Thursday, December 27, 2007

Poll Thursday - More cost analysis

My last poll, earlier this month on Dec. 6th, was a question on how much you spend on an Ultimate season. About 7 of us are in the +3000$ range, and everyone else seems to be in the 1000-3000 dollar range.

Today's poll is what is the majority cost that makes Ultimate expensive (poll left).


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays

Hey Folks,

Just wanted to say happy holidays. We're experiencing a nice white Christmas, and I hope everyone else is doing well.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Gone Fishing - Japan

Currently, I'm in Japan attending a conference. I'll be reporting on my trip instead of Ultimate posts here. I'll get back to Ultimate in a few weeks.

Pictured Above: Jeff Lindquist making a catch against a Van Buren Boy at UPA Championships'08.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Poll Thursday - Ultimate Cost

I'm finished with questions about indoor, and last week was the final poll on that topic. People report that their indoor season is worse than the outdoor season. That's probably because many of us take time off in the winter from Ultimate.

This week, the question is how much does it cost for a year of Ultimate (poll to the right). Costs include travel, accommodation, fees, equipment, etc. They do not include lost opportunity costs.

I'll start with the big question of overall cost, and then break the cost down over the following weeks.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The ?New? Layout

I have no fear of laying out, but for me, the layout usually hurts. I've asked goalies how they learn to make those high layouts, and so far I haven't gotten any good tips from them.

RSD has an old thread about the topic:

Maybe the martial artists are the guys to talk to. This dive roll has potential, but you have to imagine potentially catching the disc too.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Video Games - more reasons

I push the use of video games for all sorts of reasons. Just to review some of my reasons why video games are great for sports:

  • Great for practicing decision making
  • Low impact and never get tired (maybe your thumbs)
  • Practice teamwork
  • Visual space practice
  • Improves reaction time
My latest idea is that the game Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) is a great agility and footwork trainer that is more fun than most agility training.

For those of you who aren't in the know, DDR is a rhythm matching game where you dance to the beat (by pressing on squares on the dance pad) at a specified rate and sequence. The game is fun and challenging with a variety of different modes and music for all levels and tastes.

It turns out that DDR is very similar to ladder agility drills except that you're not moving forward. In addition, DDR requires both memorization and reaction, which are both simple skills to practice. In other words, you've got a home training system that disguises itself as a game.

I, personally, haven't had my pads out for a while. This is, mainly, due to how loud it is on a second floor living room with wooden floors. Some day I'll have my pads back out, and I'll be following the paths of the many who use DDR as an exercise program. Consider this as another training option as silly as it sounds.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Interesting resource - ACL

Hey Folks,

I've received a number of resource articles from various readers. Here is one I thought I would pass on since I think research in this area would help us all out:

  • This article was passed on to me by Jane Logan
    • The Effect of Technique Change on Knee Loads during Sidestep Cutting. by Dempsey et. al. from the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal, 39(10) 1765-1773
    • The article is about a study on side step cuts and how different technique (like body lean, foot angle, etc.) result in varying loads on the knee. The goal is to find the proper technique to make a cut, which reduces knee strain and thus reduces the number of non-contact ACL tears. I like this path of study as it might give us athletes and coaches insight on how to cut safely on the field.
Pictured Above: A layout shot from the Mixed finals at UPA Championships 07.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Is there a Jersey Stigma?

One of the strange things about Ultimate is how we treat wearing other team's jerseys. This isn't a universal stigma, but I've ran into many people who have made the statement, "I would never wear a jersey for a team I haven't played on".

Pictured Above: A Sockeye and Johny Bravo scrum at UPA Championships 07 (Photo Courtesy of Inian Moorthy)

I have made that same statement. Recently, some of my friends and I have re-qualified our not wearing another teams jersey by stating that, "we won't wear a jersey for a team that we don't think we could make". This statement, like the last, is really no different.

If you thought of pro sports, I'm pretty sure you'll never see Crosby wear a Ottawa Senators jersey or P. Manning wear a 49ers jersey, but these guys are more like property of a franchise. At the next level down, it's likely that college players and high school players will wear all sorts of jerseys.

My latest stand on the situation is that Ultimate jerseys from other teams should be worn in any situation you want. In promoting the sport, it is more important that we wear our sports advertisements (the jerseys) in all sorts of situations. For me, however, I draw the line at wearing my traded or bought jerseys during tournament play, but otherwise, I'm all for wearing Ultimate jerseys that I like. Next, we need to have more trading opportunities.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Poll Thursday - More indoor

Lot's of interesting comments about last weeks poll on the value of indoor. From the polls it seems pretty clear that for beginners and intermediate players, the majority believes that there is value in playing indoor Ultimate. I'm still not convinced.

This week I'll ask two poll questions. The first one is how much break time (from Ultimate) do you feel is good. The second question is does your body feel worse after a game of Ultimate on the following surfaces (multiple surfaces can be selected). Both polls are to the right.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Making your own Ultimate Talk and possibly saving time

I'm going to step out of the Ultimate sphere for a second and make a recommendation that may help some of you with respect to blogs and getting information.

The scenario is the following. You're taking a break at work and head to your favourite Ultimate blogs. Of course, you click The Cultimate Opinion, and blam, there's no updated article. You may repeat this process for any number of other blogs of the course of a day.

Figure 1: Here is a screen capture of Google Reader.

One option that might consider is the RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and using the many readers out there that will gather all the information to one single point telling you if there is new posts up. I, for example, use Google Reader as my RSS reader (screen shot in Figure 1).

Figure 2: The red square illustrates the RSS feed icon that you need to click to go the RSS feed URL.

Figure 3: An example of an RSS feed URL.

Every blog that I read regularly is added to Google Reader by grabbing the RSS URL (found on a blog in by clicking on the feed image - see Figure 2, and then copying the url - seen in Figure 3), and adding it to my reader (through Add Subscription). Now, similar to an e-mail reader, there will be listings of new articles and read articles.

You still might need to go to the web page for the blog once in a while to post comments, enter polls, and more, but just click the title on the RSS reader and you should be sent right to the blog.

Figure 4: Step 1 in importing your subscriptions in Google Reader is click "Manage Subscriptions".

Figure 5: Step 2 in importing your subscriptions in Google Reader is click "Import/Export".

Figure 6: Step 3 in importing your subscriptions in Google Reader is browse your computer and add the OPML file. Finally, upload the file.

One other useful thing in the RSS reader is importing a group of subscriptions at once. This is done using an OPML file. I've created an OPML file containing all the Ultimate blogs that I list in my blogroll. Just save this file to your computer and then execute the import as shown in Figures 1, 2, and 3 for Google Reader.

Now you have your own Ultimate Talk where you can add and delete streams that you want or don't want to see. You can even import a feed from if you really want to.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Is tournament X for you?

Phil Watanabe and I were talking in between games at the UPA championships. The topic was which tournaments our teams were playing at and whether they had value for our teams. We sort of came up with a simple starting model to analyze the value of a tournament for your team.

Pictured Above: An attempted foot block by Shawn Chua against a Van Buren Boy (photo courtesy of Lisa Di Diodato).

The parameters that are relevant to the analysis are:
  • C - Competition - For competition, if possible, take all the teams who are playing in the tournament (or those that would be in your division) and average their RRI. You could use your own teams RRI to normalize this value or just compare your RRI against the average.
  • C$ - Cost - the average cost of the tournament for an individual including lost opportunity costs.
    • Tourney + food + accommodation + travel
    • Lost time at work
Then if you divide C by C$ it will give you a competition to cost ratio on a per person basis. Given two or more tournaments you can then simply compare the competition to cost ratio and that will tell you, which tournament might be a better choice.

This simple equation misses many of the factors that you might want to consider when you're choosing a tournament (and possibly you don't even care about cost). Some of the factors are travel time, amenities at the tournament, playing against regional competition, and potential for prizes, prize money, and glory.

