Monday, April 30, 2007

Book Review - Successful Coaching - Part VI of the Story

The last section of Successful Coaching; America's Best Selling Coaching Book gives a brief overview of sport management for coaches.

Pictured Above: Sideline focused on the action.

Sports management involves:
  • Planning - what you will do
  • Organizing - team structure
  • Staffing - who will be part of the organization
  • Directing - guiding others
  • Controlling - guiding the team
The book doesn't cover all the possible elements of team management and focuses on team management, risk management, and self-management.

Team management is broken up into pre-season, in-season, and post-season. The book provides a good set of steps that you need to consider during each of the three parts. The end of the chapter briefly touches on managing relationships with all the people you interact with during a season including administrators, other coaches, parents, and officials.

The next chapter, risk management, is about how to have a safe learning environment. The main audience for this chapter is youth coaches, but I think the chapter makes a few good points about keeping any aged athlete safe.

Finally, the last chapter is about managing yourself as a coach. This is a stay healthy and time management section that consists of common sense items like eat well and get proper rest.

In this section, I really liked the team management chapter, but the other two chapters were unnecessary. Fortunately, they are short chapters.

Overall, I liked the book. Not everything was new, but the material is presented in a linear form with good set of steps to figure out how you should be preparing. I'm not going to call this a must book for Ultimate coaches and captains; however, I do think you'll have a better season by just following some of the advice from the book.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Book Review - Successful Coaching - Part V of the Story

In the 4th part of Successful Coaching; America's Best Selling Coaching Book the book deals with sport physiology. Each of the five chapters in this section are written by two guest authors. The focus is on how to train the body for athletic performance. This is probably the weakest part of the book since the information is a little dated.

The first four chapters in this section describe how to train over the season. This is a good introduction on the topic, but I don't think this is the best place for Ultimate players to plan out their training schedule and nutrition. It is, however, a good starting point to think about workouts and what to pass on to your players. Also, they give a good overview of what youth athletes should be doing in terms of training as they mature.

Pictured Above: Another great shot from our scrimmage last weekend. Mike List gets off a throw by Cam Malcolm (photo courtesy of Jaleel).

The last chapter talks about is about drugs and sports performance. At UCPC this year, Charles Reznicoff did a presentation on drugs and Ultimate (you can download his presentation here). This chapter deals with a few things that weren't covered in Charles' presentation on how to deal with youth athletes and drug problems.

I'm not going into much more detail about this section. The points are valid, I just don't think this is the best place to get this information.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Book Review - Successful Coaching - Part IV of the Story

In the next section of Successful Coaching; America's Best Selling Coaching Book, the focus is on sport pedagogy - the science and art of teaching sport skills to your athletes.

Pictured Above: A really nice shot from this weekends scrimmage (photo courtesy of Jaleel). Mark Agius is throwing past Steve Tam in the background and Tim Chapman-Smith (in black) is covering Kyle unknown in the foreground.

Chapter 7 talks about planning out your season including upcoming competition, practices, and non-sport related events. The reason for making this plan is to come across as organized and to be organized alleviating stresses during the season. The book provides steps on how to plan out your season. Also in this chapter there is a sample practice for a general team. I'm not sure if the sample practice plan applies to Ultimate, but at least it provides a framework to build from, and it's similar to what I currently run.

Chapter 8 looks into how athletes learn. The first part of the chapter teaches you the way people learn motor skills based on current research models of what the mind. The second part shows the progression of an athlete learning a skill and what role a coach should take as they progress.

With a season plan in place and an understanding of how athletes learn, chapter 9 finally describes how to teach a new skill. The book breaks teaching a skill into 4 steps with lots of tips for each step, and an example of juggling as a skill to teach.

Overall, section III provides a lot of valuable information for teaching your players new skills. For those of us who aren't teachers by trade there is a huge amount of information in this section. Even for the teachers, there is a good perspective on how to teach physically learned skills.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Book Review - Successful Coaching - Part III of the Story

Section II of Successful Coaching; America's Best Selling Coaching Book introduces the coach to some simple principles of sports psychology. The books defines sports psychology as "...understanding why athletes and coaches behave as they do...".

