Friday, September 29, 2006

Blog Life

Hey Folks,

Picutred Above: Number 36, Norman Farb, gets off a flick for RoY at Canadian Nationals 2006.

Now that "The Cultimate Opinion" has been around for three months, I'd like to give some stats and reflections about who reads this blog, what is read, and some interesting stats.

The biggest success so far is the "The Cultimate Opinion" is listed at Ultimate Talk. Unfortunately, it's not part of the feed since I post too many articles and would overwhelm the feed. Still, just being listed means that the blog has become part of the Ultimate Blog community. Additionally, I've had many e-mails and personal comments about the blog.

The biggest influence the blog has had on Ultimate is the brick. I think I've convinced many people to rethink the brick and have heard anecdotal evidence about league and tournaments sticking with the 20 yards. Great!! Now we all need to learn how to pull.

The addition of Poll Thursday has been a great success for many of us. It's a fun little concept that gives us a chance to vote for teams we favour and ideas we like. I encourage readers to suggest polls as they want.

Also, adding pictures to the blog makes visiting the page much more enjoyable. Unfortunately, my photos are biased to my teams, but I would like to post a variety of Ultimate pictures from throughout the continent and world. The only way to do that is for some of our U.S. and world readers to send in some Ultimate photos.

Now to the statistics:
  • This is the 50th article in the series.
  • I have 40 draft posts with 21 of them completely written. At the current release rate that will last us until the first week of December.
  • About 100 visits a day with Monday being the peak day (about 150 visits).
  • 1119 regular readers (defined as have come to the Blog more than 15 times).
  • 3500 different people (computers) have visited the blog once.
  • Top three countries: 64% from Canada, 32% from U.S., and 0.5% from Australia.
  • Visits from all continents (not including Antarctica).
  • Top networks: 15% Rogers, 12% University of Toronto, and 6% Comcast.
  • Top referrers: 33% google.groups, 20%, and 15% direct links.
  • Times: 223 of you stayed 1 to 2 minutes, 315 stay 3 to 10 minutes, 176 stay 10 to 20 minutes, and 27 of you spent more than 20 minutes on one visit.
  • Browser: 43% Internet Explorer, 41% Firefox, and 10% Safari.
  • Add revenue is at: $3.40. We could almost fund one century club badge.
  • Add content is mainly disc related now instead of hockey and football drills.
  • Main commentors are Tom, Warren, and Norm (all Toronto Boys).
Lots of interesting and fun things going on with The Cultimate Opinion. I'm still considering who to add on as contributors. The most important thing is I enjoy writing about Ultimate. I plan to shift into training aspects for the winter season as of the middle of November.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Canada's Other Lesser Known Team

Hey Folks,

Poll Thursday gives us a chance to look at some of the maybe biased picks out of the North East open UPA division. Once again the division didn't get a growth (SW) bid or size bid (Central), so only two spots are going.

A total of 35 voters for last weeks poll and the results say:

  • The Fans pick Dog (76%) coming out number 1 at Regionals trailing with Goat (12%), Twisted (9%), and PoNY (3%). Not a huge shock here since DoG hasn't lost to any of these three teams in quite some time.
  • The second spot out of Regionals goes to Goat (54%) with Twisted Metal (23%) and then Pony (6%).
These picks seem to make sense. One person voted for the wild cards (it would be nice to know who they thought was going to crack the big 4 - comment?), and that's probably a good choice since none of the wild cards have had any success against the top four in the North East.

As much as I wanted to sample other regions, not much has been provided in the way of analysis. Therefore, I've got to go with what I'm somewhat familiar with and we'll take a look at the open region with another major Canadian team - Furious George. The pools are set and you get to pick 4 coming out of the division...

Some details if you don't want to do the research:
  1. Sockeye - 2 losses this year (early loss to Rhino and late loss to Condors)
  2. Furious - Early season losses to Rhino and Voodoo; hasn't beat Sockeye this year (0-4)
  3. Justice League - Early loss to Rhino (revenge in same tournament); hasn't beat top 2 seeds.
  4. Revolver - Hasn't beat any of the top 3 seeds or Rhino this season.
  5. Hippo - No big wins other than a win over Johny Bravo. Beat Rhino at sectionals to take seed.
  6. Rhino - lots of wins early. Has beaten everyone.
  7. Wild Cards
    • Invictus - no big wins
    • Voodoo - beat hippo once
    • Oaks - no big wins
Each poll has 7 picks with the 7th being the wild card pick:

Create polls and vote for free.