At least this equation is a starting point for the analysis.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Poll Thursday - Indoor

Last weeks query on how your amount of ultimate is going to change next season appears to be a Gaussian distribution. Most people plan to play the same while some will retire and others will play more at about the same frequency.

For those of us in colder climates, the winter has no Ultimate unless your playing in some of the winter and fall tournaments (usually accompanied by snow and rain), or there is the option of playing indoor Ultimate.

In Toronto, our indoor facilities have significantly improved over the past few years, moving from hard green covered surfaces to this new fake grass filled in with small little rubber balls. I've only played on the new surface once or twice (outdoors), but in general I've been against indoor Ultimate citing injuries and decreased throwing skills as arguments against. This is most likely because of the old surfaces that I played on and the lack of wind making it too easy to throw the disc (and therefore I lose one of my advantages in the game). This week the poll is divided into three categories for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced player. Do you think indoor Ultimate helps improve player level X's Ultimate game. Poll to the right.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

2007 - and so it began; and so it ends

This past weekend marked the end of my 2007 Ultimate season. I broke my yearly record for tournaments played from 20 to 21. My teams finished 1st nine times, 2nd three times, and top 8 six times (not including 1st and 2nd place). That's about the same success rate as 2006 for me, but the tournaments that my teams played at were definitely of higher caliber this year.

What did I learn? I learned plenty, and I felt my understanding of the game advanced significantly this season. On the blog, my favourite passed on lessons this year were:

So, now what do I do? I've decided to take this week off, and then Monday or Tuesday morning next week I'm going to head into the gym and start working out. Most likely, we'll start swimming and cycling with some light weights to help rehab my shoulder. I'll minimize any stress on my Achilles for as long as it takes to feel no more pain by just touching it.

My sporting life changes over to low impact hockey. It's hard to believe for many, but playing non-contact hockey (equivalent to basketball's boxing out and pushing, but no hitting) is probably one of the gentlest sports on the body. It's a high pace game that offers the challenge of controlling the implement (stick and puck are not as challenging to use compared to a disc), but the game has an additional challenge in mobility. It is very interesting and challenging to play a sport where mobility is not simply a running and jumping issue like in ultimate, and you're mind will want to go get the puck, but you won't know how to do it. Great game.

I love Ultimate, but it's nice to be moving into phase I and be able to watch premiership football on Saturday morning instead of waking up early to warm up and play. Thanks all for another great season.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Tournament 16 - Realization 1 - I've turned that corner

My first sporting love was basketball. I played elementary and high school ball as one of the best players in our area, and over 7 years I climbed to a competitive level where I was able to hold my own on many courts. I got red shirted in University and decided at that point to party and study instead of pursuing University basketball.

Pictured Above: Kim Yae of Torontula at Bowling Green where the women won the championship (picture from Sarah Hutchison)

The interesting thing was I could no longer play "for fun" basketball. As a player I couldn't handle bad fundamentals, bad understanding of the game, and lack of practice. I could only play competitive pickup or division one intramurals. I retired from basketball in 2001 and have never looked back except a mild interest in March madness, the occasional fantasy pool or game of bump.

This weekend we played a fun Ultimate tournament in Guelph called GUT rot. Our team was a collection of good players that, unfortunately, did not click until our final game. I realized over the tournament that I've turned the same corner in Ultimate that I did in basketball, and I don't really enjoy playing on a team that isn't practicing together and working to get better.

I have known this for a few years, and I've slowly cut out what I call the learning levels of Ultimate such as summer and winter league and local coed tournaments. This weekend showed me that I need to change my mindset if I'm going to play in "for fun" tournaments anymore. It's sad because those were the tournaments where I met all the great people in the game and had the opportunity to throw the throws that you need to learn for the bigger games. It is also sad since it is a sign that once my body and mind get to the point where they don't want to compete anymore, I'll have to find a new sport and only coach Ultimate.

My lowest point of the weekend was when I realized I was getting frustrated with players who were trying out the bigger and more challenging throws in the game. I was more concerned with winning then letting people grow. How can these players learn to make the right decisions if they're not allowed to test out different situations. Overall, I had a fun weekend with fun people. I'll need to rethink my approach to playing in these types of tournaments and come in with a mindset of teaching and having fun.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Poll Thursday - Got a plan?

I haven't had a poll in a while, so back to the questions.

For many of us the season is either done or coming close to finished until the spring. I'm planning on reducing the number of tournaments I play next year. I was just wondering how much ultimate you plan to play next season (poll to the left).


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

College Tournament 5 - Lesson 2 - Swing Game

One of our major weapons last weekend was our swing game. It was beautiful to watch, and it was one of our go to options that would pick apart a defense. The interesting thing is that in our final match up, Bowling Green Alumni really focused on slowing down our swings and made an additional effort to coral the swing (Coral in this case means stopping the swing first and then moving in for a tighter mark).

Pictured Above: James Donovan marks David Street in power pool play at UPA Championships (Photo taken by Lisa Di Diodato).

This is one good adjustment to slow down a swinging game, and unfortunately, we couldn't capitalize on what opens up when the coral over commits. I still haven't come up with the perfect readjustment, but here are some thoughts.

When we played Johny Bravo in Florida we played a similar defensive style by really aggressively corralling the swings. Bravo countered with adjusted cuts that allowed for the inside break throws that the Bravo throwers had. That's option one, but it depends on the strength of your throwers.

Another option I've been mulling over is the idea that from a swing going break side, once it is stopped, the thrower looks for an open side small throw and then cuts for the give and go. The advantage here is that the corralling defender is out of position making the give and go cut even more advantageous.

I don't know if there is a lesson here, but it's something that I'll need to think about more to make our swing offense better.


Monday, November 05, 2007

College Tournament 5 - Observation 1 - Savage Experience

This weekend, Torontula headed back to Bowling Green for a college tournament. We also went to Bowling Green last spring and had a spectacular time. The same was true this year. The fields are good, the hotel is very close to the fields, the competition is reasonable, the food options are great, and Bowling Green just seems like a nice place with nice people. I've never been downtown Bowling Green, but the University area is nice.

Pictured Above: At CUUC'07 Morgan receiving a pass with Inian chasing. I'm in the foreground (Photo courtesy of Kirsten Taylor).

Unfortunately, we could only scrounge up 11 guys to go to this tournament. I decided I would make a run at playing every point for the whole tournament. I got close, but the increased competition in the finals against the eventual winners, Bowling Green Alumni (13-12), caused my knee to hyper-extend on point 115. I played a few more points when our guys had injuries, but that was about all my body could take. Oddly enough, I don't feel more sore than after any other tournament this year and less sore than my first tournament of the year.

The most interesting thing about the whole experience was how the quality of my play decreased in relation to the more fatigued I got. This included poorer throw execution and worse decision making. I've noticed this effect in the past, and many people have pointed out the correlation between fatigue and performance, but during this experience I felt and saw how fatigue hurt my game.

I made some horrible decisions on the second day against Michigan B (in the quarters). In general, our whole team was making bad decisions in this game. Caffeine helped clear up my mind, and a focused effort on simplification of choices also helped improve this area of my game. My throws, however, did not improve even after a concerted effort to focus on execution. This doesn't mean I was missing my target, but the usual touch and accuracy that I put my throws was not there. This made each throw a little harder for the receiver to catch and in some cases resulted in drops.

Overall, I was just surprised on how much fatigue changed how I could play. Going to extremes illustrated this, and I wonder in other situations how the errors may be due to fatigue that is not so obvious. I guess I have another motivator for how important conditioning is.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Day 4 and beyond

Day 4 started late due to the previous night's party. I continuously moved from the Daiquiri Deck to the two dance floors at Gilligan's. The night ended in the hot tub, 6 new pillows, and a final visit from security.