In chapter 3, the topic is on how to evaluate your communication skills. Although not what I would traditionally consider sports psychology the chapter captures a basic model for communication, the importance of observing your nonverbal communication, and eight poor communication styles that coaches should avoid.

Pictured Above: The end of women's tryouts last weekend finished with a hill run (photo courtesy of Jaleel)

Next, chapter 4 provides some ideas on how to improve your communication skills. The emphasis is on positive communication, but even more important is the content of the message. I think this is a great point for all coaches and players; if you're going to be critical then provide specific feedback on improving the performance.

The next chapter deals with reinforcement principles to push your athletes to a desired behaviour. The two choices of reinforcement styles are rewards for good behaviour and consequences for bad. Sticking with the positive theme of the book, rewards are the preferred reinforcement approach and are to be given early and often in developing skills and reduced as a skill is developed by the athlete. The chapter also gives specific examples of appropriate times to reinforce behaviour, and a set of guide lines to deal with misbehavior.

Chapter 6 discusses motivation all based on the premise, "People are motivated to fulfill their needs". This is the best chapter in this section with a good introduction to how athletes are motivated and what are some of the conditions needed to get into the "flow" or "zone".

All four of these chapters are a good introduction for an Ultimate coach or captain on how to understand the athletes on your team and a successful approach on how to communicate the right things to them. I found reading the four chapters reminded me of the importance of my own skills and its impact on pushing a team forward.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Book Review - Successful Coaching - Part II of the Story

Today I'll take a quick look at the first section of the book Successful Coaching; America's Best Selling Coaching Book. I think this book is a good introduction to coaching even though many of the discussions are more focused on coaching younger athletes.

Section I of the book is called "Developing a Coaching Philosophy", and this section is split into two chapters. The intention is to think a little bit about yourself and how and why your coaching.

Pictured Above: One of my favourite team photos from a Halloween tournament - Goosebowl, and our team - BEAT (Bacon Eggs and Toast).

Chapter 1 takes a look at the coaches objectives. A significant part of the chapter is dedicated to a coaches perspective on winning, but with more of a discussion of winning with respect to young athletes. The question is still valid for Ultimate at both the College and Club level. How important is winning to you and to the team? Is striving to win just as important as actually coming out on top?

Chapter 2 talks about your coaching style. Three common types of coaching styles are introduced - the commander, the laid back, and the cooperative. These are pretty simple explanations of a type of coach, and I didn't get any real benefit from these styles. The idea is that coaches should be cooperative coaches meaning you run things, but also allow the athletes to contribute. Along with the and three types, additional qualities are listed that the author believes makes for a successful coach.

The first section is pretty simple. The main take home idea is that a coach needs to think a little bit about themselves and their motivation - both altruistic and selfish. Like the team plan, it's much better to get your coaching philosophy written down to get something precise and even remind you why you're doing this later.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Book Review - Successful Coaching - Part I of the Story

Hey Folks,

We had a beautiful weekend of Ultimate here in Toronto. Our co-ed and women's teams had mass tryouts, and the master's and open teams had some minor runs. I played a few points this weekend on my leg, which seems all right, and the sun made me feel good.

My main Ultimate thoughts are still on the upcoming season and my coaching plans for the team. My preparation for the season includes organization and research, and one of the books I've been reading for research is Successful Coaching; America's Best Selling Coaching Book.

Pictured Above: A picture from Montreal Jazz Tournament in 2005 of Giles Deshon looking for an open cut.

The goal of the book is to provide insight into the science and art of coaching irrespective of a specific sport. Instead of an emphasis on techniques and tactics, a full range of coaching topics is covered that the author believes are key to becoming a successful coach.

The books broken up into five parts:
  1. Developing a coaching philosophy
  2. Sport psychology
  3. Sport pedagogy
  4. Sport physiology
  5. Sport management
Over the next few posts I'll review each of these sections and contemplate how they apply to Ultimate.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Spring Fever

Do you feel it? I've got it. It's the Ultimate spring fever (not the other one). All over the place from the internet to the grassy fields discs, tournaments, and tryouts are happening.

