense, so usually you do not throw it directly into the end zone. You only have to move the disc down-field quickly enough that the other 4 defenders can't catch up.

4. The two deeps
These two players go all the way to the end zone. They will not get a pass from the handlers, their first job is to keep their defenders from poaching against the 1. Don’t worry about your man playing 10-15 yards off. This will not help him poaching on the 1, but it will make it really hard to catch up to you for your continuation cut (just run at him and turn him around---back paddling is really hard against someone at 90% speed). Once the throw to the 1 is in the air (it usually takes a couple seconds to get there, so you got enough time), set up your continuation cut. Most times the backs do some cross over action, but something is always open---take what they give you. It should take 2-4 passes from the 1 to the end zone.

Called Variations
One standard play we use out of the 4-1-2 is the 1 streaking all the way to the house, and the 2 coming upfield along the sidelines for the 30 yard gainer. In a way this is off cause a 4-3 ho-stack disguised as a 4-1-2. This is also the play that you usually run when one of the deep defenders is completely committed to poaching against the 1, and you can't really get the throw off.
But there are other ways to break this poach. Any pass that you can complete to the 1 in this situation will break the bank since the poacher will never catch up to his man afterwards. So look for a good spot to put it to. There is always a spot on the field the 1 is closer to than any of the two defenders (basic geometry). If the two defenders play really hard against the 1, he can simply run them to the side; one deep comes up the other side--> easy pass. The other deep defender has to stay deep after all.

One can also call a play out of the 4-1-2 that calls for the one to go to one side and the opposite side handler to streak down-field for the 30 yard gainer---a disguised 3-2-2. Especially effective in the case of handler poaches.

As for poaches from the handler positions (this will happen very often). If they don't poach very aggressively, a good thrower will just throw around/over them to the 1, no harm done. If they poach aggressively, 1-2 other handlers will be wide open for shorter gains. Also the last described variation is a very good way to break this poach since the poacher have to very focused on the disc and not their man to be effective.

Mixed Variations
In mixed, the extra dimension of athletic mismatches plays a whole ‘nother role. You can play a man in the middle and mixed genders in the back. After the pass to the middle, the deep defenders can't really switch, which makes life a lot easier. Another thing you can do is to play a man in the middle and three women deep (3-1-3). This way, there are no effective poaches from the back (a woman can't help defending a high pass to the middle), and there are only two available poachers with the handlers. It also gives you the opportunity to not use the women at all (wink, wink!), and take the 1 all the way to the house. Again, on a floater the deep defenders won't be able to help much. On the other hand, once you move the disc to your women, there are no male poachers preventing the women from scoring. If they go all the way and poach with a woman from the front so the man-to-man d against the 1 can play from behind, 1 makes the hard 45 in-cut--should get you open and then you have all kinds of match-up/switching problems for the d in the back.
Off course, you can also put a woman in the middle, but then you HAVE TO put two women deep. A man deep is just too dangerous should the pass to the 1 float a little.

If this offense is so good, why is it not played by everyone?
The fact is that this offense has fewer turnovers than some other strategies. The biggest problem is that IF you turn it over, you usually turn it over right in front of your end zone, so it is easy to score the break. More bomb heavy offenses don't have this problem. If you give the other team's d-line a full 70 yards to work the disc up after you run them a little, chances are you get it back. 4-1-2 is also difficult to play in windy conditions, since you throw a lot to space. But it is a GREAT o-set to have in your play book. you can change the whole pace of a game if you "run" an offense from time to time, that involves mostly standing around, and gives the other d-line no chance to run (if you play d a whole game against a good 4-1-2, you will not even break a sweat).


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Question of the Week: What was your coaching highlight?

This past spring coaching Southern Poly was tough. We only had 5-6 regulars at practice and tournament attendance was poor. We had 8 guys at Sectionals. They fought hard all weekend though and never gave up. We ended up losing to an Emory squad with 20+ to end the weekend. We were down prety good at halftime, but fought back to make it a game. Eventually fatigue took over and Emory pulled away, but I've never been more proud of those guys or felt more rewarded as a coach.

What has been the most rewarding or satisfying moment in your coaching career?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Navigating the Electronic Jungle

Since we've recently added many new readers (hello AFDC), I figured some of the older posts might be getting some new replies. Since it's not to easy figuring out what posts are active, and since I have plenty of time on my hands, I went through all the old posts and here's what I found.

'Marshall' resurrects an old post by responding to a question about transition zones in mixed.
'Eric' has a follow-up question on achieving consistent recruiting.
'Keith' is a former Paideian who wants to talk some Baccarini.
The mixed south post just got bumped off the front page, but is getting lots of comments.
AJ beats a dead horse.
Anonymous is keeping the Spread O thread alive.
'Keith' gets another plug by commenting on how (in)frequently college men score.