We missed the ladies finals, and came in a few points into the Open finals missing one of the highlight reel plays (double layout to a strip to a point). With friends, beer, and a good match up, I enjoyed the Bravo vs. Sockeye match up. Both teams played interesting ultimate in relatively windy conditions, and I feel the wind made the game very interesting for both sides. The wind, likely, increased the number of errors we saw, but the crowd didn't really seem to be into the game until closer to the end. This might be due to the places we all came from and the lack of true support for either team. Maybe we should open up the betting gates to improve the commitment of the fans to the final.

We moved from the far end-zone to the end-zone close to disc central for the mixed finals. A shellacking ensued in which Slow White just couldn't get any momentum in the still strong wind. There were some nice layouts, but overall I was disappointed in the game's excitement level, but Shazam clearly ruled the day. Fortunately, I had our camera, and that kept me interested. I also bought a Johny Bravo long sleeve jersey and searched for Sub Zero, Chewbacca Defense, and Ring of Fire guys to trade for one of my Goat jersey's with (if still interested, contact me).

For two more days we continued to party it up in Florida with Scott from Shazam (who drove us to the Deck on a random hitchhike), Karl from Van Buren Boys (I think we owe him 2 cases of beer), some Jam guys, Rhino guys, non-ulti ladies from Michigan, amazing waves on a nearby beach, and Karl and Don (local dart players). In all, a great time, but happy to be back home.

For my first UPA championships, I learned and experienced plenty of Ultimate. The nice thing to know is even at the top the game their are many great people who just love the game.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Day 3 - All said and done except the watching

Day 3 started off with excitement for some and disappointment for others. We were fortunate to be in the excitement group come our quarterfinals against Chain Lightning. Clapham ruined our last chance to meet Chain Lightning at Chesapeake, but Chain was ready for a battle.

Pictured Above: Our first hand shake against Johny Bravo.

The game started out like many of the games we had this season. Goat went up on O and found some early D breaks to take command over the game. Chain, quickly, reversed our fortunes and took a significant lead, but we closed the half to be only down 7-8. Familiar territory for us, and we felt good about the second half. Chain had different plans and kept their lead for a while. We tied things up at 11-11, and the compound began to close in onto our game. It was the only quarters left in the Open division, and it was a barn burner.

Once again I watched a series of calls and looks at observers as our game continues to head to a refereed sport. In the end, Goat came out on top, and we were thrilled to move onto the semis and a rematch against Johny Bravo.

We took a short break after a long quarters and went into the game against Bravo pumped for another win. The game started out with a point for us, but after missing some key defenses break we found ourselves in a 6-3 deficit. It looked to like we still weren't ready for the pace of Bravo's game, but our break adjustments were paying off and slowing down Bravo's offense. Our D fought hard and closed the game to be only down 8-7 at the half. I had one point in this game in the first half and ran my heart out trying to shake Chicken (#10 on Bravo), and just barely getting away from him for seconds.

The half started out well for Bravo. They got their O point and then broke our O. Things got a little hairy, and not for some good plays on both sides Bravo finally ended the Goat's run into the playoffs.

What a run! And then I find out that there is free beer. I'm glad I didn't learn this any of the other days, or it might have been trouble. Four plus Budweisers later I headed over to the Jam and Sockeye semis with Morris, Nirk, and YMC. The game was tight and I got into the announcing and heckling quickly.

Their semis was a little more exciting than ours. Jam came from behind to tie the game up 14-14. A few less than worthy open side travel calls (in my drunken mind) and some turns let Sockeye close out the game.

One more day of big time ultimate, but now I'll just be watching. To the party.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Day 2 - More of the tough stuff

Day 2 at UPA championships was similar to the first. Two good games of ultimate, a little rain, and some real excitement.

Pictured Above: The Goat in the huddle. Photo taken by Lisa Di Diodato.

The day started off early in the morning with all teams arriving at least an hour before game time. We were treated to abbreviated versions of the National anthems on the harmonica and headed into our first game against Johny Bravo.

Instead of the early shell shock against Jam, we were now ready for the fast pace of elite ultimate. Goat started out trading points and had the potential, two times, to go up on the up wind break. Alas, fortune was not with us, and after the half in a matter of seconds we were down multiple up and down wind breaks. The break force was our enemy once again, and Bravo took the game as they deserved.

I had the opportunity to play the end of the Bravo game, but came out cold and was shell shocked on my first point. I watched a beauty D by one of the Bravo players that I, clearly, could have attacked if I was more focused on the game. Simple lesson - be ready at any point.

On the opposite field, Condors had gone up big during the half against Jam, but Jam came back and took the game from the Condors grasp. This meant it would be Goat vs. Condors for the ticket to the quarters avoiding the play in pre quarters.

Our game against Condors started off perfect. We went up a break early, but the Condors weren't going to let us run ahead, and they broke back twice to take the reigns of the game. We, however, didn't fall into a funk, and used our previous lessons from Jam and Bravo to fight our way back into the game. We broke back, and played tight defense to push forward and finally, command the game. We controlled the rest of the game and won it to push us into the quarters. Next on the list - Chain in the quarters.

Having won our key power pool game we had the rest of the day off. This time was spent watching the play ins. All over the complex the tournament raised it's feel to another notch. most of Goat watched the Capitals vs. Safari and Boston vs. Ring of Fire. I also wandered to watch a few points from a Masters quarters between Dog and Old Sag, and caught a few points from Truck Stop and Condors. In general, the games were true battles with applause and boos emerging from all over the complex. You just can't capture that on film.

Great job by the Capitals in recovering from a deficit to pull out a big win in the pre-quarters. We didn't stay for the glory due to a lightning break.

Day 2 was brilliant. Now on to day 3.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Day 1 - And so it begins

The legends are true. The UPA championships is an amazing tournament. Here's how I saw it in day one.

Pictured Above: Our warm up on day one. Photo taken by Lisa Di Diodato.

Unfortunately, I somehow lost my recap of the day on the interweb, but it was a good start for Goat. I'd sum up our loss to not understanding the pace at which the game is played at the elite level. Lesson partially learned...see day 2.


Monday, October 22, 2007

The Show - Preview

I've really got nothing to say except I'm bursting with anticipation and excitement for the UPA championships this coming weekend.

There are all sorts of predictions in the Open division:

It's all theory, but the previews add hype to our sport. Personally, I've had a great little stint of Ultimate and my confidence is high for both my game and our teams.

If you want to keep posted on the scores, then checkout:
I'll also try and get some photos and write ups over the progress of the tournament. We got the big lens courtesy of Neil Griffith.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

G7's masterpiece

On Torontula, we have G7, which stands for the group of seven. These are the seven bottom guys on the team roster, and our goal is to get them out on the field in as many situations as possible so they can work on their games without relying on veterans to control the game flow. Also, our team gets huge benefits for resting our upper half.

Pictured Above: Some of the finals action at CUUC'07 (photo courtesy of Kirsten Taylor).

G7 stands for "The Group of Seven", which links back to a famous group of Canadian artists in the 1920's.

G7 this year was the best G7 Torontula has had in a long time. For example, last year it took one tournament and a half (Easterns and Nationals) before G7 started to click and score as a line. This year, G7 went on a scoring streak from the start of Easterns until a few games into the tournament. Our talk on the sideline was questioning if our team was better than last years, and we always concluded that G7 was definitely better, which meant we were probably better.

Another aspect of G7 is these guys take the roll as an important opportunity to get better. They understand that G7 is a place where arguably the most growth will happen. It's the same as opportunities like captaining a B-team or even being shipped to the B-team for more opportunity as a lead player instead of a low bench player on a top end team.

Unfortunately, in the finals, we were 1 point away from putting G7 onto the field, but UBC made a run at just the right moment. It was still a pleasure to watch G7 perform at the best I've seen them perform all year. They're also the reason we were so well rested for the playoffs.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Oratoraly on fire

One of the biggest challenges for a captain is the little speeches and adjustments that need to be made before the game, at each team timeout, at half-time, and after the game. This past weekend I felt that I had a string of good speeches and tactics.