It is a great feeling to have Ultimate fever. The key thing to remember is to pace yourself. Get out, play, and think ultimate, but remember all the other things in life. In your first few years in a hobby or sport, the tendency is to jump feet first and immerse yourself in the activity. As time passes you'll get the opposite of the fever - Ultimate burnout. With burnout comes the rest of the season which will feel more like a chore.

Pictured Above: More from Michigan sectionals.

One way to help avoid burnout is to keep your priorities straight. For example, coaches are taught to build a philosophy and establish priorities so that they don't let the team take over their lives. Most football coaches I've read about prioritize with something like:
  1. Faith
  2. Family
  3. Team
  4. Friends
I think a player also needs to have their priorities. There's nothing wrong with spring Ultimate fever and a passion for the sport, but remember that other things are important.

A few other ways to maintain early passion and avoid burnout are:
  • staying healthy - simple rules like sleep, hydration, and nutrition
  • having fun - enjoying activities and your social circle
  • making short term goals - challenging yourself and your team and avoiding plateaus
  • pacing yourself - not playing too much (I always break this rule)
  • doing other things - make sure to mix it up
If you've got the fever then run with it. Just remember this feeling and try to maintain it.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Poll Thursday - Movie prep for Ultimate

Last week poll Thursday dealt with the joys of being cut from a team. I didn't think enough about poll one and making proper pools, but the majority of people got cut from 0 to 20% of the time they tried out. Also, for the majority of people, getting cut pushed them to become better.

As I said in my last post, I thought we would review what is the best movie or show to get you pumped up for the next day of Ultimate (either tryout or tournament).

In the first poll, the question being asked is what genre of movie is best.

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Next, which movie (chosen from last posts comments) do you think is best to prepare for the next day.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Best Movie Before a Tryout or Tournament

Hey Folks,

So it's the night before a tournament or a tryout and you want to put yourself in the right mood for playing the next day. What is the best movie or show to watch to put yourself in the right mindset?

Initially, we all think of inspirational movies such as Rudy or Hoosiers, or maybe an Ultimate DVD such as I Bleed Black or Disc 4: The Year of the Monkey. I'm sure this is a personal preference issue, but maybe we can all pool some thoughts together. I'll take suggestions (in the comments) and put the five best into a poll for Thursday.

Pictured Above: More from Michigan Sectionals. The weather must have been really bad in those postponed tournaments.

I think that comedy is the way to go. Forget about sports. Forget about the pressure. Watch something that will relax your mind and body, and a good laugh will release serotonin and other good stuff into your system. Then with a good sleep you can get amped up in the morning.


Monday, April 16, 2007

College Sectionals - The dust begins to settle

Over the weekend ~20 Open sectionals and ~20 Women's sectional tournaments were played (although it many of them had weather postponements).

I thought I'd scan through the Open results and find some highlights (I'll leave Women's to IC Ultimate). It's too bad that we don't have reporters at each of these tournaments to give us a feel for this stage of the series.

There were no major upsets in any of the sectionals so far with the majority of number one seeds keeping their seed. The most exciting games were the back door games for second place.

South Region

Bama (Mississippi) - South
  • LSU (3rd seed) pulls off 1st overall in the biggest seed change for first place.
Ozarks (Montana) - South
  • Missouri (10th seed) upsets Arkansas (2nd seed) in pool play.
  • Kansas (3rd seed) beats Oklahoma (1st seed) to take 1st overall.
  • Washington University (4th seed) takes 2nd after winning a back door rematch 15-7 to Oklahoma after losing to them 12-6 in the semis.
Texas (Texas) - South
  • Texas (1st seed) wins 1st overall.
  • Texas A&M (2nd seed) beats Texas State (3rd seed) in semis 14-12, loses to Texas for number one, and then loses to Texas State 15-11 in the back door for second place.
Atlantic Coast Region

South (Florida) - Atlantic Coast
  • Florida (1st seed) takes 1st overall.
  • Central Florida (3rd seed) upsets Georgia (2nd seed) in the semis 13-12, but Georgia comes back in the back door game for second and beats Central Florida 13-2.
Blue Ridge (Virginia) - Atlantic Coast
  • James Madison (1st seed) takes 1st overall.
  • Tennessee (2nd seed) beats Virginia Tech (6th seed) 15-14 in semis, loses to James Madison, and then loses to Virginia Tech 13-10 in back door for 2nd place.
Carolina (North Carolina) - Atlantic Coast
  • No results
New England Region

