11 January 2008

Guidelines to popping

Here is the first in a series of posts about popping. Why popping? Cos I like it :) Popping requires very different tactics to man-on-man offence - which we play 95% of the time.

The National Junior Training Camp was on this week in Melbourne. You have never seen such a standard of professional training in ultimate. The coaches and athletes there are building a new culture of elite ultimate. I foresee big things for the U-19 Australian teams that emerge from this camp, and the rest of the campaign.

I was guest coach on Thursday morning, coaching the Junior Women on zone O.

The junior women played three mini-games, rotating through the roles of handler, popper and deep in their team. I gave them two guidelines to follow in each role:

1. Look after the disc (i.e. throw safe throws, don't get stalled)
2. Keep the disc in the middle of the field (because the zone they faced was a line-trapping pommy zone)

1. Always watch the disc (as the angles and defence constantly change, and you can be open at any moment. You can no longer afford to clear long for three seconds, head down, arms pumping.)
2. Stay within 10 metres of the disc (for the offensive style I wanted, the poppers break the zone with small passes through the wall, so they have to be near the disc)

1. Pull defenders deep (to give the poppers space)
2. Cut in at the right time (to keep the disc moving upfield before the wall and chaser can contain it again)

Teams can choose different offensive styles against zone, that may not include these guidelines.

But for the junior women on Thursday, I felt these six guidelines gave them an instant structure.

The hardest one to follow was Keep the disc in the middle of the field. It is a very human tendency to throw where the force lets you. But against a trapping zone, the sideline takes away space to throw into, and lets the defenders crowd in. It is clear it takes a fair bit of practice to ignore an open teammate on the sideline and break the mark to a hit better positioned teammate.

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