The cost of coming up with good speeches is that you might not sleep well the night before, and you constantly have to be thinking about the game. The benefit is...well you can't really quantify the benefits with intangibles like a good speech, but a bad captain will take you places you don't want to be.

Pictured Above: Torontula at CUUC. Thanks again to the teams and tournament organizers for a great weekend.

A few highlight points that I came up with over the weekend were:
  • Focusing on the game at your level - in the past I've talked to people about breaking a game of Ultimate into small pieces and focusing on those pieces. I stick by this logic and apply it to my own game. This weekend, however, I added one additional component to the concept and that is focusing on the game at the level you are at. This means that some players need to focus only on catches and throws, more experienced players need to focus on clearing cuts and spacing, and veterans need to focus all of these while focusing on the bigger picture of the game and how other players are fitting into their game.
  • Pacing the game to our comfort level - this is a classic sport concept where you need to control the game pace and style. The key way we achieved control over the game was using our timeouts throughout the tournament the way we wanted to use them. Most, if not all, of our timeouts were taken after we scored a point. This isn't always possible, but I felt that we kept the pace of the game and never shifted momentum in the opponents favor.
  • Humor bullets - there's a lot of pressure on a team to perform. In college, you have lots of guys on your team who have never played in big games, and they're worried that they'll disappoint their team. Even the veterans feel the pressure to not let the team down in the big situations. In both cases, the pressure is a negative factor that may hurt the team's performance. To counter the pressure, we use humor, and last weekend, I had a number of funny comments mixed into my speeches. I felt those comments, when not used to excess, relaxed the team and put us in the right place to play great ultimate.
  • Taking the blame - sometime the team doesn't perform as expected, and you can put blame on specific situations that occurred in the game. We had a situation like this last weekend, but instead of breaking down the problem, I deflected the blame to the big picture decisions I made during the game. This was a partial truth, but it was all the team needed to hear at the time.
That's just a sample of a few things we did well this weekend. A captain/coach needs to build up their toolbox full of these little ideas. Each tool, however, has to be used naturally and sincerely.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

College Tournament 4 - Observation 1 - Class

I'm a little hazy from this past weekend in Vancouver at Canadian Uni Nationals with lots of Ultimate, partying, and the red eye flight home. The weekend was a spectacular event with more laughs than one can imagine. This was all made a little easier since we took the title for the second year in a row, but I felt, for the most part that this tournament was special for a lot of people. The weather and tournament were spectacular, and other than a poor choice in hotel rooms (that's the last one Ben) the weekend had it all.
Pictured Above: Not a Nationals shot, but TUBA (Torontula B) down in Cleveland preparing for the future (photo courtesy of Sticks).

Normally, I'm of the opinion that Canadian teams should completely convert to joining the UPA season and forget about CUPA and the like. This weekend I started to see some of the value of our own national series. The value is these tournaments are competitive and challenging with all the excitement that sports has, but at the same time the games (even with their brief tense moments) were classy and felt like a reunion.

The guys from "The red university that shall not be named" captured it best when they came and congratulated us on our final win, and then joked about razing us all game about the Leafs. It was all good fun and good entertainment. The finals had good booing like any non-partisan crowd should provide with two of the boos being from calls I made; we countered with more cowbell, some parents, and a group of loved ladies, which make any game a pleasure. I've actually never been booed before or called a female body part by a fan in the crowd, but I enjoyed it. The booing was good too, because it really made me question if I believed in the calls I had made.

The classiness went beyond the finals. In each of our games, each team we played was fun to compete against. We traded jersey color with some guys from Quebec (who still can't be named) over a phone call back to Toronto to a mutual friend. We had a spirited finish to our quarters against Saskatchewan in a game of face and battling over who had the better back flipper. Alberta, Mac, and the C-birds played good games with what I feel only had one bad call over all 5 games - very classy. The observers, for the most part, were simply observing our games.

Overall the two words of the weekend were "Epic" and "Legendary". Those two words go beyond our own team. I'm not sold on living in the city of Vancouver with it's lack of snow and abundance of Police who caught us red handed a number of times, but the Ultimate players and their hospitality make it an easy decision to visit the city again for more Ultimate.

In the end, I left/lost my GT #12 hat in the city. Let's hope the next owner of that hat experiences classy Ultimate like I just did. Also, I hope people enjoyed meeting Jeters on Sunday night. That guy rarely makes appearances these days, and some day I hope to meet him. The stories sounded interesting.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Poll Thursday - Water bottle choice

I use a Nalgene on the sideline like the vast majority of Ultimate players. This weekend, one of my ride companions, Pam, was commenting that she couldn't bring her glass water bottle onto the polo fields for the safety of the horses.

News stories have warned of the danger of plastics as they release chemicals into the water. Glass and aluminum seem to be safer options.

Just a simple poll this week. What is your favourite type of water bottle? Poll is to the right.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tournament 14 - Lesson 2 - Sweep, Sweep, Sweep that tunnel away

We've all seen it before in a game. Player Z with the disc looks upfield and sees an open cutter. They throw the disc to be thwarted by player X who creeps into the lane and blocks the throw. The poach wins again.

This play happened to both Boston and Goat in the final game at Regionals, and in both cases they were monumental in terms of momentum swings for each team. So how do you prevent this from happening?

First off, lets discuss a little about the eye and your brain in terms of what you see. Many players believe that their peripheral vision is good enough to handle seeing the field and avoiding the poach. First off, you should know that much of your peripheral vision computing is built for detecting movement and not details. Some of the sensory information from the periphery is not actually there and is drawn in by the brain. This is exemplified with an actual blind spot due to your optical nerve. You can go experiment with your blind spot here to understand that it exists and where it is.

Basically, your eyes are great sensory devices, but you can't rely on a single point of view as a true picture of field reality. This leads me to the concept of eye sweeping. You need to constantly be moving your eyes and making calculations instead of focusing on a sole receiving objective. This can be tricky, and the reality is at higher levels in Ultimate the game speeds up and you need to speed up your game calculations and decisions accordingly. This is one of my favourite arguments for training with video games in parallel with playing high quality ultimate.

The conclusion is simple and obvious. The more information you have, the better your decision will be. Keep the eyes moving and train your peripheral to detect movement. Zoning in or tunnel vision rarely results in a benefit when simple and quick team disc movement are in many cases a far better option that will avoid the poach. Finally, don't forget the fake as a tool to cause movement and activate your periphery vision.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tournament 14 - Lesson 1 - Observers, the new parent

UPA Regionals came to a conclusion in all divisions over the weekend. I've always loved the energy a regionals or sectionals has in comparison to average tournaments. I'm one of the fortunate ones to be heading to Florida to participate in the big show.

With a quick look around RSD you can view various rants on field quality, cheaters, bad tournament formats, Canadians and their lack of historical knowledge, and cleaning cleats in a hotel pool. That makes for an unproductive Tuesday morning, and I'll continue with my own rant.

For both our finals against Boston and the 2/3 game against PoNY, we had observers during the games. I've argued before that observers should let the flow of the game go and leave the power trip out of observing (envision the mad dash onto the field to call a glorious offside). The four observers we had this weekend were excellent in this regard and let the play go. Sure, one of them made a minor error on not calling an automatic offside, but after a short talk with him we acknowledged the error and let it go.

No, my rant is not with the observers, but it's with many of the players and their use of the observers. Essentially, the observer was no longer an observer, he was a referee/parent. Infraction discussions were essentially eliminated (or kept very brief) and both players would rapidly go to the observer for a call like young kids constantly calling on Mom or Dad to deal with a situation.