Metro Boston (Massachusetts) - New England
  • MIT (2nd seed) beats Harvard in the finals 11-8 to take first.
South New England (Rhode Island) - New England
  • No upsets in pool play - Brown, Wesleyan, Roger Williams, and Connecticut College finish top in their respective pools.
  • Tournament delayed.
East New England - New England
  • Next Weekend
West New England - New England
  • Next Weekend
Metro East Region

Colonial (Maryland) - Metro East
  • After day one no upsets for the top 4 seeds.
East Penn (Pennsylvania) - Metro East
  • Pennsylvania (1st seed) holds their spot in pool play. Tournament conclusion postponed.
Upstate NY (New York) - Metro East
  • Cornell (1st seed) and Queens (2nd seed) meet in final (score unreported).
Metro New York (New York) - Metro East
  • Vasar (1st seed) and Princeton (2nd seed) meet in the finals (score unreported).
West Penn - Metro East
  • Next weekend
Great Lakes Region

Michigan (Michigan) - Great Lakes
  • Michigan (2nd seed) beats Michigan State (1st seed) for 1st overall.
Central Plains (Illinois) - Great Lakes
  • 27 teams in this tournament makes it the biggest sectionals so far.
  • Illinois (1st seed) takes first overall without any problems.
East Plains (Ohio) - Great Lakes
  • Ohio State (1st seed) takes number one without a problem.
  • Miami Ohio (5th seed) after loosing to Ohio State in the semis crushes everyone else to take second.
Central Region

West Plains (Iowa) - Central
  • Iowa State (1st seed) beats Luther (2nd seed) 15-9 for 1st overall.
Lake Superior - Central
  • Next weekend
Northwoods - Central
  • Next weekend
Northwest Region

Washington/BC (Washington) - Northwest
  • UBC (1st seed) takes first overall.
Bay Area (California) - Northwest
  • Stanford (1st seed) walks through this tournament for the most part winning their last game 15-12 over UC Santa Cruz.
Oregon (California) - Northwest
  • Oregon (1st seed) takes 1st easily (highest scoring opponent gets 3 points)
Big Sky (Utah) - Northwest
  • No results
Southwest Region

Colorado (Colorado) - Southwest
  • Colorado (1st seed) walks through everyone with best opponent scoring 6. They also have a 15-0 win over Air Force in the semis.
So Cal (California) - Southwest
  • UC Santa Barbara (1st seed) takes 1st beating UC San Diego (2nd seed) 15-9 in the finals.
  • Claremont jumps from 4th seed to 2nd overall in a back door win over 9-7 over UC San Diego.
Dessert - Southwest
  • Next weekend

Friday, April 13, 2007

Tryouts - Part III of the Story

There are a few more random points about tryouts that I think I'll finish this week on.

For trying out:

