Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Living the Game on Stress

Hey Folks,

When I captain a team I usually have what I would call a trust. This is the group of people that you regularly talk to, to get a feel for how the team is doing.

One of my trusts, Inian Moorthy, came up to me during the Eastern University championships in Canada last year and said the team needed to relax after a tough semifinals. It made sense to me since we just had a tough game against Guelph that included some hail.

Pictured Above: Sub Zero vs BOUHSEARS in a battle for the disc. Not to get in on the numbering shorts discussion, but I have no clue who these players are. Photo from James McKenzie.

In these time of stress, you obviously need stress relief, but we did need to play a game in less than thirty minutes, so we chose to have a fun game of a drill that I modified from basketball - three-on-three continuous. The best part of this drill/game is that instead of competing with opponents we had the opportunity to play against each other in a low stress game with lots of trash-talk and the like.

Our next game was a success, but regardless of the outcome, the key move was to reground the team. The stress relief reminded us that ultimate is fun, but we kept moving and focused on ultimate.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Logo Battle - Stage 4 - Round 1 - 1 day poll

In the last round:

  • Mauvaise Herbs eliminates two others with (47%)
  • Riot eliminates Wisconsin Open (56% to 44%)
In the next round:

Group 1

Furious George

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Group 2


Johny Bravo

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Logo Battle - Stage 3 - Round 4

In round 3:

  • Sub Zero eliminates Condors (67% - 33%)
  • Rhino eliminates Violet Femmes (54% - 46%)
In this round:

Group 1:


Slow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Mauvaise Herbs

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Group 2:



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Monday, February 19, 2007

What's in a Name

As a team advances in quality there’s a point where plays are called. Plays, or frameworks as I prefer to call them, are designed to create space with expected cuts or lanes. In the current state of the game, for the most part plays initiate movement with expected openings.

The topic is not plays, but play calling. Let’s assume your team has a playbook of some sort, and you have your sets of plays. Now you have to call plays in two situations:

  • On the line - play call where you can choose what is going to happen. These calls can be initiated with an “as called”.
  • The audible – play call in the heat of the game where someone has to audibly announce what the play is.
In the first case, on the line, there are a few options that you can setup. On the line, you need to call your plays. There are many ways and I’ll list some of them here with some pros and cons:
  • Some teams just call one play that can be referred to as “as called”. The risk is you only have one option.
  • Some teams call two plays which can be referred to as A or B. Now you have two options.
  • Some teams call an “as called” for each type of offense like for example, horizontal and vertical. Again, not a bunch of options.
In the second case, the audible, they’re seems to be a basic setup. Usually, there is a code with a name that describes a play and there is a number which might be needed to describe who initiates the cuts.

Pictured Above: Alex Vickers back in 2003 at CUC in Montreal.

Regardless of how you choose to call the play, you do need a plan. The trick is to get your players to sell into a system that they can learn, understand, and communicate, but the language needs to be complicated enough that it can’t be decoded easily.

This is where the football gurus might be able to help us. Football players learn a huge book of plays compared to what I’ve seen in any Ultimate playbook. Also, I have no clue what “blue 42” means, and I assume that the pros must have developed a number of systems to call online audibles. Unfortunately, my football experience is almost exclusively through the television, so maybe someone out there will enlighten us.

From a team’s perspective, the audible and coded communication are valuable tools to have. It’s worth the coach’s time to think about a language and system.


Friday, February 16, 2007

My Turn - Part IV of IV - Spirit of the Ref

I agree, spirit really is good sportsmanship. The difference in Ultimate is that at the highest level we still have a game that is self-officiated based on good sportsmanship. Many are arguing that the future of the sport is in refs, and spirit is minor.

I don't have much to say on this topic. Referees mean people try not to get caught for infractions. That would result in a huge change in the sport. I prefer a high-level self-officiated game as opposed to be hit in the kidneys by some jackass who thinks he's in the NHL and doesn't realize we both have to work the next day.

Picture Above: More Snowplate 2006 (of a friend of mine Shawn Chua) from Arthur's photosite.

If we bring in refs, then I think we need to bring in fighting too. Having an enforcer always solves cheap attacks on your star player(s). Plus fighting will bridge us closer to the other "Ultimate".

How we solve the cheating problem at the top level without refs? I don't know. I have some ideas along the lines of kangaroo courts, but I haven't thought out these ideas. I don't really think cheating is really a major problem.