It just doesn't seem right. I think we should default to the rules and deal with the game as if no observer were there. When a game goes on without observers, in many cases, the ruling goes to the offensive team maintaining possession and the disc goes back and play is reset. Over a game the good calls and bad calls tend to balance, and the crowd can enjoy some good arguments. This is the game I like.

And what about using the observer to call the infraction. I've been a basketball referee for many years, and I've watched a range of sports and yelled at the TV for all sorts of infractions. I consider myself to have a good eye when it comes to picking out an infraction. If I was an observer and someone was throwing what should I watch for? The details of the release and potential foul or the movement of the pivot foot? Can I view both with my peripheral? What about listening for the count, the pick, and other calls?

In other words, I think we play a that is fuzzy in terms of infractions and is best left for self officiating. We've created a set of rules that deal with this fuzziness and allow for the play to be reset. The rules and game work pretty well together favouring the offense and leading team in some cases. Introducing the parent/observer attempts to have clear decisive rulings just doesn't seem to work. I found the number of bad calls made by observers to match or be even greater than if we didn't have them.

The observer is great for keeping the tempo of the game, watching for boundaries, keeping track of the details like time and score, and giving a watchful and deterring eye over the game. Their presence seems necessary to some degree, but as a sport we should train the participants on how to use them to maintain the flow of the game.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Blog versus Spy

When I go on Google Analytics, a hit tracking web application, I notice the increased number of hits from cities of teams that we'll be competing against this weekend. I've made an effort not to speculate or report too much on our teams status for regionals. Not that I think I'll reveal some key secret, but why risk playing around with team and individual psychology when there's no need to.

Are there team risks with a member of your team regularly posting on the blog-o-sphere or even RSD, and should each team have a policy on what there teammate can and can't reveal or discuss? A similar topic of discussion can be viewed here. Both interesting questions, especially for a sport that lacks media attention and the majority of the information is passed online by those who participate in the bigger events.

First off, I guess we need to question what information could a person reveal that would cause an impact. The play book, if a team has one, is obviously a private piece of information that has some value, but without an audible indicator it is hard to guess (though certain cuts become obvious) what a team will do even if you know the possible plays they run from a set stack. Knowing a team's philosophy in terms of what they want to on defense and how they're going to counter your particular style of play might give you insight on how to throw back a curve ball or break down their defense. However, with any sort of scouting, all this information should be available or inferable if you're willing to take the time.

I'm somewhat convinced that even if a person had access to all the personal communications that go on in a team, the benefit would be small. This, however, does not mean that a team should simply give away that small benefit. We play a game of slight advantages, and the closer you get to the top, the games get much tighter in terms of what a small advantage can do.

This brings us to team policies for external communication. Initially, you have to trust your teammates and expect that they won't give away an advantage, and expect that it's an unwritten rule that the team secrets are...secrets. If you sense that too much information is getting out, than maybe a captain or coach needs to step in and deal with the situation.

Finally, what if one of your captains is the one writing on the web? Similar rules apply, and only when it's a perceived problem should someone mention it.

So, what about speculation as opposed to information dissemination? This ones a little trickier. Should you be speculating on how your team will perform in a particular tournament? Personally, I can't see how speculation could influence performance, but that's for me. From what I've discussed with other people, speculation can cause some strange things to happen in people's minds. It's another one of those grey areas that doesn't seem to be a factor, but for the sake of the team, it might be better to avoid speculation and not to risk anything.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Sex, Drugs, and Ultimate

Actually, forget about the sex. We can argue whether it's a sport enhancer or not later, but let's look at the drugs and two recent things I came across.

On my latest look at the WFDF site I noticed the Antidoping section. Immediately, I started thinking will players going to worlds be tested for drugs? Our sport and some of our complaints of being on the fringe of athletics, and we get included in the antidoping regime. I can't say I have any trouble with this, and one side of me hopes that we're all clean, but the mischievous side wonders what the first drug scandal in Ultimate will rock the world (or at least RSD for maybe a week).

Pictured Above: Torontula Ladies (all tested clean) warming up at Canadian Easterns in Ottawa (photo courtesy of Lexi Marsh).

My roommate, Peyton, subscribes to a magazine called ODE, and in the most recent issue there's an article about the hypocrisy of normal people and the sensationalism of drugs in sport. Basically, the article is saying that many people use harmful drugs in their daily lives for various reasons, and why they point such an accusing finger at athletes who use drugs to enhance performance.

For this weekend, I've collected my insulin, ibuprofen, sugar free Red Bull, and diet Pepsi. I'll be playing at regionals with a range of legal drugs coursing through my veins. Have I crossed a line? Have we as a sport crossed a line where we speak of vitamin I (ibuprofen) or Red Bull as a necessity for many of us to compete. I wonder if there are some in Ultimate who have gone to the other side of the line using even more dangerous substances like steroids and the like. Where as a sport should we stand on these issues?


Monday, October 01, 2007

Playing fans can't gamble

I've discussed one of the strange aspects of our sport where most of the team coaches are also players on the team. It's actually the same with the fans. Most fans of the sport are the people who play higher level ultimate.

Previously, I've talked about how I think fantasy like the many thousands of fantasy leagues would allow the fan to be more active in the sport. What about gambling, and what about gambling in a self officiated game? Would gambling cause more people to watch the sport like horse racing?

My immediate reaction to the idea is it's a bad idea that can only lead to trouble, and for the most part betting on individual games would be bad with the ease of game fixing games (especially without refs). It's hard enough for an individual to play fair with only the desire to win pushing on our ethics button, but now imagine cash being involved.

I still think the gambling link could be established and prove to bring more attention to the game from outsiders if you mix gambling with fantasy sport. In most cases, fantasy sports is either player pick based or multi team pick based. Picking the bracket, like the NCAA March Madness, on a per tournament basis would be fun and would make it very challenging to actually fix (as long as the people taking the bets were controlled).

The other advantage is that we the players could also bet on the outcome in a bracket form since there would be very little conflict of interest.

Well, after this weekend, more than half of the Open teams have been determined for Nationals and half of the Women's teams. A discussion on RSD is questioning why back door teams keep on losing. Talk is in the air as things continue to heat up on the path to Florida.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Conspiracies and Flying Discs

I like the Ultrastar discs from Discraft. I've used them since day one of my Ultimate career and they just feel right in my hand. I'm sure the majority (if not all) touring players would agree that it's the disc of choice, but that's really because it's the disc we're used to, not because the disc has any special properties. I, personally, can throw both a Wham-O and a Daredevil disc. It's not that difficult.

Pictured Above: Discs. I've used this phot before, but I think it's fitting (Photo courtesy of Jason Moy).

So why does the UPA and the WFDF have methods to determine how to approve a disc for it to be used in tournament play (in any disc based game be it Ultimate, Disc Golf, Guts, etc.)? Well, I can think of one main reason; agreement on a common playing device(s) so that everyone can train with that device leaving the competition field even. It makes sense.

What does that mean for up and coming companies that want to break into the disc selling world. Well, it means you've got to find an early market outside of the federations that allows you to introduce your disc. Then you need to get a population that is used to and wants to use your disc at higher levels thus putting pressure on the major federations to include your disc as an excepted disc in tournaments. This also sounds fair, but a challenging road.

So is there a conspiracy? Well, first of all, there really isn't a conspiracy, but I think there might be a conflict of interest, and for once I'm undecided. For the WFDF I've found no advertising on their website that suggests a disc company supports them, but on the UPA site right at the bottom you can see a Discraft advertisement. Also, note that the Ultastar is the only disc approved for the UPA championships.

Outrageous! Well, let's not jump the gun yet. I thought I would go look at some other sporting organizations for comparison and FIFA immediately comes to mind with their golden Adidas ball. The website has nothing on the procedure for approving a ball, but they do have a very clear message from Adidas. To summarize, Adidas gives FIFA money. I can't exactly determine what FIFA is and how it distributes its wealth, but I'll assume it passes that to the tournaments and affiliated football associations.

