Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Robots and Plays - Where's our Leanardos

As a sport develops, coaches come up with offensive and defensive systems. I'm going to talk a little bit about a problem on offense.

One way of setting up an offensive system is by creating a set of plays to be run. Currently, in ultimate, these plays are a set of cuts which initiate the offensive flow. These plays are a necessary development for ultimate and I've seen great team success running plays. My concern with plays is something I've seen in ultimate, volleyball, and basketball.

The problem comes down to people following the preplanned cuts of a play too strictly and not being creative and taking what the defense gives them. For example, I've seen at the start of a play in which someone is supposed to initiate a cut and a poach is in their path. The person who is being poached does not move because they are not specified in the cuts and the play cut is useless. Similarly, I've seen people follow their prescribed cuts even if the defense is not giving them that cut. In both of these situations the players need to be creative and break from the play to get the disc moving.

What really needs to be taught to players before teaching plays or in conjunction with plays is basic flow and cuts. In basketball, both the V-cut and pick and roll are fundamentals that are taught as on the fly offensive options. Ultimate has a set of individual cuts and two player cuts that can be taught as fundamentals of the game beyond throws, catches, and positioning.

Individual cuts include:
- button hooks - a quick cut like looping a thread around a button.
- boulder cuts - a cut 3 to 10 steps in one direction with a plant and reverse in the opposite direction.
- dump cuts - a cut that relies on either continuing in one direction or reversing to get the disc.

As for cuts with two players, I haven't figured out how to communicate these between players, and I'm still thinking on how to achieve these on the fly.

Let's see some creativity on the field.



wartank said...

cutting with regard to other players is such a huge challenge. something i've tried to improve for myself as well as for teams i've coached. not sure how to do it, though i'm sure i haven't given it as much attention as it deserves.

as an aside, i read in an article on the interweb somewhere about how the horizontal stack, while much easier to run for newer teams, doesn't teach offensive field awareness because you have your own lane. there is certainly something to that.

is this something that can't be taught? or just hasn't been because no one has bothered to figure out a way?

ways to maybe teach it:
a) have people use it as a focus point during games/scrimmages. watch for plays developing and cut to clear, cut to continue, watch for others before you cut to space

a1) playing horizontal stack with strict organization, e.g. split half the field with a cutting partner

b) more specific than a, have some kind of cutting checklist -- 1) see where the disc is, 2) set up cut, 3) see where other cutters are and abandon cut if in the way of a teammate's better cut, 4) see the disc leave someone's hands, 5) cut.

c) have a paired cutting drill where you always want to be cutting for the disc, setting up a cut for continuation, and/or clearing for your cutting partner. simulate half the ho-stack.