Over the last few posts, I gave my perspective on some recent discussions started by the UPA. Many of the comments and discussions over the last four part post have been interesting. It's obvious that we're dealing with a grey topic that people feel strongly about on both sides (even that simplification is poor). Personally, my plan is to adapt while trying to maintain and offer people a perspective of Ultimate that I've always enjoyed. If we all do this, how bad can things turn out.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Logo Battle - Stage 3 - Round 3 - 1 day poll

In the last Round:

  • Metal eliminates Wisconsin women (51%-49%)
  • Bravo eliminates Rival (52%-48%)
In this round:

Group 1

Sub Zero


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Group 2
Violet Femmes


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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Logo Battle - Stage 3 - Round 2 - one day poll

In the last one day poll:

  • Georgia eliminates Boneyard (61% to 39%)
  • Furious George eliminates Wicked (61% to 39%)
In this round:

Group 1

Wisconsin Women


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Group 2


Johny Bravo

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Monday, February 12, 2007

My Turn - Part III of IV - Make Money or Keep it a Secret?

Grassroots - that's how Ultimate has grown. It's a chain reaction; good people play a fun competitive sport that is self-officiated and they tell someone else to try it. We can continue this path and the sport will continue to grow. Juniors are fine, the UPA is a good organization, and Ultimate seems to be heading on a fine path.

As of late, the two topics that keep me up at night are my future and how is Goat (or more broadly, the east) going to qualify and compete with the west. Oddly enough, sometimes these two thoughts form into one as I imagine making an entrepreneurial drive into Ultimate. Where's the money in Ultimate. So far we've seen success in apparel (though it's getting more and more competitive) and tournament organizers must be making money (or they could be if they wanted to). Private leagues are also flourishing, and the not for profit leagues and larger organizations are employing full-time people to run organizations. In my mind, the next frontier is the pro league.

Pictured Above: Another snow sequence of Kirk Nylen (one of my workout partners) laying out in the snow.

I believe the biggest advantage the eastern teams have over the west is that our population base is pretty close (geographically) to one another and regular competition could only make the teams in the East stronger (I'm thinking original six in hockey). This competition in the form of a professional league (professional meaning prize money and league type games at the beginning) would make this regular competition a whole lot more interesting.

I have lots of ideas on how this could work, and I truly believe that we could pull it off with some success, but how does pro Ultimate relate to my view on question 1 - Ultimate's growth. It's simple. Every point I've brought up links to one thing. Growth, respect of the sport, more youth development, and finally money leads to one thing - the real athletes aren't here yet. As soon as real money comes into the picture 99% of us disappear from the competitive level. Good or bad - you decide.

It's actually a solid point for lots of players. The smaller we are (hoarding principle), the bigger chance we each have of making it to the highest levels. I, personally, can't say I'm too worried since I've done many of the things I wanted to. But even with the growth in the last five years, I've seen people shifted away from the competitive levels because they're just not good enough and never will be compared to the current top echelon.

Even if Ultimate doesn't make it into big money sport, just the basic organization into coaches and observers (and daresay thoughts of the Olympics) means that growth equals more legitimacy which equals stronger athletes and less inclusiveness. This might not be completely the case, but it's something to think about.

I sort of laugh at all this. Why? Well Canada is notorious for doing well in emerging sports. We get in early; win a few medals. And then the big guys come along and get serious about the sport. Luckily, we can hold our own in winter sports just because we have cheap access to snow and ice, but with global warming that advantage may be disappearing. Even the United States has had great success in inventing sports and having early success until the rest of the world wants in on the game and the money (basketball being the most recent example). Not that I've lost hope, but I fear many of the opportunities I've had in Ultimate are going won't be there for the next group. Like I've said earlier, there will, however, be a new niche to fill the gap that Ultimate will leave.

I'm, definitely, not going to make a strong stand to try and keep Ultimate the way it is. Things are going to change and rightly so. The UPA is addressing a very legitimate topic on how is the sport going to grow (or shrink) and how are they (we) going to help shape it. Let's take it slow and think and discuss question one.

A pro league would be really cool though.

Next, I'll move onto the second question and make a few points about the spirit of the game.


Friday, February 09, 2007

My Turn - Part II of IV - There goes our second chance

How should ultimate grow? Well, in the last post I said that the sport will inevitably grow, and that growth should be at the grassroots level by ensuring the next generation is taught by people who want to maintain the best parts of Ultimate. Your comments were interesting. Now, in this post I'm going to talk about where I believe the sport belongs or at least a strong niche that we are potentially giving up.

I'm not sold on the concept that Ultimate should be brought into the junior levels at high school and even younger. I'm not even convinced that college is the right level, but I think it is. I know, I know; many of you are outraged by this concept, so I'll lighten this "non junior statement" later in this post, but for now, let me give some reasons why I believe this.

Pictured Above: More fun in the snow. We were doing some shots for a bid to a tournament.

I guess this is all linked to why I play the sport (and this might shed light in the errors of my thinking), but Ultimate came to me as a second sport. After I had peaked at basketball I lost touch with competitive sports for a few years. Then, Ultimate came along and offered a new game with new skills to learn and with fun people and good times. I caught the bug, and that bug took me deep into the sport.