  • Most of the tryouts I've been to have a strange feeling about them. Established players come in with bravado, unknown players tend to come in silent and shy, and friends and former teammates automatically migrate to each other forming cliques. Everyone is sizing up each other and the pressure is there to perform. My suggestion is try and forget about all this and get focused on the task at hand. Warm up properly, and use each drill like you would in practice and focus on working on one aspect of your game.
  • Remember the basics. Sure you have to be noticed, but good simple execution and movement will take you a long way. Solid defense is hard to notice, but trust that the coaches have a good eye.
  • Know what the people picking the team want and like. A simple analysis should tell you who you are competing against for what spots.
  • Try not to make bad calls or too many calls. You'll get noticed.
  • Be aggressive.
  • Pay attention and ask questions if you don't understand something. This is true for almost everything in life, but running in a drill and not knowing what to do makes you look bad. Asking for an explanation of a drill is fine. First, take a step back, and wait for the drill to initiate. Then ask a veteran for an explanation (maybe watching the drill will help).
  • Try not to change your game too much during a tryout. It's not the time to try a new grip or throw.
For picking teams:
  • Be aware of match ups. Cutter A might look spectacular, but notice that they are being covered by weaker players (B and C) again and again. Is cutter A doing this on purpose? Are B and C playing outside their normal roles? Put A into a tougher situation.
  • Be aware that chemistry is a factor and one tryout doth not maketh a team. Two players who have played for years will look better playing together than strangers. If possible build groupings of players that have established chemistry.
  • Be aware of people who tryout well then let their effort slide during the season or in other situations. There's nothing wrong with wanting to prove something, but try and maintain your intensity level all the time. Watching someone you always play with fire up their game only under certain situations is frustrating and expect that once they get comfortable at a higher level the fire will die.
  • Try not to play too much. This is for captains and not coaches. The temptation is to use tryouts as spring training, but you really need to step back and watch people. Get into drills for a while to get a feel for how people play, but at least half your time should be spent watching. Watch with a clipboard to take notes.
  • Heatstroke can kill. Some people will come to tryouts who haven't worked out during the off-season. Early injuries can end a season.
  • Test coachability. Can someone execute based on a suggestion or a direction.
Finally, a demonstration of the best way to cut people:


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Poll Thursday - Getting cut

Last week I asked a few questions about tournament costs. In general, people feel that $20 is a reasonable price for a tournament and two thirds of you think TDs should make a profit.

This week I'm going to stick with my tryout theme and ask a few questions.

The first question is how many times have you been cut from a team (doesn't have to be ultimate). Since people can tryout for a huge number of teams your answer will be in the form of a percentage. For example, I've tried out for 38 teams and I've been cut 7 times, and this means I've been cut from 18% (rounded) of the teams I've tried out for.

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For those of us who have been cut from a team, has not making a team had an impact.

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Finally, the last question isn't a poll. It's more of an open suggestion box for how people think tryouts should be run. Maybe a few stories of well run tryouts in any sport that might help the rest of us.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tryouts - Part II of the Story

In part II of the tryout story I thought I would pass on a post from Simon Teather that was originally made on the Phoenix website. I think it captures many good points from both the picker and pickee side.

"I've always had a love/hate relationship with tryouts. They're fun because they represent great opportunity for either me or the team, and of course the chance to get outside and play. They suck because it usually rains for at least one (and the wet doesn't suit my game at all) and because someone always has the bright idea to run some kind of fitness test. I don't like the fitness tests because they hurt, sometimes a lot.

As someone who's tried out many times, and probably picked teams at least as frequently, I figure I'll share some insight into what I've learned of the process.

First of all everyone involved is an amateur. Very few of the people picking the teams have ever done so in any sport other than ultimate, and have never participated outside of ultimate or maybe a high school team. Every now and then you'll have a former university athlete (or in one rare instance that I know of even a coach). Let's just say that whatever best practices are out there, the odds of the selection committee knowing them never mind having the resources to apply them are poor.

This isn't meant to criticise anyone; it's just the way it is. As I've already mentioned, I've run tryouts many times and learnt something about the process each time. I've also tried out many times and learnt something else (sometimes something contradictory) each time.

Among the things that I've learned as someone running tryouts:

-Be prepared to deal with unhappy, disappointed people. If you're not prepared to do this, get someone else to pick the team. This is not a process that will make you any friends. If you're in it to help your friends, get out. If you're not in all the way, don't try to keep your nose in it in any official capacity such as an "advisor" or something similar, just get out. Be in or out, period.

-You'll make a mistake. You'll cut someone you shouldn't have or take someone you shouldn't have. Admit it, figure out why you did it, and move on.

-Do as much research as possible early. You won't have tape to watch (something ultimate really needs to get) either of the tryouts or of historical performances. That means that if you don't get a good look at someone in tryouts you're stuck debating whether or not to cut them based on very little information. Take notes.

-If someone has a history of being a poor player, their tryout performance doesn't matter. This is a tough one, because I've been against this principle for most of my career. However, in my experience a few good hours simply can't override a season or two of bad. If you allow it to, you're probably setting your team up for another season of bad from that player. Send them down to the 'B' or 'C' team to develop. If they show they're good there, then take them next season. I can count on one hand the number of players I've seen go from poor to good over the course of one off-season. I'm pretty sure I'd need all my digits to count the number of people taken on surprisingly good tryouts who didn't pan out.