"Pully" zone

At summer league last night, a couple of our guys suggested running a traditional zone set (three people in the cup forcing middle, two wings, a short deep and a deep deep) with something called a "pully." What happens is that you have two combination short deep/middle middles (sd/mm). When the disc is on the right side of the field, sd/mm #1 is the middle middle of the cup, while sd/mm #2 is playing short deep in the center/left of the field. When the disc is swung to the left, the points chase, the former middle middle drops out to play short deep on the right side, and the old short deep comes in to play middle middle.

It was beyond eight guys who had never played together before, but I really liked the idea. It was also explained that the way you know which guy plays middle middle is that you set up two pairs consisting of a point and a sd/mm. So when the right point is marking, the right sd/mm becomes the middle middle in the cup. When the disc is swung to the left side of the field, and the left, side of the field, the left sd/mm comes up and fills in the cup. The middle middles only change when the person marking changes.

Does this make sense? I had never heard of this, so it must be some kind of Northeast or Midwest thing. I like it in theroy because I think you could create turnover oppourtunities with the switching in the middle of the field, especially in conditions where the offense might not necessarily get forced into making errors (i.e. low/no wind).

Does anyone else have any thoughts on this? Is it a high-level club defense I am not familiar with, or is it something that wouldn't work outside of the college/league level of play? How would you set it up in mixed?

Thanks. Happy to be here.


Friday, June 03, 2005

Why Coach?

As far as I know, there are very few paying Ultimate coaching positions out there. A lot of highschool coaches are paid teachers I guess, but I would think most if not all college coaches do it for free. Coaching takes up a good deal of time and can be incredibly frustrating at times (that's not just me right?).

So, I'm curious, why do you coach? I'm actually unclear as to why I personally coach. I'm going to think about it and post my own reply later...

Thursday, June 02, 2005

CTG: Stance, Pivoting, and Breaking the Mark

This is the latest installment in the Comprehensive Throwing Guide Series. The previous posts are here: Post 1, Post 2

The fact that I’m writing a post about pivoting and breaking the mark is probably amusing to those that know me, as I’m really more suited to writing posts about dumping at low stall counts, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

I keep starting this post and then getting scared off because describing this is pretty confusing. For the purpose of this post, imagine that you are suspended in mid air looking down at a thrower who has a circle drawn around him. The player is facing forward at what I’m going to call 0 degrees on the circle. Directly to the player’s right is 90 degrees, directly behind him is 180 degrees and directly to his left is 270 degrees.

For right-handed invert flicks (trying to break a flick mark), I teach right leg at 55-70 degrees, in other words forward and out. I have seen good players just step out to get maximum extension (90 degrees), and I have seen other good players just get low quickly to throw the invert. I prefer forward and out (55-70 degrees) over just out (90 degrees) for a couple of reasons: 1) I think forward and out gives you a better angle to throw the break mark throw and you’re closer to your mark giving him less time to react 2) You can pivot more quickly to the around backhand if your leg is forward – it’s really just a question of distance – the more forward your right leg is the less distance you’ll have to cover to get your leg in position to throw the around backhand.

For right-handed around backhands I teach 250-260 degrees. In other words just a little bit back of directly sideways (the marks position can change this). I like this position because I think around break mark throws are primarily about extension. Also, the quicker you’re able to pivot over from the IO flick the more time you’ll have to make this throw, which is why I preach 55-70 degrees on the IO flick.

These two throws should be used in conjunction with each other – use one to set the other one up. There are a few exceptions, but generally I use the invert to set up the around. I’ll usually hold the disc with a flick grip and extend to throw the invert, if I can’t get it off, I’ll immediately transition into the around backhand. I’ll almost never go back to the invert because if I wasn’t able to get the throw off on the first invert or the first around, it’s probably not available anymore. This brings up a related point – one of the biggest problems my players have is that they pivot TOO MUCH when they’re trying to break the mark. Just throw the damned thing – if you weren’t able to throw the pass in 0-1 fakes/pivot you shouldn’t be throwing it.

For right-handed around flicks (when trying to break a backhand mark), I teach stepping back a little bit more than on around backhands. I’d say somewhere in the neighborhood of 125-135 degrees. The reason for this is players tend to get more extension on their around flick than on their around backhand and because you can throw the around flick more quickly and with a more compact motion than an around backhand. As a result, the marker is forced to really commit to stopping the around flick if they want to prevent this break. It is an advantage for the thrower to pull the marker back as far as possible because it gives the thrower more room to pivot and throw the invert backhand.