There are very few sports that have this, as I call, second chance. In Canada, unless you live in a major metropolis (million and more) you can't learn a sport like hockey, basketball, or soccer as you get older. These sports do have competitive adult leagues, but they are competitive leagues for the aging athlete. Even if you live in a major city, it is very difficult to be taught the sport and then proceed into the competitive levels after the age of, arguably, sixteen.

As Ultimate, at the junior level becomes more and more entrenched in competition and focused development, this second chance accessibility slowly disappears from the sport.

Not only is one of the major strengths of Ultimate it's second chance nature, but the second key strength to the sport is its quality as a coed game. This is probably another point that many of us cringe at. Many of us, including myself, push the fact that Ultimate is great as a pure Women and Open game. Also, the thought that people just play Ultimate to meet that special other person is just simply wrong. But again, Ultimate, in my experience, is one of the only sports where I've seen women and men join forces in a team based sport and equally contribute to success (removing zone defenses would probably balance the sport even more).

These two aspects of the sport, older sport and coed meeting game, are two significant strengths that I believe have been a major impact on the present day game.

So, I'm saying that Ultimate should be grown as an older sport. I'm still for grassroot growth, but I feel that growth (if it is going to happen) should be made at the second chance older level. An adult sport, if you will.

Having stated this, as much as I wish Ultimate would remain a second chance sport, the decision has almost already been made. Junior's are there, and we're getting to the point where there is a clear advantage to playing high school ultimate and making it in higher levels of Ultimate. College teams are going to push for it, and high school kids are going to push for their inclusion in the sport. I just sense, that this will slowly push Ultimate into the realms of a young persons sport. Not that this is necessarily bad, but it probably means some other hobby or sport will fill in the "adult" niche currently filled by Ultimate. The loss of this second chance niche may actually hurt Ultimate as the sport will eventually be competing with every other sport, and as much as we all love the game and place it on a sporting throne, it sure has the flavour of get said object to said place by using said players - that most other team sports have.

Earlier, I stated that I would lighten my view that Ultimate shouldn't be in high schools. Well, I do understand that Ultimate as what I would call a counter-culture sport (in which people play for the sake of playing) is a fine sport for high school students who don't really fit into other ultra-competitive sports. Even as a second chance sport, Ultimate still has its counter-culture ties. For many, Ultimate is their first competitive sport started in College or at a later age. I, also, see the value in physical activity at all ages, and Ultimate fills this roll well. I guess my position is that we may be giving some of the strengths of the sport in growing it at the wrong level.

In the next post, I'll make my last few comments on Ultimate growth. This time I'll switch hats and put on my let's make some money hat.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Logo Battle - Stage 3 - Round 1 - 1 day poll

In the end of last round:

  • Riot eliminates Chad Larson Experience (71% to 29%)
  • Wisconsin eliminates Zoodisc (72% to 28%)
Poll is set to go for one day (not sure if that means 24 hours or midnight tonight). In the first round of stage 3 (the round of 16):

Group 1:



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Group 2:
Furious George


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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

My Turn - Part I of IV - I don't want to grow

Hey folks,

The UPA has seen huge expansion. In current times of prosperity, they're beginning to wonder in what direction Ultimate should take, and as the biggest Ultimate organization in North America (maybe the world) they've started to try and determine the future direction. Part of this initiative is to talk to different parts of the membership.

At UCPC they asked two questions (paraphrased) to the panel:
- How should Ultimate grow? Either through grassroots, entrepreneurship, or other path.
- Where is spirit of the game going in the modern game.

Pictured Above: A winter shot (from Arthur Teteishi's site) from Snowplate 2006 up in Sudbury. Thought it fit the negative Celsius or Fahrenheit temperatures many of us are experiencing. The next Snowplate is coming up - Snowplate 2007 in March.

I listened to the panel and audience at UCPC, and it was fascinating. Both questions are the types of topics that many of us can debate for hours. Now, I get to give my perspective on the topics.

First, I'll address how I think ultimate should grow.

I feel that ultimate is a participatory sport. So, right off that means that I think the sport will continue to grow at a grassroots level. Now to some possible controversy. First, I don't care if the sport grows, and I don't even think that should be a goal of the sport, and second, I think Ultimate's true strength and niche is as a second chance sport.

So, why grow the sport? What advantages are there? Sure, when I tell the border guard or my family that I play Ultimate, I might not have to explain that it's like frisbee football, but you can't run. Many people complain about the lack of respect our sport gets. Who cares? Sure, many of you will have parents, significant others, and children who question the value of your time and money commitment to a sport that has no presence outside of our community. Again, who cares? To me it's like explaining where I come from ... Picton which is near Belleville which is near Kingston which is near Toronto which is near New York city. Depending where you live in the world I'll be able to stop at a different point, but it doesn't change my opinion about Picton or the person I'm talking to.

