28 January 2007


After throwing hammers today, I reckon it is about fingers.

Throw the hammer with your fingertips, not your hand. All the force goes through your fingertips, like you are pushing it.

Yeah hammers.

That is all.

17 January 2007

Measuring a good pull

How do can you tell if you have improved?

Sometimes it seems obvious to you.

But other times you need to measure that skill or aspect of your game.

Here is how I measure the quality of a pull. It is a useful system for pullers to compete against other pullers, or to compare their own pulls over time. This follows on from my 7 Postulates of Pulling.

Alpha pull - disc lands in the endzone, more than 5 metres away from a sideline.

Beta pull - disc lands in the field, but not in the alpha zone.

Brick pull - disc lands out of bounds.

Alpha (green) is better than beta (yellow) is better than a brick (white).

Take 10 pulls, and see how many alphas, betas and bricks you get. Maybe 6-3-1. Which is better than say, 4-2-4.

"But hang on a tick!" you say. "Why is it less valuable to land the disc near the back of the endzone? Isn't a disc that lands 1 metre from the back left cone a fantastic pull?"

The problem with such a pull is that you can't do it regularly. If you aim there 10 times, a bunch of pulls are going to land out, giving your opponents bricks. (Unless you are the most accurate thrower ever, in which case you are earning money playing disc golf in the US, not reading this blog.)

Aiming well within the bounds of the endzone should mean that almost no pulls land out. And that is far more valuable than 5 pulls in the corner and 5 bricks.

This is why I don't congratulate pulls that do land 1 inch from the back left cone. The puller is lucky the risk didn't backfire that time - they're not worthy of "Wow! Great pull!"

Addendum: Tao calls alpha pulls with lots of yummy hangtime "Alpha pluses". Making it a 4-tier scoring system.

GSWAP explained

In a previous post, I glossed over GSWAP.

Here is GSWAP explained. GSWAP is a 5 point guideline that is both a useful explanation for teaching a beginner to throw, and a good list to choose from if giving feedback to a beginner.

It is in the AFDA Level 1 Ultimate Frisbee Coaching Course. You may have seen some discs with the GSWAP explanation on them.

Grip - use a power grip. See previous post for the details.

Stance - for a backhand, stand side on to your target. For a forehand, face your target.

Wrist - flick your wrist, to give the disc lots of spin

Angle - angle the outside edge of the disc down towards the ground

Point - point at your target after releasing the disc

The beginner's throw doesn't have enough power?
Check their grip.

The beginner's throws are zooming off to the right too much?
Check their stance.

The beginner's throw is wobbly?
Suggest more wrist.

The beginner's throw turns over during flight?
Suggest more angle - ie point the far edge of the disc more towards the ground.

The beginner's throw is zooming off too high?
Suggest pointing at the target after release.

Beginner has a different problem? Which point would you choose?

11 January 2007

Sometimes you just need legs

In a competitive game, you sometimes rely on skilful throwing to win. You may rely on appropriate tactics.

But dang it, sometimes you can just use your physical advantages.

One example is stamina. If you have a slow handler defending you, and you have good stamina, start doing laps. Cut upfield, then cut downfield, cut up, cut down. No stopping or joining the stack. If they aren't smart enough to switch (and I find about 50% of the time they aren't), they will get exhausted marking you.

Then time your cut for a goal, or watch them make a throwing or catching error later in the point/next point.

When only a minority of players are doing a regular fitness program, and you are one of them, this is very do-able. Just be judicious in when you use this, and how often, or else in the next match you may be a step slower, and your next opposition will have the advantage.

Its usually been quite entertaining when I have seen it.

Observations from Clubs - women's ultimate

The Japanese women set the standard here. Dominance. They took 1st, 2nd and 3rd. I saw one team warm up in pairs. They would jog along throwing flat throws to each other in pairs. Can you throw an inside forehand to someone on your right as you jog along? Every player on this team could do this - flat, sharp and accurate. Pure throwing skills might have been a major part of the Japanese women's dominance.

Aussie results across the divisions. See here. The Aussie's final placings:
Open (21 teams): 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 18th, 21st
Womens (18 teams): 9th, 10th, 12th, 16th
Mixed (40 teams): 9th, 12th, 20th, 26th, 31st, 37th
Masters (11 teams): 3rd, 9th, 11th

Aussie men vs Aussie women. Both divisions had numerous Japanese teams, some easybeats and a sprinkling of ok-to-excellent European and US teams. Yet the Aussie women could barely crack the top half. The results echo Finland 2004: strong in Open, solid in Mixed, lower in Womens.

Where can our women's teams improve the most? Fitness? Tactics? Regular competition? Talent recruited into the sport? Playing less mixed ultimate (is this dominated by men?), or something else?

How do women's teams compare to open teams in other countries?
Japan - Women are better, judging from Perth and Worlds 2004
New Zealand - Women are better, judging from Aussie Nats 2006 and Perth
UK - comparable
US - comparable, judging from UPA Champs and Worlds 2004
Canada - ditto

Any lessons to be learnt from the Kiwis and the Japanese?

Observations from Clubs - new tactics

I think the Buzz Bullets set the standard. I heard second-hand of their zone-to-man transitions on set counts, ie only transition when the count gets high. Transitioning in advantageous situations seems like a positive evolution from what I have used the last few years - transitioning after a predetermined number of passes.

Now that I think about it, some of my teams from years and years ago would transition on someone's call. I wonder why we drifted away from that? Maybe because we were trying to implement the non-audibled transition, after 4 passes, for example. And that devolved into a vocalised 4 pass transition.

The approach of the Buzz Bullets strikes me as more valuable.

The Bullets were also very threatening with their skills: sharp hucks, quick disc movement, agile pivoting, lurking poachers. They never looked like losing, despite their height mismatches against many teams.

4 January 2007

Observations from Clubs - fresh legs

Here is the first in a series of observations from Clubs in Perth...

Fresh legs are critical. Day 3 saw a three team round robin between Thong, Fakulti and Chilly.

The games that day looked like this:
  • Fakulti played Chilly (first game of the day for both): close two-point game to Fakulti
  • Thong played Fakulti (Thong's first game, Fakulti's second): Thong win by six.
  • Chilly played Thong (Chilly coming off a five hour rest, Thong coming off the middle of the day game vs Fakulti): Chilly by 14.
So the first match had a close result (both teams rested), and the other two wins went to the rested team. I'd be interested to see if this pattern was replicated elsewhere.

Also, Subzero had a relatively small rotation. They were seeded 1st and came 4th (bear in mind seedings only have limited accuracy). After losing narrowly to SubZero, a Clapham player advised us to run them around, due to their small rotation.