Monday, March 12, 2007

Fishing Strategies

Hey Folks,

Baiting is a simple concept where you try to force your opponent to do something that you want to happen. For example, in Ultimate you might allow a certain player to get open on the cut because you know they are a weak thrower, and even though the opponents may gain some field distance the continuation will have a higher chance of turning over the disc.

It's hard to say what the difference is between baiting and giving a team something. Is forcing flick a bait or a give. I would call it a give. Baiting is an option where you really open up an option to make it almost impossible to not take the option.

Pictured Above: The ninja, Peyton Leung, playing with BMF at October Fest in Waterloo (picture from The Ultimate Experience).

Baiting is a fascinating strategy that I’ve used in all sorts of situations to our benefit and loss. In one case, one of my teams won a universe point by baiting a throw to a player who we knew had a high chance of turning over the disc, and he did. In another case, we tried a similar strategy to bait a weaker thrower to getting the disc, but just because the thrower was weaker, he caught the disc and threw a beautiful huck to score the point.

So, baiting is not a guaranteed strategic advantage, but instead of looking at it as a binary solution, it’s probably better to use baiting as a probabilistic strategy. Use the bait to get the disc into people’s hands that on average are weaker than the strong players on an opposing team. This is how to apply baiting to higher quality ultimate. You can’t expect to bait the disc into a weaker thrower or to someone who will drop the disc, but you can help keep the disc out of a superstars hands by baiting to other options.

Another aspect of the bait is how spirited is the strategy. At the high-level this is a non-issue, but when you're playing against a weak team and you're praying on a player, is it bad spirit. Many people will argue that this will help improve that player since they have increased touches. On the other hand, it can be psychologically tough to be forced into failure time after time. I'll leave the final decision to you on this topic, but it is something to consider.

Another aspect of the bait is not to focus on particular players, but instead, to bait a team to a place on the field where you can get an advantage. The classic example of this is the bait to a sideline trap, since a thrower on the sideline has less options.

Baiting is a simple concept to add to your strategy tool kit.