Create polls and vote for free.

Create polls and vote for free.

Create polls and vote for free.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Caps off to Clocks

I've captained teams for about 6 years, and I'll tell you a little secret. I, barely, understand the different types of caps. Therefore, to be lazy and proactive at the same time, it is time to change the Ultimate landscape once again. What we need is to add a clock to the game. When the buzzer goes off, game over, or play continues until the team with the disc turns it over (like football).

Pictured Above: Queens vs. University of Toronto at 2006 University Easterns in Guelph. Left to Right on the field - Peter Jamieson (me UofT), Alex Davis (Queens), Malcolm Johnston (22 UofT), and Ernie Linn(Queens).

Let us look at the pros and cons.

  1. I don't have to learn multiple different ways of having a time cap. Sure the new rules try to explain this but I'm never clear
  2. The last second play becomes a part of the game.
  3. Time management with a visible clock adds additional pressure and tension.
  4. Pulls will happen faster with a visible clock.
  5. Simple
  6. The universe point still will exist for overtime ties.
  1. TDs loose some of their power. More of a chance for no captain's meeting.
  2. Device has to be purchased.
  3. Game becomes more rigidly structured.
Now what would this device be? I'm looking for the following features.
  1. Clock that times down to a buzzer.
  2. Secondary clock to time between points and timeouts.
  3. Score counters.
  4. Maybe timeout counters.
This device could even be handheld or pretty small. I'm thinking hand powered or solar with battery. I can't see the device costing more than 20$ based on my limited manufacturing knowledge. A cool little device to make the game a little more exciting and to simplify my life.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Newsest Laws of the Land

Hey Folks,

11th edition rules are available and discussed. Here are some of the rules I like (I don't even know if these are new, but they're worded nicely and address good points):

  • XI. Scoring, C, "A defensive player who believes the thrower was already in the end 10 zone should overrule that implicit call, and award the goal to the thrower, regardless of the outcome of the subsequent pass. " - This really is the spirit of the game and the poor player who doesn't know they're in the endzone gets the point they rightly deserve.
  • XIV. The Marker, A, 5, (2) Marking violation....count reached minus one, disc is in play - Penalty for over aggressive marks.
  • XIV. The Marker, B, 3, "3. Disc-space: If an imaginary line segment connecting any two points on the marker touches the thrower or is less than one disc diameter away from the upper body or pivot of the thrower, it is a disc space violation. However, if this situation is caused solely by movement of the thrower, it is not a violation." - I like the finer definition of disc space.
  • XV. The Receiver, C, However, changing direction or increasing speed while in possession of the disc is a travel. - Can't accelerate...interesting was probably in the last set, but I didn't notice. I still want to call it on someone.
  • XVI. Violations and Fouls, H, 2. Contact resulting from adjacent opposing players simultaneously vying for the same unoccupied position, is not in itself a foul. - This one's big and should clear up many foul calls. Whether this means deliberate arm contact I'm unsure, but I'm sure it doesn't (see XVI, H, 3, b, 1).
I'm also happy to see that reckless play can be treated as a foul. Overall, the rules seem easy enough to read for me. No huge changes to the rules.

For details on the changes there's some interesting things to read:
  • * If an infraction did not “affect the play,” the outcome of the play stands. “Affected the play” is now clearly defined, and it is now up to the infracted player to determine whether the infraction affected the play. - I like this, but it will be challenging.
  • Possession rules (including the requirement for possession to survive ground contact) are now in the scoring section to clarify the illegality of clap spikes, etc. - This is an obvious and good addition.
  • A stall count cannot be initiated after a turnover or a pull until the thrower establishes a pivot, unless delay of game rules apply. Therefore, throwers cannot be stalled as they are walking the disc inbounds or from the endzone to put the disc in play. However, receivers catching and running out-of-bounds or into the end-zone can still be stalled from the time they gain possession of the disc. - I wonder what this means for people who layout. When can I start stall counting?"
  • Touching the disc to the ground is required anytime the disc goes from live to in-play (for example when the disc is OB or in the endzone and is brought to the boundary line). Failure to touch the disc to the ground when required is now a travel. - Always touch the disc to the ground. Sounds simple and reasonable.
I'm not a huge rule guy, but it is improtant to stay up with the rules. It's also nice to have everyone on the team aware of the rules, and a knowledgeable rule person is always nice to have. Finally, as a coach it's probably most important to have a good knowledge of the rules and make sure your players are aware of them. Even correcting them when they are wrong in game situations is the way to go.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Century Club without the Beer

Hey Folks,

I'm close. I'm really close. Depending on how you count I'm actually there. There's one stat that I'm actually interested in over a career. Participating in 100 Ultimate tournaments. I think it's such a big thing that I'm going to design and make a badge. Then, when people get to their 100th tournament I'll give them the badge (maybe sell them).

