Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Adjustment Repertoire

We might as well continue along the theme of the previous post - A repertoire of play styles that allows a team to adjust and force the other team to adjust.

I remember a friend of mine, a sports psychologist, saying, "If your not putting pressure on your opponent, that means they're putting pressure on you" (Note this could be a famous saying). One way for a team to prepare to put pressure on the opponent is to build a repertoire of play styles that allows you to switch games and keep the opponent off-balance.

So what are some of the necessary components of a teams plan that need to be added to the repertoire. Here's a list of possibilities:
1. Offence =
a) Possible green space setups Vertical, Horizontal, Lane, Germans
b) Plays or "Frameworks" from each green space setup
c) Modes of play (see "The Rainbow of Ultimate")
2. Defense =
a) Man positioning and Forces
b) Choice of help positions
c) Junk type defense
d) Zones to contain
e) Zones to hold in conditions or weaker teams

I'm sure there are a number of other possibilities, but this is a start of what a team needs to have available to them. The plan should revolve around making sure that all of the repertoire has been hashed out in the play book, and practiced/taught. Finally, each part of the repertoire should be used in game situations.

The real trick is figuring out when to make adjustments to respond to pressure from the opponent, and when to make adjustments to put pressure on the opponent.

Two classic scenarios come to mind:
1. Opponent calls a timeout because your style of play is crushing them = great time to switch to a new style so their timeout is relatively useless - SUCCESS.
2. One of your styles of play was consistently working = the opponent has adjusted, but your team is stuck in a rut of going to what worked - ERROR.

This type of planning is similar in many if not all team sports. Football is the most classic comparison, but I can think of similarities in basketball and hockey. That's why those sports and their literature is so relevant to advancing Ultimate.



cyndiesel said...

Great quote Peter (or should I say "Anonymous"?)...

Although arguably any sport lends itself to being synonymous with a physical human chess match - Ultimate opened my eyes to this analogy more than any other sport I've played.

In terms of applying pressure first - On an individual level I've noticed that in games where I have been first to apply the pressure (layout bids, clown marking, breakforce throws, high reaching grabs)I've quickly established a certain amount of respect from my defender, and often am given more of a cushion than I actually deserve. If I hang back and wait for my mark to set the tone, the reverse happens. Setting the tone early can really pay dividends later. And let's face it, in sport I'd much rather be the one doing the pressuring... than being pressured...

But variety is the spice of life, and the more arsenals you have the better off you are. Like you said, more importantly than having the toolkit, is knowing what tools are needed when. Having the brains within the operation to see what adjustment is needed, and when it is needed is crucial.

I wonder if that's how teams like D.O.G were able to dominate for so long. On offense they were notorious for not really running plays, but simply "taking what the defense gives you." Can elite adjustment be that simplistic?

On offense, I think it can. Defense on the other hand is another story, which in my opinion is similar to basketball... anyone can put the ball through the hoop (or catch the disc in the end zone), but defense will make or break you. I think the adjustment repertoire is most critical on "d".

And how long do you wait before you acknowledge your strategy isn't working?

I don't know yet (depends on the team)... but the challenge of figuring it out is what keeps me playing.