28 November 2008

Developing coaches

I just got back from the National Coaching, Officiating and Club Development Conference run by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC). Nothing like two days of workshops, networking and discussion to get your mind buzzing about possibilities...

After speaking to AFDA's ASC liaison, and participating in a couple of the workshops, I really like the direction of coaching accreditation in Australia. Flexibility and recognition of current competencies are two key issues the ASC is supporting, so they are encouraging most sports to be innovative as opposed to restricting how they grow coaching.

There are lots of possibilities in how we design our new versions of Australian coaching programs. What would you like to see?

More thoughts sparked by the conference coming soon...

25 November 2008

The Hat

Each year at the start of December, the Melbourne Hat rolls around.

There is the Friday night disc golf, the Hat draw, unpredictable weather, hats (I remember Jim Garvey bringing a horrible hat each year), an inevitable stacked team, foreigners flying in from the distant corners of the world, the crowd cheering for a role player who wins their hearts, and a couple of Normands commentating the final.

There is always someone complaining about the uniform colour that their team chose, although these days black, white, green, red and blue get fewer complaints than than some of the beige, pink, brown and lime combinations of the past.

My first Hat had Simon Gorr as the TD. I played on a white team with Dave Mac, I believe. We were winless, in part because the team wasn't very deep (I was a teenager and was unfortunately our second best player).

Were you playing that year?


23 November 2008

Never clear again

If I was to play a game of word association with you, and I offered the word "clear" (in the context of ultimate), I wouldn't be surprised to get some of the following replies:



"not open"


The habits that players learn as beginners persist as players move into elite ultimate.

The slow jog back to the stack after not receiving the disc on a cut may be useful in beginner ultimate. But it is a big handicap in elite ultimate.

The offensive player who is clearing is generally not moving fast enough to pull away from their defender. They are not looking at the thrower. They have no body language that says "you can throw the disc to me now, and I want it".

Personally as a defender, I will regularly interfere with the offence when my player decides to "clear". I will float off them and look to get an intercept, or help shut down the cuts of others. Sometimes I will use this as a chance to take a shortcut to where they are heading, and take a rest on the way.

And as a thrower, I like to throw to teammates who think they are "clearing". You may have finished a cut and are jogging away from me, not looking back. But I may still throw to you, and then let you know the disc is coming.

To summarise: always be a receiving option. Cut in, cut out, cut left, cut right or wait in position. Cut slow or fast. But never clear again.

21 November 2008

Starting a season

Last weekend, Heads of State had their first event of the season, a training camp out at Halls Gap.

Our season will culminate in Nationals at the end of April: about 5 months long in total.

Having a camp to start the season is great because you can set your team up for a successful campaign. You've got a whole weekend to work with, and a chance to be with your team without the daily distractions of life.

We set goals for the team, we planned, we did skill and fitness benchmarking, we welcomed and introduced new players, we set expectations for training commitment, and we got excited about what we're gonna do.

If your team doesn't start the season with a plan and expectations that the team knows, you are playing blind.

Ro and Dan atop the mountain we climbed

Fans and friends

In ultimate, we players do a lot. We are the players, the administrators, the coaches, the tournament organisers, and the league commissioners.

And we are also the fans.

It can be little complicated when you are a fan in ultimate. The people you are discussing are your teammates or potential future teammates.

I mean, its fine to say that Buddy Franklin is a crap kicker and shouldn't make All-Australian, if you're a random member of the footy-watching public. But you wouldn't catch his teammates doing that publicly, and probably not other footy players, who might find themselves alongside him in the locker room one day.

In ultimate, when we are the fans who love to watch the big guns, and get to play along side them, there can be a little backdraft on occasion.

I can see why keen fans like to speculate about who will make this team or that. Indeed, I like to do it myself. But I check myself first before doing it publicly - you never know who you will be playing with or against. Its best to speculate on players and potential teams offline, with a small group of good mates.