Pictured Above: Sasha Necakov catching over Ian Brooks at one of the best co-ed parties in Canada - Gender Blender. I've been 5 times and oh, what a party.

I think 100 tournaments is significant. 17 weekends a year (over 6 years), 700 games, 1000 hours of ultimate, 60000 minutes, 10000 throws, 150 drops, 200 layouts, and 1 callahan. That's lots of tournaments, and if anything people deserve a cool badge.

UPDATE: As of this weekend I now have 2 callahans!!!


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Early Picks

Hey Folks,

So last weeks polls were interesting (mainly to me). Approximately, 29 voters...survey says:

  • 42% of you would be interested in other writers from anywhere (23% from Toronto, and 23% just don't want a change).
  • 41% want 3 posts a week, 28% want 4 posts a week.
Well, the readers must be listened to. I will look into finding some other people to post. At first it will be a female and male (taking all applications). I will reduce my posts per week to 3 taking Tuesday off (but I don't include poll Thursday so it will sort of be 4ish posts). I also retain the right to lose control and post if I want to (it's my blog, and I'll write if I want to).

Now for this weeks question. We'll start in the with some early guesses for UPA qualifiers out of the North East Open division. I would like to poll all the regions and all the divisions, but that's a lot of details. It would be nice to have some guest write ups from people in the know from those regions and divisions (e-mail me if interested).

Picks this week are:
  • Number 1 pick to go to Florida from the North East in Open - 6 choices
  • Number 2 pick to go to Florida from the North East in Open - 6 choices

Create polls and vote for free.

Create polls and vote for free.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

My Advertisement Future - Coke

By no means am I advertising or suggesting that you try this. I'm not a doctor, and there is risk in what I'm about to tell you. When I play, I'm not one of those guys with the water and the gatorade powder. I come to the field with a coke or pepsi for every game and a bag of potato chips.

Pictured Above: Even though it looks photoshopped this is an aggressive mark by Ali Alizadeh back in 2001 at the Toronto Ultimate Tournament.

What is my reasoning for this diet? The coke is my energy provider with both sugar and caffeine. I try to sip the coke every time I come off the field and then have a gulp of water. This is an attempt to have a constant production of energy over an entire day. The downside of this approach is the diuretic element of caffeine and the quick energy release of sugar.

The potato chips are an additional source of carbohydrates and salt. The salt being one of my major concerns during the day. Finally, I like to chew gum to keep my teeth clean after drinking both the coke and chips.

Throughout the day I'll probably have one banana, a bagel, and oranges (if they're good). The morning involves a number 2 combo from McDonald's. I like eating this at least 2 hours before game time, but that's not always possible. After a day playing I'm looking to eat pasta and meat.

So, the key aspect of all this is the cola and chips. This is a topic that I'm planning on researching some more, but game day diets, and probably, 2/3 day before diet and its impact on play is an interesting topic. I doubt my approach is the right one, but I've felt focused during the day without any troubles without any of the over stimulated I tend to get with strong energy drinks.

I found a good summary of the research done into caffeine and athletic performance (Caffeine and Performance. Nancy Clark, Palaestra, Vol. 21, No. 4, p46, 2005). In this article, she mentions some interesting research:
- The U.S. Army has found little affect of caffeine and dehydration
- Caffeine aids endurance performance with little impact on individual sprints
- A can of pepsi has ~ 45mg caffeine compared to Red Bull's 80mg
- Moderate caffeine intake is considered to be 250mg

So, my caffeine intake is about 5*45mg ~ 250mg which is less than quoted numbers for performance enhancement, and I'm still hydrating myself to some degree. Doesn't seem totally crazy.

On the other hand, my last to tournaments I've suffered from terrible leg cramps. I think this is more a factor of playing too much ultimate, and being on the D-line, which includes much more running than O-line. My next tournament I will increase my water intake and try some Eload, which people have been praising.