So where do I stand at this point on the disc monopoly? A not for profit organization that makes money from disc advertising revenue and uses that money to help its members sounds fine. Does it even matter that much? At best, it might be grounds to demand more from the disc companies in supporting our tournaments. Now if we could just get the airlines and hotels on board.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Poll Thursday - First 2 Regionals

Last week it appears the majority of us believe that Canada will have 5 teams representing at the UPA Championships. Who are those teams? We'll find out soon.

With the Northwest and the Mid-Atlantic regionals happening this week I'll set up the poll for the Mid-Atlantic. For details on the Northwest go to Danny's blog, and put your bets in Furious if you like them this year (note that there is no Invictus option...don't count them out).

In the Mid-Atlantic poll to your right make your pick. The tournament RRI has them seeded in the same form as I have provided. The banter has Ring, Truck Stop, and Pike going with rumors that Burgh wouldn't go even if they qualified.

Good luck to all, and keep those RRI scores coming in throughout the weekend.

Dr. J

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wildcards and wild times into the fall series Regionals

Sectionals finished off this weekend and the wild cards to the championships have been announced. The Northeast Open was only 4 teams away from a third spot to go. This, I believe, is because Upstate New York sectionals is run in Rochester instead of Toronto, Kingston, or Ottawa which would increase the Open team number by at least 3.

Let's look how the wild cards affect Canadian teams:

  • Northeast
    • Open - as discussed 2 spots to go makes it tight once again for Goat.
    • Women - 4 spots with a strength and size bid. This is looking good for both Capital and Storm.
    • Coed - 3 spots with a strength bid is good for BFC and Denoiret.
    • Masters - 2 spots like almost always. Three strong teams fighting for a spot with Tombstone right in the mix.
  • Central
    • Open - 3 bids (1 size) will help General Strike if they go and can knock off some of BAT, Madcow, Frontline, and Machine.
  • Northwest
    • Open - 4 bids (2 strength) means lots of spots, but still one of the strongest sectionals. Furious, with their potential low seeding will still have lots of room. Invictus has an outside chance.
    • Women - 3 bids (1 strength) will help out Traffic's chance but Riot and Fury, arguably, get 1 and 2 leaving a fight between Traffic and Zeitgeist for the 3rd spot to go.
Over the weekend the only non number one seed to be knocked down a notch was Club Team X with a loss to Chuck Wagon in the West New England section.

This weekend is the Mid Atlantic Regionals with expectations of Ring of Fire, Truck Stop, and either Pike or Burgh to qualify for Nationals in the Open Division; Backhoe, Loose Cannon, and Wicked are the favourites to qualify in the Women's. Also this weekend the Northeast has Furious, Sockeye, Rhino, and Jam favoured to qualify with Invictus, Voodoo, and Rhino all with the potential to upset; in the Women's Fury and Riot will likely be the 1 and 2 while Traffic, Zeitgeist and Schwa battle it out for the 3rd spot to go.


Monday, September 24, 2007

College Tournament 3 - Lesson 1 - Ingredients to stay on top... mix the parts together for a great meal

Our University club team, Torontula, had our first tournament of the season up in Ottawa this weekend for Canadian Easterns. Our team is the current Canadian University Champion and we're in a position we've never been before. We're not the underdog, and everyone is looking to beat us.

Fortunately, our team this year is, arguably, better than last year with many of our returning players improving their games over the club season, and a strong set of new faces to fill out the roster. Still, the psychology of being on top is completely different since there's some aura of pressure to win.

Pictured Above: Torontula this weekend (photo courtesy of Mark Kowgier).

A few things I think that are key to keep for a team in this spot are put the pressure on to perform well as opposed to solely winning and keep the game and tournament fun.

The reality is it comes down to each individual and how they deal with being in different situations. Personally, once the game has started I don't look at who's the expected better team, I just go into the situation and try to focus as best I can. That's how I try to break the game down for the younger players.

A tournament is made up of seven or eight games. Each game is made up of a number of points. Each point can be broken into individual match ups. Each match up will include cuts, throws, catches, marks, and positioning. Deal with each of these small pieces and the bigger picture will come together.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Cold sores - not the lip kind

As fall hits in a matter of days and some of us continue into the fall touring season, fall leagues, and college season a key issue in terms of keeping your body healthy comes up - playing in cold temperatures.

My friend's Lisa and Shawn brought this up about the same time I was thinking about it last spring. I had just hurt my hamstring at Double Down in Central Michigan after a good warm up and countless months of stretching and working out in preparation for the season. I realized that the majority of my injuries happen in the colder months.

Pictured Above: Goat at Chicago Heavyweight Championship. Notice the belt on John Hassell - Greatest trophy ever (photo courtesy of Adam-photographer for CHC)

The problem seems simple to solve. It comes down to:
  • Make sure you warm up properly
  • Put on warm clothing at any breaks (arguably wear warm clothing while playing)
    • The toque is an amazing piece of warm clothing
  • Continue to do mini warm ups throughout the day
  • Stop playing for any body twinges you feel and evaluate
If only I had a little voice in my head that would remind me of those four things. If anything, it is very useful to have one person on your team who is responsible for constantly reminding the rest of the team of these simple concepts.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Poll Thursday - Canadian Teams at UPA Finals

Last week a large percentage of voters voted that they would pay close attention to the UPA series. I'm one of them as both a participant and active observer.

From a Canadian perspective how do we think teams will fair this year? The actual poll question is of 12 teams that I'm guessing will be at Regionals (Goat, Invictus, Furious George, Blackfish, General Strike, Capitals, Traffic, Storm, Bytown Flatball Club, Denoiret, Tombstone, Glum) how many do you think will make it to the UPA championships in Florida (one of 16 teams in each division).

Poll is to the right.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

More Commentary - CUC Finals

I've been a little slow on releasing our (Norm and Peter) commentary from Canadian Nationals finals. I should thank Rahil Suleman for being our spotter during the broadcast and helper during the commentary.

Here are:

Again, to all listening the commentary is just for fun. We make lots of errors on names and make some attempts at funny comments. At one point I'm calling a player on the Capitals a Canadian rower.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Sectionals Weekend 2

Most of weekend 2 in the fall series sectionals went as scripted. I, unfortunately, lay on my back the entire weekend wishing I was in Rochester at our Sectionals. Here's a quick summary of the weekend.

In the Open division there are no big upsets. All the number one teams won out their brackets except last weekend where Revolver beat Jam in a a very tight game to take first out of Northern California. The most anticipated game was between Sockeye and Furious with Sockeye winning the section 15-10.

Pictured Above: More Goat vs. Sub Zero action at Chicago. Shaggy (Mark Zimmerl) of Goat is setting up for the throw (Photo courtesy of Robin Davies).

From a Canadian perspective, Furious George (Vancouver), Blackfish (Vancouver), Invictus (Calgary), and Goat (Toronto/Ottawa) move on to Regionals. Phoenix (Ottawa), Firebird (Ottawa), and Grand Trunk (Toronto) will be waiting to see if they qualify either in Div I or Div II Regionals.

In the Mixed Division there are a few surprises.
  • In East New England, Slow White (some pegging this team to win it all) loses to Quiet Coyote in pool play 11-13, but pays back the favor with 15-5 win for 2nd place in the section. Tandem takes the section never having to play Slow White.
  • In California, Brass Monkey takes first from Mischief (last years UPA Mixed Champions) 15-7 having lost twice to them in previous tournaments this year. This isn't a huge upset since both of these teams are top notched and will clash again and again on the road to Florida.
  • In the Rocky Mountain Section, DNC-07 takes first from Bad Larry beating them twice 13-11. Not much details about DNC-07, but we should keep an eye on this team.
Bytown Flatball Club will go to Sectionals next weekend as the Canadian representative in the division.