-Be organised. Figure out what your team legitimately needs. Even though every spot on your team should be 'open', realistically you probably know that about three-quarters of your roster is a lock. That means that you need to figure out what you need from the remaining members. If for some reason you have a whole lot more talent trying out than you anticipated, you can alter your plan (but let's face it, for the most part we know who's in Ottawa and what they can do).

-Be organised. If you know what you're looking for out of the last roster spots, pick drills and arrange scrimmage situations to test for those things. Keep tryouts moving. It should all be scheduled, with short water breaks to allow you to move cones and explain the next drill/pick teams. Nothing makes you look dumber than having to confer about what you're going to do next while everyone stands around. Remember, people are paying to be there, make it worth their while.

-Use lots of drills early in the process. Use lots of scrimmages later. Early on drills allow you to weed out those who are slow and not fundamentally sound. Early scrimmages don't really do anything other than frustrate the good players and allow bad players to hide against other bad players. Drills don't test field sense and vision though, and that's going to be one bigger factors in determining whether or not someone can play competitively. So late scrimmages when the talent level is more even is critical to determining who can actually play, as opposed to run a drill well.

-Set aside one spot to develop your best prospect. Any more than that and you're lowering the level of your practices. If you don't try to develop your best prospects yourself though, you're risking stunting their growth with the weaker coaching and practice level available on the 'B' team. Expect that they won't contribute in their first season and let them know that. They may prefer to go the 'B' team and actually get to play in tournaments.

And from the perspective of someone trying out there a few key things to remember.

Be recognised:

-If you're not well known, ask good questions and ask for feedback from the committee. Don't do this during the tryout - that's just annoying. Do ask before and/or after the tryout or by email. This will help the selection committee recognise you later on. Feel free to do it if you are known too, it's just more important if you've never played competitively before.

-A lot of people equate a conservative game with being invisible. That can certainly be the case, but you really can't afford to worry about it. You should always play to your strengths and let that determine everything else. If at the end of the process you feel you played well and you still didn't make it, then find out if it was that you just aren't good enough, if they don't value your strengths, or if it was for some other reason. Most importantly find out what you need to improve to make it the next year. Believe me, you're better off doing what you do best than doing something more visible (like say hucking) poorly.

It's personal:

-You always have an opponent, both on the field and in drills. Your goal for as long as they're lined up against you should be to humiliate them. Not by spiking the disc or talking trash since that just makes you a jerk, but by completely outplaying them. There's no half way, either you make yourself look bad by letting them beat you or you make yourself look good by dominating them. If you don't have it in you to rip out their heart (figuratively speaking of course), then you're trying out for fun, not to make Phoenix.

-Once it's over, it's over. We're all trying out as Ottawa ultimate players, so between points and drills we're teammates. Like any good teammate be supportive and helpful.

Know it:

-Confidence is key anytime you're on the field, not just tryouts. That's one of the reasons it's so important to focus on what you do well, not what you think someone else will value. Playing in your own comfort zone will allow you to be the best player you can be now. If that player's not good enough than you'll need to expand your comfort zone, but that happens later. For now do what you do best, and do it knowing you're good at it. It helps immensely.

Deal with your expectations:

-If you're a veteran of the top team, all that means is that you have jersey. That's it. It entitles you to nothing. If you're going in expecting that you have a roster spot waiting for you, I hope (for the team's sake and because I hate that kind of attitude) that they cut you. Preferably in the first round of cuts.

-You might not make it. It happens. If you don't, it's probably not because the committee made a mistake (although it happens, odds are you weren't the mistake) or that they're a bunch of jerks. It's probably that you aren't good enough. It's only happened a couple of times that I've been on a committee that's said "We don't want that person because they're disagreeable". Oddly enough, those people never seem to ask why they got cut. Almost all the people who got cut one year and made it the next made the effort to find out why it was felt they weren't good enough, and they improved on it the next year. "

Pictured Above: More from Michigan Sectionals of a Lowell Heppner throw (courtesy of Mark Kowgier).