The reality is sport nutrition is something a coach should be aware of and enforcing for the team. In the best situation, it would be nice to have a sports nutritionist describe and plan out a diet for a tournament day. Maybe I would leave the coke behind.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tournament Insanity

In a standard tournament you can expect to play 3 pool play games, 1 crossover, and a quarters, semis, and finals. A total of 7 games over a period of 36 hours. At the minimum you'll play 5 games, and I've played 9 over a 2 day tournament. In this post, I'm questioning what is a reasonable amount - even sane amount.

Pictured Above: Roy guys walking off the field at Canadian Nationals 2006. Dante Reino in the back on the left and Stefan Rappazzo to the right.

Let us start by addressing one of the key factors that equates here; that is, how many people are on your team. Next, let's make some assumptions:
  1. There are approximately 14+10 points in a game = 24
  2. Each point takes an average of 3 minutes
So, with these statistics, let's look at some of the scenarios at a 7 game tournament.
  • 21 players - 8 points per game - 56 points per weekend - 3 hours of high strain exercise
  • 14 players - 12 points per game - 84 points per weekend - 4.5 hours of high strain exercise
  • 7 players - 24 points per game - 168 points per weekend - 8 hours of high strain exercise
These numbers don't include the 1+ hour for warm-up each day. So, with 21 players a 7 game tournament seems reasonable. Each day is about 3 hours of intense exercise. The scenario still seems reasonable with 14 players, but the thing I think we're forgetting is the intensity at which the game is played. For example, 4.5 hours of high strain exercise probably equates to about 3 hours of sprinting and jumping. That's some intense exercise.

Professional athletes don't keep up this level of intensity over a short period of time. Let us look at some amateur sports tournament setups:
- Hockey is traditionally 2/3 games in pool play and a semis and finals
- Soccer tournaments are similar 2/3 games + a semi and a final
- Baseball tournaments in many cases start in a round of 16 (4 games if you win)

So, are we playing too much at ultimate tournaments, or are these other sports limited by playing facilities, and referee costs.

I would argue that one of the challenges in our sport is that seeding is challenging and we need the round robin play (even with past records). Seeding gets harder going from year to year. Also, many of us are cultured to expect to play many games (value for money) if we travel more than 2 hours.

I'm like all of you. I like to see value for my money, but maybe we should rethink the tournament format and enjoy our weekends a little more instead of constant playing. I don't think it's healthy, and I've seen a number of bodies that agree with me. The trick will be changing the culture of the sport. The real concern is when you wake up the next day and you're completely sore. That's risky.


Monday, September 18, 2006

A How to - Get Your Lady to Play Video Games

Hey Folks,

I won't lie to you. I do like to play video games. I've heard all the data, and there are studies that state playing video games is good, and there are those that say it is bad. Now the big question for all of you is how does video games relate to Ultimate.

Pictured Above: Kieran McConnel takes a breath at Nationals 2004 in Vancouver. Kieran just left the Toronto scene for greener pastures out West.

It's pretty simple. Playing video games is a great way to train your decision making. For the rest of this post we can look at the benefits of different styles of games.

Let's start with the versus fighter. This style of game is great for reacting to what the opponent gives you. In general, the play of the game, like martial arts, is set on reacting to the opponent, adapting to the opponent, and implementing a plan. Playing against the computer is good for developing base strategies, but playing against a human opponent will allow you to see how adaption and reaction are all part of the decision process.

Next, I like the sport games. My preference is to soccer games where you have to identify where the attack points against a defense exist. This training becomes even better when a group of you can get together. Elements of team work and communication become part of your game in a matter of hours. Additionally, the team work and training element comes without the physical challenge.

Of the other sports games that I think are valuable:
- Hockey provides a fast paced game that you need to react and decide quickly.
- Football provides the perspective of a throwing decision maker, which closely translates to Ultimate. You need to watch a play unfold and pick out a target.
- Baseball is a reaction based sport that forces you to control multiple runners at the same time.
- Curling is a sport which I wish there was a good video game, much like Ultimate. I'm not sure there would be any great benefits, but man that game would rock.

Let's not leave out first person shooters. These games can provide both team communication training as well as individual reaction times. Plus your three dimensional skills of knowing where people are when they can't be seen is a great skill to have on the field.

Some additional skills that are of benefit from video games are reacting and identifying opponent styles, planning ahead, and hand eye coordination.

