24 March 2006

Familiarity with a frisbee

I have read a story (urban myth?) about basketballer Magic Johnson. See the start of this bio of Magic. He would dribble the basketball incessantly as kid, with his right hand as he went to the store, and with his left on the way home. He would later grow up to be a master of moving the basketball around the court.

It's not very scientific, but I reckon it is helpful to take a disc with you whenever you can. Pick it up, flip it in the air, pass it back and forth while sitting on the couch, bediddle it. Gain a subconscious feel for the disc's weight, position and behaviour. And try to forgive those who call you obsessed :)

It can only help with when you are next juggling a bad throw in the endzone, trying to catch it.

Harnessing individual style

I recently read Idris' post on So, how do you teach field sense?

His take includes not being too strict on technique, eg how to cut: "Yes you cut from A to B, but how you get there is up to you."

This is part of letting players play to their strengths. I've noticed some captains and coaches are happy to put stronger throwers in handling roles, and better runners and jumpers in receiving roles, but can get stubborn about the details. Have you ever noticed senior players harp on teammates about the correct way to dump?

Sometimes this is justified - the teammate is just not getting open, or catching the disc in a poor position.

In other cases, they are doing some ugly jinking-back-and-forth cut, but still getting open every time, and getting the disc to the swing.

It can come down to personality and individual style. As long as it gels with the team's structure, players should be encouraged to find their own way to cut for dump, break a force, cut long, throw through the cup, etc. The sneaky teammate who runs straight in to get the disc when his defender looks away should be applauded for his success, even if he isn't applying the long vertical cutting drill that his captain repeats every week at practice.

The bottom line in an Ultimate game is your team playing to its potential, and that means embracing what works, not necessarily what the almighty Ultimate textbook of oral history says should work. The key is having the ability to judge what is truly working or not.

My analogy is a artist's apprentice. Show them how to daub, watercolour, splash, screenprint, sculpt and carve. Then let them create. You want a masterpiece, even if it was made by fingerpainting, and the brushes are still in their wrapping.