21 November 2010

Roles in a team

Success for a team is about the team members working for each other.

Individuals taking it upon themselves to do the things that need doing. Now this can happen spontaneously in many cases. However, success comes along more often when these things are articulated, planned for and recognised.

I realised there a lot of roles that that can be filled in a team, and if you don't have a manager or coach, players step up to do them. Particularly when you let them know that the work is valuable and they are trusted to do it their way.

Player roles
  • puller
  • first cutter
  • dump denier
  • long cutter
  • hucker
  • aerial defender
  • finishers/goal catcher
  • disher
  • structure setter
Coach roles
  • skill teacher
  • motivator
  • organiser
  • optimist
  • reviewer
  • line caller
  • sideline talker
  • tactician
Manager Roles
  • finances
  • food
  • uniforms
  • venues
  • registration
At the representative level, Australia is steadily delineating these roles, and finding the people who will be managers and coaches, so the players can focus on their playing roles.

Got others?

30 September 2010

Forehand grip angles

Rob shows how lots of forehand snap equals more spin on the disc.

The part I am interested in is the plane of the disc: like many experienced ultimate players, just before throwing, the disc is held vertical or past the vertical. At release, it is horizontal.

Beginner forehands usually have too much outside in, because the thrower rolls their wrist over: palm up to palm down. Expert forehands are thrown flat, generally because the wrist rolls the opposite way: palm down to palm up.

Try it now without a disc.

Yet who has ever taught players this, after they have mastered the GSWAP basics of throwing?

My big question is how early (first lesson, first month, first year) do we need to teach this wrist roll to those learning ultimate? I know some experienced players who need to try it, to see if their forehands will benefit.

It starts with holding the disc vertical, or even partly upside down. Like Dan does here.

20 August 2010

Have you ever played gritz?

I have played mini, schtick, flutterguts and other games. I'll have to try gritz.

GritZ from GriTz on Vimeo.

12 August 2010

Tournament wish list

A few months ago, I got to attend two amazing tournaments: TEP and Lei Out.

Looking back, I would say they are definitely on my list of all-time great tournaments. So I started a wishlist of other great tournaments I wish to play at one day.
Any others that I ought to put on my list?

7 August 2010


World Clubs 2010 wrapped up just over a month ago.

It was the biggest WFDF championships I can recall. I caught up with friends from Germany, UK, Canada, USA, Colombia, Mexico, Hungary, New Zealand, the Dominican Republic, the Netherlands and Italy. It's a great social event.

HoS and Skogs sky for a disc
USA won the Open, Womens, Mixed and Masters divisions. UNO from Japan and Onyx from Canada prevented American hegemony by making their respective finals, and preventing 4 all-American finals. UNO won over the crowd in the Women's final, and a dropped hammer in the penultimate point seemed to be the difference as Fury squeaked home on universe point (note - if you are playing league and it is 15-15 and next point wins, I'd call it golden point or last-point-wins. "Universe point" is better reserved for winning, say, the World Championship final).

The Spirit rankings are online too: Open, Women, Mixed and Masters.

Standout Australian spirit rankings finishes were Colony (6th), Heads of State (8th), Smurf (8th), and Eastern Greys (3rd). Unfortunately, Australian finally broke its run of winning Spirit in minimum one division. Meanwhile the Germans backed up a first and second in WUGC2008 spirit by winning spirit in Mixed and Womens in 2010.

The individual stats are at the bottom of those pages, lead by Masahiro Matsuno (Open), Becky LeDonne (Womens), Tim Lavis (Mixed) and Tom Rogacki (Masters).

The Open final between Sockeye and Revolver

29 May 2010

Man on Wire

Just saw Man on Wire. A story about a physical challenge as a creative act and a team project. Some overlap with team sport there.

At one point, Philippe Petit says:

"And slowly I thought, ok, now it is impossible. That's sure. So let's start working."

That's the mindset of someone really chasing their goal.

9 May 2010

A first step in statistics

In the NBA, they have shot charts for each game which show where each shot was attempted from and whether it was complete or not. Here's an example for a Cavs win over the Celtics.

In ultimate, when the statistical revolution gains steam, we should track how and where teams score with the disc and where they turn over the disc.

Where does the disc go dead/get dropped? Where is it thrown from? Are sideline hucks more risky? Is a team getting stuck on the sideline?

We could also log the time between throws and catches, to identify how quickly the disc is actually moving in an offence, and whether this correlated positively or negatively with scoring a goal, for a particular team.

8 May 2010

Time caps and points caps

I feel like I spend too much time during games checking what the time cap and points cap are, and calculating what my team is playing to.

Over the years, tournament directors have decreed too many different ways for games to end in their tournaments.

This is a call for two systems: we play with the official WFDF points cap and time cap at major tournaments, and we play with a simplified points cap and time cap at all other events. Call them Championship caps and Recreational caps.