The machine will play with you all day and is a great and tireless training partner. We can see the value of this as more and more of these concepts are introduced into athletic domains. Examples like the race car driver and golfer, where in both cases the video game provides virtual access to their courses. That's just the tip of the iceberg.

Too many people discount video games, but I honestly believe they are one of the least respected and yet one of the best training tools for team sports. One of the best things is only your thumbs get worn out. See you on the virtual field.


Friday, September 15, 2006

Is there an Advantage in Road Trips?

I try to leave rules out of my discussions, but there are a few which I have strong opinions on. Today is a day to get another rule off my chest - traveling.

So, my peeve with travel is the following. There are actually two things with traveling that I have problems with. My first belief is that travel should only be called when the thrower gains an advantage. What I mean here is that a travel call on an open sided throw with no chance for a hand block should not be called a travel. Maybe in the case when you are broken or you get a backhand huck off on you then a travel call is valid. Additionally, if you didn't think you were going to get the hand block than I also think you shouldn't call travel.

My second issue with traveling is the intricacies of the call. My biggest problem is that someone needs to watch your feet to identify a travel. Sure many of us are taught to use feet position as an indication of where to mark as fundamental , but I still have a hard time believing people just watch other people's feet to call travels. If anyone calls the travel it should be a non-marking player, but how do they know how significant the travel was.

As a coach I recommend standing behind your players as they throw and telling them when they are traveling. This will eliminate much of the problems as described above. In general, though the game will only benefit from a more appropriate use of the travel. We don't need to go to the extremes of the NBA, but we need to make an adjustment.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Is it too much?

Hey Folks,

Poll Thursday was a great success last week (32 voters). Let's look at the results and start a new poll.

So, last week we were wondering about how much time an intermediate/advanced team needs to practice.

  • Best time to Practice? Winner is Evening (44%) with Morning (16%)
  • How long to practice? Winner is 2 hours (67%) with 1.5 hours (17%)
  • How many practices/week? Winner is both 3 and 2 (37%)
This is great information for coaches. I still really like Torontula's 5 day a week every morning 1.5/2 hour practice system for two months.

Pictured Above: Torontula at 7AM getting ready for a practice. From left to right, Tim Chapman-Smith, Lowell Heppner, Billy Wyttca, Inina Moorthy, Shawn Chua, Dante Reino, Kirk Nylen, Pat Dolan, Rahul Sarugaser, and Tom Walsh.

This week I had a request from one of the regular commentors, Warren Tang. His suggestion was to find out if people would like a slower release of material for "The Cultimate Opinion" so that there is more discussion on each topic.

The poll questions this week are:
  1. What frequency of posts is good? (7 possibilities)
  2. Would you be interested in other posters posting on this Blog? (4 possibilities)

Create polls and vote for free.

Create polls and vote for free.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Good Times

Hey Folks,

Let's get down to the nitty gritty. Let's remind ourselves why Ultimate is such a great sport. Let's look at what the fundamental aspect of Ultimate that makes it so great. Sure there's the competition, the winning, and the glory. The reality, however, in a sport where most of us pay to play is that quite simply, there's lots of fun to be had in Ultimate.

Pictured Above: The party scene at Goosebowl 2006 in Kingston.

The reason many of us call Ultimate, Cultimate, is that as you get more and more in Ultimate, you find that you are addicted to the sport. This addiction is partially due to the challenge and the competition, but anotherthe major factor is the fun we have with friends and opponents.

From a touring perspective, the fun is going with your team over a distance to play, eat, and party with a group of people that make you laugh. Over a weekend, you'll probably laugh over a hundred times, and not your average giggle, but that full belly laugh that burns calories by the thousand.

As a coach, you really need to grasp this fun perspective. It is important that the team plays within your system, and tries to achieve the goals that the team and yourself have set, but the primary factor is that everyone has fun.

The funny thing that ties into the whole aspect of fun is that when you are happy and having fun, the positive aspects improve your game.

Let the good times roll.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Knowing What To do in a Time Zone

Hey Folks,

This is one of the topics that is open for lots of debate, but it's something a team should add to their playbook so everyone on the team has an idea about the team's philosophy. What am I talking about? This is a discussion on when and why to use each type of zone - these are my current perspectives that I give to my teams.

Just to make sure everyone uses the same terminology we will use a numbering system that represents where people are relative to the disc. The first number means that those people are closest to the disc and so on. For example, the 3-3-1 means 3 people on the disc, 3 mids, and 1 deep.