In Women's, all the big teams went through. In some of the bigger match ups, Riot beats Traffic in Washington/BC section and Fury beats Zeitgeist in Northern California. Both Traffic (Vancouver) and Capitals (Toronto/Ottawa) will be moving on to Regionals with Storm (Montreal) playing next weekend.

The fever continues.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Poll Thursday - Club Series Fever

Last week I polled about the awareness of the touring in your respective city leagues. From the results it appears that people in league know of some touring teams in the area. I get the same feeling here in Toronto, and I have some thoughts on the topic for an upcoming post.

I've always enjoyed both the UPAs fall club series and spring college series. Teams are ramping up for sectionals, regionals, and nationals. There's a two tier qualification system to get one of 16 spots (12 in the Master's division) in the finals in Sarasota, Florida.

The fascinating thing about the series is that for many teams sectionals and regionals will be the end of the road. For these teams these tournaments are the big show. They get to battle the incumbents who they may never get to play all season due to the tiering of tournaments. This is their big chance to see how they match up and show how they might fair in the future.

Even for the top teams, the road to Nationals is a long one as every region has up and coming teams nipping at their heels trying to make an Appalachian State like upset that will light RSD on fire. Each game needs to be treated as a legitimate game that will help build a successful run, and yet, each team has to plan how to deal with an entire tournament worth of games.

It's great fun to observe and play in, and my only complaint is the overall lack of media coverage for each of the stages of the series. The poll question this week is what interest do you, personally, have in the series? Make your pick to the right.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tournament 12 - Lesson 2 - Remember to play

Every time I move up to a better team I find the additional pressure a challenge. Mainly, I don't want to let down my teammates and I try to play perfect. I start making errors that I haven't made in a long time.

I realized this weekend after my first game that I need to stop thinking that way and get into the moment. Look for that free flow state in which you are focused on the game and performing instead of thinking too much about every little detail. Especially details like what shouldn't I do.

Pictured Above: John Hassell, #38 on Goat in the air against 3 Sub Zero guys at Chicago Heavyweight Championship (photo courtesy of Robin Davies)

After I started just playing Ultimate and working hard things started to flow. Sure I still made errors, but I strung 3 perfect games in a row until I had two more throw away errors. Again, I was thinking too much and I went back to playing, and finished the rest of the tournament on a perfect run.

I expect all the guys coming into their respective college teams trying to move up from B teams to A teams or high school teams to college teams are feeling similar pressures. Try to remember that down time is about thinking what to do. Downtime being after a drill, practice, game, or tournament. The rest of the time you need to be confident and play. Make the effort and most of your teammates will appreciate you.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tournament 12 - Lesson 1 - Dealing with pain is easy

We were a little short on guys this weekend at the Chicago Heavyweight Championship with only 18 guys for 8 competitive games against the best in the central region. The reality is you're going to be tired and in pain after each game.

Depending on the type of pain (soreness vs injury) I find that sore pain or chronic pain that I'm feeling are best forgotten as the pull occurs. On defense, I go into the dog like state and run down the field chasing the disc as fast as I can, and on offense, I totally immerse myself on focusing on the disc and the speed of the defense coming towards us to determine how safe the first pass is. From that point on until the end of the point I feel no pain.

There's no doubt that pain is one of those sensory focus things (lacking a proper technical term). At extremes pain will take over your mind, but nagging pain like sore muscles and appendages can quickly be ignored when you focus on something else. A simple test is how you can pinch yourself somewhere to refocus your brain on this new pinching pain.

The key on the field is to focus in on the point as soon as possible. That's all you need to be aware of for the next X seconds, and there is so much going on that there should be no time to think about the pain.

With our low numbers this weekend there were higher levels of exhaustion and pain, but our captain captured it before the last game on Sunday when he said that pushing through this one last game will make the long trip home that much easier.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Poll Thursday - Fall Series Excitement

Last week Labor day votes were off for the most part. Picking the so called "incumbents" in the Open didn't serve us well, but we were pretty close in both the Women and Mixed division.

This week I thought we would ask a simple yes no question. Is there any awareness in your respective city league about what is going on at the touring level. This is a general feel question and we'll use percentages to indicate how much awareness there is at the league level.

The poll is to the left.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

More indicators - UPA Fall Series

So, my feeling with the East Open teams is that they will compete with the West and might have a break through in the Open division. I would guess the East will get 2 quarter finalists and maybe 3 with a little luck.

Just for clarification, we will call the East - Northeast + Mid Atlantic, Central - South and Central, and the West - Southwest and Northwest.

The comments on my last post brought up the Central division and how it would fair. Well looking at the indicators:

  • Sub Zero - they look strong with losses only coming from teams I would put in UPA semi-finalist and finalist categories. Each loss was by no more than 6 points and that was against Furious who they later beat. It looks like Sub Zero is shooting to return to the Quarters and make a run at semis this year.
    • Positive outlook for the best team out of the Central division.
  • Chain Lightning - the best from the South and with only results from ECC. They have one big win over Johny Bravo and lots of 4 (or less) losses. It will be challenging to repeat their road to the semis last year, based on indicators, but these are just indicators.
    • Neutral results from a team that had great success last year.
  • Machine - Out of central with an appearance at the Colorado Cup. These guys beat Revolver but lost by big margins against Jam, Johny Bravo, Condors, and Sub Zero. It's hard to get a read.
    • Negative outlook based on big losses.
From the indicators it appears that both Central and East teams are offering up competition for the West. It appears that the West has more teams that will be fighting for berths in the quarters, semis, and finals in Florida, but the East+Central is offering up competition that on any given Sunday or Saturday could change the balance.

Yesterdays comment that teams probably can't get all their players out to these long distance tournaments might be a significant factor in using these results as indicators. Also, we should consider these tournaments as prep tournaments for each team.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

UPA Series - The indicators are done

All the big tournaments in the Open division have now passed that give people a clue as to what might happen in the fall series. Not to say anything can happen, but with Emerald City Classic, Colorado Cup, Labor Day, and Chesapeake tournaments complete we might be able to make some guesses as to what might happen in the UPA fall series.

First let's speculate the classic East vs West North America . Let's look at representatives from the East in the 3 western tournaments:

  • Truck Stop - Colorado Cup has them losing to everyone except Machine with some tight games all the way. They head out to Labor Day Classic and continue to lose against top western teams. They do win one against Rhino.
    • Overall a negative for the East, though not the top team out of the east.
  • Boston Ultimate - Wins over Revolver at Colorado, but not much success there. At ECC they beat Rhino, Sockeye, and Bravo from the West on day one and lose to Revolver and Jam.
    • Overall a positive sign that the East will compete.
  • Ring of Fire - Wins over Rhino and Voodoo (Seattle's number 2 team) at the ECC.
    • Overall a negative for the East with a win over one of the lower western teams.
It's definitely still favouring the west in terms of who seems to be stronger, but there are some signs that the eastern teams might surprise the west. They will at least compete in some tight games.


Friday, August 31, 2007

Battle for the Best Ultimate Jersey

Similar to last year I'm hoping to have a poll battle, but this time for our favourite Ultimate jersey. Lots of you weren't thrilled with the Logo Battle, but a bunch of us had a great time voting week in week out, and watching our team logos lose to various top team logos.