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Tryouts - Part I of the Story

It's that time of year when many club teams begin to form and tryout dates are set. I thought I'd write a few articles on the subject from a picking and a pickee point of view. Today I'll address how I've approached picking a team.

The challenge with tryouts is there are only so many days where you have to select a team. Picking the top people is not really a challenge, and it all comes down to the last 2 to 10 people on the bottom of the list - the cusp.

Pictured Above: Why you don't schedule Sectionals on Easter. My team (Toronto) came fourth at Michigan sectionals and played through weather like above while I sat at home with my family eating ham (courtesy of Mark Kowgier).

To pick these last spots the first thing we do is look at emerging talent. Who among these players is most likely to transition into a premium player over the next few months? This is an instinctual feeling, and can be right or wrong. Then the question is will these people develop faster as the lead talent on a lower level team or will they be better served on the higher team. This is a tough question in itself that depends on what position the person would play. Primary handlers tend to be best served on lower teams where they learn to carry a team on their own through experimentation without major repercussions. Defensive players, secondary handlers, and stud cutters tend to develop well on the higher team with more mentoring and examples.

Next, we look at the team's makeup in terms of positional roles. How many people do we have who can play as a D handler? How many tall people do we have? How many really fast people do we have? Do we have enough people who can consistently break or are known end-zone finishers?

Once we know who we have, then we ask if the remaining people on the cusp can fill those roles or can be taught to fill those roles. At this point you begin to compare player A against player B in the roll Z. These comparisons are made based on tryout performance and past history (the latter of which is not always available). If you are making your pick decisions during tryouts then you can match up or put players into specific rolls (under the inevitable pressure of a tryout) to see how they perform. Player A and player B can fill similar roles to see how they perform.

One other point to ask when picking a team is the size of the team. Why can't you just increase the size of the team to take the players on the cusp? This option can mean too little playing time for low ranked players, which will stunt their development or take time away from your stronger players. If you consider using this option, then it is a good idea to find out who will be attending what tournaments and base your decision on team attendance as opposed to theoretical team size.

On Thursday I'll continue this discussion about tryouts with some related polls. Suggestions welcome.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Injury Resources - or - Warm up properly

There's nothing more frustrating than being injured. My latest hamstring injury made me search for information about injury details and rehabilitation. These, of course, are no replacement for a medically trained practitioner.

My favourite find in this search was from the Athletic Advisor and their section on Rehabilitation. Both my achilles and hamstring are covered in this section.

Pictured Above: Dave Ng catching a disc at Double Down in Central Michigan University (photo courtesy of Tim Chapman-Smith).

Now, as nice as this resource is, your goal should be not to have to use it. Both of my recent injuries are due to poor preparation, and I'm the type of person who mostly remembers how to warmup, but always forgets once in a while when I'm in a rush.

Solution - take your time. If you're a coach and for some strange reason your team is not warmed up properly at game time then maybe give the opposing team a five minute bonus point to make sure your team is warmed up. As a player be on time and actively engage in a proper warm-up.

Possible Routine (feel free to add):
  • Night Before
    • Good food - eat well in the lines of good carbohydrates and protein.
    • Hydrate - especially if alcohol or other dehydrating activity is involved (try to avoid excessive alcohol).
    • Pack your day bag for tomorrow.
    • Good night sleep - can be tricky with travel and partying, but guaranteed to help.
  • Morning
    • Wakeup - get some light in your room, and maybe shower.
    • Get dressed - playing clothes with warm layers (even in warm weather).
    • Eat - we find that hotels that include a breakfast are the best. You can get oatmeal, breads, fruit, juices, and coffee; you're not tempted to get a fast food meal like McDonalds.
    • Try for a movement in the hotel bathroom (use the hotels public restroom).
    • Fill water and maybe more hydration.
    • You should have everything prepared now, so it's a good time to start massaging and warming up your body and mind for game time.
  • Warm-up (min 1 hour, but I would argue more. A sprinter usually takes at least 45 minutes for a race. We need to both race, move in other directions, and throw.)
    • Cleat up
    • Light throwing while team gets prepared
    • 5-10 minute jog
    • Dynamic stretches
    • Line work - A,B,Cs and sprinter like movements
    • 5 to 10 Slow fluid runs
    • At this point it is open ended. You need to think about how your body is feeling and ask yourself if you need more basic warming up
    • Ultimate team drills - the first few are ones that allow people still warming up to warm up
The only remaining factor is what to do throughout the day to stay warmed up. For those of us who ride the bench for 4 or 5 points we also need to have some rituals to keep the body warm. Maybe something like a mini warm up in between points with a disc.