The Classic - 3-3-1

For most of us, this is your day one zone. The first 3 people form what is called a cup. The next 3 form a mid section, and 1 deep protects against strikes to the end-zone.

In my opinion this zone forces middle unless there is a very strong wind that says otherwise. The reason for this is forcing in one direction means that the cup can easily broken (think three man drill). Forcing middle really means that the zone wants to contain and increase the number of passes that the opponent will throw. Ds are going to come with sloppy over the cup throws, and too much risk.

Wall - 1-3-2-1

This zone has one person chasing the disc and forcing it in a specific direction. The next three people form a wall that forces the disc to go around it, and not through it. The next 2 people are in the positions on the outsides of the wall where a possible break can happen. Finally, there is a deep protector.

I feel that this zone is a short-term containment zone. I like to use it to force teams into a zone offence, and the nice part is we haven't committed too many people up front. The transition form zone to man is relatively cost free in the back field, and the worse case is that the handlers get a few extra throws in the transition.

Chinch - 3-3-1

Similar to the classic except a monster chases the disc and two people are ears that force the handlers to throw the discs backwards. Mids are expecting the disc to be thrown through the middle and try and protect against those throws.

Chinch is a push the disc backwards zone. This is a hold zone that seems to work spectacularly against some teams and disastrously against others. This is the type of zone that you test against a team to see their reaction. Also, we can transition relatively easily from this type of zone since everyone is covering a person.

Swiss Cheese - 2-3-2

Not one of my preferred zones. Two people are cupping the disc, we have mids, and two people are protecting against deeps.

I think this zone is only good for protecting against a team that hucks all the time. You probably want to play the zone until the opponents are passed half, and that makes it easier to stop the huck. This zone is very susceptible to give and goes between handlers (3 vs 2).

Pictured Above: An in the dirt layout at ULW 2005.

Well, there's a brief smattering of zones. Those are some zones my teams tend to run, and those are my theories to why we run them.


Monday, September 11, 2006

A Little Respect - Baby

One of the most fascinating aspects of Ultimate and coaching is the coach itself. In highschool, we are slowly seeing coaches coming into existence, but at the University and Club level, the majority of coaches are more coach/captains and play. This is when it gets a little tricky.

Pictured Above: Good old after hour cups after a tournament day.

The coach is responsible for the offensive and defensive systems, giving feedback on team and individual play, and looking to make adjustments for the team including goals. Also, in many cases the coach needs to talk to the team and discipline/reward the team. Basically, the analogy of a boat, captain, and crew can be applied to the situation.

The problem is, the best person to be the captain of the ship might not have the most experience or skill, and therefore, doesn't get the full respect of the team. The second problem is the coach tends to be a player, and depending on the skill level of the player, respect is even harder to get. So the challenge is how to get respect needed to coach a team.

Before looking at how to get respect, we need to define what type of respect is needed by the coach. Essentially, the team needs to respect the coaches opinions and plan, regardless of how they think things should be run. Additionally, the team will listen to the coaches criticism, trust suggestions, and propagate messages to all members of the team. These are all fancy words for trusting the captain. In return, the coach will respect players opinions (opinions expressed at the appropriate times meaning not during a huddle).

How does a coach get respect? Well, from my experience there are certain qualities that all leaders, captain or coach, need to develop. The coach needs to have presence, meaning that they can speak up when needed, and ask for decorum. Additionally, to gain respect a coach needs to be both positive and calm and collected. Most important of all, I find a coach gains respect by following through on their prescribed actions, and paying attention to people on the team.

This last point is one of the most recurring elements of a stories I hear about bad coaches. The story goes something like this. Said coach tells the team to do something all the time (this is the rule); let's say that a coach says we always look to reset the disc at stall 5. Then said coach goes out as a player, and doesn't follow the rules they laid out. Instant loss of respect.

There is one saving grace from a mistake like this, and all other mistakes, and this is also a key aspect of gaining respect as a coach. And that is admitting to mistakes and admitting to not knowing. These qualities should be part of all teachers and coaches.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Time to Build a House on a Small Field

Hey Folks,

I have very few issues with rules. Most of them make sense, and as long as people don't exploit loop holes the game moves relatively well. There is one rule which I think we should talk about, and it's the brick.

Pictured Above: My good friend Sasha did a little photoshopping in a ULW game in 2005. In the picture from left to right is Ian Brooks, Shawn Chua, and Inian Moorthy.