Don't worry. I'm not going to run the jersey battle during the fall series and I'll leave it for the off season, but I need to start planning and getting submissions. So, please e-mail me your jersey submissions in picture form similar to the photo below:

The basic rules:

  1. I can change the rules.
  2. Photo format for your team ultimate jersey
    1. Front and back shots of the jersey (one or two photos)
    2. Can include both light and dark, but will be considered one submission
    3. No game action shots
    4. No nudity
    5. JPG format
    6. Should show the jersey well (the above photo is not the best example of this, but not the worst)
    7. I have the right to not except a photo, but will e-mail you back on why. This will hopefully allow time for resubmission
  3. One submission per team
The basic format of the contest:
  • Single elimination with possibility of wild cards.
  • It will depend on the number of submissions.
That's the basic plan. So send your submissions to jamieson dot peter at gmail dot com. I'll start the battle in November accepting submissions until the first round is complete.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Poll Thursday - Labor Day Guess

Hey Folks,

So it appears that most of you are happy with the boo. You know what I say to that - "boo". We had some good heckling at the finals at Chesapeake. The best was one of the guys was going on about "down with free health care". I was trying to focus on the game from the sideline, but some of lines cracked me up.

This week I thought we would take a shot at picking the winners for the Labor Day Classic. Make your guesses to the right. RRI has details on the Mixed, Open and Women's division.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

CUC Audio Commentary - Mixed Division

I had the fortune of doing live audio commentary for the finals at Canadian Nationals. Norman Farb and myself spent about 8 hours in the audio booth at Varsity field making random comments on the game over the internet. Norm has cleaned up the audio and here is the commentary on the mixed game (about 18MB). I will post the Women and Open games over the next two weeks.

Note that we made some errors on names, scores, and made random comments that may or may not be true facts. This audio is also unedited, so our slip ups are all there. I tried syncing the commentary to video, but unless the video is for the entire game there is lots of starting and pausing.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Not the man, what to do

I get lots of handlers coming up to me asking what they need to do once they become offside handlers (let's call them beta handlers). The basic premise is you came from team X where you were the main handler. Most of the resets go through you, you always pick up the disc first, and you're the one who throws the majority of assists. You've moved up the ranks to team Y and now you're the number two, three, or lower handler. What do you do on the field?

My first experience like this was four years ago from Pong to Grand Trunk, and I, as a handler, had no clue what to do. The other players around me had no clue what the challenge was either since we were all alpha handlers.

Four years later, my role this fall series is very similar. Instead of feeling lost and out of the place, I love the challenge of the beta handler making space, good resets, setting up continuation, and moving the disc. The beta handler has to have a better perspective of cutting and flow and has to be aware all the time. It also turns out that these skills make you a better alpha handler.

Here are some general themes to think about to help you adjust to the beta handler position:

  • If you're not the primary then make movement or lack of movement to allow teammates to get open.
    • As simple as this sounds, to make space you need to predict where people want to go. This requires visual spacial calculations (still love video games for this training), which in turn means lots of looking and awareness.
  • Always position yourself to reset, setup continuation, or balance the field. If you're not doing one of these three and your defender can poach you are killing your team.
    • Your reset position needs to be good and set quickly.
    • To balance the field you need to be prepared to be a cutter as much as a handler.
  • I've discussed this earlier, but remember to keep the disc moving on early stall counts.
  • A break side swing is the best look (in most cases) on a backwards reset cut.
    • Some people tend to automatically fake (the swing among other throws) when they first get the disc. A good defender will catch onto this and take advantage of it.
  • Move.
    • This one is simple and hard, but you always need to be a threat. As soon as your defender looks away then make an attacking movement.
  • Work on your reset cut and throw incessantly. These are two of the most fundamental and important parts of your game.
The reality the beta handler job is challenging to get good at, but at the higher levels of Ultimate the lines between a beta and alpha handler are very small. Movement, disc movement, and spacing will serve a team well regardless of your position.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Tournament 11 - Lesson 1 - Awe Nuts

We had a great weekend at Chesapeake to start off the fall series with a wow. It was seven games of quality ultimate in extreme heat on Saturday and average weather on Sunday. The first thing I learned, the hard way, is the importance of salt.

Pictured Above: Looks like a good read from Open pool play at CUC'07 (photo courtesy of Marc Hodges)

This is even trickier as a diabetic. Before, I used to drink Gatorade to at least replenish some of the sodium I was losing, but now the high sugar content in Gatorade makes it a useless product from my perspective. In the 37 degree Celsius weather, I was sweating constantly, and by the third game on Saturday against BAT, my calf started to cramp. I stopped the cramping with some food and massage so I could get out for a point, and then the top of my hamstring craped (I've never felt that before).

That's when I remembered a lesson that I've learned ages ago, but needed to be reminded about with the importance of salt and the benefit of salted nuts. Nuts are low carbohydrate, high protein food that I can eat, somewhat, for free and get some salt and nutrients to replace what I lost. Plus the nuts are cheap and high in calories (mainly fat).

Those simple lessons of eating well, drinking, keeping cool, and replacing salts are so simple, and yet, so important.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Poll Thursday - Boo

I just watched the ECC finals with the Buzz Bullets and Sockeye. I think the most exciting part of the game was the crowd's repeated "Boo" for player 6 that happened after a Buzz Bullet player had to jump the crowd on a run down out the back of the endzone and Sockeye 6 quickly grabbed the disc and ran the disc into play. It's one of those nothing is in the rules, but it seemed like a cheap move (at least that's how the crowd saw it). The player sensed the crowds boos and sort of waited to make a small simple throw. He got booed 4 or 5 more times throughout the point and more throughout the game, and the crowd really got into supporting the Bullets.

Similarly, at Motown Throwdown in the Goat vs. BAT finals, Grand Trunk became a biased Toronto crowd and sent the boo out on a few calls that BAT made. The two teams made a game of it and the crowd was really into the action. In general, I think the crowd in both games gave the game some more excitement.

The poll this week (to the right) is simple. Should Ultimate crowds stick with the "Boo" or move to the tennis and football disapproval preference of the whistle.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Jump balls and late throws - Foul?

To each their own is my general feeling about fouls. When I play, I like to grind a little like a basketball player, and I won't call anything along those lines. In general, though it's a personal opinion if you think you're fouled or not.

The two situations I find the hardest foul calls to watch are when a poor throw is made that results in a jump ball and a late throw is thrown.

Pictured Above: A jump ball from CUC'07 (photo courtesy of Marc Hodges).

In the first situation, a bunch of people go up for a disc, nobody catches the disc, and one person yells out, "foul". Personally, I just don't think you should call a foul in this situation. The throw is essentially a turnover from the throw and you should go to try and catch the disc, but unless there's a flagrant foul (not incidental contact) then let it go.

The second call is made when you're fouled, you then throw, and you call foul. This is a turnover since the foul was not on the throw. I think this call is made because people are trying to do their team's strategy and take advantage of fouls on the throw. This is fine, but the above sequence is not fine, and it's a turn.

Both situations happen frequently in Ultimate. I think most people know what happened when it is explained, but have too much pride to change their call. I have more respect for people who think about the situation and admit when a turns a turn, but to each their own.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Season Switch - Time to evaluate and set the pace

The Canadian ultimate club season is split into two. We have the summer series leading up to Canadian nationals and the fall season run to UPAs. This transition point is a perfect time to evaluate the season so far. If you don't have an official break (our opponents to the south) like this make one at half way through the season. It's a good time to reflect and recoup.

As much as you think you evaluate your season unless your pro actively working on a review your just passively thinking. You actually need to spend about ten minutes and (re)write what you were hoping to do (goals), and how close you were to achieving your goals during the first half. Write down what improved in your game, your teams game, and what got worse and needs improving.

Pictured Above: Tombstone and Glum guys in the air at the finals at CUC'07. Tombstone takes the win to represent Canada at Worlds (photo courtesy of Marc Hodges).

For my review I satisfied 1 short term goal and missed out on 2 other short term goals (one due to injury). My coaching goals were for the most part satisfied. The trick now is resetting the goals or making new ones for the rest of the season. The same is true for team goals.

The other thing to do at the halfway point is to look at your life and make sure everything is in place (as much as possible) to make the busy aspect of the remainder season more calm. Check how burnt out you are and do what you have to be ready for the big push.

The good news for me is after a weekend off I'm bored and ready to hit the touring circuit.