Pictured Above: Steve Tam tossing at Double Down in Central Michigan University (photo courtesy of Tim Chapman-Smith).

Finally, for those of you who are like myself and don't remember to always do the right things to prepare ourselves, I suggest finding either a season buddy or a tournament buddy. Agree to help each other get prepared and stay healthy.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Poll Thrusday - Tournament Pricing and Profit

So people heavily favour Nike's TDs (49%) and comfort (59%) and cleat pattern (grip) are big factors in your cleat selection.

This week I thought we could poll on the per person price for a tournament fee under a set of conditions, and whether people feel if TDs should be making a profit on tournaments above a standard fee.

First, the assumptions for a tournament fee are:

  • 2 days
  • Good fields
  • Standard bagels, bananas, and water
  • Saturday field dinner
  • ~18 people on a team
  • Basic physio
  • No included accommodations
  • 1 Game disc per team

Create polls and vote for free.

Next, do you think a TD should make money off a tournament above a stipend of approximately 300$ (just a guess).

Create polls and vote for free.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Workout - What is next?

I've talked about workout ideas and how to phase your workouts in preparation for the season. So, some of us are into full-season (College UPAs), others are in pre-season (Club), and others are in early season (Clup UPAs). What should we all be doing? Here's a few resources that I've been looking at.

Pictured Above: Abstract pictures of our circle discussions on a beautiful day in Bowling Green, OH.
  • Ultimate Fitness DVD - they did a presentation that I missed at UCPC, but I heard good things. One emphasis is on core strength for weaker muscles to protect against injuries.
  • A few days ago on RSD I read a topic on workouts and they had a link to the 300 workout. I watched the video, and I've read lots about this type of training. From the video it looks like strong man exercises mixed with plyometrics and calisthenics. Seems to make sense. The theory that not doing the same exercises won't allow your body to adapt seems to have some merit (I've heard this concept in lots of other places).
  • I also read a few fitness blogs including this one which emphasizes the concepts of power lifting to get faster. I really like their discussion on gaining strength without increasing your weight.
Pictured Above: More from the circle.

That's about all I have time to read right now, but I welcome other people's resources. I like the idea of kettle balls and plyos, but I don't think I'll get into that stuff until May. Our team will probably be practicing every morning in April if we qualify for Great Lake Regionals, so that'll be more than enough for me.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Lessons from Tournament 2

Hey Folks,

We went to Central Michigan this weekend for our second tournament in the college series. We took a smaller roster and lost two players early to injury. This left a skeleton crew to struggle against Notre Dame and Michigan State - two of the key games against quality opponents we were hoping to learn from.

The main lesson I learned this weekend was one that applies to a personal skill I need to develop if I want to be a coach in this sport. Normally, I take a captain roll meaning I play and coach at the same time. I find this position very natural because I'm always interested in what's happening in the game, and I get a feel for adjustments based on what happens both on and off the field.

Pictured Above: Nate Brown from Torontula marks a Denison player at B!G Green last weekend.

I got injured early in our game against Notre Dame and was now a sideline coach who wasn't actively participating in the game. I found it challenging to focus on the game and help out the guys from the sideline. Whether my lack of focus was due to frustration from being injured or because we were having problems executing the fundamentals I don't know.

I think anotther problem was that a captain is friends with all the players as peers, but as a coach on the sideline the loss of focus resulted in too much joking that probably had no place in the teams situation.

The lesson is that a coach needs to stay focused to help their team and this job needs to be executed with some seriousness. The question I still have is what does a coach do when their team can't execute the basics consistently?