The premise of the brick is that if someone pulls the disc out of bounds then they are penalized a yardage. The official rules say 20 yards, but most people play between 10 to 15. Their basis for 10-15 is a claim that the field is small (short).

I'm a strong believer in the full 20 yards regardless of field length. The penalty is enforced since the defense gets extra time to setup when the disc is pulled out of bounds and the game slows down. This is key! On a small field with a small brick the defense gets time to setup, you're closer to your own end-zone, you can use a bad pull to reset your team, and the defenders don't have to worry about making a good pull.

I say, stick with the 20 yard brick, because you should be able to pull the disc in bounds on a small field. The better pulling team should get the defensive advantage, and a bad pulling team should suffer the consequence.

The only exception I'm willing to make on a shorter brick is when the field is narrower, but even then I think the better pulling team should keep their advantage.

Folks, it is time to make a stance on this rule.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Poll - Practice Opinions

Hey Folks,

It's poll Thursday. This is an opportunity to ask the opinion of all of us on some Ultimate topics. Todays polls are meant to address practice logistics.

The three questions are:

  1. Practice frequency
  2. Practice length
  3. Practice time
Currently, the trends in Toronto are for touring teams to practice two days a week from 6:30 PM until 8:30+, and Torontula practices every morning from 7 AM until 9 AM. This doesn't mean these are the best choices, so let's open the polls.

Create polls and vote for free.

Create polls and vote for free.

Create polls and vote for free.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Moving Electricity - Negative to Positive is a Current Theme

One of the simplest choices a coach has to make is how to approach feedback. One major choice is how to tone feedback - positive or negative. Many of us are familiar with the Bobby Knight (Highly Negative) approach, and I'm sure some of you have had that type of coach and your team has had success. I'm from a the camp that is for positive reinforcement. In this article I'll make some arguments to either approach.

I'll defend my choice for the positive camp by using a thought experiment with an individual. Think of yourself learning something in the presence of a coach. First, you want to learn this skill, and this is due to an expected enjoyment from learning the skill, and possibly, the challenge of developing the skill. As you learn the skill, your coach provides positive and negative feedback.

When this feedback is negative it is usually in correspondence to a poor performance. In this case, bad emotions are associated with the learning process and they add additional pressure and stress. In general, negative emotions make you feel bad and can bring on frustration. When feedback is positive encouragement in correspondence to a poor performance then not as many negative emotions are introduced and next time the skill is executed there is still elements of fun, challenge, and hope.

There is a place for negative feedback. This is needed at points when the positive doesn't seem to work. This can be in cases when individuals have no internal motivation to achieve something.

Pictured Above: Cam Malcolm (GT) at Nationals 2004 in Vancouver. Two teams in the background are having a group huddle (Picture from ?).

Leaving the thought experiment behind, I, recently, saw a demonstration of some internal human response to positive and negative feedback while directing ultimate camp at Camp Olympia. The director, Dave Grace, runs a two hour session for campers in which he discusses aspects of setting goals, taking on new challenges, and improving athletic performance (topics I'll hit upon later). This year he introduced a concept called the "heart centered zone" which means your heart rate stays at a constant rate. There was some software that he showed that plotted someone's heart rate. By saying positive and negative comments, we could observe how a person moved in and out of the zone.

I'm not sure if this is convincing evidence that the positive approach is the only approach, but it was interesting to see. In general, as a coach 5 to 10 positive statements for every negative statement (can't remember where I heard this) is a good approach for feedback for most people.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

X, A, Up, Left = Nice Flick

My alter ego actually lives in the academic field of computer engineering. I chose this path mainly because I liked making video games late in highschool. Now that I'm finishing, I still like making video games, and that brings us to my topic for the day - the Ultimate Video Game. Can it be done? Will it be fun? How should we do it?

Let's look at existing attempts and related games.

  1. Layout Ultimate 2006 - a 3D, 2 on 2 ultimate game (7on7 for the downloaded version) that I've played for a few minutes. It's a great effort.
  2. In California Games, there used to be a section where you would huck a disc to a dog.
  3. Frisbee Golf - A game I've read reviews for, but never had a chance to play.
  4. A great game called Wind Jammers for Neo Geo. This is a one on one game where you try to throw the disc by your opponent who can layout. This game had curving throws and pop passes. It's a little bit like double disc court.
  5. Disc Golf'03 - This is a flash based game that we played. There's a trick to driving the disc so that you could get hole in ones.
  6. Another Disc Golf flash based game.