For the right-handed invert backhand I teach stepping more forward than I do on the invert flick. I’d say somewhere in the neighborhood of 325-335 degrees. Again, I think you’re always advantaged on inverts when you can get more forward because it gives you a better angle to throw through and it makes it easier to pivot to the other throw.

These two throws should also be used in conjunction to break backhand marks. Personally, I tend to use the around flick to set up the invert backhand, although that may be somewhat counterintuitive. I can pivot much more quickly from a forehand to a backhand than I can from a backhand to a forehand. I think this is because you use your quad to go from forehand to backhand whereas you use something else (more hamstring?) to pivot from backhand to forehand.

Anyway, sorry this post was so confusing – any thoughts?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Thoughts on Nationals

I saw bits and pieces of games not involving Purdue women, but not enough to really judge anything.

Friday / Pool Play - I was present this day. The weather was completely clear skies and really hot (in the 90s). Not as bad as Austin in 2003, but close.

Texas 15, Purdue 8

The score is fairly reflective of the game. Texas was just too deep for us. Texas put great pressure on our handlers - a theme that would repeat itself throughout the weekend. On offense, they do a great job of clearing a side and hitting cutters running away for 15 to 20 yards. Texas was a great team and really fun to play against - I'm both unsurprised and happy that they made semis.

Carleton 15, Purdue 8

Unlike the previous game, this score is not really reflective of how close this game was. It was very close until mid second half when Carleton pulled away. This is the one that gets me when I think back.

Basically, we lost for two reasons:

1) We run a very tight rotation in big games (basically 9 players), and we simply could not deal with the heat. Katie missed about a third of the game vomiting (mild heat exhaustion) and one of our top cutters had an asthma attack. If I had it to do over again I would have subbed deeper throughout this game. It might not have made the difference, but I don't think it would have hurt.

2) Carleton was very aggressive on the mark. This is the nice way of saying they foul a lot. My team, frankly, is just not used to this. Great Lakes teams are, by and large, very clean. Despite my urgings, my players let Carleton get away with a lot of contact. This really affected our ability to hold onto the disc. And as AJ or Miriam can tell you, we depend on our handlers' ability to weave and reset until a downfield cutter breaks free. Conversely, our downfield cutters time their cuts based on smooth handler motion, and when things slow down the cuts end up being in the wrong place.

In Carleton's defense, they did not contest most of the calls we did make, and they didn't make bad calls themselves (with one exception). They simply were accustomed to a much more physical game than my players, and my players never adjusted. This is where not playing Centex or any other big preseason tournaments (except Terminus) really haunted us.

Purdue 15, Rutgers 9

Both Purdue and Carleton had a serious hangover after the previous round - Purdue only takes half 8-7 on Rutgers (lots of drops), while Carleton fell behind Texas 8-1. In the second half, Purdue started playing like we had all season long, and we pretty much rolled. There was a little wind, and Rutgers threw a 4-person cup through most of the game, but we had no trouble with it. (Carleton also recovered and traded points with Texas in the second half.)

Saturday / Prequarters & Placement - I wasn't there this day. Apparently it was much more seasonable.

NC State 15, Purdue 9

From what I hear, more of the same in terms of aggressive marks, only more so, and NCSU contested stuff (although the observers upheld the calls). NCSU also did some creative poaching on the cutters. I actually called in a play by cellphone after having their defense described to me. Apparently the play worked, but obviously I can't help much from 2500 miles away. I would have enjoyed experimenting with a zone-and-1 approach to slow down Molly. Did you try this AJ/Miriam?

I think my presence would have helped, but I doubt I make 6 points worth of a difference. Our best path to quarters went through Carleton on day 1, and Brown on day 2, but we didn't get it done. As such, we were exiled to the purgatory of placement games.

Northwestern 13, Purdue 12

This game frustrates me more than any other, since it represents our sole loss in-region all year. Yeah, the game was meaningless, but it still sucks. Not much to say - apparently the girls were flat after the prequarters loss, and a couple key players had really bad games. I heard Northwestern threw their 4-person cup zone in the first half, but abandoned it when it was not working. We were up 1 or 2 most of the game, but not when it mattered.

This does bring up an interesting point - should 4th place teams from pool play really get a bye to play a prequarters loser? We would never do anything like this in a sectionals or regionals bracket format where the place matters for advancement. There's actually complaints about this on RSD right now. Between the two divisions, the 4th place teams (who had a combined Friday record of 0-24) went 5-3 against the prequarters losers (whose combined Friday record was 11-13). To me, that's a red flag that there's something wrong with this format.

Carleton 13?, Purdue 9?

This one isn't even reported on the score reporter. I know very little except that it was pretty windy, and that I told them to make sure everyone plays a lot.