16 May 2009

Ultimate has what footy needs

I read an opinion piece on male sporting culture and women, which was written in the wake of the latest footy player sex scandal in Australia.

Ultimate (the mixed version) seems to be an example of what John Fitzgerald

13 May 2009

How to defeat a heavy favourite

The recipe is basically here.

In the context of ultimate, this means change your game and make your opponents play a different game.

You can run and gun on every turnover, or huck incessantly, or zone every point, or do all three. Or some other tactic that effectively changes the game away from a conventional contest where the favourite is favoured.

11 May 2009

Sophisticated forces

When I first started playing ultimate, forces were simple: backhand, forehand and force middle.

Since then I have seen more complexity - specific defences to pressure certain options for the offence, such as straight-up into one-way forces to pressure hucks in general, and funnel (one-way force with straight up on one sideline in the far half) to pressure hucks down the trapped sideline.

In one game at Nationals recently, my team had big successes taking away an opposing team's down the sideline hucks, by forcing middle. But we also wanted to pressure the hucks in the middle so we went more straight up the closer the disc was to the middle of the field. Call it Mesa - flat in the middle and angled on the sides. As we were defending closer to our own endzone this transitioned into a one-way force (the huck threat disappears and having a one-way force to rely is more valuable for a guarder.

I can also see the converse being an option: straight-up in the middle, moving to straight-up in the middle, for teams that you want to see trapped on the sideline. Call it Valley (the converse of Mesa).

Have you used these forces, or anything more sophisticated than just switching a force when the disc moves more than X metres down the field (yet worth the added complexity)?

Where are we headed? Well, we have a long way to go before we reach 100+ year old sports like basketball. Check out just some of the defences you can use against the variety of screens (aka picks) the offence can try.

But as we see teams building deep rosters, engaging coaches, training more and investing time on the details of their defences, more and more sophisticated forces should arise.

7 May 2009

Australian Ultimate Championships 2009 - a HoS perspective

This Nationals campaign was a long and rewarding one for the young Heads of State club.

Our bronze medals were earnt through some hard yakka and good planning.

Here are some of the features of our campaign this year:
  • Our fitness program and training camps started back in November, making it a 6 month long journey to Nationals.
  • We articulated our goals for the season, revisited them and measured them.
  • Building on previous seasons, we had feedback sessions where players got considered feedback from the team selectors.
  • We again took a second team to Regionals and again helped turn around games with sheer forceful sideline support.
  • Kaimana Klassik (and Hollywood Husak) met HoS.
  • HoS also did some recruiting from overseas this year. Stout provided so much to our team in the few weeks he was in Australia - unending confidence, a head sock, humility, backhand hucks, and the desire and ability to guard every star cutter in the land. Check him out accompanied by Queen or Aladdin. And our other Yank, Eric was Mr Versatile Handler when he finally got back from injury. He also is a sideline maestro - unbelievable commitment.
At the tournament itself, I felt we had successes:
  • We had carved out clear expectations of playing time, and roles for players.
  • Boo Boo was our invaluable statistician and advisor at Nationals giving us valuable live stats on what was working and what wasn't.
  • Simple routines for timeouts (and regular use of them) without putting the team into the Chamber of One Person Talking Endlessly
  • We enjoyed the routine of getting in the cold pool each evening for recovery, even if certain individuals still squeal
  • HoS beat every team we played at least once, except the 4-time National Champions
  • Mixing up the defensive looks when our opponents got comfortable
  • Providing routine in our warm-ups that rehearsed how we wanted to play (there's that word again: routine)
  • Having predictable, rehearsed actions to take when we need to alter lines (for example, bringing certain throwers over to the D line in windy games, using crunch lines at certain points)
Good work for a team with an average age of 22 (sorry lads - with me on board, the average shifts up from 21).

OK, enough patting our own backs. There is a world more to learn in our next campaign: Nationals and then World Clubs 2010 in Prague...

Prague - Photo by pavelm