26 September 2008

We must be cool

Look what image is being used to sell Apple computers these days...
I guess their marketing department thinks we're not PC. And that we play in jeans.

19 September 2008

"But I thought we would..."

Sometimes you experience several lessons on a topic before you feel you learn something.

I think Worlds 2008 gave me a few more lessons on a topic I thought I knew, but actually have much more to learn about.


Each of the six Australian teams at Worlds had to deal with unexpected surprises. Things that threatened to put a spanner in the works. In fact, the ones I am thinking of are six very different surprises.

The teams got to North America... and boom!

Events happened. People reacted. And for some teams, the players weren't clear on what should be done, or what others expected to happen.

Setting expectations is a key task for a coach. There are numerous ways to do this.
  • Have a team meeting at the beginning of the campaign. Ask players what they want out of the experience. What would be unenjoyable? What would be exciting? What are the risks?
  • Draw on past experiences. Discuss what happened last year with leadership.
  • Group discussion of scenarios. Print out simple, realistic scenarios on slips of paper. Discuss in pairs, then come together to discuss as a team.
  • Meet with coaches of other teams and find out what they have experienced, and how they plan.
You need mental toughness, but you also need systems. What have you seen go wrong? What steps have you taken that will ensure your team knows what to do if the wheels fall off?

18 September 2008

Getting functional

I am really interested in doing more functional training.

Here's one quote from this book: "In functional training, it is as critical to train the specific movement as it is to train the muscles involved in the movement."

For instance in Monash's training today, we incorporated sprints with turns (for cutting in the game) and skipping (for jumping in the game).

We then did the kill drill, for a full body workout and to condition the body to throw when fatigued.

I think I really have to go make that weighted disc, even it is a hack job, and not useful for throwing...

End the dump squad

If a team has swung the disc across the field twice (across and back), it hasn't gained ground. Unless there is good reason to do so (e.g. it puts a strong thrower in position for a big gainer), you have risked turnovers without heading to the place you want to be: the endzone. Ideally your offence is structured so this happens a small number of times.

And I feel this is best addressed at the origin: beginners.

For the beginner, they need to build the confidence to throw forward. Being regularly urged into a 3 metre back pass by a nagging veteran is not useful. Each mistake throwing forward helps them throw better. If they can't complete simple forward passes more than 50% of the time, they need lots of throwing practice. But that is a steep learning curve they will quickly rise up.

Training beginners to only look for a backwards pass makes them predictable, limits their throwing range, puts blinkers on how they see the field (and don't we all want better field vision?), and discourages them from looking to break the force.

There are few games where a beginner is playing, and it is critical they throw their safest pass every time. If they are in a game, it is probably a good place to develop their throwing skills.

The backwards dump has its place as a reset of the offence, but only as an occassional tactic.

17 September 2008

What's in a name?

I like how Australian representative sports teams have nicknames. In ultimate this gives you more identity.

At Worlds 2008, I was playing with the Dingos. But someone from, say, France was simply on the French Open team. Having a nickname makes your team more iconic.

Our Aussie teams are Southern Terra, Thunder, Dingos, Firetails, Barramundis, Taipans, Crocs (World Games), Salty Crocs (Beach Worlds) and Wombats (Asia-Oceania Championships).

I thought I would dig out some team names from other sports. I'm sure you can guess most of these sports if you are Aussie. Dear foreign readers - think of it as a cultural quiz.
  • Hockeyroos, Kookaburras
  • Rollers (gold in Beijing!), Gliders (bronze in Beijing!)
  • Boomers, Opals (silver), Emus, Gems, Boomerangs, Pearls
  • Kangaroos, Jillaroos
  • Wallabies, Wallaroos
  • Matildas, Young Matildas, Olyroos, Joeys, Socceroos
  • Steelers (silver in Beijing!)
  • Diamonds

Generating spin

Over at The Huddle, Paul Vandenberg talked about generating spin to throw further. He mentioned being able to flick cards sharply which can improve backhand snap.

I was reminded that we had a competition to do this at the Mundis fundraising Trivia Night. Most people, frankly, weren't very good. I think I'll bring a pack of old cards to AUGs...

The other key part to generating backhand spin is cocking the wrist back. Ken does it like crazy. He can throw a soft 5 metre pass with some major revolutions on it. I feel I can do this too, both forehand and backhand, but I lose the snap on my hucks. So I have made it a focus of my pulling practice. When that pull comes out with extra snap, the disc flies beautifully.