Pictured Above: A few of us competing in a non-ultimate Video game after practice. Notice orange wins again.

I'm sure I'm missing a few, but that gives us a reasonable review of what is currently available. So obviously, an Ultimate or Disc like Video Game can be done. Now, I have to ask will the next generation game be fun, could it be like modern sports games, and how can we do it?

I guess our frames of reference will be football and soccer video games. I think the football quarterback view is the preferred camera angle for the game. Next, I guess we as the players could either be cutters, defenders, or the thrower. In all cases, I think the challenge has to be catching and throwing (layouts, hand/footblocks). This is where I think modern day consoles with their analog joysticks could be quite useful in adding skill to achieving throws and catches. Imagine one stick for your body position and one for your angle and strength of throw.

After throwing out some of these ideas, I think the game would be interesting. Making a game fun is extremely challenging, but I'll speculate it's possible. Think how cool would it would be to replay the Worlds in a Video game format, or UPA sectionals, regionals, and finals? Reliving the college scene! Imagine you could even play ultimate with me!!!


Monday, September 04, 2006

Punishment Fits the Crime

One of the interesting aspect of coaching an Ultimate team is the lack of age difference between player and coach. The reality is the coach usually is more of a captain/player and is a peer. One aspect of this position is how to get a team to do something along the lines of a forced goal.

For example, I've previously talked about the importance of arriving early on a tournament day to be able to have a good warmup. I've been in situations where a team has a really tough time doing this (including the captain himself). One solution that I think might help achieve these goals is a bit of punishment.

Pictured Above: More from the Women's Canadian Nationals.

Now how do we add punishment to a team? First off, the is little room for negative approaches to dealing with individuals and team play; I'm all for a positive environment. Once in a while, though, a team needs a little bit of an extra push to achieve a logistic goal when willpower doesn't seem sufficient. This is where a punishment can be added.

I think a punishment statement needs to be drafted for the entire team, and more importantly, the entire team needs to believe in the goal, and will accept the punishment even if one individual doesn't achieve the goal. The benefit of this type of setup is that each individual feels responsible for his/her team members. In the case of our example, the team might agree that we as a team are allowed to do whatever we want at night as long as we get to the fields 1 hour before game time. If anyone misses the 1 hr time (without a great excuse), then at the next tournament a curfew is set.

It is also possible to have individual punishments for team goals. For example, I like the concept of the attendance jar where everyone who misses a practice and tournaments puts in a few dollars. That money either goes to the team funds to reduce some costs for attending players.

In both punishment strategies, I have to emphasize that it is key that the team (80% majority) agrees on these concepts and it is not just enforced by the coach/captain. These goals are team goals, and a punishment is only necessary to help our willpower. We are adults.

When should punishment be applied to a team? In this case, I feel that punishments should only be used to enforce elements of team order that are important to the team. For example, attendance, being on time, practicing efficiently, volunteering, and following other logistic rules. Team punishments should be carefully used when it comes to performance. In these cases, the negative aspects of a punishment don't provide any benefit other than adding an additional element of concern to an already difficult task.

Finally, what type of punishments would be useful? My two main ideas are the small financial penalty and the institution of a curfew. I would be interested in other ideas.


Friday, September 01, 2006

60 minutes Report on the Danger of Field Food

This is a real warning. I didn't believe it myself when I first heard it, but there lurking in the field food is an actual danger.

Pictured Above: 2006 Canadian Nationals Mixed Final - Camelot (Montreal) vs. Chaos (Winnipeg). Picture form Diep.

Recently, for a tournament in London, I put together a team of people staying and going to Nationals. We had a great time, but I later found out that one of us actually suffered for the weekend. No, it wasn't sun stroke or dehydration. The problem, apparently, was potassium poisoning.

The culprit, Taylor (made up name to keep anonymity), had started to cramp, heard the wise comments that bananas can help with cramping, and proceeded to eat 9 bananas. Apparently, 9 s too big a number, and after eating a bunch of other food he suffered for the next 2 days. Whether it was the additional food or the bananas is inconclusive, but there is such a thing as potassium poisoning (hyperkalemia).

So, I'm not a doctor (yet) or have any medical knowledge, but I think the classic statement, "Everything in Moderation" applies to field foods too. It would be interesting for someone to create a diet for exactly what a person should eat at a tournament to achieve optimal performance. Obviously, overeating bananas is not.