In general, over the last seven years Ultimate in Ontario has grown to a point where almost every weekend of the spring, summer, and fall there is one or two tournaments. The local leagues in almost every city with a population over one hundred thousand seem to doubling in membership size all the time.

How is growth good? We're not talking stocks, and few of us have financial investments in the sport. Field space is already limited and more people just means more competition for resources. This is where the growth question sits on the balance. With growth we have more financial resources to obtain physical resources like fields, but with more people there is more competition for physical resources. This balance may favour us if growth results in respect that provides more leverage with administrators of resources. It's all a risky game.

The reality, however, is we're not really trying to grow Ultimate. The sport just grows naturally as each person passes on their joy of the sport. So the question becomes, how do we maintain the the ideals of our sport as we inevitably grow? Again, almost everyone including myself believes that we should grow at the grassroots. As the next group of Ultimate players joins the ranks, we all need to pass on the ideals of Ultimate that make the sport so enjoyable.

From my perspective, this means that high school, college, and new league teams should be coached or mentored by people who truly understand what spirit is. And if we want to maintain Ultimate as it is, then the growing population needs to be introduced to the sport by those who best reflect and can pass on the basic tenants of Ultimate. What those are (even after I've suggested spirit) and whether they should be maintained are two key questions that I'll address later.

So, Ultimate is growing. I'm happy with our current size and I can't see the advantages of further growth, but I must accept reality. If we have to grow then maybe we can steer how we grow.

In the next post, I'll continue this discussion on Ultimate's growth and address my second belief that Ultimate's strength is as a second chance sport and that is where the growth should be focused.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Logo Battle - 16 start next week - Procedure?

Hey folks,

In the last round:

  • A tie ... what the heck do we do with that ...
  • Monster eliminates BEAT (53% to 47%)
As of Thursday this week, we'll be down to the final 16 logos.

I've been thinking about how to do the next few rounds of voting. I'm not exactly thrilled with the dpoll voting system, so what I think I will do is request you all to register to vote, and then build some sort of system to count the votes. I know, this all sounds complicated and time consuming, but I think it is the best way to proceed.

Pictured Above: What looks to be a nice layout. Courtesy of James McKenzie at Massive Image Works.

Since we have a few days before the next round I'm open to suggestions.

The systems I'm imagining are:
  • A system where I make an e-mail account at yahoo and allow people to vote with an e-mail.
  • A system where people apply for a vote, I e-mail a voting number, and then some online system accepts these votes for each competition.
  • An automated system that receives vote applications and assigns unique numbers to the voters that they then can use for their vote in each battle.
Along with registered voters, I'll probably keep the dpoll votes cause they look cool (that or automatically update the results somehow). This all sounds complicated. Do I need an auditor? Also, should we allow new registered voters after a certain period? What will be the fairest system?

Suggestions welcome, or should we stay with the who can click the most approach similar to American Idol, and why aren't I charging per vote.


Friday, February 02, 2007

The Family Grows

So, the ultimate blogging family grew a bit more with the inclusion of Mortakai's Mumblings rule discussions. Personally, I think it is great to see another aspect of ultimate is discussed with some regularity.

I've heard all sorts of comments, both good and bad, about Ultimate blogs, probably, because I'm in the thick of things along with a few others. I can't see a disadvantage with an Ultimate blog or blogs in general. It's like having a source to a very specific topic you're interested in, and yet, if you're not interested in the topic you don't have to go. It's not like it got included in your local newspaper and you had to pass over the article even after carrying a significantly heavier newspaper due to the article.

Sure there are concerns with the accuracy of content. You're not reading a newspaper article that was heavily researched and all the facts were checked. The blog, for the most part, is an editorial. This blog, in particular, is to express opinions (both good and bad). And maybe the writing is poor (the author invents new, ways to use a comma), or the article's title was misleading and you wasted some time (I love making obscure titles). Still having a source on a topic you are interested in is great.

So, let's welcome, Mortakai, to the small Ultimate blogsphere. If things workout then we will have some interesting discussions on rules, and maybe even a searchable FAQ that can be used by the rest of us. I know that many ultimate BBS' have threads dedicated to rules, and RSD has had rule discussions in the past, but both these formats are unreasonable to search for specific details. A rule blog, or something similar, will hopefully fill that niche.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Logo Battle - Stage 2 - Round 8

In round 6:

  • Violet Femmes eliminates Double Wide (58%-42%)
  • Rhino eliminates Goat (53%-47%)
In round 8:

Group 1

Chad Larson Experience


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Group 2

Wisconsin - Open


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