It's tricky enough that we need two caps to decide when a game is over, without having multiple possible time caps, points caps, within-one-add-one, and within-two-add-one complications. I understand the reasons for having both caps - let's keep it as simple as possible beyond that.

2 May 2010

Reviewing Australian Nationals 2010

The theme for Nationals 2010 seemed to be getting the rewards for years of work.

In the open division, I-Beam from Newcastle were champions, with a 12-9 pre-semi win over HoS, a 15-14 semi-final win over Colony Pillage and a 14-13 win over Colony Plunder in the final. I think they are first open team to win a semi-final after playing a pre-semi.

I-Beam had an offense that hummed like a machine irrespective of the defence they faced. They had great throwing and receiving depth on their line, though they only had around 14 players at Nationals (an exception to my rule-of-thumb that more players = winning at Nationals). They went through two of the strongest teams at the tournament to win: Colony Pillage and Colony Plunder.

The final saw a more American style height range - lots of athletic guys six foot or under, which is how many US open rosters look. Only Ant Dowle and Tatts seemed to be the exception. Past dominant open teams seemed to always have a good number of giants on the field.

In the women's division, Team Box met Wildcard Clubs in the final, for the third time in four years. This time they had the deeper team, and dominated Wildcard to avenge the two finals losses of previous years.

Hard work and talent development pays off, kids.

17 April 2010

How do you teach Spirit?

I helped deliver 10 workshops on Spirit of the Game in Colombia last year through Project Play Colombia. I had never done anything like it before, and the experience has now given me a lot more food for thought on how you would teach Spirit to a team or group of players.

Possible elements:
  • practising how to learn the rules, through a role play of a scenario and then group discussion (either en masse or in pairs, then everyone)
  • discussion of the players' interpretation and understanding of what Spirit is
  • play a game with a prize at stake (or nominate an important game in the near future). Film the game, then watch the footage, discussing the calls made by both team
  • give each player a rule to learn, and refer to them when a relevant call arises during a scrimmage
  • discuss how you perceive your team's Spirit, and then bring in people external to the team (particularly rivals) for their perceptions
Some of these things can be done in a one-time event. However, like a lot of learning, many are best done on several occasions with the team or setting where you want to see it used.

Open Spirit winners of WUCC2006, Fakulti

    4 March 2010

    Olympics and ultimate

    FFindr has a post on why ultimate is not in the Olympics.

    I am not a huge supporter of getting ultimate in the Olympics. My goals for ultimate are growing the number of players at all levels, maintaining the positive aspects of our sport and improving the weaknesses.

    Growing the number of players and public awareness is the path to getting to the Olympics. But the benefit of being in the Olympics is the same thing. Plus a slight sense of "ha, I told you I play a real sport on the weekends" which is pretty self-righteous, and worth avoiding.

    Being admitted to the Olympics would likely mean changes to our sport that we may not want: different rules or refereeing, large corporations influencing the direction of the sport, people playing for the money, not the enjoyment or competition. There are some ugly aspects to the Olympics.

    The Olympics are not the only time and place for great international sporting competition - the IOC and the funds of sponsors just work hard to make it seem that way.

    31 January 2010

    10 metre throw

    Ok, here's the scenario. You're the thrower in the middle of the field. Your stall count is on 5.

    The marker is forcing straight up on you, knees bent, his long arms spread out wide. A cutter is running straight at you from 20 metres upfield. He is very open.

    A wide release backhand would be really tough because of another cutter clearing out nearby on that side with his defender, and your marker's large wingspan.

    A wide release forehand would be tough as well, because your dump's defender is near that side. And you have the big arms of your marker to deal with.

    Do you have a high release throw that can hit this cutter?

    If your answer is "no", then you likely have to turn, engage your dump, and your team will reset the offence.

    If your answer is "yes, I have a throw for this" then you can gain yards, and can attack (because throwing is a great starting place for a cut, whether it's cutting upfield 8 metres for a dishy pass back, or a long cut deep or flaring wide to draw your defender out of there).

    The throw only needs to travel 10 metres. A little float to it will make it easier to catch. It is only a "twitch" throw (requires no significant wind-up, or repositioning of your torso by lunging etc).

    Twitch throws give the marker no time to react if you have the disc in a position ready to release, and they don't have their hand in the way. Twitch backhands seem like a big new trend for North American elite open ultimate.

    I have thought about this scenario a bit, and seeing how often a "no" slows down the offence can be painful to watch. I have thrown more and more scoobers in the last 12 months in this scenario, which is a throw from either forehand stance, backhand stance or while pivoting across.

    And I am working on getting more and more high backhands and high forehands out (for the backhand and forehand stances respectively). One way to get there - lots of three man drill (aka thrower-marker drill), making sure you are in ready stance and with the stall count coming in on 9.